Donovan – Mellow Yellow


Part I: The Background

1966’s Sunshine Superman saw Donovan really come into his own as a songwriter and as a leader of the psychedelic movement. Mellow Yellow sees him stepping even further away from his folk roots and capturing a wide variety of mid-sixties pop flavours. Like the album that preceded it, Mellow Yellow wasn’t released in the UK due to the dispute between Epic Records (his then current label in the US) and Pye Records (whom he was still signed to in the UK, and who also had distribution rights for his material in the US via Warner Brothers).


Part II: The Music

Mellow Yellow: The title track is one of Donovan’s best-known hits, and for good reason. It’s a catchy pop tune with a mellow vibe that lives up to its name. The songs revolves around a pulsing guitar riff that seems to bounce along playfully—the drum beat, despite its straightforward nature, manages to feel loose and unconstrained rather than rigid. Donovan strikes upon another great melody with this tune, and his sly whisper of “quite rightly” is a hook in its own right. And I suppose I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the “electrical banana” mentioned in the song allegedly refers to a vibrator. RATING: 9.5/10

Writer In The Sun: The woodwind section that begins this baroque-pop influenced track is breathtaking in its wistful serenity. Donovan paints a bleak picture of an artist reminiscing about days gone by: “The days of wine and roses are distant days for me.” Donovan’s knack for poignant psychedelic imagery in his lyrics really shines through, with phrases like “I ponder the moon in a silver spoon” and “Lemon circles swim in the tea.” Everything about this track—the lyrics, the arrangement, the melodies—evokes a melancholy sense of nostalgia. RATING: 10/10

Sand and Foam: One of the more folk-leaning tracks on the record, “Sand and Foam” transports the listener to the exotic landscape of Mexico. The song is technically about a past romance (“I dug you digging me in Mexico”) but the lyrics instead focus on the various things going on around the lovers, like submarines surfacing, grasshoppers creaking, and a girl trimming a lamp. The bare arrangement consists of just Donovan and his acoustic guitar, allowing his lyrics to shine through as he once again uses a poetic flair to draw the listener into the scene. And of course, as always, his vocal delivery draws your attention—one particularly alluring line is as follows: “Sitting in a chair of bamboo, sipping grenadine.” RATING: 6/10

The Observation: Donovan the cool cat. This song has a real beat poetry vibe to it—most likely due to the jazzy arrangement. In fact, the arrangement is the real draw here; composition-wise, this isn’t one of the more memorable tracks on the album. But when a song’s got a strong vibe, and that vibe has such a slick execution, you can’t help but vibe along. Donovan’s lyrics here consist of various sketches of the American lifestyle as he takes a page out of Ray Davies’ book, focusing on the mundane monotony of the everyday. RATING: 6.5/10

Bleak City Woman: This song’s got all the attitude of the previous one plus a great tune to back it up. At first, the song seems to have a bit of a Bob Dylan influence (think Rainy Day Women #12 & 35), but at its core, it’s really entrenched in jazz. The only drawback is that Donovan’s voice is a little too soft and sugary to really be taken seriously over a track like this—perhaps that’s part of the reason he’s unfairly remembered as a lightweight pop singer, despite having tunes like these. RATING: 9/10

House of Jansch: Another acoustic folk tune, this one with a bluesy feel. It’s not unappealing sonically, but the song lacks a distinct hook—even the chord progression seems to meander. The lyrics here prove a challenge to parse—the singer seems to want to connect with a girl and be a father to her child (so in a way it’s a love song to both the mother and the child), but then you’ve got lines like “Dragonfly he sleeps till dawn” and “Crystal ball is what I wish for you” that require a great deal of interpretation in order to relate back to the narrative of the piece. RATING: 5.5/10

Young Girl Blues: Easily the best track on the album from a lyrical perspective, “Young Girl Blues” is a haunting depiction of a lonely young girl. While “Mellow Yellow” had a seemingly nonsense lyric that may have been tied to sexuality, Donovan touches on (no pun intended) the subject of masturbation quite explicitly here: “Yourself you touch / But not too much / You hear it’s degrading.” The song’s downright depressing—the subject of the song lives an empty life without any meaning to it, drowning in the shallowness of her social circle, with friends who strive to live a life in the limelight. It only becomes clear towards the end of the song that the singer is being critical of the girl who doesn’t fully realize just how miserable her life is: “If you had any sense / You’d maybe go away for a few days.” RATING: 10/10

