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The Velvet Underground - European Son

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Uploaded on Jun 8, 2008

The Velvet Underground and Nico

Studio album by The Velvet Underground & Nico

The Velvet Underground and Nico is the debut The Velvet Underground and Nico

Studio album by The Velvet Underground & Nico

The Velvet Underground and Nico is the debut album by experimental rock band The Velvet Underground and vocal collaborator Nico. It was originally released in March 1967 by Verve Records, a subsidiary of MGM Records.

Recorded in 1966 during Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable multimedia event tour, The Velvet Underground and Nico would gain notoriety for its experimentalist performance sensibilities, as well as its focus on controversial subject matter in songs such as "Heroin".

Though largely ignored upon its release, it has since become one of the most influential and critically lauded rock albums in history, appearing as #13 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time[1] as well as being added to the 2006 National Recording Registry by the Librarian of Congress.

The Velvet Underground and Nico is sometimes referred to as the "banana album" as it features a Warhol print of a banana on the cover. Early copies of the album invited the owner to "Peel slowly and see"; peeling back the banana skin revealed a flesh-colored 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.[6][3]

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.

Much of the album's sound was conceived by John Cale, who stressed the experimental qualities of the band. Cale, who was influenced greatly by his work with La Monte Young, John Cage and the early Fluxus movement, 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 alternative 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. The method was utilized on 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 called "sexy".

Track History:


Lyrics: "European Son" is dedicated by the band to Delmore Schwartz, a literary mentor of singer Lou Reed's. Wanting to dedicate a song to Schwartz, "European Son" was chosen because it had the least amount of lyrics (rock-and-roll lyrics being something Schwartz abhorred).[1] The song is sometimes referred to as "European Son to Delmore Schwartz".[2]

The song could be seen as a precursor to the band's next album White Light/White Heat and certainly to the song "Sister Ray", a seventeen-minute-long rock improvisation.
The song begins with two stanzas of lyrics sung by Lou Reed, then a loud crash is heard (caused by John Cale hitting a stack of plates with a metal chair) after the first minute or so. Afterward, the song becomes improvisational for six minutes. It makes particular use of distortion and feedback. The song's manner of dissonant ensemble improvisation can be compared to the free jazz of Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler.

Lyrics: You killed your European son
You spit on those under twenty-one
But now your blue car's gone
You better say so long
Hey hey, bye bye bye

You made your wallpapers green
You want to make love to the scene
Your European son is gone
You'd better say so long
Your clown's bid you goodbye

On Set:

Lou Reed: Lead Guitar, Ostrich Guitar, Vocal
John Cale: Electric Viola, Piano, Bass Guitar
Sterling Morrison: Rhythm Guitar, Bass Guitar
Maureen "Moe" Tucker: Percussions
Nico: Chanteuse, Vocal

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