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on 19 August 2014
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.

So while I hope to read something more substantial and better balanced when I get the time (and when it is published), for the time being I have learned as much as I really want to. Now I'm going to try and forget it.
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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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on 8 February 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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on 19 January 2014
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, often abusive, 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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on 21 March 2014
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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on 23 December 2013
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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on 7 January 2016
Book quality was great.
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on 24 January 2016
Very good
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on 17 September 2014
One of the most interesting men to ever live written in the most boring way ever. The book read more like a review of his albums then the story of his life.
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on 12 December 2013
Before I read this book all I really knew about Lou Reed was Walk On The Wild Side, Perfect Day and some other things. Now I feel like I missed out on one of the all-time greta rock artists. I'm used to Wall telling amazing stories even about bands I thought I knew eveything about but this just about tops the lot. The ECT treatments, the drugs (speed and heroin) the Warhol years, the fact he lived with a man named Rachel most of all the music. Made me download a best of Reed and Velvet Underground album now can't sop listening buying more. His Sabbath book is prtobably the ebst rock biog I've ever reda but this is something else. Felt very moved by the end. Thanks to my partner for the early Xmas prezzie. Brilliant.
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