Loaded: The Life (and Afterlife) of the Velvet Underground

Hachette Audio. Dec. 2023. 16:17 hrs. ISBN 9781668632178. $38.99. MUSIC
Jones (Sweet Dreams) offers an expansive oral history of the Velvet Underground, supported by Robert G. Slade, who provides distinctive voices for the surviving members and those who knew the band members best. Jones argues that the Andy Warhol-conceived art house band broke barriers as the first major group—with a lineup of mixed genders—that would invent modern New York. The Velvets embraced their avant-garde cool by never smiling when photographed and wearing sunglasses indoors, sharply contrasting with the peace-loving “hippie” movement so often associated with the 1960s. Though they never really got to drive their nihilistic style home, this account shows how the band’s bohemian ways introduced the world to psychedelic rock, fusing Warhol’s subversive art with Lou Reed’s lyrics, John Cale’s beat, and German-born singer Nico’s voice. Artistic differences split the band up, but they became the model for David Bowie and punk rocker Sid Vicious and continue to forge an edgy path for vocal artists, songwriters, and musicians today.
VERDICT A captivating audio, following the evolution and devolution of a seminal rock band. It is a must-listen for fans of the Velvets and for those who are just becoming acquainted with the band’s groundbreaking surge of sound.
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