The Best Covers of ‘The Velvet Underground and Nico’

The Velvet Underground and Nico. Photo: Getty Images.

Every Wednesday, Douglas Wolk explores the people, places and coincidences that tie disparate musicians together.

In March, The Velvet Underground & Nico marked its 45th anniversary. Its birthday is being commemorated — a little bit late — with a six-disc boxed set out this week. It’s the grandmother of pretty much all of underground rock as we know it; as Brian Eno famously told Kristine McKenna in 1984, it supposedly only sold 30,000 copies in its first five years in print, but “I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”

And most of those bands (and their descendants) have apparently covered at least one of its songs over the past 45 years. Here’s the best–or at least most interesting–cover I could find of every song on it.

1. The Queers: “Sunday Morning”

The temptation with covers of “Sunday Morning” is always to reproduce the sweet pop arrangement of the original version–nearly every cover of it tries to imitate the sound of John Cale’s celesta. The long-running pop-punk band the Queers came up with this marvelous interpretation on their 2003 split album (with Manges) Acid Beaters, preserving the tenderness of the Velvets’ version but converting its tone to full-throttle fuzz.

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