Why Lou Reed really was ‘a twisted, scary monster’

Lewis Jones reviews Lou Reed by Anthony DeCurtis (John Murray)

With the four albums they released between 1967 and 1970, the Velvet Underground challenged the prevailing musical fashion set by California hippies. Instead of peace, love and soft drugs, they sang about paranoia, perversion and hard drugs. Gleefully uncouth, they were also cool and witty, and their sound was exhilarating. They made pop music at its least popular, and their sales were feeble, but although they lost the battle they won the war: flower power turned out to be a dead end, while the Velvets inspired countless “art” and punk bands.

Their shifting personnel were a remarkable bunch. Andy Warhol, as patron and “producer”, bestowed instant glamour, and imposed on them .....

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