Museum: Jimmy Page plays on this (and he’s not the only Zeppelin member to play on this album—John Paul Jones contributed to the title track). “Museum” is a safe, simple pop song. It was covered by Herman’s Hermits; I think that says everything you need to know about it. Well, almost everything. This is a shameless rewrite of “Sunshine Superman”. Seriously. Sing the lyrics to “Sunshine Superman” over this—it fits perfectly. RATING: 4/10

Hampstead Incident: This song’s got both a descending chromatic bassline like AND a harpsichord, so you already know I love it. It shares a chord progression with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, but unfortunately the melody isn’t quite as strong. But this songs boasts the most fully realized arrangement on the album, featuring a wailing string section that underpins the song’s melancholy mood. RATING: 8/10

Sunny South Kensington: Unfortunately, this isn’t anywhere near as good as the track preceding it. “Hampstead Incident” would’ve been a brilliant album closer. Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a bad track. It’s another upbeat, observational track with a nice groove to it. But does it deserve to be the album closer? RATING: 6/10


Part III: The Album

Aesthetic: The album cover, which portrays a woman peering at the listener through what is effectively a window, is satisfying in its own right (even if the beige that makes up the backdrop is a little bare), but it doesn’t effectively capture the varying moods of this album. Ditto for the title—naming the album after the poppy title track would have served to move copies but not to solidify Donovan’s reputation as a serious artist. The production on this album, however, is stellar—you get that pristine mid-60s sound here. SCORE: 3/5

Artistic Merit: The highs here surpass the highs of Sunshine Superman, and Donovan’s music reaches new depths here both in the arrangements and in the lyrical quality. It’s a shame that the album is overshadowed by a straightforward pop tune, because there’s so much more here worthy of recognition. SCORE: 4/5

Flow: As a whole, the album doesn’t hold together quite as well as Sunshine Superman. The sequencing isn’t terrible—it’s more that this album’s a cluster of tunes that don’t really fit together in any meaningful sort of way. The album’s a pleasant listening experience straight through, but you wouldn’t lose anything if you put the album on shuffle. SCORE: 4/10

CLOSING REMARKS: As a songwriter, Donovan was on par with many of the lead innovators of the 60s, and this album is proof of that. This is really a transitional album—we see Donovan steering away from the sounds with which he’d established his career and seeking a new voice. And though there’s a little fumbling along the way, this album isn’t one you want to overlook.




Aly & AJ – Into The Rush


Part I: The Background

By 2005, the Michalka sisters had already landed a handful of television and film roles, with Aly Michalka most notably starring as Keely on Disney Channel’s Phil of the Future. Like many other Disney Channel stars, Aly was also musically inclined. But rather than embarking on a career as a solo artist, she formed a duo with her sister AJ, and together they signed to Disney’s Hollywood Records. A year prior, Disney star Hilary Duff released and recorded a cover of The Go-Go’s “Our Lips Are Sealed” with her sister Haylie. But while the Duff sisters’ duet wasn’t much more than a gimmick, Aly and AJ Michalka’s creative chemistry made them a standout music act, and their knack for songwriting along with their unique vocal blend made them one of the few Disney Channel artists who deserved to be taken seriously. “Into The Rush” is, very much, a teen pop album, but the songwriting and performances hint at something much greater; even on their debut, Aly & AJ were beginning to break free from the aura of prefabrication that surrounded so many of their peers. The initial release contained 14 tracks, but in 2006, a 17-track deluxe edition of the album was released, with rerecorded versions of the songs “Something More” and “Collapsed” in addition to a few more recent compositions, including the single “Chemicals React”. The deluxe edition is, by far, the definitive version of the album, so that’s the one we’re going to be looking at.


