Concise Yet Rich In Detail Account of the Making of a Classic Album

Concise Yet Rich In Detail Account of the Making of a Classic Album
Reviewer: 2bitmonkey
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"The Velvet Underground and Nico":
33 1/3 Series
168 pages
(March 31, 2004) Language: English ISB
March 31, 2004
ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:

Thirty-Three and a Third is a series of short books about critically acclaimed and much-loved albums of the past 40 years.

In this entry in the 33-1/3 series, Joe Harvard does an excellent job of documenting how The Velvet Underground & Nico album came to be, what gave the band the courage and power to be as creative and different as they wanted to be, the true influence of Andy Warhol, the key roles that each member of the band played, and the impact of all the other people surrounding the band. All in all that makes for a very solid if unspectacular entry in the 33-1/3 canon. Harvard gives a detailed and comprehensive “making of” the album in a short but rich 145 pages. However, despite the fact that he admittedly finds it to be one of the greatest albums ever made, one which stands the test of time and influenced countless bands to follow, he approaches the material unemotionally. The book is devoid of the passion you’d expect from a music lover. The lone exception is when he discusses his favorite song on the album, “Heroin”. Here, Harvard lets his guard down and goes on for a few more pages than usual about a single song (each is given 3-4 pages; "Heroin" gets about 7). For a moment Harvard sounds more like a fan – albeit a knowledgeable one – than a critic. It makes the reader/listener appreciate "Heroin" (the song!) so much more. While I generally appreciate his objectivity and his reporter-like way of writing,  overall (and I realize that I may in be in the minority) I would have preferred to see a little less respect for the band and a little more pure joy and love for the music. Nevertheless, I’m glad I read the book and I appreciate each member of the Velvets more for having read it.