We here at Rough Trade would argue anyone to the ground who say there is a cooler, more iconic 1960s album than the Velvet Underground's self-titled release.
When the Velvets recorded this debut, they were best known as the protégés of Andy Warhol (who designed the sleeve), and as a grating, combustive live band. Fueled by drummer Moe Tucker's no-nonsense wham and John Cale's howling viola, some of the straight-up rock and roll and arty noise extravaganzas here bear that out. But before Lou Reed was singing about sadomasochism and drug deals and writing lyrics inspired by his favourite poets, he was a pop songwriter, and this album has some of his prettiest tunes, mostly sung by Nico. Truly essential listening.