Released in 1985 as a compilation of recordings made throughout the late 60s, the VU album with its ghostly apparition of a VU meter on the cover was sonically a bit out of step. Rock ‘n’ roll like that went out of fashion in the 80s. With Lionel Richie in the top spot, and REM and the Jesus and Mary Chain occupying everything in between, the Velvet Underground really don’t spring out as revolutionary.
Nonetheless, ‘I Can’t Stand It’, the opening song, is one of the best releases of that decade. It’s a blistering three-minute moan-a-thon with a recently-dumped Reed complaining about his house: ‘my landlady called me up / she tried to hit me with a mop.’ he grumbles above scrappy, cheap guitar noises. Repetition is key; the rhythm is knocked into you like a blunt nail into a wooden board.
Joining a long tradition of people not being able to stand it, this song rings true for all the jilted and unwashed out there. It’s so good that Johnny Marr acknowledged borrowing it for the riff on ‘The Queen Is Dead.’ Though the Velvet Underground nicked it from Satie’s ‘Vexations’ first.