Carter’s Catalog: The Velvet Underground and the Legacy of “White Light/White Heat”

An album’s influence on later generations cannot be measured solely by record sales, TV appearances, or any kind of mainstream success. Sometimes, the sheer quality of the music drives the artists that follow. Lou Reed did just that with his legendary band The Velvet Underground and their seminal 1968 album White Light/White Heat, which turns 45 today.

As Carter Alan explains in the video above for Carter’s Catalog, The Velvet Underground produced extremely radical music for their time, both in terms of musical and thematic content. Courtesy Polydor Records Their “pretty intense” rhythms, unconventional song structures, and taboo subject matter influenced future genres of rock like punk, prog, and alternative.

As for their lyrical content, The Velvet Underground explored sexual topics and drug use in such a direct manner that was not heard from any mainstream artists at the time. The entire idea behind the original punk movement undoubtedly drew plenty of influence from the band’s fearlessness in covering themes considered shocking for the time. The band have been documented as a major influence on David Bowie’s eclectic musical style and striking visuals, especially in the 1970s.

White Light/White Heat may not have as many accolades as many other albums released in the late 1960s, but few bands have had as much of an influence on later generations.

— Matt Dolloff,

See also: More Carter’s Catalog on

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