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The Crack Magazine

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Loaded – The Life (and Afterlife) of the Velvet Underground

When I heard Velvet Underground’s Waiting for the Man on John Peel in 1979 it immediately became one of my favourite songs, in fact, I loved it so much that next day I went straight out to Virgin Records in Brum and bought The Story of The Velvet Underground a ‘greatest hits’ album (German import, double vinyl). It wasn’t my first choice but there was nothing else in the racks. There was little info about the group and most of that was rumour and supposition - and, please note, Gerard Malanga and Victor Bockris’s groundbreaking biography Up-Tight was still four years away. Those days now seem like a different time, a different planet, a different galaxy as the Velvet Underground is now lauded, the records, books and merch, quite rightly, easily available and accessible. Pity Loaded by Dylan Jones wasn’t around all those years ago as it’s a perfect introduction to the group, the music and afterlife. An oral history (a nod to Plimpton and Stein’s Edie, perhaps?) which interviews the right people, some of whom aren’t the usual suspects, and, as the best of this type of book often does, reveals more about the subject than I already knew. The striking thing is just how perfect the Velvet Underground was. In many ways the first and last alternative rock band. How can you top a history that includes peak New York subculture, Andy Warhol, the denizens of Factory and a back catalogue that most bands would kill for? Well, sorry, you just can’t as Dylan Jones’s compulsive and exciting Loaded proves. And, you know what, those clever folks at White Rabbit have gone and done it again.

Loaded – The Life (and Afterlife) of the Velvet Underground – Dylan Jones - pub. White Rabbit - £25.00

Steven Long