The Banana That’s Still Ripe After 50 Years. The Velvet Underground And Nico Album Cover It’s that album cover with the banana on it. If you like music it’s practically a given you’ll know what I’m referring too. After all (ok, debatable), it’s the most…
The Banana That’s Still Ripe After 50 Years.
The Velvet Underground And Nico Album Cover
It’s that album cover with the banana on it. If you like music it’s practically a given you’ll know what I’m referring too. After all (ok, debatable), it’s the most famous album cover of all time. In 2013 the world of music lost one of its greatest musicians, Lou Reed – founding member of The Velvet Underground. Yet his legacy will live on forever, albeit in the form of a banana – The Velvet Underground’s, and probably the world’s, most iconic covers.
Released in March 1967, The Velvet Underground and Nico was the band’s debut and most revered album (although I personally preferred their second, Loaded). Anyway, the cover was, of course, designed by Andy Warhol – it even bears his signature as a somewhat narcissistic reminder that it was his conception. Warhol was also the Velvet Underground’s manager after being introduced to them by filmmaker Barbara Rubin.
Prior to writing this article, I listened to it for some inspiration, and I have to say that it could be released today and you’d be none the wiser it was made in the late 60s. Actually, that’s a lie, it sounds infinitely better than most of the dross sold today. It was avant-garde for its time. It possessed a ‘countercultural coolness’. Yet as cool as it was it sold just 30,000 copies in its first five years. It’s still their bestselling album though.
It was hardly a commercial success in the early days. But the Velvets never intended superstardom from their gritty yet innovative debut. Yet today, the original covers are particularly sought after by collectors – first edition copies came with a peelable banana. And those copies with their banana stickers still intact can fetch thousands. In fact, an acetate of the album was the most expensive ever sold, fetching more than $25,000.
For those of you that don’t know, acetate is the first-ever recording to be pressed – it is created on ‘acetate’ before being mass-produced on vinyl. “The Velvet Underground & Nico was successfully auctioned on eBay for $25,200 back in 2006, making this one of THE most expensive record sales ever, right next to a rare copy of Pink Floyd’s Meddle album pressed on blue vinyl for $12K and a ‘SEX PISTOLS – God Save the Queen – GENUINE A&M AMS7284!’ for over 12,000 British pounds.”
Despite the lack of commercial success upon its release, the album gained notoriety for a number of reasons. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine said it was the ‘most prophetic album ever made’. Sixteen years on and it continues to carry that mantle. A legacy Warhol would have been proud of. It paved the way for underground, alternative music. It also (still) claims Billboard.com’s top spot for the ‘50 greatest album covers of all time’.
Many a music mogul consider The Velvet Underground & Nico to be the best, most influential and (occasionally) provocative album of all time. “The provocative subject matter, musical experiments, and often nihilistic attitudes explored in the band’s work proved influential in the development of punk rock and new wave music.”
The album, however, was far from being one of the best-selling of all-time. In fact, it doesn’t even make the top 50. But then the Velvets would probably have wanted it that way. And if the album didn’t show a banana accompanied by Andy Warhol’s signature, it would be interesting to see if it won the merit it did. Probably not, we have a banana to thank for that.
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