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Velvet Underground's The Velvet Underground and Nico (Thirty Three and a Third series) Paperback – March 31, 2004

3.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A new entry in a series about famous LPs. Harvard seeks not to "'explain' the Velvet Underground, or their first and definitive album" but to share what he finds "interesting about it." Much has been written already about this album and how, while it wasn't a huge commercial success, it inspired many future rock stars. In exploring what early Velvet John Cale called "an almost religious fervor about what we were doing," Harvard evokes the heady days of promise before internal pressures cut the band's career short.

Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

“Author Harvard has succeeded in finding the right mix between objective research and personal connection with his subject.” –Jason Dropor, Record Collector, October 2004 (Jason Dropor)

"A bite-sized look at the creation of one of the more seminal albums of our time….well worth dipping into." David Hill, Shredded Paper Magazine, Fall 2004 issue

"The splendidly named Harvard sees the Velvets through the eyes neither bleary nor jaded nor excessively worshipful, and among many sharp insights nails the idea that it wasn't just LouLouLou with, oh yeah, John Cale and the chick who split after this debut and the drummer who played standing up and the bass player who moved to Austin. Anybody who's heard "Sunday Morning" as the sun's coming up on a Sunday morning knows the Velvets were a BAND, and for these two sides of vinyl there was no more powerful idea. A-" —Austin American-Statesman, Oct. 17, 2004

"[Harvard] has the material as well as the gift of gab." —Robin Vaughan, Boston Herald, 6/6/04
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Product Details

  • Series: 33 1/3 (Book 11)
  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (March 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826415504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826415509
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.4 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #701,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A few pages into The Velvet Underground and Nico you already sense that Joe Harvard clearly enjoys the heck out of his work. Conversational at times, more formal where fact-gathering is concerned, Harvard's tone moves seemlessly from hilarious indie-rock-vibe riffing to an almost poetic admiration when describing the songs themselves. The result amply justifies Continuum's choice of musician/fans - instead of career critics - to write the 33-1/3 series. At times reading this book was like watching a band on stage, and you can't ask much more than that from a book on rock.

This book is really well-researched, as I guess you'd expect from an arachaeologist-turned-musician-turned -writer; with the backround story assembled as it is from liner jackets, magazine articles, websites and interviews (plus key passages from the other major Velvets works) it makes a perfect introduction for potential VU fans, while the detective work Harvard does on this definitive work by a great band will answer some long-standing questions for VU veterans.

Curiously, since the author's style is often irreverent, he still conveys his considerable respect for the achievement that this album was. Some of the funnier parts of this book involve the writer's admitted Boston-centric stance, and the way he weaves in elements of his own background veers from artful to self-admittedly ham-fisted. When checking out the writer's background, I found it interesting that one of the articles he wrote for a local NJ music 'zine, Upstage, was an appreciation/obit for Hunter S. Thompson ... with a similar embrace of subjectivity and such a melding of personal background with the book's subject, I wonder if this is akin to the "New Journalism" of rock writing? Whether it is or not, this is definitely a book worth reading.
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Format: Paperback
How to do true justice to an LP that was not a commercial success on release in March 1967 after a delay of almost a year from its recording, yet features regularly in most "all time" Important/Influential Rock LPs listings? Plus as Sid Griffin stated in his liner notes to a 1997 re-release in comparing this VU LP with the similarly ignored first Flying Burrito Bros. LP, it seems many of the copies that were since sold made the listener go out and form a band inspired by what they'd heard, given how many musicians cite the LP as an influence.

The author (a musician and producer in Boston, a favourite venue for the VU at the time in the USA) given his age was not around when the LP first came out and has instead "tracked back" based on seeing the pervasive influence it had on may later rock acts who he admired. In doing so, he has benefitted from being "guided" by Jonathan Richman (a longstanding and close VU fan plus influenced musician) in not being fooled by the many false statements and conflicting claims that exist by many of the participants.

What this book does beautifully is with great scrupulousness, nail the facts down and reassess what all the different participants contributed (or maybe didn't in some cases!) to the final end result. Compared with all the many prior books on the VU I have read (and there are indeed many for a group that during its existence had very limited commercial success or critical appreciation) this is easily the most honest and thorough on the subject I have read to date.
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Format: Paperback
Joe Harvard's entry in the 33 1/3 series is an immensely enjoyable read. I like the Velvet Underground's music, but wouldn't consider myself a huge fan. This book provides interesting insight into the band's origins and the sessions for the album. It's tough to understand how revolutionary the album was for its time, but Mr. Harvard does an excellent job of setting the 60's NYC scene in Andy Warhol's world.
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By M on December 8, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Seems to have been written by a 14 year old.

Offers fairly thorough backstory to the production of the album, but the author is clearly a developing writer. Overall this is probably the least impressive 33 1/3 release I've read ='(((((((((((((((((((

7778HJ
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Format: Audible Audio Edition
I think Lou Reed either:

A) Stole the author's high school girlfriend
B) Stole the author's high school boyfriend
C) Pissed on the author's shoe at The Factory
D) Refused the author the privilege of licking his ass
E) Is jealous of Lou's prodigious talent and legacy
F) Was irritated by Lou's unwillingness to be interviewed for this hack job. (Poorly executed hack job.)
G) All of the above

If you picked G, congratulations, you get a smiley face sticker.
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Format: Paperback
If you have read the information included in the "Peel Slowly and See" box set, you have more information than is included in this book. Reading like someting I would have written in High School or in my early college days, this mini book is a major disappointment. A handful of quotes from VU fan mags and the above mentioned "Peel Slowly..." booklet, doesn't a good book make.

Avoid unless you have never read anything about the VU.
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