Loaded was the fourth studio album from the Velvet Underground. During the recording of the record, the tension between the four members was showing at the seams. Lou Reed felt “pressured” by the studio heads to create an album that would sell a lot of records. The band left their old label MGM dumped them. Now signed to Atlantic Records to a two disc deal, Reed and the emergence of bassist/organ player Doug Yule as a creative partner (uncredited) the studio had high hopes for the band. According to Lou Reed, he wanted to give them an album “loaded” with hits (hence the title).
The album was hamstrung from the start when percussionist Maureen Tucker went on maternity leave. Another factor was Lou Reed’s voice. The constant touring put a strain on his vocals opening the door for Doug Yule to sing on several of the tracks (uncredited). Yule’s voice sounds very similar to Reed’s and to a lot of people couldn’t tell the difference between the two. But the biggest was that Lou Reed was beginning to lose interest in not only the band but music in general. Not too long after recording the majority of the album, he would leave the band and go back home to his parents home in Long Island and worked as a typist for his father’s company.
Who Loves the Sun starts off the album, a quirky pop ditty about a broken heart (sung by Doug Yule). Next is Sweet Jane and Rock & Roll, two songs that are the band’s not only most popular but they have been covered by many other acts. Cool it Down is another love song followed by New Age, a tune about a washed up actress trying to relive he past glories (sung by Doug Yule). Head Held High, a loud rocker followed by Lonesome Cowboy Bill (sung by Doug Yule sounding a lot like Lou Reed) a cheesy song about William Burroughs. I Found A Reason, another syrupy pop tune followed by Train Round The Bend (another noisy rocker). Loaded closes the album with a Doug Yule sung track called Oh! Sweet Nuthin’, a unique song that turns into a rocking jam and drum session.
The production and song credits come into question. There’s no doubt about the lyrics being written by Lou Reed, but originally the music was credited to Sterling Morrison (who plays lead on all the tracks) and Doug Yule. But recently, Reed has been credited as the sole song writer on all the tracks. Another credit is who played drums on the tracks, well since Maureen Tucker was on maternity leave, Doug Yule, his brother Billy, studio engineer Adrian Barber and Tommy Castrano participated on laying down the drum tracks.
Some call this the band’s greatest album and others have called it just another late 60’s sounding pop album. I have to say its a very good album that not only showcases what could have been a long musical partnership between Yule and Reed but it also demonstrated Doug’s growing musical abilities. Too bad he got shafted by music critics who claim that the album was 100% the genius of Lou Reed and any of it’s faults were Doug Yule’s because he made the record into a pop album and “ruined” the Velvet Undergound and further “shamed” the band by recording Squeeze (which is a companion album) and the direction the band was heading towards to any way.
Perhaps some day Doug Yule will get the recognition he deserves for his participation and contributions to the Velvet Underground.