On this day in 1970, Lou Reed performed with the Velvet Underground for the last time before leaving the band. They played at Max's Kansas City, in New York City (yes...that makes sense). After the show, away from the band, Reed worked as a typist for his father for two years. While the band would later release Squeeze without him in 1973, let's take a look at Reed's last album with the group- Loaded, released in November 1970 (#109 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time).
The record starts with a very folk/pop tune "Who Loves The Sun," reminiscent of the Byrds or the Beatles. It's an excellent, easy-going beginning to the collection of songs. The hit "Sweet Jane" is next, which was ranked #335 on Rolling Stone's list of the greatest songs of all time, and has been covered by several artists since. There are multiple versions of the song; the later, live versions include a bridge that was edited out of the Loaded version. Known for its three-chord progression, "Rock and Roll" is another popular Reed tune, which includes unusual 5-bar verses. The songs has been used on many live albums, movies, and covered by bands like Phish and Jane's Addiction. Sounding similar to Stealer's Wheel's "Stuck in the Middle with You," "Cool It Down" uses acoustic guitars and drums to show a different, toned down sound.
Doug Yule sings lead on "New Age," which eventually caused controversy after Reed's departure. There are two different sets of lyrics for the tune, which Yule and Reed continue to argue about to this day. Side two starts with "Head Held High" which kicks the intensity up a notch, with its sing-along chorus and heavy guitars. The tempo now kicks up with "Lonesome Cowboy Bill," the shortest song on the record and the only one not solely written by Reed.
Heavily influenced by doo-wop music, "I Found a Reason" features Reed singing lead with Yule and Reed singing backing harmonies in the chorus. Written in F Major and 12/8 time, Reed speaks the second verse, much like the soul music tradition. It's easy to see Reed's contempt for the music business with "Train Round the Bend," even though he tries his hardest to sound like Bob Dylan. The record ends with the extended "Oh! Sweet Nuthin," which is another slow pop/folk tune that is guaranteed to put the listener in an excellent, peaceful state of mind.