The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
The Velvet Underground & Nico
Brian Eno famously quoted that "The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band." Released in 1967, the influence of the "Velvet Underground & Nico" on the future directions of rock music cannot be understated. The contrast of the Velvet's music, the experimental John Cage influenced drone of John Cale's electric viola and the dissonant feedback, combined with Lou Reed's carnal lyrics of drug addiction, "Heroin" and "I'm Waiting for the Man", sadomasochism, "Venus In Furs", and paranoia, "Sunday Morning", was strikingly unique in itself. Manager Andy Warhol suggested the addition of vocalist, Nico, whose icy vocals and delivery gave the music a further sense of detachment.
Compared to the sound of the peace and love inspired pop music of the time, the Velvets' music seemed positively alien. Voyeuristic, harsh and discordant, the Velvet's first album sold minimally. At the time, their live concerts, as part of Warhol's "Exploding Plastic Inevitable", featured the band playing on stage as Warhol's films were projected over them. Poet/filmmaker Gerard Malanga menacingly stalked the stage cracking a whip, and the early use of strobe lighting contributed to a sense of disorientation. The sound and subject matter of "The Velvet Underground and Nico" saw the band as the antithesis of the contemporary music of the 60s.
Future generations of musicians, fans and critics would come to regard the first Velvet Underground album as a landmark of influence and direction.
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