Part II: The Music

Chemicals React: The deluxe edition of the album kicks off with the single Chemicals React, hands-down the strongest track on the album. The sentimental guitar arpeggios during the Aly’s verse evokes that magical feeling of being head-over-heels in love, while the choruses are bursting with pop punk energy. And from that point on, the song becomes a rock song; the electric guitar sticks around for AJ’s verse, and the pop rock aesthetic doesn’t let up during the middle eight. This is very much a teenaged love song; it’s a song about falling in love so hard that you’re terrified out of your mind, that it feels like you’re, well, “walking on broken glass” or “drifting out to the sea.” Sure, there’s an abundance of lyrical clichés: “But the planets all aligned / When you looked into my eyes.” But there are also a couple of neat images to contrast those clichés: “Kaleidoscope of colours / Turning hopes on fire.” In terms of aesthetic, this song is textbook mid-2000s, and, hey, I’ve got a soft spot for that era. Sue me. RATING: 10/10

Shine: This song displays Aly & AJ’s artistic versatility. During the verses, this song’s decidedly an R&B song, and the girls pull off the vocal style flawlessly. The pre-chorus, a dreamy acoustic breakdown, features an even more compelling melody, though it’s the radiant, rippling chorus that knocks this song out of the park (or is it the thrilling key shift at the end of the song?). The song’s lyrically ambiguous: is it about romantic love? Friendship? Or is it a Christian rock song? Either way, it’s a concise, masterfully-crafted tune with enough melody and texture that it never feels schmaltzy despite having some heavy adult contemporary leanings. RATING: 9/10

Never Far Behind: This sounds like the type of song you’d hear on a YA movie soundtrack. The verses have a slightly haunting feel to them, largely due to the piano overlaid on top of the acoustic guitar. Once again, the chorus transitions into full-on pop rock, this time with an Avril Lavigne flavour. Another solid composition with a slick arrangement and memorable melodies. RATING: 8/10

Something More: The original version of this song is has a very sappy, adult contemporary–leaning arrangement, though the power pop chorus offers a welcome contrast to the verses. The newer version has much livelier verses, which are backed by another R&B-influenced drum beat; the contrast between the verses and choruses carries over from the previous version, and this time, the song work’s a lot better. But this is typical Disney pop—quality, yes, but nothing particularly noteworthy here. RATING: 6.5/10

Collapsed: While “Something More” was an improvement over the original, the same can’t be said for “Collapsed”. The original just has more attitude; the electric guitar riff during the chorus is much more engaging than the muted chords in the newer version. The original also has a some nice synth parts that adds some nice texture to the arrangement. But I did say we’re reviewing the deluxe edition, didn’t I? I guess I’ll have to dock some points for misguided meddling. RATING: 6/10

Rush: This hard-rocking teen pop anthem opens the standard edition of the album. The same tactics are in play here: soft acoustic pluckings backed by processed drums during the verses, which gradually crescendo into an explosive pop rock chorus. It’s a song about being comfortable in your own skin, and while the message may be delivered in a manner that might seem elementary to more mature ears, you have to remember that this is music for tweens: “Don’t let nobody tell you your life is over / Be every colour that you are.” RATING: 7.5/10

No One: An acoustic ballad that crosses that line into soft-rock/adult-contemporary territory (isn’t it odd how frequently that phrase keeps popping up in a review of what’s supposed to be a teen pop album?). The chorus lacks a distinctive hook or a contrasting arrangement, so the song seems to meander. This is a very 90s-sounding tune. Nothing above average here. RATING: 3.5/10

On the Ride: Thankfully, we get another pop rock song here. There’s the slightest hint of a country rock vibe to this one. The chorus boasts another standout melody (and AJ’s solo vocal tag at the end of the choruses provides an additional hook—there’s a distinctness to her voice that makes her vocals the more interesting of the two). In “On the Ride” we get another lyrically ambiguous tune. It’s definitely an inspirational song: “Always knowing we’re gonna be fine / Feeling great and feeling alive / Never coming down from this mountain we’re on.” The vagueness of the lyrics makes the message of the song easily applicable to whatever the listener’s going through. A bit of a cop-out, but effective nonetheless. RATING: 7/10

In a Second: Here’s another acoustic ballad, and this one’s much better than the last one. The acoustic guitar and gentle vocals give the song a dreamy feel, and the high notes really resonate during the chorus. Shame about the sappy, straightforward lyrics. The aesthetic really shines here; the arrangement and the simple harmonies get you feeling all sentimental, elevating an otherwise mediocre composition. RATING: 6.5/10

Speak for Myself: This time, we’ve got a pop rock song from start to finish. Actually, there’s a bit of an alternative vibe going on. The drums in particular have a very crisp sound. “Speak For Myself” is another positive message song, so it’s hit or miss depending on whether or not you can tolerate that sort of thing. RATING: 5/10

