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· VELVET UNDERGROUND - VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO (THE LEGENDARY SELF-TITLED FIRST ALBUM, also known as “BANANA COVER”)
· ORIGINAL U.S. PRESSING
· ORIGINAL 1967 VERVE MONO LP V-5008 WITH BANANA STICKER AND THE UNCENSORED, ORIGINAL "TORSO" BACK COVER (ERIC EMERSON’S TORSO IS UNCENSORED, UNCOVERED, UNAIRBRUSHED AND CLEARLY VISIBLE ON THE BACK COVER)
· *** YELLOW LABEL PROMO ***
· THE INFAMOUS PEELABLE BANANA STICKER IS 100% INTACT AND WHOLE (ONLY A MICROSCOPIC WEAR AT THE UPPER TIP OF BANANA, BUT ABSOLUTELY NO PART OF THE STICKER IS MISSING)
· THIS IS A MONSTROUSLY RARE “FIRST STATE” VERSION OF THE COVER WITH THE ERIC EMERSON’S TORSO HANGING UPSIDE-DOWN, SUPERIMPOSED OVER THE GROUP’S PHOTO ON THE BACK PANEL. THIS SHORT-LIVED ORIGINAL VERSION WAS IN PRINT SEEMINGLY ONLY FOR A NANOSECOND: PRACTICALLY IMMEDIATELY UPON RELEASE, VERVE WAS FORCED TO APPLY A LARGE STICKER WITH ALBUM TITLE ON THE BACK COVER TO CAMOUFLAGE THE PROBLEMATIC “TORSO” SECTION IN ORDER TO AVERT A COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT LAWSUIT (THESE SECOND VERSIONS ARE USUALLY REFERRED TO AS “SECOND STATE” COVERS). SUBSEQUENT PRESSINGS – WITH OR WITHOUT BANANA STICKER, ALL HAVE THE OFFENSIVE TORSO AIRBRUSHED (THESE ARE KNOWN AS “THIRD STATE” COVERS. WE PROUDLY OFFER THE RAREST VERSION OF THEM ALL: THE BRUTALLY RARE FIRST STATE “TORSO” COVER.
· ORIGINAL VERVE LABEL WITH LARGE T-SHAPED LOGO, YELLOW & BLACK PROMOTIONAL VERSION!
· THIS IS A “DEDICATED” MONO MIX. THIS IS NOT A STEREO-TO-MONO MIXDOWN, WHICH MEANS THAT THE MONO MIXES ARE SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT AND SPECIFICALLY MADE FOR THE MONO PRESSING.
· THIS IS THE ORIGINAL, AUTHENTIC, FIRST U.S. PRESSING; THIS IS NOT A REISSUE, AN IMPORT, OR A COUNTERFEIT PRESSING.
· ORIGINAL GATEFOLD COVER, MADE OF THICK CARDBOARD (AMERICAN STYLE)
· THICK, HEAVY VINYL PRESSING
· CLEAN, WEAR-FREE LABELS
(►PLEASE SEE THE IMAGE OF THE COVER, LABEL OR BOTH, SHOWN BELOW)
(Note: this is a REAL image of the ACTUAL item you are bidding on. This is NOT a "recycled" image from our previous auction. What you see is what you’ll get. GUARANTEED!)
We claim without any reservations or exaggerations, in full responsibility, sound mind and good faith and conscience that THIS is the single most important album in Rock history and the single most influential Rock session of the 20th Century – far exceeding in musical and historical importance EVEN the most important albums by The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin or The Doors. Unless you are willing to wait another 10 years to see another YELLOW LABEL PROMO THIS BEAUTIFUL, our message is short and simple: BID NOW. DON’T WAIT. THIS MAY BE THE LAST COPY YOU WILL EVER SEE.
Why do we believe that this modest first album – recorded by a heretofore unknown band, under medieval and chaotic conditions, to no corporate fanfare, with very little promotion or marketing and almost zero sales, managed to surpass in its musical brilliance and artistic and stylistic importance even such cornerstones of Rock music as The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band; The Rolling Stones’ Beggar’s Banquet; Jimi Hendrix’ “Are you experienced” or Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde”?
The answer is simple. All these fine rock classics sold millions, made a huge splash, big noise, exploded for a few weeks or months, topped the charts, illuminated the minds of their contemporaries’ and rivals’ alike, influenced some artists (and alienated the others) and then retired into a comfortable niche of the “rock classic” status bestowed upon them over the next few years and decades. In other words, they may be historically and critically important, but they are for all practical purposes DEAD – they are museum exhibits, of their time and place, but not of this moment; of this time and place; beautiful pieces carved into cold, hard marble, but aged, cold and definitely not breathing. Make no mistake: all these rock classics are our personal favorites. But they carry no immediate or permanent importance, personal resonance and contemporary message. Their age shows, and it shows in ways that are not always complementary or graceful.
Not so with Velvet Underground and Nico. The album has had a life like no other in the history of popular music. From its modest, humble beginnings (except for three tracks, the sessions took place after Columbia already declined to sign up the band, in a decrepit Wand/Scepter studio that was literally being demolished as the band was recording in it), the album snowballed – despite all possible legal, commercial and marketing complications and distractions – into a massive force of its own; an artistic equivalent of avalanche or tsunami. A cultural paradigm not unlike that of the Birth of Jazz, or the dawn of the abstract art (Andy Warhol’s subversive, eye-popping, brain-teasing banana artwork clearly playing a major role in this).
