So basically, all "cool", non-bloated classik rawk & left-of center underground, punk, experimental, indie, etc. rock starts right here. The VU's original line-up was such a nutty group of young people - a crank-addled mediocre poet slash Great Asshole who couldn't sing (Lou Reed), a Welsh avant-garde piano slash viola player who studied with John Cage (John Cale), an icy Nazi model who could barely speak, much less sing, in English (Nico), an under-acknowledged guitar-god (Sterling Morrison) and the Mies van der Rohe of drummers, Mo Tucker - that it was inevitable that great sounds would come out of their convergence. And oh yeah, they were sort of sponsored by the greatest genius of the 20th Century, Andy Warhol, who should be credited with "art damage" in the liner notes. Ranging from gorgeous pop songs with dark undertones like "Sunday Morning" and "I'll Be Your Mirror," to songs about buying and then using (logical, no?) drugs - "I'm Waiting For The Man" and "Heroin," to S &M ballads like "Venus In Furs," to noisy free jazz/musique concrete skronk-fests like "European Son", the VU lay down the groundwork, in both subject matter and the "we don't give a fuck about tuning & recording levels" attitude, for most of the directions taken by underground rockers since. And they did all this on a major label in 19-frickin'-67 while wearing a lot of black and doing a lot of speed & smack while all the hippies on pot & acid were generally happy. That's what New York will do to you. Their driving, minimal sound (further refined on the subsequent White Light/White Heat and The VU), propelled by Tucker's less-is-more drumming was also a huge influence on Krautrockers like Can, Neu!, Faust, and even Kraftwerk, who once said that they wanted to sound like a cross between the VU and the Beach Boys. So you could even say that they indirectly influenced hip-hop (sort of). One of the few perfect albums, ever. Limited edition picture disc pressing!
- music label: Vinyl Lovers 2014
reviewed by Language 11/2005