I SATELLITE Electro Music

retro futurist minimal electronic new wave analog synth electro pop music


The Velvet Underground & Nico - The Velvet Underground - (1967)

So what's an electro-pop artist doing reviewing an avant garde band from the 60's? Weren't the 60's all about the Beatles, Bubblegum Pop, and the Beach Boys? Perhaps if you were following the popular music trends of the day, yes. But the VU could care less about trends. They were ignoring the pop trends of their era and doing things their own way. If you're a trend follower, you'll be listening to the latest bands on the charts, and you'll always be hip on what is currently cool and accepted by the music industry. If you listened to this album for the first time today, your memories wouldn't be of the year it was released, but of the year you bought the album. To me, good music is not necessarily the music that's released today. In my opinion, music shouldn't be confined or defined by decades. Music is timeless.

I was first introduced to the Velvet Underground in late 1983 while reading an interview by R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck. He mentioned VU as a major influence and, being a huge fan of R.E.M. at the time, I had to check out every band they recommended. Soon after, my friend bought the first VU album. We weren't prepared for the cacaphony of sound we were about to experience. Distorted guitars, frenetic viola, repetitive percussion, drug-induced lyrics, & monotone vocals. But the album grew on me, and today I have to say this album has had a tremendous influence on me and my music. Especially the simple pop song melodies, the laid-back singing of Lou Reed, and repetitive drumming of Mo Tucker.

The album was recorded in 1966 but not released until the following year. In early 1966, Andy Warhol established the multimedia show The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, at which The Velvet Underground performed. You can read all about the history of the band here.

The album is full of stark contrasts. Helf the songs are light and melodic, while the other half come crashing down on you like a ton of bricks. My favorites are the light ones, Sunday Morning, Femme Fatale, Pale Blue Eyes, All Tomorrow's Parties, There She Goes Again, & I'll Be Your Mirror. There are others that are sort of mid-tempo blues, like Waiting for the Man & Run, Run, Run. But the album would be nothing without the contrast, the sheer cacaphony of European Son, Venus in Furs, & The Black Angel's Death Song.

Some of my favorite artists have covered Velvet Underground songs. Japan, Icehouse, & Roxy Music covered All Tomorrow's Parties. R.E.M. covered Pale Blue Eyes, Femme Fatale, & There She Goes Again. Big Star covered Femme Fatale. Echo & the Bunnymen covered Heroine, Sister Ray, & Run, Run, Run. David Bowie & Bauhaus covered Waiting For the Man. Sisters of Mercy, New Order, & Joy Division covered Sister Ray. OMD covered Sunday Morning & Waiting for the Man. And there are so many more. They were a huge influence on practically every band I know.

You can hear sound clips or buy MP3's of the songs on Apple iTunes (requires installation of iTunes on PC or Mac).

I've always wanted to do a cover of the song Sunday Morning, and I'm sure one day I will. Just an awesome song! When I listen to this album today, it brings back some really good memories...from 1983 of course, not 1966. In my opinion it's a timeless classic and simply one of the best, most influential albums of all time.

Check out www.thevelvetunderground.co.uk or The Velvet Underground Web Page for more info on the Velvet Underground.

View a list of other albums I SATELLITE will be reviewing in the near future.