cover image All Tomorrow’s Parties: The Velvet Underground Story

All Tomorrow’s Parties: The Velvet Underground Story

Koren Shadmi. Life Drawn, $29.99 (180p) ISBN 978-1-64337-563-2

In this snappy graphic history of the Velvet Underground, Shadmi (Lugosi) frames the influential 1960s and ’70s rock group as a project forged by opposing visions. Like Todd Haynes in his 2021 documentary about the band (a cited source), Shadmi focuses on the stories of Lou Reed and John Cale, chronicling the two future luminaries’ early years—mercurial Reed penning pop songs for trend-hopping Pickwick Records, headstrong Cale drifting from conservatory training to music’s fringes. The pair’s mutual admiration is immediate, but a competitive wariness develops and comes to define their creative partnership. The script tracks the band’s formation, its adoption by Andy Warhol’s Factory, and the release of its first LPs, highlighting the ways that Cale and Reed (and Warhol) pull the group in divergent directions that result in the “tension between the pop and the avant garde” that comes to define the group. If Shadmi neglects the less forceful personalities of guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker, and dismisses bassist Doug Yule as “competent,” his cartoon caricatures capture the strain of collaboration on each musician. Meanwhile, the portrayal of German actor/model/chanteuse Nico—ambitious but withdrawn—is a highlight. The lilting and cacophonous urgency of the Velvet Underground’s sound is adroitly packaged in this graphic history. Shadmi’s fervor for the band’s mythic history will win over longtime fans and neophytes alike. (Aug.)