Artist: The Velvet Underground
Album: The Velvet Underground & Nico
Genre: Art Rock
“Teenage Mary said to Uncle Dave
I sold my soul, must be saved
Gonna take a walk down to Union Square
You never know who you’re gonna find there
You gotta run, run, run, run, run”
Let’s add this album to the long list of famous albums that I just don’t really get. I was never a fan of the Velvet Underground and in the past I have tried to listen to this album with big failure. Part of me dreaded having to listen to it but part of me was intrigued because I never really did. It was a bag of mixed emotions going into it and that bag remained the same once it was done. I still have very mixed emotions about this album and honestly don’t know what to think of it.
It’s not my thing, that’s for sure. It’s not that I don’t like Art Rock or anything with experimentation, although I’m not a fan with some notable exceptions. There’s no denying these guys have talent and love to experiment in interesting ways. And I definitely will not deny the influence they’ve had on bands and how much skill went into creating this album. But it’s really an acquired taste, a difficult to swallow album that really isn’t for everyone. I get why some people love this album but I also get why people could be turned off by it. I’m unfortunately in the latter of this group, recognizing the achievement of the album but just not being into it.
One of my friend’s dared me to do a track by track review. which I thought was a terrible idea since I don’t like this album, but hey he dared me and that’s a challenge so why not. Let’s see a track by track review from the perspective of someone who isn’t a fan.
Already a poor start for me. This feels beyond cheesy to me and if this is setting the mood for the rest of the album then we’re off to a bad start. Thankfully it’s apart stylistically and the rest of the album never returns to this cheese-fest. Please never let me endure this song again.
I’m Waiting For The Man:
Now this is what I’m talking about. Almost a proto-punk feel to it, hard guitars and a big beat. I was loving this song… until it just never ended. What the hell was going on… just the same repetitive thing over and over and over for almost 5 minutes. As much as I liked it, it just became dull after 2 minutes as I realised it just wasn’t gonna change at all.
For those who have read my Nico review already know how I feel about this song. This would have been way better if I didn’t have to listen to Nico’s stupid voice. I hate her singing, sounds like she has a muffin stuffed in the back of her throat. I can see why the band and Andy Warhol like her being a bunch of underground pretentious arteeests, but honestly I just can’t stand it. Good song, better off with a different singer.
Venus in Furs:
Ugh. I guess this song is good, if you like high-pitched wailing sounds similar to bagpipes blaring in your ear. Big points for the whole art rock, experimental aspect, lose points because I found this obnoxious to my ears. Couldn’t wait for it to end and of course it was over 5 minutes long. Lucky me.
Run Run Run:
Solid tune. Really liked this one, probably my favourite. Nothing more to say, just really enjoyed it.
All Tomorrow’s Parties:
Snooze… another Nico song and of course this one is 6 minutes long. I was honestly just bored with this one and couldn’t grasp it at all. Maybe I just wanted to be over with this album by now but this song just didn’t do it for me. It’s one of my friend’s favourites… good for him I guess, maybe he’ll explain it to me one day.
Here is a great example when experimental music works very well. Dark subject matter mixed in with the instrumentation as a recreation of an experience. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and really liked what they set out to do. Thumbs up from me.
There She Goes Again:
Enjoyable. Sounds like they’re doing their best at a Bob Dylan impression, as tons of bands were doing at the time. Mostly just in the intonations of the vocals. Good stuff.
I’ll Be Your Mirror:
I honestly don’t remember this one and it seems to be the shortest of the album, so maybe that’s why. Need a quick re-listen to jog my memory. Give me a second…
Just as I suspected… another Nico song. I must have blocked it out of my memory and thanked god it was so short. Oh well, next.
The Black Angel’s Death Song:
My friend wanted me to write a whole paragraph on this one. I really didn’t want to seeing as I am obviously not the right person to write a retrospective on this album or delve deep and go into analysis since I’m not a an at all. But a challenge is a challenge so I figure I can fill up space with nonsense just so I can fill up a paragraph’s worth of words. Another bag-pipe sounding song, but not nearly as annoying as the other one, here it’s way more enjoyable and pleasant. I wish I could break this one down more than currently am (which is barely anything to begin with so whatever) but who knows, I’ll let the fans break this one down and I’ll just move my way through, enjoying the experience and broadening my horizons in music knowledge. Is this enough words for a paragraph? I guess so, he better be happy.
Longest song on the album but wholly deserving of it’s length. I was really quick to save this one to my playlist before it took a sudden turn into weird territory. The beginning is a little misleading for what’s to come in the rest of the song. Loved it then got caught off guard and then got lost in the wild experimentation that was this song. It was a brain-melting experience but I’ll give it to them it was one that was worth sitting through this entire album. Great ending to an otherwise meh experience.
So there you have it, my brief and underwhelming track by track review of this album. Funnily enough, when this album first came out it bombed completely being deemed a financial and critical failure, selling barely any copies and just not getting the reviews it probably, maybe deserved. It’s only until years later when musicians of those times started talking about this album and the part it played in influencing them that it started to get the recognition it deserved. So who knows, maybe history will repeat itself and years from now I’ll finally rediscover it as the masterpiece it is. Or maybe I’ll stay stuck in the 60s mindset and be like… meh.
We will see.
Song of Choice: Run Run Run