Co-written by Rob Piersall.
For as influential to the genre as they were, The Clash didn’t spend much time as a pureblooded punk band. With the 1979 release of London Calling, the band began a transition away from the jagged purist punk aesthetic to a fuller, more polished sound with broader appeal; by the time Sandinista! and Combat Rock rolled around in 1980 and 1982, respectively, The Clash had gone fully “mainstream.” It was in this era that they released some of their most popular songs—including “Rock the Casbah” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go”—but despite their peak commerciality in the ‘80s, it was in the year 1977 that the band made its biggest impact of all with their self-titled debut album.
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Peel slowly and see.
These four words can be found on the original vinyl copies of The Velvet Underground & Nico, intended to instruct the listener to slowly remove the banana peel sticker on the cover to reveal the soft fruit underneath. It also, as it would turn out, somewhat predicted the reception of the album itself, which was initially met with an uninspiring and bewildered response due to its shrill experimental instrumentation and lurid subject matter.
However, following the critical acclaim of the band’s self-titled third album and the general commercial success of front man Lou Reed’s solo career, music critics began to reevaluate The Velvet Underground’s debut record (and, to a lesser extent, their sophomore album White Light/White Heat) and retroactively hailed it as a masterpiece. Fifty years later, The Velvet Underground & Nico remains both a turning point in rock music history and a profoundly insightful account of ‘60s drug culture.
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