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The Velvet Underground Ranked + Descriptions
1The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground & Nico

5/5 The Velvet Underground are one of the most influential, consistent (minus Squeeze), and brilliant bands ever. Their signature cacophonous sound, complete with squealing violas courtesy of John Cale, Lou Reed's Dylan-indebted vocals, and heavy guitar tones, is incredibly influential to multiple genres, including punk and alternative rock. It all began in 1967 with their debut album, The Velvet Underground & Nico. German singer Nico was featured on this album, contributing her soft, breathy voice on tracks such as "Sunday Morning," "Femme Fatale," and "All Tomorrow's Parties." She gives the album a strange sort of beauty to contrast the dark subject matter and heavy sound. Songs such as "I'm Waiting For The Man" and "Heroin" are drug-fueled classics, and "Heroin" has the distinction of being my favorite Velvet Underground song of all time, and one of my favorite songs, period.
2The Velvet Underground
White Light/White Heat

4.7/5 Starting with the titular uptempo proto-punk rocker apparently paced so quickly to replicate the effects of methamphetamine, White Light/White Heat is an even dirtier, darker, louder follow-up to their debut album. Without the calming voice of Nico, there's nothing to balance out the uproar of Lou Reed and his band throughout these six tracks. The clear highlight here is the 17-minute epic closer, "Sister Ray." Throughout it's very lengthy runtime, "Sister Ray" mainly only uses two chords but manages to never feel overlong or boring. Backed by the driving force that is Maureen Tucker, The Velvet Underground's drummer, "Sister Ray" is full of surreal lyricism and pure mayhem. The other highlight which feels like the antithesis of TVU's aesthetic on their sophomore album is "Here She Comes Now." With its plain lyrics and simple instrumentation, it goes by quickly, and serves as the calm before the storm of the closing track.
3The Velvet Underground

4.4/5 The Velvet Underground's final album with Lou Reed, Loaded, was supposed to be "loaded" with hits, and it did have plenty more accessible songs than the Velvet Underground's first two albums. This trend began with their self-titled third album, featuring softer instrumentation, more melodic guitar leads, and an overall prettier sound. Some of The Velvet Underground's true classics are on this album, including "Rock & Roll," "Oh! Sweet Nuthin" and of course, "Sweet Jane." "Sweet Jane" is the song that everybody has heard by TVU, because of its accessible and catchy melody. It's one of the best songs of the album, as well as one of TVU's greatest songs. Some songs are subpar, such as the speedy yet uninteresting "Lonesome Cowboy Bill" and the similarly weak "Train Round The Bend." This weaker second half, however, is made up for with the fantastic closer "Oh! Sweet Nuthin."
4The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground

4.2/5 The band's third album, The Velvet Underground, was a very drastic change from their dissonant second LP. Chock-full of great quiet ballads and great rock songs, The Velvet Underground's third album is still great, despite being their worst. What puts this album at the bottom of my list is the awkward, overlong penultimate track, "The Murder Mystery." It deviates from the rest of the album in that it's experimental like the first two albums by TVU. The verses consist of four different poems being recited by a different band member. While an interesting idea, at nine minutes this leads to an ultimately very overlong and lackluster song. Also, there are not as many apparent standouts, save the gorgeous opener "Candy Says" and the beautiful ballad "Pale Blue Eyes."
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