Rob Jovanovic's Seeing the Light takes an expansive
(if oftentimes highly biased look) at Velvet Undergound, an influential band that held sway over everyone from Nirvana and R.E.M. to Sonic Youth. While the Lou Reed-led New York ensemble was an important part of the '60s rock scene, they weren't, as Jovanovic says, more influential than the Beatles. Neither is
The Velvet Underground and Nico the most important rock album of all time. The writer makes the claims in hyperbolic terms, but
doesn't produce the facts and data to back it up.
Though the book took eight years to write, only two Velvet Underground members were interviewed: drummer Moe Tucker and multi-instrumentalist Doug Yule. There is nothing with Lou Reed or John Cale. Most of the book is compiled around auxiliary sources, already-published interviews in the main.
The music is examined and includes portraits of Reed, Cale, Nico and Andy Warhol, the band's mentor and facilitator. William Burroughs
and the New York music scene, are looked at and dissected.
This is a difficult subject to tackle, but Seeing the Light manages it.
Jovanovic takes a careful look at the band's reunion in the 1990s and talks about the tour, live album and spectacle of it. If you already know everything there is to know about Velvet Underground, you'll probably recognize most of the information here. But it does lay out the history and impact of the band in a concise fashion, and you'll probably want to read it anyway.