The Velvet Underground is the band that achieved a median in mainstream appeal and indie reverence.
During their era, the Velvet Underground’s music sales and billboard numbers were not astonishingly high (only two of their albums made it on the Billboard’s Top 200), but their influence on rock planted a foundation during the 1960s, inadvertently inspiring others and eventually becoming as one of the most important rock bands of all time.
Co-founder of Roxy Music and producer, Brian Eno, once said about the band: “The first Velvet Underground album sold only 1,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band” and its a sentiment that epitomises the influence of Lou Reed and the band.
If there was case for you to starting listening on the band’s music, here we share our rankings of the legendary Velvet Underground’s studio albums.
Every Velvet Underground Album Ranked:
5. Squeeze (1973)
This album has to be put down first and at the bottom of our rankings for two specific reasons.
One: There were no original members besides multi-instrumentalists Doug Yule.
Two: No Lou Reed-era group so only taking the band’s name and not sounding like any of their previous works.
You might as well call it a Yule’s solo album.
4. White Light/White Heat (1968)
The second album from the band, one which lead to firing Andy Warhol and cutting ties with Christa Paffgen AKA the enigmatic singer Nico.
The content on White Light/ White Heat emphasised sex and drugs, composing with experimental, art, noise-type rock, it was said they recorded the album in two days. The album was raw, noisy improvisation, which shared more of a chaotic period with the band; with original bassist John Cale leaving. Listen to the track ‘Sister Ray’, as it goes for seventeen-and-a-half minutes is an example showing how unconventional recording it was at the time.
Placing it in at number four on out list may seem controversial, but if you place a compare and contrast of that band from their other discography, it was more of a stepped down after their debut, mostly for the off-key, disorientation they trapped in the album.
3. Loaded (1970)
Consider this album to be the Velvet Underground’s last album, not that Squeeze bullshit.
As their record label at the time pushed the group to create hit singles, the decision gave them the idea to name its album.
It was the departure of Lou Reed before he took off with his solo career, and the band’s effort to make more of commercial play, which it was quite ironic from the previous albums.
Loaded, is a classic rock masterpiece.
2. The Velvet Underground (1969)
This self-titled album was the first to step to move away from Verve Records and it pushed them away after the White Light/ White Heat album. Lou Reed stated that White Light/White Heat was a terrible mistake and wanted to demonstrate something more creative.
This brought in Doug Yule as a member, replacing John Cale. This album consists of all the members doing lead verses for the album. Yule sang ‘Candy Says’, drummer Moe Tucker did ‘After Hours’ and altogether was the track ‘Murder Mystery’.
Comparing previous albums, it really shared the more improved and loving qualities of the band. Though not a revolutionary rock album, the album is more stripped down and more innovative lyrically and ranging wider audience. Oh, and it gave us ‘Pale Blue Eyes’.
1. The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
Their debut album and the band’s recognition came from leading visual art figure Andy Warhol using the band as one of his art features in ‘Exploding Plastic Inevitable’; the album cover is from Warhol too.
During its release, the album did not receive critical praise, nor financial success, but through its dormancy, The Velvet Underground & Nico is considered one of the best albums of all time. The album gave birth to the glam, punks, goth, noise rock genres, revolutionising the progression of music and inspiring several artists/musicians. The singles like ‘Sunday Morning’, ‘There She Goes Again’ and ‘Waiting for the Man’ are a few examples of the wide range and diverse the band was.
By far, the band’s best album. The Library of Congress can agree, as this album was inducted in to the National Recording Registry in 2006. That means it is culturally, historically important to preserve its audio recordings. That means this album sits with Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and Thomas Edison’s recordings of the phonograph.
Again, by far the band’s best album.