If, in fact, there is another work of art comparable to this album (and this is a BIG “if”), it surely would not be a Rock album -- for there are NO known cultural antecedents and predecessors in the world of popular music, and no points of reference either. The only comparable thing that comes to mind would be Picasso’s Girls of Avignon, or Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring (both from 1913). In the world of contemporary music, the only session that comes reasonably close to the level of the chutzpah and artistic courage of the Velvets’ first album would be John Coltrane’s Ascension (recorded barely a year prior to Velvet Underground and Nico, and quite possibly exerting a strong influence on both Reed and Cale; compare, for example, the maddening cacophonics of the Velvets’ European son with the gushing, unrestrained eruptions of Coltrane’s pure, protean expression, to see what we mean).
And it is easy to see why there are not too many precedents. These works of art are some of the most radical, revolutionary conceptions ever, causing uproar and upheaval of galactic proportions (and in the case of Stravinsky’s ‘Rites of Spring, even a public riot – quite literally!); just like Velvet Underground’s first album, these astonishing works are one-way-ticket departures from all existing norms and forms, dispensing with all structures, conventions and rules once and for all. Think of the Velvets’ first album as Lou Reed and John Cale taking pop music to the guillotine and waving its somewhat slightly detached head to the shocked masses thereafter. Forty one year later, it is still too radical and revolutionary for some narrow minds.
If Lou Reed wasn’t always able to maintain this level of brilliance over the next 40 years of his career, he can easily be forgiven: this album has more brilliance, creativity and ingenuity (and make no mistake, Nico, Cale, Tucker and Morrison ALL equally co-participated in it) to last a lifetime; certainly more than many artists’ entire careers worth of. It’s almost as if Lou Reed spurted all his creative energy on this one session, leaving precious little left for his subsequent works (although this by no means was his sole masterpiece; there would be more to come).
In short, the branch of Rock evolution that Velvet Underground single-handedly begat and nourished is still alive and well, bearing shoots, leaves and fruits (and an occasional dud here and there) long after many larger (and thicker) branches of Rock evolution have withered, died and fallen off. The Velvets’ esthetic vision is as alive and vibrant today as it was 40 years ago, if not more so. If it were for its lasting durability and longevity alone, the album would deserve to be called a Titan.
Read on (don’t lose patience! - there’s much to read)
ABOUT MONO MIXES:
There is a universal consensus that original MONO pressing is by far more interesting, unique, and mind-teasing (almost trippy) than the corresponding STEREO pressing. Because MONO pressings of this album were discontinued only a year later (in mid-1968) while the stereo pressings continued to this day, ORIGINAL mono pressings are zillions of times more desirable and coveted than the stereo pressings.
There is a good reason for this. Not only are the mono mixes more vivid, lively, “ambiental” and wonderfully raw and crude, they are also more revealing: you get to hear – clearly and loudly – the crispy and crunchy guitars, throbbing bass lines, Cale’s industrial-strength piano chomps that would make Cecil Taylor proud, Mo Tucker’s tribal drumming and Nico’s thin, valkyrie-like voice in much more detail, and entirely unburdened and free of channel separation, equalization, echo/reverb and other distractions found on more common stereo mixes. In many ways, the mono mix is like a frozen aural portrait of the group circa 1967: a moment in time preserved in ice, ready to be thawed and served. It is downright scary that a recording made under such primitive circumstances more than 40 years ago can sound this realistic. On some tracks (Sunday Morning comes to mind), the group members will (well, almost, anyway) materialize in your living room! The recording has that eerily lifelike quality or an old 78rpm blues record being brought back to life.
But that’s not all. Not only are these mono mixes “dedicated” mono mixes (not stereo mixdowns), but AT LEAST TWO songs on the album are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT TAKES of the songs. Mono version of ‘European Son’ is DEFINITELY, POSITIVELY a different take, with Lou Reed’s meandering guitar lines charting VERY different solos and paths than on the stereo version. All Tomorrows’ Parties and Run, Run, Run also appears to be different takes.
But whether you revel in the realism of the sound, the vibrant, life-affirming, crudeness of it, the creative sequencing of the songs or the different mono takes, one thing is certain. The original MONO version of this album is a MASSIVELY DIFFERENT listening experience than a more common stereo.
While Bill Levenson and his crew at Universal Music Group did a wonderful and admirable job of reissuing in 2002 a deluxe CD version of this album (which features both mono and stereo version of the album), it is a FACT that original, analog mono pressing rules!!! Digital mono version – as cute and sexy as it is – simply can’t hold a candle to the original vinyl.
ABOUT THE ALBUM:
What else can be said of this album that hasn’t already been said? The album that defi(n)ed the era; the music that shattered conventions, the production that influenced everyone over the next five decades, the lyrics that sound fresher today than they did in 1967 and the Andy Warhol artwork that still captures the imagination. This is a sexy, moody, brilliant and occasionally violent work that would be impossible to reproduce today, in the age of political correctness gone amok. Most importantly, THE MUSIC!!!. This is the only album that will