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Album 19 of 500: The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground & Nico

June 24, 2010

BAND: The Velvet Underground & Nico
ALBUM: S/T
LABEL: MGM Records
RELEASE DATE:  March 1967

Was indie rock actually born in 1967 in NYC? Velvet Underground and Nico’s self titled record could easily have came out this year. Decades ahead of their time, the Velvet Underground is seen as one of the most influenical bands of all time.   Name one band that calls themselves indie rock not influenced by the Velvets?  The first live performance of the Velvet Underground was for a high school dance in   Summit New Jersey on November 11th 1965.The legend goes as this, Andy Warhol sees them play at a NYC club. He quickly becomes their manager. The Velvets were Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker. They become apart of Warhol’s the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, and Warhol insists on the band taking on femme fatal, Nico.  This collerboration isn’t bad at all.

One to four days in the studio and three thousand dollars later, as rumor has it, we are graced with one of the greatest albums of the twentieth century. The album opens with “Sunday Morning,” dreamy, sweet and lo fi, this song takes you on a peaceful musical journey in which Sunday mornings are intended to be. Yet the lyrics on the album are not that dreamy and pleasant. Numerous songs about heroin, lyrics about sexual deviance, more drug use, prostitution is sprinkled throughout this lo fi masterpiece.  “I’m Waiting for the Man,” is a song about a drug deal, “He’s never early, he’s always late/First thing you learn is you always gotta wait/ I’m waiting for my man.” We learn that the drug dealer is a dear dear friend.

“Venus in Furs,” a lyrical tribute to the book with the same title, by Leopold Sacher-Masoch. “Venus in Furs,” is a dark song about sadomasochism. Reed’s voice is haunting, while he sings about shinny boots of leather. It takes you down this dark road with its chorus of surrender, “I am tired, I am weary /I could sleep for a thousand years /A thousand dreams that would awake me /Different colors made of tears.” “Venus in Furs”, may make one squirm and is poignant, yet it is the best song on the album.

Reed seems to do the dirty work, while Nico sang lead vocals on three of the eleven songs and they come off as sweet and innocent. “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” a favorite among college radio djs, because its six minute length made it a perfect song for a cigarette break, “Femme Fatal,” and “I’ll Be Your Mirror.” “I’ll Be Your Mirror,” is truly a simple and lovely song, “When you think the night has seen your mind/That inside you’re twisted and unkind/ Let me stand to show that you are blind/Please put down your hands/’Cause I see you.” This was only album Nico was on with the Velvet Underground and left after to pursue a solo career. The Velvet Underground & Nico is decades ahead of its time.  Many bands have became mirrors to the Velvet Underground.  The Velvet Underground & Nico will forever be our dear dear friend.

RM CRESSER © 2010 500 Rad Records

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