Oct 272023

‘The Best Covers Ever’ series counts down our favorite covers of great artists.

Velvet Underground and Nico

On October 27, 2013, ten years ago today, Lou Reed died. I happened to be in New York City at the time, and his passing was a lead story on the 11 o’clock news. It was as though a part of the city itself had died. Which, inescapably, it had. Reed embodied NYC, from its seedy back rooms to its secret heart, in a way few other people, let alone musicians, ever did.

While Reed’s solo career is highly and deservingly accoladed, it still got overshadowed by the Velvet Underground. Reed’s first band featured Welsh musician John Cale, guitarist Sterling Morrison, and drummer Maureen Tucker, with Nico singing on the first album and Doug Yule replacing Cale in 1968. The band’s four studio albums started ripples that turned into tsunamis; they went from secret-handshake status to Hall of Fame giants, their influence right up there with the Beatles.

We’re honoring Lou and Company with this collection of covers. Some covers couldn’t hold a candle to the original (you’ll find no “Heroin” here), but many of the originals were receptive to another artist’s distinctive stamp. Whether you prefer the first or what followed, you’ll hear the sound of immortality as it opens yet another path of discovery.

–Patrick Robbins, Features Editor


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  8 Responses to “The 35 Best Velvet Underground Covers Ever”

Comments (8)
  1. Thanks, I’ll look these up.
    The Cowboy Junkies cover of Sweet Jane is worth a listen

  2. Missed Billy Bragg and Courtney Barnett doing Sunday Morning, it’s joyous

  3. Not surprised it got missed (being way down in the radar), but everyone should check out Rachel Sweet’s version of “New Age” from her 2nd album “Protect the Innocent” in 1980.

  4. https://youtu.be/voV_e0IKwzs?si=RDn5USQRaLMecAsB
    the Riats , a dutch band cut this already in 67 or 68
    with spaced-out organ solo

  5. I’m still a huge fan of Dramarama’s Femme Fatale.

  6. I’m a little sad that Elizabeth Mitchell didn’t get a nod in this list. OK, it was on a children’s record, but her cover of What Goes On is just fucking fabulous. Still and quiet and really kind of brutal.

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