“Kiss the boot of shiny, shiny leather…” – Remembering Velvet Underground & Nico

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50 (and one) years ago, one of the most influential bands released one of the most influential albums ever. The band is The Velvet Underground, and the album is, of course, their debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico.

Velvet Underground were a New York-based band. Considering that, it might or might not have been a coincidence that their influence on underground, experimental, and alternative music has been enormous, even to this day. There are a number of bands and artists that are influenced by The Velvet Underground – David Bowie, Nirvana, LCD Soundsystem, Arctic Monkeys, Tuxedomoon, Faust… And that’s just a few of them.

However, not surprisingly, their debut album wasn’t a critical nor commercial success. There are theories why it’s so, but the most probable one is the simplest. It was way ahead of its time. Thematically, musically and in every other possible way.

As it happens, eventually it became a cult album and, after given time The Velvet Underground & Nico made it to the 13th place on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

And here is what Rolling Stone had to say about this album: “Much of what we take for granted in rock would not exist without this New York band or its seminal debut: the androgynous sexuality of glitter; punk’s raw noir; the blackened-riff howl of grunge and noise rock; goth’s imperious gloom.”

John Cale, the band’s plucker of piano and viola, said that on this album they tried to do “a Phil Spector thing with as few instruments as possible”. And man, have they ever made it!

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Shhhh. Velvets have a say in this.

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