Category Archives: The Velvet Underground & Nico album

Record Cover Collecting Gone Crazy.

Earlier in 2017, Mark Satlof got his 15 minutes of fame when it was revealed that he had collected 800 copies of The Velvet Underground & Nico’s self-titled debut album. Apparently his collection (as everyone else’s) started with a single copy, but his was signed by Lou Reed. I wonder if he actually NEEDS all 800 copies.

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Mark Satlof who has collected about 800 copies of the Velvet Underground & Nico album.

Then there is Rutherford Chang who collects The Beatles’ White Album. He boasts that when the article was published he had 1,845 copies of the numbered first edition which he has exhibited in Liverpool. He still buys copies in any condition and will pay up to USD 20 for each.

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Rutherford Chang with just some of the 1800+ copies of the Beatles’ White Album that he has collected.

So, that is one kind of cover collecting madness. There are others; like the chap who was prepared to fork out USD 790,000 for Ringo Starr’s personal copy of The Beatles (the White album) with number 0000001. This was named the most expensive record of all time but it obviously ain’t. In 2017 Martin Shkreli’s purchase of The Wu Tang Clan’s “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” double CD (Okay, I’ll grant that this was a CD not a RECORD”) but only a single copy was pressed (with an embargo that it could not be released commercially until 2103). Shkreli has since sold it on Ebay for USD 1,025,100 after 343 bids. I suppose he can get a tax allowance on his nearly USD 750,000 loss!

Shaolin Ebay
Martin Shkreli’s sale of the Wu-Tang Clan’s “Once Upon a Time” in Shaolin CD.

But there are good reasons for owning several copies of the same record. Some collectors might want bot the stereo and mono releases, others may collect a record that has different covers–such as the six variations of the cover of Led Zeppelin’s “In Through the Out Door”, while others might want various coloured vinyl releases. In some cases a record is reissued at various times in remastered form or in a different cover and these may also be collectible.

My personal madness has extended to the various releases of The Velvet Underground & Nico–an album I first bought in 1967, unfortunately even then with the airbrushed rear cover photo. Despite its poor initial sales–said to have totalled 30,000 copies in its first five years of existence–the album has seemingly never been out of print, and has had various cover designs and several varieties of coloured vinyl. I haven’t yet got anywhere near 800 copies, but have sixteen at the last count, ranging from my own 1967 original  copy, a torso cover, and the cover with the black sticker covering the torso as well as various later editions, including two picture discs and three versions of the Scepter Studios acetate recording. I bought both the 45th and 50th anniversary reissues (both the black and the pink vinyl versions of the latter). But, I still don’t have a mono copy on vinyl.

Another album I have many copies of is a recent release by Henrik Berggren. His debut solo album “Wolf’s Heart” was released on both CD and vinyl with six colour vinyl versions in addition to the standard black vinyl. Obviously I HAD to have all seven versions and so I managed to find them all. I thought they might be a good investment, but it transpires that one can still find all the various coloured vinyls.

I have four copies of The Rolling Stones “Sticky Fingers” and “Love You Live” albums. There are different zips on the U.K. and German versions of “Sticky Fingers”and the U.S. version has the title placed differently from the European versions. I am lucky to have copies of both albums autographed by Andy Warhol, too.

Now I have at least three copies each of Miguel Bosé’s “Made in Spain” (two Spanish and a Mexican) and “Milano-Madrid” albums. I’ll be returning to the “made in Spain album in a future post.

Finally, an admission. Sometimes I have bought a record I thought I needed and when I got it home realised I already had it! That’s because I don’t carry complete lists of wanted items with me everywhere, not a sign of impending senility.

 

 

 

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The Velvet Underground & Nico–The Obsession.

I have previously discussed my collection of Velvet Underground & Nico albums and this time I thought I’d celebrate the fact that this album was officially released 50 years and two months ago.

This historic album was, of course, initially recorded as a ten-track acetate in Norman Dolph’s Scepter Studios in New York on 25th April 1966. Two acetates were pressed and one was given to Andy Warhol offered it to Columbia Records, Atlantic Records and Elektra who all turned it down. Warhol then took the band to Los Angeles and with Ted Wilson re-recorded most of the songs and Verve Records agreed to release it. Warhol’s acetate disappeared but the other copy surfaced in a New York street sale in 2006 and was bought by record collector Warren Hill for 75 cents. Hill put the record up for auction on eBay, and eventually sold it for $25,200. It was resold in 2014.