Out of the Blue: Yet another formulaic pop rock tune, but one with some solid melodies to back it up. Of the songs that constitute the back half of this album, this one’s got one of the catchier choruses. It’s a song about a boy who’s dumped the singer because she doesn’t live up to the opinion of his friends—a typical teenaged scenario, I suppose. So the lyrics are a bit angsty. Try to ignore them. The tune’s all right. RATING: 6.5/10

I Am One of Them: This is a tough one. I commend Aly & AJ for writing this song, but I can’t say that I like it very much either. The lyrics take priority here. The song’s about child kidnappings; the singer laments the fates of these children while realizing that she’s just like them, and therefore just as vulnerable. It establishes a link between the victims and the singer (as well as the audience); it discourages turning a blind eye to the suffering of our peers. The simultaneously reflective and confrontational lyrics really make you feel something. So it feels petty to grumble about the melodies. Then again, perhaps that’s intentional—this is the sort of song you’re supposed to listen to rather than sing along to, so a catchy hook would detract from the message. In the booklet that comes with the CD, Aly & AJ dedicate the album “to all of the missing children and to the memory of the ones who are no longer with us.” RATING: 6/10

Sticks and Stones: This is the only song that’s truly worth sticking around for after you’re through with the front half of the album. It’s an anti-bullying song with lyrics that reflect a desperate sense of helplessness… at first. The chorus turns the song on its head, twice. “Sticks and stones won’t break my soul / Get out of the way, I’m invincible / Throw them down, ’cause the one you want’s not around.” First, the singer defiantly declares that they won’t let anyone bring them down, refusing to be the victim any longer. But then they reach out to their tormentor, implying that bullies are only lashing out because they themselves are in pain. That’s not a unique sentiment, but there’s something powerful about the way the lyrics phrase it—particularly the “throw them down” bit that plays around with the sticks and stones metaphor. This song also has another excellent AJ vocal hook—there’s something really unique about the vocal tone she produces when she sings “not for gain” just before the second iteration of the chorus. That’s easily my favourite couple of seconds on the entire album.  RATING: 9/10

Protecting Me: An ode to somebody who’s always there for you. Kind of dull, this one. At least the actions here are reciprocal: at the end of the song, the lyrics change from “you’ll protect me” to “I’ll protect you”. That’s probably the only redeeming quality to this otherwise forgettable song. RATING: 3/10

Slow Down: The last original composition on the album is convincingly pop punk—you could easily imagine, say, Paramore performing this song. Aly & AJ can really rock, and this song doesn’t disappoint. It doesn’t quite live up to the front half of the album, but it’s a decent album track at least. RATING: 5/10

Do You Believe In Magic: Ugh. I don’t hold this against Aly & AJ themselves; reimagining these classic tunes for an audience of preteens is trademark Disney MO. This one was recorded for the movie “Now You See It…” starring Aly. It’s mostly awful. Sunshine pop made sickening by a modern arrangement. Can we move on yet? RATING: 2/10

Walking On Sunshine: This one was for “Herbie: Fully Loaded”. You know, that crappy Lindsay Lohan film that left a blot on one of my favourite film series from my childhood. Anyway, this cover isn’t as bad. I mean, this was a cheesy song to begin with. At least Aly & AJ bring a little energy to the table this time. And look—Disney sprung for some horns! RATING: 3/10


PART III: The Album


Aesthetic: The production’s quite interesting—especially on the deluxe edition. It takes elements of soft rock, pop rock, pop punk, and R&B and throws them all together into something polished and made to be easily accessible. Despite that, there is a bit of a rough edge to the album when you compare it to what some of Aly & AJ’s peers were putting out at the time. The repetitive arrangements and song structures do become a little stale towards the end of the album, however. Neither the standard nor deluxe edition album cover is memorable; they both look like greatest hits covers. “Into the Rush” is an evocative title though. I’m not sure the album lives up to it. SCORE: 2/5

Artistic Merit: The girls are budding artists here—there are hints scattered throughout the album at what they become, but the album is still very grounded within that teen pop/rock sound. SCORE: 1/5

