Velvet Underground & Nico
Review by Daniel Lalla
Music Group (Verve Records)
(as verified by the
Oppo Blu-ray player)
Total Music time: 48:55
Recorded: April 1966, Scepter Studios, New York City; May
1966, T.T.G. Studios, Hollywood, California; November 1966,
Mayfair Studios, New York City
Disc Size: 6,879,093,248 bytes
Audio: 2.0 Stereo LPCM or DolbyTrueHD or DTS-HD 24 / 192 (24
bit depth and 192 kHz sampling rate)
Chapters: 11 Tracks
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: October 30th, 2013
foldout with photos and lyrics and extensive description of
the recording process of the album. A paper with a code to
disc digital downloads online - MP3 only
Produced By: Andy Warhol (officially, but he really had
virtually nothing to do with the music)
From Lou Reed: “He just made it possible for us to be
ourselves and go right ahead with it because he was Andy
Warhol. In a sense, he really did produce it, because he was
this umbrella that absorbed all the attacks when we weren't
large enough to be attacked... and as a consequence of him
being the producer, we'd just walk in and set up and do what
we always did and no one would stop it because Andy was the
producer. Of course he didn't know anything about record
production—but he didn't have to. He just sat there and said
"Oooh, that's fantastic," and the engineer would say,
"Oh yeah! Right! It is fantastic, isn't it?"
The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground & Nico Track Listing:
1. Sunday Morning
2. I'm Waiting For The Man
3. Femme Fatale
4. Venus In Furs
5. Run Run Run
6. All Tomorrow's Parties
8. There She Goes Again
9. I'll Be Your Mirror
10. Black Angel's Death Song
11. European Son
Japan SHM-SACD – Same 11 Tracks as the
Deluxe Edition 2 CD Set – Umc/Polydor – 731458962427
– 31 Tracks – 2’ 31”
Peel Slowly and See Box Set – 0731452788726 – 86
page book – 74 tracks – over 6 hours
Japan SHM-CD 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe 6 CD Box Set
- UICY-75343 – 65 Tracks 5’50”
RIAA Sales: UK Platinum
Singles: "All Tomorrow's Parties" (edit) b/w "I'll
Be Your Mirror"
"Sunday Morning" b/w "Femme
“I’m Waiting for the Man” was released in 1973
Interesting trivia : Once again, there is just too much to
say about this classic album.
- In 2006 it was added to the National Recording Registry by
the Library of Congress.
- Montreal collector Warren Hill found the Scepter Studio
acetate in NYC at a sale for 75 cents. He got over $25000
for it in an auction and the songs are once again available
- It’s widely stated that the album was a flop initially,
but it’s reputation continued to grow and actually it sold
nearly 60000 copies by 1969, which was respectable at the
- Rolling Stone Magazine’s #13 Greatest Album of All Time
- The Observer's #1 of '50 Albums that Changed Music'
- One of Time Magazine’s greatest 100 albums of all time
- The Alternative Music Almanac placed the album in the
number 1 spot on the list of "10 Classic Alternative Albums"
- The album’s Scepter Studio sessions only cost about $2000
to record. Scepter Studios was a hole that was literally
- The album was released on Verve Records
- Both the front and back album covers have been the subject
o The rear for an unauthorized photo at the time of release
o The front cover for The Warhol Family foundation licensing
the banana design for use in iPhone cases in 2012
Description: In the mid 1960s, John Cale provided the sound,
heavily influenced by experimental music pioneers and Lou
Reed provided the attitude while Andy Warhol gave it a
certain art-school appeal. The Velvet Underground & Nico
is unlike any album released before it. It charted new areas
in music, taking it away from musicianship and polished
production. It took it in a much newer, darker, more
experimental direction that tackled unheard of subject
matters in typical NYC style: bluntly and directly. It also
had a certain democratizing effect in music: it is said that
anyone who heard the early Velvet Underground work wanted to
be in a band.
The album: The Velvet
Underground & Nico is simultaneously amongst the first
punk, garage, grunge, alt & goth albums ever. You can add
experimental rock, glam, proto-punk or any other number of
descriptors to this work that was about a generation ahead
of its time. Even the song Femme Fatale is almost
lounge jazz. A lot of range for a band that did not have a
lot of traditional musicianship.
The subject matter of this album is really that of the
underground and counter culture in NYC. Somewhat bleak at
times, it deals head on with drug use, sadomasochism, and
prostitution in an unflinching way.
The 11 track assault starts with the pensive overly-sweet
Sunday Morning that hints at regret and the end of more
than just the week. It sets an odd mood that is very
incongruent with what is to follow….
Waiting for the Man is the white-boy heroin addict
blues told in the story of a guy waiting to get his fix with
$26 dollars in his hand in a part of NYC he clearly doesn’t
belong in, but which drug use has brought him to. This song
is a great example of why you want the extra bonus tracks –
the initial song is a blues song, completely. By the time it
hit the album, it was a full-on grunge/punk rock song.
Femme Fatale is about, what else, a girl you’re never
gonna have ‘you’re number 37 in her book’ hinting at
prostitution in a lounge jazz style.
Venus In Furs, to my ears, is the first ever alt/goth
song with a full-frontal assault into S&M. For example “Shiny,
shiny, shiny boots of leather - Whiplash girlchild in the
dark”. None too subtle, but the music sounds like an
exotic funeral procession. It’s a song you can almost
‘smell’ if that makes any sense!
