on 2 November 2009
Jim De Rogatis, The Velvet Underground An Illustrated History and Johan Kugelberg, Velvet Underground: A New York Art, were published almost simultaneously (indeed I received my copies together).
If you simply put them side by side without opening them you might think that they are different kind of books (especially if you know the excellent Lester Bangs bio by De Rogatis), but once opened, browsed and compared you may ask yourself whether or not it was a single project which collapsed along the way and gave birth to two different tomes.
De Rogatis work looses in terms of illustrations (sometimes it is simple a matter of how many pictures from the same sessions appear in one book and how many in the other) and as both books boast that as the main feature, the final winner is Kugelberg, although pricier.
I give therefore - in terms of illustrated contents five stars to Kugelberg and three stars to DeRogatis.
You may want to buy the latter if you are short of money. As I wrote elsewere, the Kugelberg book is the result of a previous one on the same subject: mainly a catalogue of some 100 pages which was issued a couple of years ago in the US.
For a proper history of VU, maybe with less frills, you have to look somewhere else: either start with (classic) Bockris-Malanga, Uptight, or the so called "reader" put together by Clinton Heylin, All Yestredays' Parties; not forgetting the recent White Light/White Heath The Velvet Underground Day by Day by Richie Unterberger.
on 21 February 2010
This is the ultimate coffee table book for VU fans - it's sitting on my coffee table now, wearing dark glasses. Not a history of the band, or even a complete archive, it's a lovingly curated collection of memorabilia from the 1960s. If you were at school or university in the days of hand-drawn psychedelic posters, this will bring memories flooding back.