The sleepy opening track, Sunday Morning, eases the listener gently into The Velvet Underground and Nico by the Velvet Underground and Nico. The themes of the album seem slightly out of sync with this peaceful beginning, but then the peaceful beginning is not representative of the music that follows either. This is a hedonistic album, telling its tales of sex and drugs with relish.
The Velvet Underground’s experimental style creates some brilliantly moody tracks. The piercing instrumental cries on Venus In Furs enhance the dark atmosphere of the piece, and throughout the record the simple percussion drives the album forward, without becoming tiresome. I am less keen, however, on Nico’s flat vocal style; she has a distinctive voice, but after every track she sings on I feel I would have enjoyed it more had someone else sung it. I would also prefer the Velvet Underground not to drag out the ends of their songs so much; this is particularly the case at the close of the album, when European Son goes on for six minutes or so after it should have ended!
Amongst an album of great tracks it is hard to single out a favourite, but the ever so heartfelt Heroin is definitely among the best. With its heart-pumping drums and impassioned lyrics, this love song not only tells of complete devotion, but also puts you in the shoes of the devotee. The calm of the strings and the pervasive drumbeat draws you into the singer’s uncompromisingly focussed state of mind. As the song progresses to a racing climax you get a taste of the all-enveloping addiction the narrator describes, and it sounds fabulous.