NONFICTION

Notes from the Velvet Underground: The Life of Lou Reed

Doubleday. Apr. 2017. 416p. photos. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780857522665. $34.95. MUSIC
COPY ISBN
Sounes (Down the Highway; Fab) focuses on Lou Reed (1942–2013), the former Velvet Underground frontman and rock innovator responsible for the 1972 hit "Walk on the Wild Side." This well-researched title covers all facets of Reed's life, from his Jewish middle-class upbringing on Long Island, NY, to his critically panned collaboration with the heavy metal band Metallica in 2011. Ultimately, one comes away from this book with a profoundly negative impression of Reed. Numerous interviewees reveal him to be a prickly, hypocritical control freak, highly erratic owing to problems with amphetamines and alcohol, and a misogynist with a history of abuse against women. Among the work's strengths is that, unlike other bios about Reed, it doesn't focus too heavily on the Velvet Underground, which only constituted five years (1965–70) of his more than five-plus decades in the recording industry. As with Sounes's previous books, this is a very entertaining read, largely because of the gossipy nature of his primary research.
VERDICT This comprehensive, albeit snippy, page-turner might end up being the definitive Reed biography.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.