The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat (1968/2013) [45th Anniversary Remaster] [High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-Ray Disc]

Genre: Experimental Rock, Protopunk, Art Rock, Avant-Gard

Year: 1968/2013
Publisher (label): Universal Music
Catalog Number: —
Country: USA
Audio Codec: 96Khz / 24Bit
Rip type: BDMV
Audio Bitrate: lossless
Duration: 40:22
Source (releaser): HDCLUB

LPCM 2.0 (96 kHz / 4608 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD MA 2.0 (96 kHz / 3728 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Dolby Digital 2.0 (640 kbps)

When Lou Reed died on October 27, 2013, most of his obituaries at least paid lip service to his work with The Velvet Underground, though my hunch is most of those writing these epitaphs had never actually heard the band. The Velvet Underground never achieved much commercial success, and yet they are routinely named among the most influential rock bands of all time. A lot of bands experience what’s known in the recording industry as the “sophomore slump”, but The Velvet Underground seemed positively intent on not going gently into that sophomoric night, and 1968’s White Light/White Heat remains one of the most confrontational discs of its era. As The Velvet Underground’s John Cale himself averred, White Light/White Heat was “consciously anti-beauty”. While that may have been at odds with the late sixties flowering of the so-called Love Generation, it certainly is much more in line with what ultimately became movements like punk and grunge, which may be at least one reason why the band’s renown has only grown since the original releases of its albums.

White Light/White Heat is an intentionally noisy album, one which pushed the limits of recording technology at the time and which can’t escape the fact that the band was obsessed with distortion and things like white noise. The album was recorded in a rush of activity, reportedly being finished in barely two days, and that offers a visceral though chaotic view of a group of guys who had divorced themselves from both Andy Warhol and Nico and were almost frenetically searching for a new direction. The album is certainly outré by any standards, including such odd tracks as “The Gift”, which features John Cale reciting a short story while a cacophonous rock solo plays simultaneously. Avant-garde musicians have often cited The Velvet Underground as perfect examples of a so-called rock band refusing to be a prefab cog in an industry machine. It’s that spirit which not only informs White Light/White Heat but continues to propel a lot of what is best about non-traditional contemporary music.

My reviews of these Universal Music Group High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray have become a bit repetitive, but instead of launching into my usual diatribe, may I repeat a quote I’ve used in previous reviews, a quote by that legendary analyst of audio Scooby-Doo: “Rah-roh”. While I haven’t been shy about discussing the debatable decision to use three more or less interchangeable audio codecs on these releases, someone in the QC chain on this particular release had better be updating their resumé, for a really shoddy mistake has been made. As with previous HFPA releases, there is both an LPCM 2.0 (96/24) track streaming at 4.6 Mbps and a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (96/24) track, streaming in the high 3’s, but what should be a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 (96/24) track is instead a standard Dolby Digital 2.0 track, despite being listed as a Dolby TrueHD track. How this could have happened is anyone’s guess, but it’s unfortunate, to say the least. This actually is one of the rare releases where I actually preferred the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track over the LPCM 2.0 track; it provides slightly greater clarity in what is often a very noisy and distorted set of tracks, especially in an exceptionally crowded midrange. Stereo separation is exceptional, but neither of the lossless tracks can overcome the limitations of the source elements nor the rushed and pushed engineering of the original recording.

White Light/White Heat is not an “easy” listen, but it’s often viscerally compelling. This is energetic, undeniably angry music that reaches out and grabs the listener by the throat. Once again an HFPA release squanders the “vast storage space” of a Blu-ray disc by not including any supplements, and this release is further marginally hampered by audio that only further reveals the warts of the original recording.


01. White Light/White Heat
02. The Gift
03. Lady Godiva’s Operation
04. Here She Comes Now
05. I Heard Her Call My Name
06. Sister Ray

Disc Title:     The Velvet Underground.White Light-White Heat.45th Anniversary.2014.BDA1080p
Disc Size:      3 193 549 785 bytes
Protection:     AACS
BD-Java:        No
BDInfo:         0.5.8
Name:                   00000.MPLS
Length:                 0:40:22.420 (
Size:                   3 059 140 608 bytes
Total Bitrate:          10,10 Mbps
Codec                   Bitrate             Description
-----                   -------             -----------
MPEG-4 AVC Video        269 kbps            1080p / 23,976 fps / 16:9 / High Profile 4.1
Codec                           Language        Bitrate         Description
-----                           --------        -------         -----------
LPCM Audio                      English         4608 kbps       2.0 / 96 kHz / 4608 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio             English         3728 kbps       2.0 / 96 kHz / 3728 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 3.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio             English         640 kbps        2.0 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Name            Time In         Length          Size            Total Bitrate
----            -------         ------          ----            -------------
00000.M2TS      0:00:00.000     0:40:22.420     3 059 140 608   10 103


%d bloggers like this: