by Dylan Jones
Dylan Jones' definitive oral history of The Velvet Underground draws on contributions from remaining members, contemporaneous musicians, critics, film-makers, and the generation of artists who emerged in their wake, to celebrate not only their impact but their legacy, which burns brighter than ever into the 21st century.
Rebellion always starts somewhere, and in the music world of the transgressive teen whether it be the 1960s of the 2020s, The Velvet Underground represent ground zero. Crystallizing the idea of the bohemian, urban, narcissistic art school gang, around a psychedelic rock and roll band - a stylistic idea that evolved in the rarefied environs of Andy Warhol's Factory - The Velvets were the first major American rock group with a mixed gender line-up; they never smiled in photographs, wore sunglasses indoors, and in the process invented the archetype that would be copied by everyone from Sid Vicious to Bobby Gillespie. They were avant-garde nihilists, writing about drug abuse, prostitution, paranoia, and sado-masochistic sex at a time when the rest of the world was singing about peace and love. In that sense they invented punk. It could even be argued they invented modern New York. And then some.
Drawing on interviews and material relating to all major players from Lou Reed, John Cale, Mo Tucker, Andy Warhol, Jon Savage, Nico, David Bowie, Mary Harron and many more, award-winning journalist Dylan Jones breaks down the band's whirlwind of subversion and, in a narrative rich in drama and detail, with an irresistible narrative pull, proves why The Velvets remain the original kings and queens of edge.
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Date of Publication: 31/08/2023