Unterberger is a big-name pro, having written a number of books on the history of rock. He understands the world of music and is adept at analyzing facts and numbers and turning them into insightful observations that connect both historically and culturally. Here he breaks down the history of the Velvet Underground, one of the strangest and most controversial bands to have ever emerged from the cult underground of New York, into a day-by-day rendering. The amount of information here is a bit intimidating, and the time it must have taken the author to gather is overwhelming.
Beginning in 1958 in a pre-Velvets introduction and running through 1973, when the band effectively dismantled, the book covers every aspect of the band from Lou Reed's school days and John Cale's early experimental projects through Lou's departure and the group's ultimate induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
The Velvet Underground was not for everybody, and neither is this book. If you were a devotee of the band - and typically, anyone who listened to the group listened very intently, so you were probably either a hardcore follower or not interested at all - you'll go crazy over this chronology. Every recording session is detailed; every live performance is mentioned; and every TV appearance is noted. Anytime anybody sneezed is captured here.
This is the same format as Strange Brew and So You Want To Be a Rock 'N' Roll Star, two books written by Christopher Hjort for this same Jawbone Press. Unterberger now enters the domain of the serious diarist in bringing back every movement and shift in the career of VU. There are a multitude of photos capturing the group live and in the studio as well as shots of letters, album covers, and promotional/marketing items.
White Light/White Heat is a tremendous effort by an impressive author. Even if you're only marginally interested in the band, this is the place to read about them. Just open up the book, pick a page, and be astounded.