Flow: This album’s got none. Whoever compiled the deluxe edition deserves to be fired. The new recordings easily outshine the rest of the album. So when you stack all of them at the beginning of the album, followed directly by the lead single, you end up with an overwhelmingly top-heavy album. I’m always tempted to stop listening after “Rush” is over. What I will say for the sequencing, though, is that it does a good job of balancing the ballads with the more rock-oriented tracks, preventing the album from falling into too much of a lull. Unfortunately, ending the album with two subpar cover tracks completely destroys any integrity it might’ve otherwise had. SCORE: 1/10

CLOSING REMARKS: When you listen to this album, what you hear is potential. There are a fair number of standout tracks, and the filler isn’t particularly offensive. Aly & AJ refuse to fall into the pop star mould, instead speaking from their hearts and making creative choices that wound up preventing them from becoming pop sensations like, say, Miley Cyrus, but ultimately led them down the road to becoming much better artists.


The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico


Part I: The Background

The Velvet Underground was formed by Lou Reed and John Cale in 1965; the pair had previously played together in a short-lived band called The Primitives. A residency in Greenwich Village’s Café Bizzare led to a fateful meeting with visual artist Andy Warhol. In addition to helping manage the band, Warhol suggested that they recruit a singer named Nico, who had previously worked with Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones to record a cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “I’m Not Sayin’”. While Warhol was credited as producer for the album, Cale was largely responsible for the album’s sound, while Lou Reed’s dark lyrical subject matter made the album one of one of the most influential albums of the 60s, even if it wasn’t a commercial hit. The album is steeply rooted in that raw, unpolished garage rock sound and serves as one of the precursors to the punk rock genre. I’m sure you’ve all heard the famous Brian Eno quote by now: “I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band!”


Part II: The Music

Sunday Morning: Talk about a misleading opening track. The album kicks off with “Sunday Morning”, a mellow pop tune with a twinkling celesta. But it’s also one of those songs where the music contrasts the misery of the lyrics: “It’s just the wasted years so close behind.” The tranquility is juxtaposed with a sense of paranoia, which is reportedly what the “Watch out, the world’s behind you” line is getting at. Nowhere else on the album does Reed sing like this. The reverb on his voice gives the vocal a dreamy quality. It’s the opposite of a lullaby. A gentle nudging into wakefulness—that fleeting moment of peace when you’ve just woken up before the world catches up with you. RATING: 10/10

I’m Waiting For The Man: Now this is more along the lines of what you can expect from Reed and company: raw, messy, muddied-up garage rock. What really brings the basic rock and roll riff that serves as the song’s foundation to life is the murky texture of the heavily distorted guitars. Cale pounds away at the piano throughout. Oh, and did I mention it’s a song about a guy going to meet his drug dealer? Reed’s vocals here are much more conversational—he barely sings at all, and that contributes to the song’s rough aesthetic. It’s a rude awakening compared to the album opener. This song perfectly encapsulates the more boisterous, rebellious side of the rock and roll aesthetic, and as such, it’s an engaging listen despite the absence of melody. RATING: 8.5/10

Femme Fatale: Nico takes the lead vocal on this downbeat pop tune, built on top of a wistful guitar lick. The song’s about Edie Sedgwick, a model who featured in some of Warhol’s work. You get a lazy vibe listening to this one—the slow-moving rhythm lulls you into a bit of a haze. The track doesn’t stand out melodically, nor is there anything particularly outstanding about Nico’s singing here. Reed’s lyrics are simultaneously critical or the song’s titular maneater and of the foolish men who line up to have their hearts broken. RATING:8/10

Venus In Furs: Lou Reed could play the psychedelic game, and well. A strong Eastern influence sets this song apart—there’s a consistent drone throughout the bulk of the piece, which features Cale on electric viola. The lyrics touch on sadomasochism (“Shiny, shiny, shiny boots of leather / Whiplash girlchild in the dark”), but also have a bit of poetic depth to them (“I could sleep for a thousand years / A thousand dreams that would awake me”). The depth here comes from the aesthetic of the recording rather than the composition itself—of the two drone influenced tunes on the album, this is definitely the weaker. RATING: 7.5/10

Run Run Run: This one’s another garage rock tune and another drug song. I’ve got to give this one bonus points for the wildly disoriented guitar solo. Reed resumes his talk-singing here, though this time the song’s got a nicely harmonized hook. It’s songs like these that inspired legions of imitators; it’s hard-rocking, back-to-basics approach is awesome in its simplicity. RATING: 8.5/10

