List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Title: The Velvet Underground & Nico
Artist: The Velvet Underground & Nico
I am a firm believer that, when it comes to music, there are some albums that you need to work your way up to understanding. Some things (like ‘Pluto‘ by Bjork) are different enough and can be understood and enjoyed almost immediately. Then there are albums that are equally outside the radar but it can take years before you are musically ready to understand it. The Velvet Underground & Nico falls completely in the latter camp.
In 2005, when the book 1001 Albums You Must Listen To Before You Die, I went on a bit of a listening spree. I saw so many albums by artists that I had heard of and not heard of, and I sought to devour them. Through this book I was able to uncover some of my favourite artists of all time. Bjork, Beck, PJ Harvey, Nina Simone, M.I.A. and Fiona Apple. All in my life because this book provided a good introduction. However, for every breakthrough were a number of moments falling flat; The Velvet Underground & Nico being one of those moments (others including Nico’s solo album Chelsea Girls, The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady by Charles Mingus and OK by Talvin Singh).
Here’s the thing; The Velvet Underground & Nico is a very grown up album. Songs about addiction and sado-masochism really don’t say much to a fairly sheltered 14 year old. Granted I don’t have experience in either of those things (and as such am still fairly sheltered) but now that I have listened to a larger variety of music I am able to appreciate the atmosphere in songs like ‘Heroin’ and ‘Venus in Furs’. ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ is by far the stand-out for me… with ‘The Black Angel’s Death Song’ being a song that, nine years later, I still don’t get.
To summarise: I get it now.