Quite what a man can write about possibly the most explored album of all time is challenging. If you're reading this then I gather you already know the history behind 'Heroin' and, if you're an educated and cultured reader, you don't really care and prefer 'I'll Be Your Mirror' because it's a better song and Nico's voice just makes you melt.

This review and its associated rating are not, therefore, of the album itself but of the quality and the validity of the bonus material. And, as with all rereleases of major albums, there's a lot of it.

Now I enjoy my music as well as the next man, but lacking the funds to purchase extremely expensive equipment with wires that cost more than my semi decent set up I cannot in all honest say I can review each of the complete 6-disc set and tell you the difference. Even if I could, I don't think it would matter; yeah it's kinda cool being able to hear someone cough in the next room while listening to your original copy of Ziggy Stardust but The Thin White Duke did enough noticeable stuff on that album that permitting an engineer to cough is fairly low on the highlight list. Similar goes for the people that are going to deride every remastering of tapes, and this is a remastered version - these recordings sound true to the originals, perhaps slightly crisper. If you want to hear every nuance of the mono version over the stereo version then that's fine but allow me to take my anorak off and listen to the Factory Rehersals and try and imagine being there.

That's all somewhat irrelevant though because while the 6-disc set doesn't appeal to most of our needs (or wallets) the 2-disc set does shape up to be an essential purchase. I'm sure there will be folks out there with preserved mono cuts of the acetate, but the album sounds the same to me and that's great, because it's a great album. Furthermore, the bonus tracks on the first disc are fascinating relics of the time that bear repeated listening. The new, longer version of 'European Son' sounds, dare I say it, better than the original version and the alternate instrumental mix of 'All Tomorrow's Parties' is stunning in its more disjointed structure with the anarchic and peculiar guitar solo sounding even more striking and mesmerising than usual.

Similarly the second disc, with its extended versions and alternate takes, is a fascinating listen. The alternate version of 'European Son' here sounds like the imagination of Gerry Roslie on more confusing psychotics than Seattle could ever produce for him. These are all actual alternate versions that make an entirely new and completely different sounding second album. While trying to pick up on every difference in the remastered version doesn't sound like fun, this second disc is peeling the layers from the main album to reveal a swampy mess of exciting, unpolished mess.

Even better though are the legendary Factory rehearsals. I'm sure someone will tell me that these are available somewhere in some form or another on a bootleg, but having them here is great. They're wonderful, sprawling tracks that sound dirtier than a swamp, with the expanse that calls itself 'Miss Joanie Lee' at the heart of it.

Albums that are at the forefront of innovation can sometimes fall short when presented with all of the grubby, behind the scenes mess that it took to make them. They can belittle the album, make it sound like an accident or just make it sound like a mess. Here though, in the double disc set, we have a second disc and bonus tracks that are as important and as fascinating as the original album. They're dirty, overblown, poorly thought out or half finished but they have that raw element that The Velvet Underground and Nico kept hinting at through the pruned creature that was the complete album. The natural entropy of the group that they hint at and release in controlled bursts is what makes the album so perfect, but it doesn't half feel satisfying to get immersed in it when they can't rein it in.