A few pages into The Velvet Underground and Nico you already sense that Joe Harvard clearly enjoys the heck out of his work. Conversational at times, more formal where fact-gathering is concerned, Harvard's tone moves seemlessly from hilarious indie-rock-vibe riffing to an almost poetic admiration when describing the songs themselves. The result amply justifies Continuum's choice of musician/fans - instead of career critics - to write the 33-1/3 series. At times reading this book was like watching a band on stage, and you can't ask much more than that from a book on rock.
This book is really well-researched, as I guess you'd expect from an arachaeologist-turned-musician-turned -writer; with the backround story assembled as it is from liner jackets, magazine articles, websites and interviews (plus key passages from the other major Velvets works) it makes a perfect introduction for potential VU fans, while the detective work Harvard does on this definitive work by a great band will answer some long-standing questions for VU veterans.
Curiously, since the author's style is often irreverent, he still conveys his considerable respect for the achievement that this album was. Some of the funnier parts of this book involve the writer's admitted Boston-centric stance, and the way he weaves in elements of his own background veers from artful to self-admittedly ham-fisted. When checking out the writer's background, I found it interesting that one of the articles he wrote for a local NJ music 'zine, Upstage, was an appreciation/obit for Hunter S. Thompson ... with a similar embrace of subjectivity and such a melding of personal background with the book's subject, I wonder if this is akin to the "New Journalism" of rock writing? Whether it is or not, this is definitely a book worth reading.