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**** COMPELLING - The Sunday Telegraph
CONTROVERSIAL ... Sounes' book pushes the standard Reed narrative - The New York Times
Lou Reed, who died in 2013, was best known to the general public as the grumpy New Yorker in black who sang 'Walk on the Wild Side'. To his dedicated admirers, however, he was one of the most innovative and intelligent American songwriters of modern times, a natural outsider who lived a tumultuous and tortured life.
In this in-depth, meticulously researched and very entertaining biography, respected biographer Howard Sounes examines the life and work of this fascinating man, from birth to death, including his time as the leader of The Velvet Underground - one of the most important bands in rock'n'roll.
Written with a deep knowledge and understanding of the music, Sounes also sheds entirely new light on the artist's creative process, his mental health problems, his bisexuality, his three marriages, and his addictions to drugs and alcohol.
In the course of his research, Sounes has interviewed over 140 people from every part of Lou Reed's life - some of whom have not spoken publicly about him before - including music industry figures, band members, fellow celebrities, family members, former wives and lovers.
This book brings Lou Reed and his world alive.
In this admiring biography, music writer Sounes (Down the Highway) offers a measured chronicle of the life and music of Lou Reed (1942 2013). He traces Reed's life from his childhood and youth in New York City and his early forays into performing music to the heights of his work with the Velvet Underground, his career as a solo artist, and his ceaseless creativity. While the Velvet Underground struggled through its seven-year existence, the band gave Reed an opportunity to develop as a songwriter and performer, skills that allowed him to embark on a successful solo career. Sounes examines Reed's life alongside his recordings for example, 1973's Transformer, with its single "Walk on the Wild Side," launched Reed into international stardom; two years later, a lawsuit against him by his manager slowed Reed's songwriting for Coney Island Baby. In Sounes's workmanlike prose, Reed emerges as an artist who refused to compromise, often to his own detriment (early in his career, he refused to play at a fraternity party and punched a glass door to ensure he wouldn't have to). While there's not much new here, Sounes proves to be an amiable narrator who successfully reveals Reed as an innovative, influential musician.