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Lou Reed: The Life [Paperback]

Mick Wall
2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

14 Aug 2014

Rock 'n' roll was Lou Reed's life. From recording one of the most critically acclaimed albums of all time with THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO (1967), to heavy drug abuse and performing in front of the Pope, Lou Reed's story is one of great peaks and deep lows. Forever dedicated to his art, he became one of modern music's most legendary and seismic figures.

Although a controversial, outspoken and undoubtedly misunderstood musician, Lou Reed's influence on popular culture cannot be overstated. He brought avant-garde to the mainstream with the Velvet Underground and his solo work was pronounced a revelation. Hit albums such as TRANSFORMER, SALLY CAN'T DANCE and BERLIN have cemented his name in the rock pantheon.

A testament to his strength of character and true spirit, he was a creative and performer until the end, playing benefit gigs, featuring on new releases and, most poignantly, declaring that he was looking forward to 'being on stage performing, and writing more songs to connect with your hearts and spirits and the universe well into the future.' A true icon of rock 'n' roll - his legacy will live on in this book.

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (14 Aug 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1409153045
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409153047
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 359,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Mick Wall has written in a rough and unsentimental style that suits his subject, and he doesn't gild Reed's more unpleasant aspects. (Will Hodgkinson (Chief Rock Critic) THE TIMES 2013-12-09)

...this "sincere speed-written, blood-spattered tribute" strings together the raciest anecdotes...and does it rather well. (Waldemar Januszczak SUNDAY TIMES 2013-12-15) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

Lou Reed died in 2013. This is the critically acclaimed biography of the songwriter, Velvet Underground member and musician.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I found it worthwhile and learned a lot 19 Aug 2014
By T. D. Welsh TOP 500 REVIEWER
The first time I ever heard about Lou Reed was when a friend came to my rooms in Cambridge in 1967 with a brand-new copy of "The Velvet Underground & Nico". We listened to it entranced, and agreed that it heralded a BIG change from the Beatles and the Kinks, or even the Stones. The Doors' brand new first album seemed roughly comparable though - we had no way of knowing how far apart they were culturally, or how Reed and Morrison loathed one another. Thereafter I eagerly bought each new Velvets or Reed album, completely oblivious from the distance of London about the people behind the music. I gave up about the time of "Rock & Roll Animal", for obvious reasons. The Velvets were gone, and Lou Reed seemed to be fading away and merging into the background.

This book is the first one I have ever read about Reed or the Velvets, and it taught me a lot of things I had no inkling of whatever. Afterwards I listened to several of the albums, to reassure myself that Lou still had that beautiful voice and composed those wonderful songs. Because, to be honest, I had no idea what an unpleasant, unkind man he was. And, to be fair, I didn't know he had undergone a lengthy course of ECT (at the behest of his loving parents) at the tender age of 17. Who knows if that changed the course of his life, or made him a different person? I suppose he was no more selfish and arrogant than many other artists have been throughout history - you couldn't get any more selfish and arrogant. But to read about the way he repeatedly abandoned and insulted and rejected those who had gone out of their way to help him; the way he invited David Bowie to dinner and then punched him repeatedly just because he suggested Lou should "clean up your act"... You can admire, even love, the artist while cordially disliking the man.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hasty and Cheesy 16 Dec 2013
By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Released only a few weeks after Lou Reed's sudden death, this biography is a crude mish-mash of information previously published in books written with much less haste. The last real wave of biographies was published shortly after the release and popular acclaim of the New York album. This saw Reed reinvent himself from an angry techno-punk into an important singer-songwriter offering contemporary social commentary. Of course, this was really what Reed had always done, but perhaps without sounding so serious about it. What then followed were a series of serious albums that never came close to receiving the same interest or respect as New York. And so the biographers moved elsewhere.

The trouble with this book is that it necessarily glosses over Reed's last years and focuses to a great extent on the sixties and seventies - a period that is already well known. Dammit, Reed wrote about it himself, in his songs.

If you want to find a real tribute to The Life, look for Genesis Publications's hideously expensive compilation of new and previously unseen photographs. Or go back to the original source material that Mick Wall has cribbed from. Or better still, listen to the albums. But please don't waste your money on this cheese that was released in haste to make a few Christmas quid out of Lou Reed's passing.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This book is so badly written that words fail me. My student son bought it for me for Christmas knowing I'm a Lou Reed fan and I could weep that he wasted his cash on this tripe. When you find yourself screaming at the author 'the past participle of 's***' is 's***' or 's***ted'!!', you know you are reading drivel by someone who rushed out a book to cash in on Lou Reed's death without pausing for a moment to consider whether he was up to the task. Lou Reed was a poet. He deserves a better biography than this. Don't waste your money. If you want to know about Lou Reed's life you are better off googling past articles and spending your money on 'Transformer' and 'Coney Island Baby'
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a Stinker !!!!! 8 Feb 2014
Having just finished this book,it's hard to see who it is aimed at. The seasoned Lou Fan would find nothing new here, While novices will find themselves confronted with a rush job, that is steeped in errors, and startling omissions. Do yourself a favour, listen to the Man's music and Judge for yourself. I read this dreadful thing so you don't have to...
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Little, too soon. 19 Jan 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a book that was written in too much of a hurry after the death of Lou Reed. This erratic but often brilliant artist deserves a more thorough and detailed account of his life and work. Less speed, more considered analysis was called for, but what we are given is a review of the life and work at breakneck speed. Surely, Reed was a biographer's dream study as his behaviour was so erratic and unpredictable and the very twists and turns of not only his private life but also his creative life were so surprising and inconsistent as to have been very manna from heaven for any would be biographer.
A pity because this highly intelligent, articulate, exasperating and controversial man needs a much more thorough study of how the life influenced the works and how important or otherwise he was to the world of modern music.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nowhere At All 23 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There is nothing really awful about this book and Mick Wall has an appreciation of most of Lou Reeds albums.
The problem is it really is a rush job and there is nothing new for anyone who has followed Lou Reeds career in any detail.
My advice would be to wait for the reissue and hopefully updated biography "Transformer" by Victor Bockris.
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