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4.7 out of 5 stars151
4.7 out of 5 stars
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I can think of only two other albums like The Velvet Underground's debut that have influenced so much and so many - and had such a staggering and lasting cultural impact - "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" by The Beatles and "Never Mind The Bollocks..." by The Sex Pistols. When I worked at Reckless in the West End we kept at least 100 copies of the Velvet's debut on new 180grams reissue vinyl for eager punters to snap up on a daily basis - without question the biggest selling reissue album we ever had. No other LP short of Floyd's "Dark Side Of The Moon" or Nirvana's "Nevermind" has had such a devoted and long-lasting following. And for those who can't afford (nor want) the Super Deluxe 6-Disc version that came out in October 2012 - this 2CD Deluxe Edition gives a scratchy arm all the needles it'll need. Here are the Femme Fatales and Andy Warhols...

Released June 2002 - "The Velvet Underground & Nico" is a 2CD DELUXE EDITION on Universal/Polydor 0731458958826 and breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (60:18 minutes):
1. Sunday Morning
2. I'm Waiting For The Man
3. Femme Fatale [Vocals by Nico]
4. Venus In Furs
5. Run, Run, Run
6. All Tomorrow's Parties [Vocals by Nico]
7. Heroin [Side 2]
8. There She Goes Again
9. I'll Be Your Mirror
10. The Black Angel's Death Song
11. European Son
Tracks 1 to 11 are the STEREO VERSION of "The Velvet Underground & Nico" - their debut album released March 1967 in the USA on Verve V6-5008 and November 1967 in the UK on Verve SVLP 9184 [For Mono Variant see Disc 2]

12. Little Sister
13. Winter Song
14. It Was A Pleasure Then
15. Chelsea Girls
16. Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
Tracks 12 to 16 are from "Chelsea Girl"- the solo debut album by NICO released October 1967 on Verve V6-5032 (Stereo) and finally released in the UK in September 1971 on MGM Select 2353 025 (Stereo)

Disc 2 (77:33 minutes):
1. Sunday Morning
2. I'm Waiting For The Man
3. Femme Fatale [Vocals by Nico]
4. Venus In Furs
5. Run, Run, Run
6. All Tomorrow's Parties [Vocals by Nico]
7. Heroin [Side 2]
8. There She Goes Again
9. I'll Be Your Mirror
10. The Black Angel's Death Song
11. European Son
Tracks 1 to 11 are the MONO VERSION of "The Velvet Underground & Nico" released March 1967 in the USA on Verve V-5008 and November 1967 in the UK on Verve VLP 9184 [For Stereo Variant see Disc 1]

12. All Tomorrow's Parties (Single Version),
13. I'll Be Your Mirror (12 and 13 issued July 1966 as the A&B-sides of a US 7" single on Verve VK-10427. Both tracks feature NICO on Lead Vocals, are in MONO and were not issued in the UK as a single. "I'll Be Your Mirror" the 'single version' features an alternate ending to the cut on the LP)

14. Sunday Morning (Single Version)
15. Femme Fatale (Single Version) (14 and 15 issued December 1966 as the A&B-sides of a US 7" single on Verve VK-10466. "Femme Fatale" features NICO on Lead Vocals, is in Mono and was not issued in the UK)

Compiled by BILL LEVINSON and remastered by BOB LUDWIG and JEFF WILLENS - they've done a fantastic job with an album that is notoriously lo-fi on purpose (Produced by Andy Warhol with Nico credited as a 'Chanteuse'). The foldout flaps of the digipak feature reviews of the album from various trade papers of the time, album credits, suitably blurry photos of the band beneath the see-through trays and a 28-page booklet that has classy black and white snaps of the group's famous shows (mostly live shots) and some studies of Nico. The Dave Thompson liner notes (Pages 3 to 12) go deep into the album's explosive history, there's lyrics to all the songs and original US issues (Universal 314 589 624-2) even has a 'peelable' banana on the front flap to repro the rare first pressings on vinyl (now worth a King's ransom).

