How Much Velvet Underground trivia do you need?

I popped into Powell’s today to pick up an interesting book on painting and alchemy, but before I get to that, I had to note something that surprised me.  On the new music books shelf, two new books covering in intense detail, the doings of the sixties New York band the Velvet Underground.

The first is by Richie Unterberger, and it is called the ‘White Light / White Heat – The Velvet Underground Day by Day‘ – it’s a chronological history of the band, documented in amazing detail, going back to Nico’s appearance in La Dolce Vita and before, going all the way up to about 2007.  I only had a chance to quickly flip through, but it appears to be definitive – apparently covering just about every gig the band ever played, lengthy text writeups day-by-day through the band’s active years, lots of b/w photos.

But then right next to it was Jim DeRogatis’s book The Velvet Underground – An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side.  This one is much more graphic, with lots of color reproductions of photos, posters, etc.  (But didn’t ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ come out from Lou Reed solo, after the band broke up?).  Here’s a nice interview with DeRogatis.

I had no idea there was a market for this level of documentation about a band that was clearly very influential but really never sold many records, and whose heyday was 40 years ago…

I remember when I first found Velvet Underground music, it was on a double LP compilation in the late Seventies sometime, when the original albums were very difficult to come by.  It looks like this, and I’ve still got it:

At the time, I was about 17, the band  had been broken up for about6 years, and so to me this was like an ‘oldies’ band, rumored to exist but hard to track down.  Now thirty years later, all their music is readily available, and we can apparently read all about what they did on any given day in 1967.

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