Apple Music 100 Best Albums

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The Velvet Underground & Nico

The Velvet Underground & Nico


A noisy, confrontational frankness that still sounds revolutionary.

When The Velvet Underground & Nico came out in early 1967, it was part of a continuum with Beat poetry, Pop Art, and French New Wave filmmaking—movements that stripped away myths about expertise and put art in the hands of whoever wanted to make it. It can be noisy and confrontational (“European Son,” “The Black Angel’s Death Song”), but it can also be sweet (“I’ll Be Your Mirror”). And even when their subject matter gets dark, they never make it too difficult to grasp (“Heroin,” “I’m Waiting for the Man”).

Brian Eno famously said that the album may not have sold many copies, but everyone who bought one started a band. He was talking about the influence of their music, of course. But he could have also been talking about the attitude with which they made it: Lou Reed and company didn’t really sound like normal people, but they didn’t sound like professionals either. And at a time when the American counterculture was drifting toward psychedelia, the Summer of Love, and vague dreams of how the world could be, they embraced a frankness that still sounds revolutionary.