A bootleg of the acetate recording called “Unripened” appeared in 2007, pressed first on green and later on black vinyl with a pastiche of Warhol’s original cover for the Velvet’s album. The green banana was not peelable and instead of “Peel slowly and see” beside the banana’s neck this version said “Unripened listen slowly and hear.”

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The cover of the 2007 bootleg first release of the Norman Dolph acetate recording of The Velvet Underground’s first album

The album received its first official release on CD together with the 45th Anniversary 6 CD set in 2012 and a limited edition of 5000 numbered copies was released on vinyl for Record Store Day that April.

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The 2012 vinyl release of The Velvet Underground’s “Scepter Studios” acetate.

There was a later unnumbered vinyl release. There is yet another version released in 2014 in a different cover.

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The latest bootleg version of The Velvet Underground & Nico’s Norman Dolph acetate superimposed the classic banana image over a photo from the 1966 film of the Velvets in concert.

The historic value of the acetate recording is indisputable, but musically it is inferior to the re-recorded full album. In its first year “The Velvet Underground & Nico” appeared in several versions. There were at least two promotional copies, both mono, released in the original “torso” covers. One with a yellow label and the other with a white label. The identical slick could be used for mono or stereo copies,– the mono slick was pasted with the stem of the banana almost at the cover’s top edge.

Both mono and stereo versions were originally released with the “torso” cover, which was soon withdrawn when Eric Emerson demanded payment to allow his picture to be used on the cover. Verve recalled many albums and stuck a large black sticker over the offending “torso” photograph. Later printings replaced the “torso” cover with an  version with Emerson’s picture airbrushed out. These were still gatefold covers.

The original U.K. release was housed in a single cover with the an unpeelable banana. In Germany an unusual reissue was produced in 1976. This cover is unique; coloured blue and with an image of the peeled banana.

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The 1976 German reissue with banana.

The first CD version of the album appeared in 1986. There was a limited edition of 3000 copies German release in a slipcase with a peelable banana that was hand numbered the following year.

.In 1991 a further reissue appeared in the U.S.A. and Australia that had a single cover and the album’s title on the front cover as shown on the 1986 CD. Mobile Fidelity released a gold CD version of the album in 1997.

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The cover design of the MFSL gold CD.

There have been many reissues since the late nineteen eighties both on CD and since 2000 on vinyl. I mentioned the picture disc varieties in my previous post. The latest vinyl reissues have been pressed on 180 g virgin vinyl and have restored the original cover including a peelable banana and a restored “torso” rear cover released as a 45th anniversary issue in 2012. And there have been numerous reissues pressed on coloured vinyl. I have seen yellow and red vinyl issues as well as Newbury Comics limited (1000 copies) pressed on yellow/black split vinyl which also has a peelable banana and “torso” rear cover.

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The Newbury Comics version of the Velvet Underground & Nico album.

There are at least three complete cover albums of Velvet Underground & Nico album. The first appeared in 1990 in Italy where a series of punk bands played the songs from the Velvet Underground & Nico album.

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The cover of the Tribute to Andy Warhol alum on the Crazy Mannequin Record label.The cover came in several colour variations.

The second cover album was another various artists compilation of the VU & Nico album tracks recorded on the Castle Face Record label in 2012. The banana on the cover was by David Shrigley, who drew a portrait of Andy Warhol on the back cover.

A third cover album called “The Velvet Underground & Nico and Ben Benderbe” was recorded by Bud Benderbe and released as a limited edition LP with a very strange large sliced banana sticker.

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Bud Benderbe’s cover album.

There are also numerous records that use variations on Warhol’s banana image that have no other relationship to the Velvet’s music. These include the split single by Eat All You Can and Hickey called “Banana Split”.
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Another is a rare jazz LP by the Instant Composers Pool Group, recorded in Holland in 1970.Jazz Banana.jpg

The classical quartet’s, the Fauré Quartet, first recording “Popsongs”, released on the Deutsche Grammophon label had an apple sticker on the cover which, when peeled revealed a raspberry.
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A very recent variation on the design is a 2017 release by John Nemeth called “Feelin’ Freaky”. On this cover, though, the banana was replaced by a red gherkin.
Feelin-Freaky-Cover

 

Often called the album that launched a thousand bands, “The Velvet Underground & Nico” has proved itself to be one of rock music’s most influential albums and the number of reissues on both CD and vinyl confirm its importance. Andy Warhol’s cover art was a major work of pop art and has had almost as great an influence on cover design as the music has had on the development of rock music.