The track Run, Run, Run takes you back out of Venus’
S&M dungeon back into Union Square and more drug use. All
Tomorrow’s Parties is another goth-style track that laments
the poor girl lacking the clothes and status for: It is
widely thought to be about “Thursday’s Child” who has
“far to go”.
Heroin is about, well, heroin, but the importance is the
direct way they attack the subject, describe the high, the
fix, the process, the blood, the needle plunge. Put yourself
in 1967, see what was on TV. The Beatles’ awakening was
happening. The Beach Boys were at the point of Pet Sounds.
1967 must have been an interesting year. While songs
romaticising pot were to come to the forefront, the Velvet
Underground were flexing muscle and vein and bearing it out
there for all to see. I
There She Goes Again I think is lyrically the most
devastating brutal song. The prostitute is literally ‘on
her knees’ but there are ‘no tears in her eyes’.
It is steely resolve, primal, practical, cold all rolled
into one. It is the dark underbelly of NYC once again. The
kind you don’t see in Times Square anymore.
I’ll Be Your Mirror might be the one touching,
redeeming song in the set that is a sort of praise to the
misfit and a promise to be the companion, the one who will
reassure, the one who will stay and accept you.
The Black Angel’s Death Song is an offering of
choice; choices of lifestyles, all set out ‘on a plate’,
including the freedom to ‘let go’ and is a perhaps more
subtle hint at suicide.
European Son is a mystery to me. It is very experimental and
hints at industrial music in the noisescape. It starts
slowly building to a climax then Cale’s exploding a set of
plates at the 1:02 mark triggers a destructive louder,
harder, faster build to the end. Think early Nine Inch Nails
type vibe and energy, but is remains a noisy infection noise
and energy. It is the song that I think makes one finish on
a note of energy and resolve. JOIN A BAND….
Audio: What can I say about the audio? This is a lo-fi
POORLY RECORDED album. Period.
There is no amount of remastering that will ever turn this
into anything else. However, the source material’s CONTENT
has a place in any serious music fan’s collection. Even if
it’s not your thing, the effects of this album are still
heard today. It truly did change music.
So the Blu-ray Pure Audio of
this release is an excellent example again of lost
potential. Universal has largely made my task of reviewing
these titles easy by choosing top tier albums for release.
However, there has been a number of releases. a 5 CD box
set, a 6 CD Super Deluxe 45th Anniversary Set (regular and
Japanese SHM-CD relases). There is a 2 CD Deluxe Edition
with the most important bonus tracks. There is a ‘rarities’
edition out there as well. Almost all sell out now and go
out of print quickly and increase in value.
The 6 CD Set has HOURS of content. And it is, in my opinion,
important content for an album that was so pivotal in the
history of modern music. So why, oh why? would Universal
Audio with only the 11 basic tracks. I kind of ‘get’ the SHM-SACD:
if you want the absolute best sound that you can possibly
extract out of this recording, go for the expensive SHM-SACD.
You cannot do better with respect to the sound.
But having said that, it is a lo-fi recording and NONE of the issues are
compressed. Ther are all MORE than capable of reproducing this album
faithfully. The SHM-SACD, Japanese SHM-CD and the
might have a slightly more accurate depiction of the raw grittiness of
the recording, but SO WHAT?
And this is also a time for me to lament something else: why have a 2.0
LPCM a 2.0 DTS and a 2.0 TrueHD recording. It’s overkill and filler. If
they just stuck with the 2.0 LPCM track they could have included the
entire 6 CD box set on a
At the very least, they could have put the contents of the 2 CD Deluxe
So for these reasons: that all recent releases are adequate, and that
all the other releases include far more value, I cannot really give the
an unrestricted recommendation. It was a disappointment in these
Analysis: I cannot make a curve for the SACD without
converting it to PCM but the dynamic range values for all
versions are in the order of DR11 and adequately and
accurately depict the recording. To my ear the SHM-SACD
sounds best and the
audio is virtually identical. If it’s ultimate fidelity you
want either will do, but there’s little ‘fidelity’ to be had
with this album!
I have included curves for the song Sunday Morning
Deluxe Edition 2 CD Set
Peel Slowly and See Box Set
Japan SHM-CD 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe 6 CD
For DVDBeaver fans to understand my beef, I give you the
following comparison. Suppose you had a classic
ground-breaking film like
Nosferatu and, frankly, it looks like hell because
of the old source material. Now suppose you had a Criterion
edition that had the most complete version, and hours of
bonus material that is important to your understanding of
the film and its effects and influences on moviemaking. Now
of the movie came out and it still looks horrible because of
the source material and perhaps the picture is a little
better, but there were no extras whatsoever? Which edition
would you buy.
This album is so important that I suggest you get at least
the 2 CD deluxe edition while you still can and seriously
consider the 5 or 6 CD editions. If all you care about is
the finished product of 11 songs, there is still a strong
argument to made that because of the low fidelity that you
should just buy ANY CD edition and be happy. If you want
fidelity and only 11 tracks, yes, I can recommend the
and SACD, but I would encourage you to ‘Peel Slowly and
See’ what the fuss was all about and explore this work
with a better edition.
Summary: I cannot recommend the
unless you want a low cost alternative to the SACD
Only basic album. Zero extras. High fidelity release
of low fidelity classic LP - BUT They could have
easily included much, much more on the
Only basic album. Zero extras. Highest fidelity
release of low fidelity classic LP
Deluxe 2 CD Set
Best value. Sounds good, and has the most important
Peel & See Box
Great value, explores this album and other VU works
6 CD Anni. Box Set
If you really want to study this album, take the
plunge and get the whole thing
April 17th, 2014