Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground and Nico [Verve, 1967]
This was hard to suss out at the time, which is probably why people are still learning from it. It sounds intermittently crude, thin, and pretentious at first, but it never stops getting better; even "Venus in Furs," Lou Reed's first recorded sadie-maisie exploitation, is held in place by the narcotic drone that identifies and unifies the LP musically. Nico's contained chantoozy sexuality works against the dispassionate abandon of Reed's chant singing for a vocal variety the band will never duplicate, although their ever-increasing mastery of electric noise and throwaway wordplay, will more than make up for it. How about that--they're gonna be famous more than 15 minutes. A