All Yesterdays’ Parties: The Velvet Underground In Print 1966-1971

Book Reviews | Feb 10th, 2008

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Author: Clinton Heylin
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Genre: Music
Pages: 278
Retail Price: 9.99
Buy on Amazon.com link

All Yesterdays’ Parties is an interesting compilation of press articles about the Velvets during their heyday.

What’s interesting is how little critical appreciation they received during their time. Hindsight has been much, much kinder to the band than during their career, and it’s sad to read so much negativity and indifference toward a band that had, not so much later, became credited with creating proto-punk and indie rock.

Because the band was friends with and produced by Andy Warhol, most of the early articles (and a surprising amount of later articles) focus on the pop artist and paint the Velvets as Warhol’s house band. The tone of the articles tends to be disparaging, shrugging off the band for their arty pretentiousness rather than acknowledging them for their groundbreaking music. The only positive remarks in the early write-ups tend to be reserved for the hauntingly off-key waif, Nico.

Most of the articles aren’t well written, insightful, or forward thinking (many of the critics claimed the music was too difficult to describe and went on to talk superficially about Andy or Nico), but the value of the compendium is in its historical archive. With the luxury of hindsight and cultural impact, media have since revised their opinions, but it’s interesting to read how little the Velvets’ contemporaries thought of them at the time. While the book isn’t a great read, I’m glad this record of that time and those opinions exists.

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