Sound and Vision is a new segment on our platform dedicated to exploring one piece of substantial album artwork every Sunday. Album artwork is one of the primary ways that musicians and visual artists are able to collaborate, and many iconic album covers are simultaneously iconic pieces of pop art. They also provide an excuse for us to share some of our favorite albums, and the visual component behind what makes an album groundbreaking and fun.
The Velvet Undergound & Nico, The Velvet Undergound & Nico
Artwork and production by Andy Warhol
For this week’s Sound and Vision, we’re showcasing The Velvet Underground’s debut album The Velvet Underground & Nico, which was a landmark for popular music, rock & roll, and American art. Although poorly received upon release, the album went on to be critically acclaimed as one of the century’s best, and is often cited as one of the most influential albums ever made. Brian Eno once explained that while the album may have only sold 30,000 copies at first, "everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band."
This is in no small part due to the management and artistic direction of American Pop-art legend Andy Warhol, who not only designed the album’s cover, but was also present during recording, and encouraged the inclusion of Nico. Warhol helped foster an open environment for the band to let out their most experimental urges, which became the driving force behind the music’s groundbreaking sound. His now widely-recognized banana cover initially could be peeled off to reveal another flesh-colored banana beneath, adding some of the quirky flair that made him as iconic as we know him to be.