Velvet Underground and Nico-Andy Warhol: 2008 Reissue on Picture Disc 180g Vinyl with Bonus Track - Chelsea Girls - Unzip the Famous Banana!

Velvet Underground and Nico-Andy Warhol: 2008 Reissue on Picture Disc 180g Vinyl with Bonus Track - Chelsea Girls - Unzip the Famous Banana!

Famous Unzippable Banana on Sleeve!

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Velvet Underground & Nico is the debut album by American rock band Velvet Underground, released in March 1967 by Verve Records. It was recorded in 1966 while the band were featured on Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable tour, which gained attention for its experimental performance sensibilities and controversial lyrical topics, including drug abuse,prostitution, sadomasochism and sexual deviancy. It sold poorly and was mostly ignored by contemporary critics, but later became regarded as one of the most influential albums in the history of popular music.

Velvet Underground & Nico was recorded with the first professional line-up of the Velvet Underground: Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker. At the instigation of their mentor and manager Andy Warhol, and his collaborator Paul Morrissey, German singer Nico was also featured; she had occasionally performed lead vocals for the band.She sang lead on three of the album's tracks—"Femme Fatale", "All Tomorrow's Parties" and "I'll Be Your Mirror"—and back-up on "Sunday Morning". In 1966, as the album was being recorded, this was also the line-up for their live performances as a part of Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable.

The bulk of the songs that would become The Velvet Underground & Nico were recorded in mid-April 1966, during a four-day stint at Scepter Studios, a run-down recording studio in Manhattan. This recording session was financed by Warhol and Columbia Records' sales executive Norman Dolph, who also acted as an engineer with John Licata. Though the exact total cost of the project is unknown, estimates vary from $1,500 (US$11,820 in 2019 dollars[13]) to $3,000 (US$23,640 in 2019 dollars).

Soon after recording, Dolph sent an acetate disc of the recordings to Columbia Records in an attempt to interest them in distributing the album, but they declined, as did Atlantic Records and Elektra Records—according to Morrison, Atlantic objected to the references to drugs in Reed's songs, while Elektra disliked Cale's viola. Finally, the MGM Records-owned Verve Records accepted the recordings, with the help of Verve staff producer Tom Wilson who had recently moved from a job at Columbia.

With the backing of a label, one month later in May 1966 three of the songs, "I'm Waiting for the Man", "Venus in Furs" and "Heroin", were re-recorded in two days at TTG Studios during a stay in Hollywood. When the record's release date was postponed, Wilson brought the band into Mayfair Recording Studios in Manhattan in November 1966, to add a final song to the track listing: the single "Sunday Morning".

The Velvet Underground & Nico was notable for its overt descriptions of topics such as drug abuse, prostitution, sadism and masochism and sexual deviancy. "I'm Waiting for the Man" describes a man's efforts to obtain heroin, while "Venus in Furs" is a nearly literal interpretation of the 19th century novel of the same name (which itself prominently features accounts of BDSM)."Heroin" details an individual's use of the drug and the experience of feeling its effects.

Lou Reed, who wrote the majority of the album's lyrics, never intended to write about such topics for shock value. Reed, a fan of poets and authors such as Raymond Chandler, Nelson Algren, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Hubert Selby, Jr., saw no reason the content in their works could not translate well to rock and roll music. An English major who studied for a B.A. at Syracuse University, Reed said in an interview that he thought joining the two (gritty subject matter and music) was "obvious". "That's the kind of stuff you might read. Why wouldn't you listen to it? You have the fun of reading that, and you get the fun of rock on top of it.

Though the album's dark subject matter is today considered revolutionary, several of the album's songs are centered on themes more typical of popular music. Certain songs were written by Reed as observations of the members of Andy Warhol's "Factory superstars". "Femme Fatale" in particular was written about Edie Sedgwick at Warhol's request. "I'll Be Your Mirror", inspired by Nico, is a tender and affectionate song; in stark contrast to a song like "Heroin". A common misperception is that "All Tomorrow's Parties" was written by Reed at Warhol's request (as stated in Victor Bockris and Gerard Malanga's Velvet Underground biography Up-Tight: The Velvet Underground Story). While the song does seem to be another observation of Factory denizens, Reed wrote the song before meeting Warhol, having recorded a demo in July 1965 at Ludlow Street. It had folk music sounds, which were possibly inspired by Bob Dylan.

Much of the album's sound was conceived by John Cale, who stressed the experimental qualities of the band. He was influenced greatly by his work with La Monte Young, John Cage and the early Fluxus movement, and encouraged the use of alternative ways of producing sound in music. Cale thought his sensibilities meshed well with Lou Reed's, who was already experimenting with alternate tunings. For instance, Reed had "invented" the ostrich guitar tuning for a song he wrote called "The Ostrich" for the short-lived band the Primitives. Ostrich guitar tuning consists of all strings being tuned to the same note. This method was utilized on the songs "Venus in Furs" and "All Tomorrow's Parties". Often, the guitars were also tuned down a whole step, which produced a lower, fuller sound that Cale considered "sexy".

Cale's viola was used on several of the album's songs, notably "Venus in Furs" and "Black Angel's Death Song". The viola used guitar and mandolin strings, and when played loudly, Cale would liken its sound to that of an airplane engine. Cale's technique usually involved drones, detuning and distortion. According to Robert Christgau, the "narcotic drone" not only sustains the sadomasochism-themed "Venus in Furs", but it also "identifies and unifies the [album] musically". Of the vocal performances, he believed "Nico's contained chantoozy sexuality" complemented "the dispassionate abandon of Reed's chant singing". In 1966, Richard Goldstein described Nico's vocal as "something like a cello getting up in the morning".

Cover Artwork!

The album cover for The Velvet Underground & Nico is recognizable for featuring a Warhol print of a banana. Early copies of the album invited the owner to "Peel slowly and see", and peeling back the banana skin revealed a flesh-coloured banana underneath. A special machine was needed to manufacture these covers (one of the causes of the album's delayed release), but MGM paid for costs figuring that any ties to Warhol would boost sales of the album.

Most reissued vinyl editions of the album do not feature the peel-off sticker; original copies of the album with the peel-sticker feature are now rare collector's items. A Japanese re-issue LP in the early 1980s was the only re-issue version to include the banana sticker for many years. On the 1996 CD reissue, the banana image is on the front cover while the image of the peeled banana is on the inside of the jewel case, beneath the CD itself.

This album was re-pressed onto heavyweight vinyl in 2008, featuring a banana sticker.

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