Flower-power ladies, loved up hippies and peace-in-our-time acid droppers got the fright of their lives when "The Velvet Underground & Nico" was released in the spring of 1967. It painted a seriously dark picture of a counter-culture that was already writhing in sweaty withdrawal. Drugs and their all-pervasive effect of everything you hold dear permeates almost every song - scoring them ("I'm Waiting For The Man"), doing them ("Venus In Furs") and then selling your body and eventually your soul to get more ("Run, Run, Run"). And all of this despair is wrapped up in jagged melodies, droll voices (American and German) and distorted guitars that sound like they're being tortured by CIA operatives determined to find a Communist. But I suspect that like "Bollocks" - the real reason the album has endured so long is precisely because it's so brutally honest - where one track is actually called "Heroin" - and the others barely disguise such a controversial subject matter. And yet there's inexplicable prettiness too - the gorgeous opener "Sunday Morning" sung by Lou Reed as if he hasn't a care in the world - while Nico scores massively with three vocal beauties - "Femme Fatale", the ragged piano of "All Tomorrow's Parties" and the delicate "I'll Be Your Mirror". Even now it's an extraordinary piece of work and 'influential' barely touches on its true impact down through the decades. It also has something you can't invent - it's effortlessly cool...

Of the two versions I actually find the MONO mix to be more powerful and direct (unavailable since its 1967 release) - the wild soloing of "Heroin" is so stunning and the jangly guitar of "There She Goes Again" much cleaner as it escapes your speakers. And with Sterling Morrison, Lou Reed and John Cale all contributing to the NICO solo tracks - it's hardly surprising they bookend Disc 1. The flute and dry nature of "Chelsea Girls" with "Bridget all wrapped in foil..." matches the Velvets album perfectly while the eight-minutes of the (admittedly hissy) "It Was A Pleasure Then" feels just as druggy as anything on the "Banana Peel" debut.

Will we ever know its like again? Will I ever find an unpeeled 'banana sleeve' in a dollar bin or carboot sale - no is the answer. But at least with this superb Universal DE Edition you can get to understand what all the fuss and iconography is about.

"$26 in my hand...more dead than alive..." Lou Reed sings on "I'm Waiting For The Man". Well in 2014 you'll get your fix for a lot less now - and in this case - it's worth every blood red cent...
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on 24 March 2015
On Of the best albums of all time rip lou reed
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on 2 August 2011
I baught this vinyl according to the design of the vinyl which is wearing the banana on the grooves... and I add no comments to the wonderful Velvet Underground music that crossed decades without aging... BUT, I have serious critisisms regarding the vinyl product, produced by "Back to Back picture vinyl": the sound is not as clear as it should be. There is a background-noise all along the music (easily audible between the songs). It's a shame and I strongly advise against buying this version of the vinyl reissues. Hopwever, the vinyl sound of this Velvet Underground opus is better than the digital sound. As there are many othher vinyl productions, I hope you won't be disappointed with an other one.
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on 6 June 2014
This is the ultimate for any serious Velvet Underground fan - comes also with a fabulous booklet and some unreleased material. A loving tribute as any you would wish for. Buy it!!!
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on 3 June 2015
Every bit as great as you'd expect!
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on 3 February 2013
Expensive and beautiful - only really for Velvets freaks but if you're one of those you'll love it - if you're not the price alone will put you off!
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on 28 January 2016
outstanding.a bona fide classic
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on 22 March 2008
I first got into the Velvets via The Doors soundtrack which contains 'Heroin' and from there had to investigate further. Some time later I bought 'The Best Of' and Lou Reed 'Retro' compilations.

When I bought this album though I admit I didn't quite know what to make of it. I knew that I should like it, because it's a classic right?...one of the greatest, most influential...blah etc. There are songs on this album which are instantly, obviously, magnificent ('Heroin', 'Waiting For The Man', 'Sunday Morning' etc), but some of it, at first, I found hard going and you may have to work at it a little.

Having said that, it is worth the effort. It has a sound of it's own when compared with the other Velvets material, or compared with pretty much everything really. Yes, the recording is poor, vocals not great, it's very basic, stripped down, under produced and bare. But that's what makes it so attractive in this plastic, pre-packaged, pop world we live in today.
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on 21 January 2015
This 6 CD set sonically and content wise is perfect. So why the one star review? 4 out of 6 discs arrive scratched. It is the way the CD's are inserted in the book. They just created pockets to insert the discs and unless they are pushed all the way in the upper lip will etch a groove on the CD. The last track on Disc 1 would not play. I am heart broken seeing this lovely marred this way and not to mention the cost of the set I should receive perfect unscratched CD's.
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on 27 December 2015
Brought back happy memories
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