0912_vu

The Velvet Underground: New York Art | Edited by Johan Kugelberg | 320 pages| Rizzoli | $50

This history/fetish object documenting the career of the Velvet Underground offers reminiscence (interviews with Lou Reed and drummer Maureen Tucker), testimonials to the band's cultural importance (from Vaclav Havel and music writer Jon Savage), reproductions of lyric sheets, endless photos, press cuttings, publicity materials, and gig posters (Boston, it seems, was particularly receptive to the Velvets).

But we'd trade all of it for just a few photos taken from the band's public debut on January 13, 1966. The setting wasn't some now-legendary club but the considerably more placid Delmonico's Hotel, where they played the annual dinner of the New York Society for Clinical Psychiatry. Dr. Robert Campbell, chairman of the evening, had the notion of inviting Andy Warhol to talk about the link between creativity and human behavior. Warhol used his films as background for the cocktail hour, and the Velvets as dinner music. The crowd ran out in droves. Until now, Velvets fans had to imagine this bit of lore. But here, we see Edie Sedgwick (who danced with the band), looking fabulous in her leopard coat, Gerard Malanga, and Nico, seated at dinner with their fruit salad and assorted guests. And we see the band in performance— Edie smiling as Malanga does his whip dance, John Cale looming with appropriate dourness over his violin, Mo Tucker inscrutable behind Roger McGuinn shades — all of them turning Delmonico's into "The Masque of the Red Death." Boy, does it look like fun.

— Charles Taylor

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