NICO: "When you think the night has seen your mind
That inside your twisted and unkind
Let me stand to show that you are blind
Please put down your hands
Because I see you"
—The Velvet Underground, "I'll Be Your Mirror"
The Velvet Underground
's debut album, released in 1967, and one of the most influential rock albums of all time. Together with Frank Zappa
's Freak Out!
(1966) it's often considered to be the first underground rock album. Also a Cult Classic
, since it didn't sell well upon its original release, but did become one of the best known rock albums in history.
The Album Cover is equally famous: a huge banana, designed by Andy Warhol
. On the original record cover the yellow skin could be peeled off. This was later nodded to in the title of their box set Peel Slowly and See
The Velvet Underground usually gets the praise they deserve, but Nico
's contribution to this album is sometimes overlooked. Especially since she only sang three songs on the album and didn't appear on their other albums.
"And what trope shall the poor girl wear to all tomorrow's parties?":
- The Big Rotten Apple: "I'm Waiting for the Man" and "Run Run Run"
- Corpsing: Lou Reed can be heard cracking up on the last verse of "Heroin".
- Cover Version: Most of the songs have been covered by other artists.
- Creepy Monotone: Nico's voice.
- Darker and Edgier: The Velvet Underground's debut album featured songs about sado-masochism, drugs and sounds that most listeners would call gratuitous noise. Back in 1967, there weren't many rock groups like them.
- "Days of the Week" Song : "Sunday Morning"
- Dedication: "European Son," to the writer Delmore Schwartz, who had been one of Lou Reed's college professors. (Reed's solo song "My House" memorialized Schwartz.)
- Death Seeker: The narrator of "Heroin".
- Drugs Are Bad: "Run Run Run", "Heroin" and "I'm Waiting For The Man", though not all listeners got the message. Lou Reed was horrified whenever fans told him that they took their first shot of heroin while listening to "Heroin".
- Everything Is an Instrument: That ungodly noise that kicks off the instrumental portion of "European Son" is John Cale pushing a metal chair with a stack of plates on it across the studio.
- Femme Fatale: "Femme Fatale".
- Genre Roulette: Gregorian Chants ("All Tomorrow's Parties"), Eastern drones ("Venus In Furs", "Heroin"), lullabies ("Sunday Morning"), pop ballads ("Femme Fatale", "I'll Be Your Mirror"), free jazz ("European Son"), Motown ("There She Goes Again"), your basic Rock 'n Roll ("I'm Waiting For The Man", "Run Run Run") and an avant-garde flamenco tune ("Black Angel's Death Song").
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: The 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition (no, seriously), which has no less than three different mixes of the album, along with Nico's first solo album, plus an entire concert.
- Literary Allusion Title / Filk Song: "Venus In Furs" is based on Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's novella of the same title.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: A banana.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: The title of the album deliberately separating Nico from the rest of the band could come off as this.
- Noise Rock: "European Son" is the prototype.
- The Not Remix: Several times over - for instance, the first CD issue had an alternate mix of "All Tomorrow's Parties", and with all the various remasters, re-releases and luxury editions the album has seen, you can pretty much be a collector of this one album.
- Obligatory Bondage Song: "Venus In Furs".
- One Woman Song: "Femme Fatale".
- Or generally, all the songs where Nico sings the lead.
- Perishing Alt Rock Voice: Pioneers!
- Post Rock: "Heroin" is often said to be the song that started this trend off.
- Self-Titled Album: Just the name of the band.
- Single Stanza Song: "European Son"
- The Something Song: "Black Angel's Death Song"
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: "I'll Be Your Mirror", which sounds really innocent between those other songs about sex and drugs.
- Word Salad Lyrics: "Black Angel's Death Song", deliberately by Reed.
- Write What You Know: Lou Reed was inspired to write "All Tomorrow's Parties" by watching Andy Warhol and the people at Warhol's Factory.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: "I'll Be Your Mirror"