White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day By Day (Jawbone Press)


Not many bands deserve to have their career recounted day-by-day, but The Velvet Underground are one of the few that can rightfully inspire such fanaticism. Author Richie Unterburger has done a heroic job with this book, presenting a history of over 350-pages compiled from interviews, museum archives, rare photos, magazines and recordings. His knowledge and fact-checking goes so in-depth that he’s often able to contradict information given by the band members themselves (whose memories are clouded by drugs, ego and time). Unterburger leaves no stone unturned in chronicling studio work, concerts (including set lists, opening bands and critiques whenever recordings were available), and business dealings during the band’s five-year initial existence. He even reports on the band member’s pre- and post-VU musical activities; including info about such VU-tangents as mysterious original drummer Angus MacLise, the preposterously bad post-Lou Reed version led by Doug Yule from 1971 until 1973, and the equally bad reunion of the classic 1966-1968 lineup in 1993. While the book largely maintains a coldly factual perspective of VU history, the personalities of the individual players can be felt throughout; especially Reed’s harsh amphetamine-driven dominance which ultimately drove Nico, Andy Warhol, and John Cale away, leaving only those (Sterling Morrison, Mo Tucker and Doug Yule) who could shut up and follow his orders. It’s a fascinating story, given a new life through obsessive detail, and it’s truly the last book on the group that any fan will need to buy.

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