Loaded was a fitting end for the mighty Velvet Underground. Lou Reed had penned an album seemingly loaded with hits, but by now, four LPs into the Velvets' career, a sad few record buyers appreciated the band. After recording the album, Reed called it quits and crawled to his parents' home in the suburbs - the ultimate anti-rock statement. Resignation permeates the album. Reed's voice is noticeably ragged, and bassist Doug Yule ended up recording many of the vocals for the final mix. Drummer Moe Tucker was pregnant, and Yule's brother Billy sat in on drums for most of the Loaded sessions, further alienating Reed from the already disintegrating band.
This was no longer the art-rock Velvet Underground, but a far more accessible version, relying on Reed's songwriting over the band's overall musicality. accordingly, the songs are either retreats into the faux innocence of parental ideals ("Head Held High"), or autobiographical pieces of teenage rebellion ("Sweet Jane").
"Rock and Roll", for instance, reads like text-book angst, where everything your parents do is, well, "it ain't happening at all". The album appropriately sounds like Reed's final bit of energy for the band. there's the saddened tone of "Oh! Sweet Nuthin'", in which the heroes walk with their "head[s] down", and "New Age", in which they mingle with "over the hill" movie stars.
Loaded closed a chapter in Lou Reed's chronicles, and solidified the Velvet Underground's significant niche in rock history.