The Velvet Underground and Nico

The Velvet Underground & Nico

The 1967 debut from The Velvet Underground didn't sell many records, but arguably no album in the past half century has had a greater influence on rock music. Jim and Greg offer a Classic Album Dissection of The Velvet Underground & Nico in celebration of the art-rock classic's fiftieth anniversary.

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The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground & Nico

According to Jim and Greg, few albums are worthier of the Classic Album Dissection treatment than The Velvet Underground's 1967 debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico. Songwriter and guitarist Lou Reed teamed with avant-garde violist/bassist John Cale in the mid-'60s to form the core of the band, joined by guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker. The sonic assault of their live performances caught the attention of Andy Warhol. Warhol provided the funding for their debut album in 1966 and created the iconic banana cover art. He also insisted on featuring German chanteuse Nico on several tracks.

The Velvet Underground & Nico was released in March 1967 against a backdrop of psychedelia, the Summer of Love, and Sgt. Pepper's Loney Hearts Club Band. Its noisy, stark depictions of junkies and sadomasochism in New York City didn‘t fit well with that San Francisco feeling, and the album didn’t sell. But over the past half century, its reputation has grown to the point that, as Jim and Greg argue, it's become the most influential album in rock history. Each track has launched an entire genre, from the goth rock of "Venus in Furs" to the noise rock of "European Son" to the proto-shoegaze in "Heroin." It's hard to imagine bands like Sonic Youth, the Ramones, or Radiohead existing without The Velvet Underground & Nico. On the album's 50th anniversary, Jim and Greg tell the history of the band, give a detailed examination of each of the album's songs, and share their thoughts on its legacy.

Featured Songs

  1. The Velvet Underground, I'm Waiting for the Man, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Verve, 1967
  2. Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, Finger Poppin Time, Finger Poppin Time (single), King, 1960
  3. John Cale, Cold Starry Nights, John Cale - New York in the 1960s, Table of the Elements, 1964
  4. The Velvet Underground, I'm Waiting for the Man (Demo), Peel Slowly and See: 1965-1969, Polydor, 1965
  5. Babatunde Olatunji, Shango, Drums of Passion, Columbia, 1960
  6. Bo Diddley, Gun Slinger, Gun Slinger (single), Checker, 1960
  7. The Velvet Underground, The Black Angel's Death Song (Live), Bootleg Series Volume 1: The Quine Tapes, Polydor, 1969
  8. Jefferson Airplane, White Rabbit, Surrealistic Pillow, RCA, 1967
  9. Nico, I'm Not Sayin', I'm Not Sayin' (single), Immediate, 1965
  10. The Velvet Underground, Sunday Morning, The Velvet Underground & Nico (45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition), Polydor, 1967
  11. The Velvet Underground, There She Goes Again (The Factory Rehearsal w/Nico), The Velvet Underground & Nico (45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition), Polydor, 1966
  12. The Velvet Underground, Sunday Morning, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Verve, 1967
  13. The Velvet Underground, I'm Waiting for the Man, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Verve, 1967
  14. The Velvet Underground, Femme Fatale, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Verve, 1967
  15. The Velvet Underground, Venus In Furs, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Verve, 1967
  16. The Velvet Underground, Run Run Run, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Verve, 1967
  17. The Primitives, The Ostrich, The Ostrich (single), Pickwick City, 1964
  18. The Velvet Underground, All Tomorrow's Parties, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Verve, 1967
  19. Marvin Gaye, Hitch Hike, That Stubborn Kinda Fellow, Tamla, 1962
  20. The Velvet Underground, There She Goes Again, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Verve, 1967
  21. The Velvet Underground, I'll Be Your Mirror, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Verve, 1967
  22. The Velvet Underground, Heroin, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Verve, 1967
  23. The Velvet Underground, The Black Angel's Death Song, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Verve, 1967
  24. The Velvet Underground, European Son, The Velvet Underground & Nico, Verve, 1967
  25. Radiohead, No Surprises, OK Computer, Parlophone, 1997
  26. Siouxsie and the Banshees, Premature Burial, Join Hands, Polydor, 1979
  27. Ramones, 53rd & 3rd, Ramones, Sire, 1976
  28. Spiritualized, Run, Lazer Guided Melodies, Dedicated, 1992
  29. Sonic Youth, Mote, Goo, DGC, 1990
  30. Galaxie 500, Decomposing Trees, On Fire, Rough Trade, 1989
  31. Herman's Hermits, Dial My Number, Both Sides of Herman's Hermits, MGM, 1966
  32. Talking Heads, The Big Country, More Songs About Buildings and Food, Sire, 1978
  33. Living Colour, Cult of Personality, Vivid, Epic, 1988
  34. Joni Mitchell, A Case of You, Blue, Reprise, 1971
  35. Oblivians, The Leather, Popular Favorites, Crypt, 1996