3.04.2008

The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground and Nico

Admission #1: To the best of my knowledge, I have never heard a single song by The Velvet Underground. Until today.

Admission #2: When I checked out The Velvet Underground and Nico from the EPFL, I really wanted to trash it. I hate VU followers like The Pixies, and I think Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" is one of the lamest rock songs ever.

Admission #3: I think this album is amazing

You don't need me to rehash what's been said a thousand times about The Velvet Underground and Nico. Is it melodramatic and scarier-than-thou? Yes. Is it nihilistic and self-absorbed? Yes. Is it caught up in some ignorant and short-sighted viewpoints about life? Yes. Does it push boundaries? Absolutely. Do Lou Reed and Nico have annoying voices? Yes, but they're the right voices for the music. Is it difficult to listen to? At times, but in a good way. Is it unlike anything that came before it? No, but it changed everything that came after it.

Music: 5 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
The album possesses a timelessness that eluded most bands from the late '60s. Sure, a few of the songs are dated: "Run Run Run" sounds like a Stones throwaway, and the backup vocals in "There She Goes Again" are generic trippy drivel. As a whole, though, this could've been recorded at any point in the past four decades. I understand why it's received so much praise over the years.

My favorite moments are when the band sinks into an almost abstract sonic assault, like on "European Son." They weren't relying on mounds of guitar effects, impenetrable layers of electronic samples, or overdeveloped technical prowess to create a dense wall of noise; they were simply taking what they had and wrecking shop with it. Hearing this song makes me realize that I was correct in dismissing Boris as a bunch of wankers.

Packaging: 4 EPFL library cards out of a possible 5
The cover, Banana by Andy Warhol, is pretty awesome, even if you're not a Warhol fan (which I'm not). It's simple, it's unique, it's eye-catching, it's immediately recognizable, and it's impossible to imitate. It has to be one of the greatest album covers in the history of rock. The inside of the CD jacket isn't nearly as impressive, though. Some of the photos are dark portraits of forboding characters staring at the camera, while others are dark portraits of forboding characters staring at the camera with cheesy lighting effects on their faces. It was probably cool at the time, but now it just looks corny.

Listen if you like: art rock, punk, indie, goth, noise, doom metal, experimental music, drug music, psych... really, I guess you should just listen if you like any rock music from the past 40 years.

If it were food, it'd be: A Twinkie. It's as fresh today as it was 40 years ago.

8 comments:

The Mad Hatter said...

Bah! I don't care much for these cornerstone albums; I prefer to languish in the middle of the coliseum, not in some forgettable place -- which is unfortunately what this album was to me. Not sure how long it's been, nor do I care, but this is pretty awful stuff -- with a twist of lemon.

taotechuck said...

Are you certain it's not a twist of banana?

And with all due respect, Hatter, you love cornerstone albums. Without them, you would have nothing to give an "F" on your site!

The Mad Hatter said...

That I do, hehehe. I haven't a clue yet what will happen when comes the day that I've reviewed all my albums, but I have this nasty little feeling that I'm going to dole out more F than A marks -- and I've gotten rid of tons of F albums already, so the A albums will be scarce, for sure.

taotechuck said...

Don't worry. If you ever run out of bad albums to review, you can just take a look at bob_vinyl's record collection.

The Mad Hatter said...

I eat my own poop.

The Mad Hatter said...

Very funny, imposter. Try logging in as me next time and writing such childish nonsense. I always appear with a link to my site, you anonymous trite suckass. And for the record, I wouldn't say "poop." Fecal droppings -- that might work. Go shoot yourself in the face.

taotechuck said...

I was wondering about that, and now it makes sense. It did seem strange that the faux Hatter stated something so obvious. It would've been like me leaving a comment that says, "I'm strong and handsome and possess a mighty intellect" or bob_vinyl writing "I have a hairy back."

Would the real Hatter like the offending comment deleted, or would you like it to remain for posterity?

The Mad Hatter said...

Posterity works. Let the world see, so that they may distinguish dark from light.