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The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side Hardcover – Illustrated, 1 Sep 2009
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The black velvet strip along the cover is cute, but the visual wealth of this illustrated history is inside the covers. A Walk on the Wild Side is packed with great photos Andy Warhol working on his banana design for the first Velvet Underground album, rare shots of the band in all their dark majesty, even unusual promo pictures of Lou Reed and company decked out in bright paisley along with generous spreads of psychedelic poster art. The insightful text by veteran rock critic Jim DeRogatis defines the band s anti-hippie stance, yet connects them to the era s psychedelia while underscoring the essential timelessness of a sound that launched a thousand bands in the decades after their breakup. --Milwauke Express, Sept 2009...While The Beatles may be making headlines with the release last week of their RockBand game and long awaited remastered CDs of their entire back catalog, there's actually another band from the '60s that is finally getting the proper recognition in book-form with the release this week of The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History Of A Walk On The Wild Side. Written by the Chicago Sun Times music critic Jim DeRogatis (who has also penned music books on The Flaming Lips, music critic Lester Bangs and the history of psychedelic rock) this turns out to be the most comprehensive book on this highly influential rock band to date (through text, unseen band photos and rare concert memorabilia). It will certainly enlighten any newcomer interested in the early history of not only Lou Reed and The Velvets, but also punk and hardcore rock, as well as offering a fly-on-the-wall perspective of what it was like inside NYC's art and music scenes and Andy Warhol's pop-art Factory in the mid-to-late '60s (Warhol produced and promoted The Velvet Underground's seminal 1967 debut album). More importantly though, this book will impress the most hardcore Velvet fans through the treasure trove of rare concert and behind-the-scenes photos (many from Factory photographers Billy Name, Nat Finkelstein and Stephen Shore, as well as others from Gerald Malanga, who was one of the original dancers from Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable multimedia events that featured live music from The Velvet Underground & Nico). It also features chapters on The Velvets' later solo releases, a recorded discography and all of the band's live performances. The real treat though is the presentation of the vintage show posters, handbills and memorabilia that fills this 192 page book. And just as The Velvet Underground's timeless, visceral music still manages to leap from the speakers 45 years after the band's inception, this visually stunning and colorful book makes the Velvet's story literally jump right from the page. As Warhol is quoted from the book, 'We weren't just at the art exhibit - we were the art exhibit, we were the art incarnate.' And thanks to DeRogatis' lavishly illustrated tome, The Velvet's have finally been given their first proper visual art installation - all between two covers. --concert live wire, Sept, 2009--I can't say why there have been two landmark books about the Velvet Underground published in the last few months but I can say boy does it make me happy...Jim DeRogatis and friends full color, densely-packed ephemera and photo-filled The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History, is the book I didn't even know I was missing until I bought it yesterday...I learned more about Velvets visual history from DeRogatis' coffee table book....[The Velvet Underground] looks to have access to the Andy Warhol Archives in Pittsburgh and other private collections, re-printing among many other things, Lou Reed's manuscript, with chords and lyrics, to Heroin; dozens of ads for albums and concerts, ticket stubs, and a bigger collection of posters than I'd ever seen before --New City Lit, Sept 2009
From the bands rise out of New Yorks City's seedy underbelly to it's unlikely 1993 reunion tour, music critic De Rogatis lovingly traces the Velevt Undergroud's evolution through a feast of photos, concert posters, critical essays, and Andy warhol's pop art...Boston Globe, November, 2009...A new book promises the first behind-the-scenes look at The Velvet underground from it's early days in through to its latest incarnation. Also includes excerpts from Andy Warhol's memoirs, plus rare interviews, and is full of never-seen-before photo's form warhol's factory photographers. --Rock 'n' Reel, November, 2009
Brian Eno s famous qu'te on The Velvet Underground Only five thousand people ever bought a Velvet Underground album, but every single one of them started a band' may be the greatest compliment one could bestow upon an artist, and still seems appropriate in music today, as the band s influence carries on steadily in independent music. The band, formed by Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison and Moe Tucker and championed/managed by Andy Warhol was at the forefront of underground music in the 1960s, balancing a profound gentleness with ravaging experimental noise. The Velvet Underground had four records with Lou Reed in charge five if you count the later-released lost album VU and all are incredible for different reasons. Whenever someone says he thinks The Velvet Underground was the best band of all time it s met with skepticism, because that s the cool answer to give, and that s too bad, because The Velvet Underground was most likely the best band of all time. The Velvet Underground: A Walk on the Wild Side, an illustrated history of the band written by Jim DeRogatis and several other contributors, features a balance between text and bundles of photos, flyers, lyric sheets, album covers and VU memorabilia, and attempts to tell the tale of the fabled group, with mixed results. The Velvet Underground members young punks in art black looked cool, so it makes sense to feature lots of photos of the band doing just that. Andy Warhol was there, and Nico was beautiful and mysterious. Edie Sedgwick did some dancing or something. It was a scene, man. The old flyers promoting concerts are neat as well, as is the Verve promotional shot of the band it s hard to imagine The Velvet Underground taking press photos and needing flyers to hype up its shows, the group s been mythologized so passionately one assumes they didn t have to work very hard. --New City Lit, Sept 2009
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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.
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.
Probably the subject matter went a long way to placing them on a higher plane than say the Strawberry Alarm Clock or the Electric Prunes or the Grateful Dead but Lou Reed had an interesting pedigree which went back into the doowop singles for the Time label and the Pickwick stuff when Reed was like a One Man Brill Building churning out songs to purposely copy the hits of the day.
Copying other people is something Lou did well-All Tomorrows' Parties for instance is a rewrite of The Bells of Rhymney.
I only have a minimal interest-I'm not that interested in reading reams of serious literature about what went on in the Reed mind.
So this book is fine as there's plenty of pix on every page
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