The 100 Best Debut Albums of All Time

5

'The Velvet Underground and Nico'

Velvet Underground and Nico
Courtesy Polydor Records

The Velvet Underground
MGM/Verve 1967

Much of what we take for granted in rock would not exist without this New York band or its debut, The Velvet Underground and Nico: the androgynous sexuality of glam; punk's raw noir; the blackened-riff howl of grunge and noise rock. It is a record of fearless breadth and lyric depth. Singer-songwriter Lou Reed documented carnal desire and drug addiction with a pop wisdom he learned as a song-factory composer for Pickwick Records. Multi-instrumentalist John Cale introduced the power of pulse and drone (from his work in early minimalism); guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker played with tribal force; Nico, a German vocalist briefly added to the band by manager Andy Warhol, brought an icy femininity to the heated ennui in Reed's songs. Rejected as nihilistic by the love crowd in '67, the Banana Album (so named for its Warhol-designed cover), is the most prophetic rock album ever made.

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