THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: The velvet revolution rocks on

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What is the most influential album of all time? Music lovers can (and do) argue about such things at length, but few would deny the first Velvet Underground album its right to be up there. It was number one when another British newspaper published its "50 albums that changed music" list back in 2006. The rock critic Lester Bangs stated that "Modern music starts with the Velvets", and Brian Eno told an interviewer in 1984: "I was talking to Lou Reed the other day and he said that the first Velvet Underground record sold 30,000 in the first five years.

I think everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band." The record is now, unbelievably, 45 years old, but its influence shows no sign of waning. To celebrate this milestone, a six-CD boxset with all the trimmings is just about to be released – so now seems as good a time as any to ask what it is about the record that continues to fascinate and enthral.

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