Full Albums features covers of every track off a classic album. Got an idea for a future pick? Leave a note in the comments!
In the annals of rock history, The Velvet Underground & Nico is filed under “Important Albums.” Sure, it sold all of five copies at the time of its release, but it is has since risen through the ranks to define not just a sound, not just an era, but an entire lifestyle. This one has everything. Drugs! S&M! Andy Warhol’s peelable banana cover!
Lou Reed’s noisy rants have inspired thousands of covers over the years. Below are our favorites for VU & Nico. As always with Full Albums, a different artist reinterprets each and every track. From folk harmony to psycho guitar squall, from musicians foreign to the dark subject matter to those who can relate all too well, it’s here. Click each song title for an MP3. Banana not included.
Big Star – Femme Fatale
It’s been a rough year for Big Star fans. In March the world lost songwriter/frontman Alex Chilton, then last month bassist Andy Hummel followed him to that great gig in the sky. Like the Underground, Big Star’s influence reaches far beyond record sales. [More from this artist]
The Smashing Pumpkins – Venus in Furs
Rewind to a time when the Smashing Pumpkins were more than a Billy Corgan vanity project. Rewind further, to a time when they were just scrappy Chicago musicians trying to write a hit. This cut comes from that bygone era. It’s a 1989 broadcast on local college radio station WZRD. [More from this artist]
Yo La Tengo – Run Run Run
An argument could be made that Yo La Tengo hews closer to the Velvet Underground model than any other band today. Critically beloved, the self-conceived artists twist a knife into rock and roll, inspire a passionate following, and don’t sell many records. This cover comes from a 2001 live show at New Jersey’s famed Maxwell’s. [More from this artist]
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – All Tomorrow’s Parties
The Bad Seeds announced their arrival with a blistering cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Avalanche,” the first track on their classic debut From Her to Eternity. The covers never let up, culminating two LPs later with Kicking Against the Pricks. On this all-covers disc, Cave brought his dark punk to songs by John Lee Hooker, Johnny Cash, and the Velvet Underground with this screeching “All Tomorrow’s Parties.” [More from this artist]
Roky Erickson – Heroin
Erickson, of psychedelic pioneers (and Velvet Underground contemporaries) the 13th Floor Elevators, was all too familiar with the 1960s drug scene. Erickson’s heroin addiction helped turn him into “a vegetable,” combining with his innate schizophrenia to land him in a mental institution in 1968. Out of decades of mental instability and sporadic recording sessions came this bitter ode to the drug that was there from the start. [More from this artist]
R.E.M. – There She Goes Again
R.E.M.’s 1987 B-sides collection Dead Letter Office includes three Velvet Underground covers: “Pale Blue Eyes,” “Femme Fatale,” and this. One of the more ambiguous lyrics on the record, there are a variety of ways to interpret lines like “You better hit her.” None are positive. [More from this artist]
Stuart Ferguson – I’ll Be Your Mirror
Producer Andy Warhol tried to convince the band to manufacture the record with a skip in it, so the line “I’ll be your mirror” repeated endlessly until the listener manually moved the needle. Thankfully, they overruled this suggestion. Massachusetts songwriter Stuart Ferguson needs only a guitar and that beautiful voice to deliver this love ballad. [More from this artist]
Beck – The Black Angel’s Death Song
Last summer Beck began his Record Club web series with a song-by-song cover of this album. Since, he’s done the same to Leonard Cohen, Skip Spence, INXS and, currently, Yanni. The first may have been the best though. This comes from that session. [More from this artist]
Gary Lucas – European Son
The New Yorker described Gary Lucas as “the thinking man’s guitar hero.” Rolling Stone called him “one of…the most original guitarists in America.” This explosive freakout shows why. [More from this artist]