This book tries to make sense of one of the most mercurial rock bands of their time. Chris Roberts takes us on a journey through the history of the band. He does an excellent job of navigating the myth and “fake news” that surrounds the band. Lou Reed was especially good at creating spin before that even existed. It’s hard to know whether he knew what was truth or fiction himself at some points. The intake of drugs added to the mix make a potent mystery. Add Andy Warhol to the story arc and there was legend in the making.
Chris Roberts has a credible history of writing about the music industry. He’s published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, ABBA, Tom Jones and more and has interviewed some notable musicians including David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Bryan Ferry and Debbie Harry amongst others. He was born in North Wales and now lives in London. In the book he tells a lovely story of being at a gig and hearing a distinctive voice say “Move – you are sitting on my coat” It was Nico, backstage at a gig. The book contains many more anecdotes like this but I have to say this is one of my favourites.
The band might not have sold many records at first but they had a loyal following. Their music continues to bring new fans to the table and this book is ideal for those who want to know more from a reliable source. He takes us through the discography of the band and the production details of each album and the impact that the music made. The volume contains some wonderful photos and illustrations which add to the reading experience. Definitely one to add to your music library.
If, having read the book you want more of their music, my local favourite charity shop had a decent vinyl copy of the first album. I left it there as we already have one.
The Velvet Underground by Chris Roberts is out on 7th April, published by Palazzo Editions
Review by Carolyn Batcheler