When The Velvet Underground & Nico album was released in March 1967 on Verve Records, with its Andy Warhol-designed, peel-off banana cover, it was far from a chart-topper.
In fact, as the famed quote attributed to Brian Eno famously put it, the album may not have sold many copies, “but everyone who bought it formed a band.” And its reputation as a groundbreaker has only increased over the four-and-a-half decades since its original release.
Universal Music / Polydor will celebrate the now-iconic album’s 45th anniversary on Oct. 30, with a multi-format, worldwide release October 29-30 that includes stereo and mono versions remastered from the original tapes, as well as previously unreleased recordings of the band’s rehearsals in Warhol’s Factory and the subsequent rare April 1966 Scepter Studios recordings captured on acetate featuring early, alternate versions of songs later issued on The Velvet Underground & Nico.
A limited-edition, Super Deluxe 6CD box set will also feature a previously unavailable November ’66 live concert performed by the Velvets’ original, five-person lineup—Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Moe Tucker and Nico—at the Valleydale Ballroom in Columbus, Ohio, and Nico’s Chelsea Girl, an album released in October 1967 (seven months after the Velvets’ disc) which included all the members of the band as well as a teenage folksinger named Jackson Browne.
It also includes an 88-page booklet featuring a new essay by band biographer Richie Unterberger. All remastering, tape transfers and digital assembly at the prestigious Sterling Sound Studios in New York were overseen by veteran A&R producer Bill Levenson, who has been involved for more than 30 years in previous Velvet Underground reissues like VU and Another VU in the ’80s, the banana-covered box set in the ’90s and UMG’s first expanded, deluxe edition of The Velvet Underground & Nico in 2002.
The 6CD set captures the Velvets in a crucial period in their development, starting with the band’s Factory rehearsals in January ’66, covering the original Scepter recording sessions that April, then a live show in November, leading up to the March ’67 release, almost a year after the album was finished. Nico’s Chelsea Girl, which came out in October seven months later, completes the set’s almost two-year arc, chronicling the band both before and directly after its historic debut.
The Super Deluxe set allows fans to compare the mono and stereo versions of the album. Longtime Velvets aficionados have touted the mono mix because of its lo-fi quality, with the music coming off even tougher as a result of its compression.
Universal will release the album worldwide simultaneously in six different physical and digital versions. Aside from the Super Deluxe edition, The Velvet Underground & Nico will be available in a brand-new two-CD Deluxe Edition which includes a stereo version of the album along with a separate disc of the Factory rehearsals and Scepter Studios sessions. There will also be a digital exclusive and a one-CD original stereo album remaster in both physical and digital form.
Alongside a re-mastered vinyl edition, the deluxe edition and digital reissue of The Velvet Underground & Nico is not only for hard-core fans, but for anyone who wishes to trace the two-year development of a world-class band in the process of creating one of the greatest rock albums in history through rare and previously unreleased recordings.