5. The Velvet Underground & Nico // The Velvet Underground, 1967
Lou Reed’s ode to nihilism could be the most important rock album that went unrecognised, mostly due to the overt descriptions of controversial topics, including drug abuse and prostitution.
But it’s within the transgressions of The Velvet Underground & Nico that its brilliance is found. The refusal to pander to themes and willingness to confront harsh realities of a world blurred by the Summer of Love was a bold move by the band. The glam rock element and sometimes subtle punk nature are fused to create an album that is as enticing to novices of alternative rock as it is essential to the genesis of bands such as the The Cure, The Smiths and Nirvana, to name a few.
It could perhaps be viewed as reductive of rock, pulling back the skin and simply art being created through another new medium, which producer Andy Warhol was more than happy to be a part of.
However, it’s one of the more divisive albums – it’s either appealing or its charm is lost, neither to say which is better. It may be pointlessly profound, or it could be a startlingly aware album that understands the murkier waters of rock and the world it exists within.