ARTIST: The Velvet Underground
TITLE: The Velvet Underground & Nico
YEAR RELEASED: 1967
CHART ACTION: #171 (originally, hit #129 in 2013)
SINGLES: All Tomorrows Parties, Sunday Morning
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Heroin, Venus in Furs, I’m Waiting for the Man, Femme Fatale, I’ll Be Your Mirror, There She Goes Again
LINEUP: Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Maureen Tucker, Nico
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Andy Warhol’s house band records an album full of dark and depraved subject matter. It stiffs on release, but becomes a beloved touchstone much later.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Reviewing an album you know well is more difficult than it seems. But I took a fresh ear to it, and I have decided it is worth the hype.
In 2015, songs like I’m Waiting for the Man, Heroin and Venus in Furs are hardly shocking. The noisy experiments seem tame. Still, though the album packs a surprising punch. The vocals in Heroin really do sound like Reed is shooting up as he sings. The arrangement of Venus in Furs is evocative and effective.
This isn’t for everyone, of course. Good art isn’t for everyone. There’s also some tracks that I don’t really care for (and thus no A+) because they just seem like arty diddling – even great artists masturbate on their canvas, as it were. Also, because of the haphazard way the record was recorded the sound isn’t as clear as what it could be, but we were lucky to get this thing on tape.
And I’ve come around on Nico. Her ice princess vocals are what some songs need.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: Andy Warhol ‘produced’ it but never touched a knob. The band went through three studios, an acetate, and at least three engineers. Tom Wilson really produced the later sessions.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Is there? Right now the Super Deluxe edition has alternate takes, a mono mix, an entire Nico album and live cuts. As usual, I’m picking and choosing.
GRADE: A : Believe the hype – listen with an open mind. It is art, not pop music.