Reading List

Lou Reed: The Life – Mick Wall

There are some rock biographies that are so forensic in detail that you find yourself having to wade through them until you reach the gloss and glamour, whereas others just skim the cream off the top and ignore the substance underneath entirely. Mick Wall’s bio of the recently departed surly and enigmatic frontman of the Velvet Underground licks its lips on the cream. His own “sincere speed-written, blood-spattered tribute” to Reed is a quick and easy read, winding its way through the Factory days of the Velvet Underground, Warhol and the Exploding Plastic Inevitable through to the peaks and troughs of his solo career.

Key episodes in Reeds life are highlighted but unlike the Factory regulars, we never feel entrenched within the scene. It is just a fleeting glimpse, a voyeuristic peek through the keyhole. Reed’s key relationships both good and bad (Cale, Nico, Rachel) are touched upon but you are left feeling that this is just a glimpse of a complex life. Reed’s final years and his collaboration with Damon Albarn and Gorillaz is entirely omitted which is itself a bit bemusing.

If you want a snapshot of Lou Reed then this book will suffice, but if your preference is substance over style then Victor Bockris’ Lou Reed: The Biography will fill in Wall’s gaps.