REVIEW: The Story of the Velvet Underground (2021)

A graphic novel by Prosperi Buri

NOTE: I received a free preliminary, and likely unedited copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of providing an honest, unbiased review of the material. Thank you to all involved.

The Velvet Underground are one of those bands that ultimately influenced so many bands it’s hard to keep the list straight. The Sex Pistols, Joy Division, Nick Cave, or hell, the entirety of Goth music all owe a debt to them. I actually didn’t know too much about the humble beginnings of the band, or old incarnations of it, so this was definitely an interesting read. The book takes us from Lou Reed meeting John Cale, the falling out with the bands original drummer Angus, Them meeting Andy Warhol, and even the issues the band had with the inclusion of Nico as a second singer leading to Warhol being dropped. Every twist and turn is shown here until the band implodes in on itself.

“The Beach Boys and the Beatles are filling up the airwaves, but halfway between California and Liverpool, another band is putting together a sound that will change rock ‘n’ roll forever. Andy Warhol discovers the Velvet Underground in a little tourist bar in New York, and he soon becomes the producer for this group whose songs aren’t so much about girls and hot rods but shooting up, alternative lifestyles, and the melancholy after the party. It’s the late sixties, but not quite everything is flower power. The radio wants nothing to do with the Velvets, but the cool kids know who they are, and the enormous influence of this short-lived band has yet to abate.”

The relatively short, volatile, ride of the band has the potential be be a VERY dark story, but this graphic novel has taken a more humorous approach to the material. I know this style, including a near monochromatic color scheme with a dash of bright pink, might alienate some fans, but I enjoyed it. The tone of the book never really takes itself seriously, for better or for worse, and almost reads like those 60’s music films that bands like The Beatles did early on. I’m not sure everyone will like this, but I enjoyed it for what it was and learned about a band that I didn’t know much about aside from their music.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, please check on Amazon.

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