Seeing the Light: Inside the Velvet Underground

Rob Jovanovic. St. Martin’s, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-00014-9
In this moving tribute and first-rate history, rock journalist Jovanovic gives us an absorbing chronicle of the Velvet Underground’s rise to fame, its bitter arguments, and its unparalleled musical genius. Although the Velvet Underground offered an enthralling blend of art and rock, Jovanovic observes that their originality was often obscured by the rhythms of the British invasion and the pulsating psychedelic pop of the summer of love. Yet the band’s impact reverberated far and wide through subsequent generations, deeply influencing artists and groups from the Flaming Lips, Roxy Music, and Nirvana to the Libertines and Brian Eno. Drawing heavily on interviews with band members and their friends, Jovanovic paints an absorbing picture of the band: John Cale wailed away on his electric viola; Sterling Morrison provided steady guitar support with a mix of bluesy riffs; Moe Tucker stood while playing her drum kit; and Lou Reed sang the songs in an eerie monotone. Jovanovic traces the afterlife of the band’s members—most have gone on to some kind of solo career—but Lou Reed wryly comments on the band’s enduring appeal: “Together we did something that none of us could do alone, and then when you separated us we did things that we could do on our own, but with the added knowledge of what we did before.” (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/2012
Release date: 03/27/2012
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