The Velvet Underground

Rock & Roll

Composed by Lou Reed

Song Review by

Originally recorded in 1969, during the Velvet Underground's final weeks with the Verve label, "'Rock and Roll' is about me," Lou Reed tells readers of the booklet accompanying the Velvet Underground's career-spanning Peel Slowly and See box set. "If I hadn't heard rock & roll on the radio, I would have had no idea there was life on this planet. Which would have been devastating -- to think that everything, everywhere was like it was where I come from. That would have been profoundly discouraging. Movies didn't do it for me. TV didn't do it for me. It was the radio that did it." He is not alone but, of all the millions of songsmiths who have written about the power of rock & roll, its ability to change a life and rewrite a world, he is the only one to have truly hit the nail on the head. "Rock and Roll" really is as triumphant, exultant, and utterly joyous as the music itself is meant to be; and -- again like the records that inspired it in the first place -- it sounds as fresh today, no matter how many times you've heard it, as it did in 1970 when it first hit the airwaves. The original 1969 version of the song can be found on the Another View collection of rarities and outtakes; the definitive take, however, lies on Loaded. Fans of auto wrecks, meanwhile, should seek out the positive behemoth that appears on Reed's solo Rock and Roll Animal live album.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Loaded 1970 Warner Bros. 4:47