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The Best of the Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground

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Album Review

The legacy of the Velvet Underground has grown to mythic proportions as the decades wear on, and their influence continues to impact new generations of musicians. Attempting to sum up the scope of their sonic achievements proves a difficult task and a wide variety of compilations and previously unearthed recordings keep surfacing, attempting to unravel the mystery of this short-lived and impossibly cool band from New York City. This best-of collection takes the most direct route, leaning heavily on popular selections from the band's 1967 debut, like "I'll Be Your Mirror" and "Femme Fatale," both sung by Nico. The noisier side of the band is represented more sparingly, with only the title track from the more experimental second album, White Light/White Heat, and the sprawling "Heroin" drifting into the challenging side of the Velvets' forced matchmaking with pop and chaos. Tunes like the hauntingly beautiful "Pale Blue Eyes" or "Sweet Jane," from later album Loaded, pair nicely with rockers like "What Goes On" and "I Can't Stand It," and while this collection might be a little pedestrian for studied fans of the band's catalog, it serves as an excellent introduction to one of the most quietly perfect bands in the history of rock music.

Biography

Formed: 1964 in New York, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '90s

Few rock groups can claim to have broken so much new territory, and maintain such consistent brilliance on record, as the Velvet Underground during their brief lifespan. It was the group's lot to be ahead of, or at least out of step with, their time. The mid- to late '60s was an era of explosive growth and experimentation in rock, but the Velvets' innovations — which blended the energy of rock with the sonic adventurism of the avant-garde, and introduced a new degree of social realism and sexual...
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