The Velvet Underground was an American rock band formed in 1964 in New York City by singer/guitarist Lou Reed, multi-instrumentalist John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Angus MacLise (replaced by Moe Tucker in 1965). The band was initially active between 1965 and 1973, and was briefly managed by the pop artist Andy Warhol, serving as the house band at the Factory and Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable events from 1966 to 1967. Their debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico (with German-born singer and model Nico), was released in 1967 to critical indifference and poor sales but has become critically acclaimed; in 2003, Rolling Stone called it the “most prophetic rock album ever made. Here are all of The Velvet Underground’s albums ranked.
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5. Vu (1985)
“A Foggy Notion” and “I Can’t Stand It” are two of the best Velvet Underground songs ever. These songs are nothing less than savage. I have blown car speakers playing these songs over and over. “I Can’t Stand It” always reminds me of what an airplane crash might sound like, and if you are a Velvet Underground fan you should hear these songs. They are also on the “Gold” collection and on the box set. The rest of the album is okay but not essential if you are not familiar with the rest of the VU previous albums. It is criminal that these songs were not released when they were recorded. Great great stuff.”
4. White Light/ White Heat (1968)
“I wasn’t a great fan of this album when I first bought it in 1973, when I first became a Lou Reed fan, but over the years I have become to love it almost as much as “VU and NIco”. It is certainly harder to get into on first listenings, at least for someone who likes 3-minute songs and nice melodies – “Here She Comes Now” is about the only song on the original album you could call “pretty”. But it is an absolute classic. Side 2 of the original album has become my favourite side, with “I Heard Her Call my Name” an amazing bit of guitar playing, must have been one of the wildest songs ever recorded at that time.”
3. Loaded (1970)
“Let’s cut to the chase…Sweet Jane and Rock and Roll are two of the greatest, most memorable rocks songs, period. The only reason kids don’t play these riffs on Guitar Hero or Rock Band is because, well, it’s Lou Reed…the guy who also writes weird songs about aging actresses, lonesome cowboys, the addicted, the perverse, etc. Still, Rock and Roll has a darn near perfect guitar progression, and Lou’s penchant for pretty 60’s pop arrangements, and right turn, ‘pull the rug out from under your feet’ intros and mid song switcheroos really shine on Loaded. While there is no Pale Blue Eyes, the album stays strong through Cool it Down (A side), and offers a couple gems via a train ride, and a homage to holding your head high.”
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2. The Velvet Underground (1969)
“I keep on coming back to some of the tracks on this album, and yes, I did buy it on shiny black vinyl when it came out in the late sixties. For me, some kinda love, pale blue eyes, and what goes on are the standout tracks, but, it has to be said, there’s not one duffer on the album. Best of all, it sounds as good today as it did back in sixty nine. An absolute classic gem of soft but weird rock, beautifully produced and recorded, and showcasing Lou Reed’s song writing at its best. Buy it and enjoy! This is one of the best albums of all time, and truly seminal in the way it influenced rock music from then on.”
1. The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
“The original release is indeed one of the most important in rock, ever. We have heard about other vinyl records resulting in nearly everyone starting a band, and this here is the real deal in that department. And you know what – it does not sound outdated at all! In fact, the rock circus has gone full circle a few times in the department of how a rock album should be, and have always returned here, like it was a fountain of youth. And it’s a good point: it’s every bit as important as The Beatles’ “Rubber Soul”, say, or early releases by The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Led Zep, and a sea full of other great bands/artists.”