Tom Petty once answered a critic's complaint about rock and roll not being very good by saying, "It's not supposed to be good. . . , it's rock and roll." Taken within the context of that remark, The Velvet Underground and Nico is very good, indeed. Taken within the standard of today's art, with its digital tools and indefinite techniques, of Andy Warhol's print of a banana on the cover of the
celebrated album, I might say, that's not the best banana you can find in any store, in any storage, or anywhere in cyberspace, but it's Andy Warhol's print. It has made its mark.
That was good - when I was twelve years old.
Or in fact, it still is. In January 2012, the "Velvet Underground" business partnership sued The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. after the Foundation
licensed the cover's banana design to Incase Designs for use on a line of iPhone and iPad cases. So there.
I still don't understand why a banana would appear on the cover of a rock album which was classified punk before there was punk. That was awful;
one source says the album only sold ten thousand copies. But (the source also says) everyone who bought it formed a band.
I am not among them. My banana is a woman.
Here is Andy Warhol's original album cover art design.
No. 13, Rolling Stone, The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time; No. 13, The Virgin All-Time Album Top 1000; No. 24, Rate Your Music, The 100 Greatest Albums of All Time;
No. 38, Entertainment Weekly, 100 Greatest Albums Ever.
No. 10, Rolling Stone, The 100 Greatest Album Covers; No. 13, Music Radar, The 50 Greatest Album Covers of All Time.
Print by Andy Warhol. Album produced by Andy Warhol and Tom Wilson. Verve 1967.
Released in early 1967, but recorded close to a year before, The Velvet Underground & Nico, along with The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, introduced a new form of rock music:
the artsy concept album. Sgt. Pepper had its lavish, high-concept album cover, while The Velvet Underground & Nico represented the postmodern side, with Andy Warhol’s banana on a white
background. Musically, The Beatles pulled out all the stops, meticulously recording their album over several months. The Velvet Underground (Guitarist/singer Lou Reed,
multi-instrumentalist John Cale, rhythm guitarist/bassist Sterling Morrison, drummer Maureen Tucker, and “chanteuse” Nico), on the other hand, needed just
3000 dollars and one day in the studio.
The result of that quick studio visit is astonishing, a combination of white noise, classic rock and roll, soul, and folk music, a sound that is impossible to
categorize in anything else but “The Velvet Underground”. Wispy-gentle one moment, chugging and driving the next, disturbing a few minutes
later, and cacophonous at the end, The Velvet Underground & Nico was so far ahead of its time that it still sounds fresh today. Full article
(A) Sunday Morning - I'm Waiting for the Man - Femme Fatale - Venus in Furs - Run, Run, Run - All Tomorrow's Parties
(B) Heroin - There She Goes Again - I'll Be Your Mirror - The Black Angel's Death Song - European Son