All Tomorrow’s Parties: One of the album’s best tracks. “All Tomorrow’s Parties” also features a psychedelic drone, accentuated by some haphazard, drug-hazed guitar work. The songs has a distinct piano sound that was achieved by placing paper clips between the strings. Nico nails the vocal here with her odd enunciation and sombre tone. I’ve seen a few different interpretations of Reed’s lyrics, and I’m not quite sure what to ultimately make of them, but they are evocative to say the least. They reference the Monday’s Child nursery rhyme, marrying childhood innocence with psychedelic indulgence and the fickleness of youth. RATING: 10/10

Heroin: This is the other contender for the best cut off the album. The song both lyrically and musically depicts the experience of getting high. The steady drum beat increases during the choruses to represent the sense of elevation achieved from the drug, while the verses drift lazily as the singer reflects the emptiness of modern life. Reed doesn’t denounce the drug; he simply paints a vivid picture of the altered state it induces, leaving the listener to draw their own conclusions. This is another one of those songs that’s beautiful in its simplicity—there are only a couple of alternating chords here. RATING: 10/10

There She Goes Again: Here’s a bit of a stylistic shift—this is the sort of R&B-influenced pop rock song you’d expect from a British invasion group. John Cale and Sterling Morison further emulate the style with their harmonized backing vocals. After the heaviness of the previous two tracks, it’s nice to get something a little more fun and lighthearted—the song allows for a bit a breather. And it’s not a bad tune either. RATING: 6.5/10

I’ll Be Your Mirror: Nico gently sings the vocals on this song, another mellow pop number and one of the few optimistic songs on the album. The singer assures her lover that she can see through to the goodness in him, even if he himself is unable to see it. The harmonies on the tag are a nice touch—the song is definitely accessible, though its melodies aren’t as memorable as some of the other pop tunes on the album. RATING: 7/10

The Black Angel’s Death Song: Psychedelic poetry set to a screeching electric viola. The jarring lack of anything tuneful means that the listener may grow weary of the song over the course of its three minutes—to get something out of this one, you’ve got to delve deep into the lyrics, a task that proves difficult consider Reed himself admitted that there isn’t any particular meaning to them (though there is an abundance of violent imagery, with references to cuts, sacrifices, and bleeding razors). This sort of artistic piece, I feel, is best appreciated from a distance. RATING: 5.5/10

European Son: The song concludes with its lengthiest track—this garage rock tune spans a full seven minutes. Reed rattles off the lyrics over the frantic beat until the one-minute mark. The song is then interrupted by the thunderous roar of a lion. This remainder of the song is an energetic, raucous instrumental jam that rarely settles on anything resembling melodic—the song’s 100% attitude. And while I appreciate the manner in which it encapsulates the carefree feel of rock and roll, I don’t know if I can bear a full seven minutes of it. RATING: 4/10


Part III: The Album

Aesthetic: The aesthetic is what makes this album. The production has a raw, unpolished sound to it that presented a stark contrast to the excessive studio gimmickry of the mid sixties. This is essentially an eponymous album, so I can’t really dock points for the unimaginative title. And Andy Warhol was behind this, so of course the cover is as iconic as the album itself. SCORE: 5/5

Artistic Merit: This is one of the wildest, most out-of-place albums of the sixties. It’s no big surprise this wasn’t a smash hit at the time. Reed isn’t afraid to touch on taboo subjects with his lyrics nor is the rest of the band afraid to explore dissonance and cacophony with their music. SCORE: 5/5

Flow: The album alternates between bare-bones proto-punk garage rock, mellow, dreamy pop, and boisterous psychedelia. There is a consistent feel to the song writing, and Reed’s lyrics definitely tie the album together, even if the album isn’t all that cohesive a listen. The album is, however, a bit top-heavy—Side B doesn’t have much to offer in terms of standout tracks, and in fact, once I’ve heard Heroin I’m just about ready to call it a day. SCORE: 6/10

CLOSING REMARKS: The great thing about the progression of popular music is that the albums that are worthy of accolade tend to receive their due in time, even if they aren’t appreciated at their time of release. It’s clear why the album inspired so many of its listeners to pick up an instrument; the Velvet Underground convince you not only that you can do this music thing too, but that you can do it well. Even at its simplest, this album is an impressive piece of music, and therein lies its charm.