New Lou Reed and Velvet Underground Book Arrives


New Lou Reed and Velvet Underground Book Arrives

(Big Hassle Media) From the time he began recording with the Velvet Underground in the 1960s until his death in 2013, Lou Reed released nearly 50 original albums. In Sweet, Wild and Vicious: Listening to Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, out today via Trouser Press Books, Jim Higgins delves into each one, with descriptions, details, analysis and appraisals that will amplify and expand fans' understanding and appreciation of them.

This listener's guide is personal as well as definitive, a thoughtful consideration of Reed's entire career from the perspective of a devoted follower able to separate the highs from the lows. The paperback is available from the Trouser Press Books website here, and the eBook via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and elsewhere.

From Sweet, Wild and Vicious: "After two albums (Songs for Drella and Magic and Loss) permeated with death and dying, on Set the Twilight Reeling Lou Reed plugged in, turned up the guitar and returned to his childhood with 'Egg Cream,' a stunning ode to the New York fountain drink made from seltzer, milk and U-Bet chocolate syrup. Over a bed of noisy rhythm guitar, Reed rhapsodizes about his boyhood favorite, which tasted just like silk. A man notorious for recounting illicit thrills of methamphetamine and heroin surprised everyone with this unexpected tribute to prepubescent pleasure. But this is Lou Reed, not the Wiggles: Becky's wondrous egg creams helped him deal with knife battles and 'kids pissing in the street.' If asked to cast my ballot, 'Egg Cream' is the last great Lou Reed song.

"Reed switched gears and rhythm sections for this album, bringing back lyrical bassist Fernando Saunders and hiring drummer Tony "Thunder" Smith, who had played extended stints with the Jan Hammer Group and Serge Gainsbourg. Smith told Modern Drummer magazine he got the call because Reed had heard he was comfortable with electronics. In tandem with the versatile Saunders, Smith could play the hard rock stuff that was Reed's prime vocabulary but could also snap into a funkier groove. He's also a fun guy to watch.

"YouTube has video of Reed, Saunders, Smith and guitarist Mike Rathke performing 'Egg Cream' on VH1's Hard Rock Live series. It opens with green-room chatter among the four musicians, saxophonist David Sanborn and performance artist Laurie Anderson, then Reed's new paramour and later his third wife. Dedicated to Anderson, many songs on Set the Twilight Reeling are about romance - desired, feared and thwarted. In spots it has the giddy nervous energy of a guy newly in love."

Jim Higgins is arts and books editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and a former pop music and jazz critic for the Milwaukee Sentinel. He is a two-time winner of the Wisconsin Area Music Industry award for music journalist of the year and twice won the Sentinel staff-voted award for humor writing. Like Andy Warhol, he is a native of Pittsburgh.

Ira Robbins of Trouser Press Books says, "Jim Higgins takes the reader on a long walk through one of the most complicated, controversial and influential of rock oeuvres in terms that are, in turn, scholarly, hip, informative and personal. The unstated goal of books like this is to make you go back and listen anew to records you thought you knew front to back; Sweet, Wild and Vicious achieves that and more."

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