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Celebrate The 50th Anniversary Of ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’ With John Cale This Fall

John Cale (photo: Christoph Soeder/dapd)


New Yorkers, how do you feel about celebrating the Velvet Underground? The Beatles’ eighth studio album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ may be turning 50 today, but another famous album, ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’, also turned 50 last March, and John Cale is planning a big celebration at the end of this year.

According to the Brooklyn Academy Of Music, John Cale will curate special concerts on November 16-17-18 and will be playing the very influential album along with members of the Wordless Music Orchestra and ‘special guests.’

‘Fifty years after its release, The Velvet Underground & Nico remains a raw, bracing transmission from the downtown demimonde of 1960s New York City, combining Lou Reed’s streetwise lyrics, Nico’s husky contralto, and Cale’s Fluxus-inspired electric viola,’ they wrote on the Brooklyn Academy’s website.

50 is obviously a milestone, but, to me, it still seems very strange to think that these two albums were born the same year. 50 years later, they still sound like worlds apart. On one side there is the pop brilliance of the Beatles, dressed up like a colorful rainbow, and forever at the center of our youthful culture, on the other side, there is the Velvet Underground, dressed in black, using that iconic Warhol banana for their art cover, and recording avant-garde music with Nico’s beautiful icy croon. At the top of this, they were on a ridiculous budget compared to that of the Beatles… ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ was 27 weeks at the top of the UK albums chart and 15 weeks at number one in the US, while the VU album was a commercial failure and was almost entirely ignored by contemporary critics.

Of course, both albums are now considered by everyone as iconic and some very influential work, and I’ll never ask anyone to choose between light and darkness. But if you live in New York, you can celebrate one of them with founding member John Cale this fall.

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