By Chris Gray
By Corey Deiterman
By Jef With One F
By Chris Gray
By Rocks Off
By Rocks Off
1. Jim Morrison was a better raunchy Rimbaud than Lou Reed ever was. Of course, Jim doesn't get any credit for that because he died fat and ugly and he was from (gasp) Florida, and Lou was an NYC glamour kid who hung out with Andy Warhol. But still, Morrison was better at being a "poetic" heroin-addled rock star than Reed ever dreamed of being.
2. The VU single-handedly enshrined the idea that boring equals cool. Because of them, it's all about having the right pissy attitude and the correct artistic sensibility rather than creating music that's fun, exciting, primal or even merely enjoyable. It's because of the Velvets that hipsters stand and stare at shows. Indeed, it's because of the Velvets that hipsters exist.
3. The Velvets dragged rock off the streets and into art galleries and now even museums. By consorting with Warhol, classically trained Brit John Cale, German supermodel Nico and other such Eurotrash and hoity-toity types, and by branding themselves as less a band than a "movement" (one with the moronic name "the Plastic Exploding Inevitable," at that), they demanded that rock receive "high culture" treatment. This is bad.
4. The Velvet Underground and Nico is often cited as the best album of all time. How can that be possible when nobody has listened to the second half of it (what used to be called "side two") since 1974?
5. Indeed, when was the last time somebody played any of this record for the sheer joy of listening to it? When was the last time somebody played the Velvet Underground when they weren't trying to make some hipster point? They haven't, because this is not a great record. It's an important record, I'll grant that, but don't make me listen to it.
6. The main reason this album never goes out of style is not that it didn't sell many copies when it was released. No, it never goes out of style because, outside of R.E.M., no band that cops to having the Velvets as a major, obvious influence has had much success either. And that's because most of the bands the Velvets influenced -- Sonic Youth, for example -- make dreary, miserable music for philosophy majors who aren't as smart or weird as they think they are. And if all you influenced was a great smoking dungheap of shite, can you be said to be influential at all, at least in any positive sense?
7. There's the whole business of this album kicking off the punk movement somehow, 'cause, like, you know, punk had to be from New York, 'cause everything cool is from New York. Bullshit. The Stooges and the MC5 can stake a much stronger claim to that throne, as can John Fogerty and CCR. (To me, "Fortunate Son" was America's first punk hit.)
8. Oh, wait a minute...I suddenly get how the Velvets were the first punk band. Andy Warhol foisted them off on a gullible public the same way that Malcolm McLaren later did with the Sex Pistols. The Velvets may not have had much to do with punk musically, but they were certainly the first great Rock and Roll Swindle.
9. Nico: She could not sing, and letting her do so opened up a can of worms that's still wriggling. Today, every mousy little indie-rock girl listens to The Velvet Underground and Nico and thinks, "Hey, Nico couldn't sing, and this is the coolest album of all time! I should totally sing!" No, Skylar, or Leilani, or whatever your name is, you shouldn't. Watch some VU video, honey. See that six-foot, smokin'-hot ice princess on the stage? That's Nico. Gaze upon her. That was why she was in the band.
10. Their "risque" lyrics. I get how junkies, whores and trannies might be thrilling to college freshmen and other poseurs from Memorial and Sugar Land, but for those of us who grew up around them, or see them every day on the way to and from work, they are boring. Also, while this shit might have broken some new ground in 1967, it's old hat now, so stop telling us we have to care. -- John Nova Lomax