The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side

January 01, 1970

(Voyageur)

 

www.voyageurpress.com

 

BY JIM ALLEN

 

For a band whose
picture might as well pop up in Webster’s under the definition for “seminal,”
it’s a little surprising that the Velvet Underground hasn’t been given the
comprehensive illustrated-history treatment until now, looking down the barrel
at the 45th anniversary of the ground-breaking group’s formation. Nevertheless,
given the sumptuousness of this tome, we’re not complaining.

 

With essays,
interviews, memorabilia montages, and photos of concerts, rehearsals, and
candid backstage moments, it dives in to the deep end, taking us on a
chronological journey that starts before the band’s birth and finishes with its
brief-but-bright 1993 reunion. Velvets obsessives can flip to practically any
page in this copiously illustrated celebration of the band’s luminous legacy
and find something to make them drool with delight. Here’s a poster for the
band’s 1968 Boston Tea Party gig with the MC5. There’s a photo essay of
performances at Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable “happenings” at The
Dom. Here’s Lou Reed’s handwritten manuscript for “Venus In Furs,” and the
graphics from Reed’s pre-Velvets output on the Pickwick label. And with author DeRogatis
handling the heavy lifting on an editorial side that also includes band
members’ reminiscences and a complete listing of every gig the Velvets ever
played, it’s hard to imagine having a more immersive VU experience without
breaking into Lou Reed’s apartment.

 

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