Maybe I’m a sicko, but whenever I think of the word “gift,” I’m invariably reminded of heads being sliced open. Thank the Velvet Underground, whose 1968 song “The Gift” is permanently carved into my own head.

The first VU album, The Velvet Underground & Nico, is canonical: Produced by Andy Warhol, who also designed its interactive, iconic cover of an innuendo-injected banana, its mixture of folk-rock, avant-garde classical, and coarse blues went on to influence numerous subcultural musical movements. Despite its sometimes abrasive nature, the album is nonetheless extremely glamorous and sophisticated, thanks to its gorgeous melodies and the sleepy, grave voice of model and guest vocalist Nico.