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Exploring Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground: A New Book by Jim Higgins

Sweet, Wild, and Vicious is more than just a book about Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground; it's a deep dive into the enigmatic world of one of rock music's most influential figures and his iconic band. Authored by Jim Higgins and published by Trouser Press Books, this listener's guide provides a comprehensive analysis of nearly 50 original albums released by Lou Reed from the 1960s until his passing in 2013.



Higgins, the arts and books editor for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, brings a personal touch to Sweet, Wild, and Vicious, offering readers a thoughtful consideration of Reed's entire career. With descriptions, details, and analysis, Higgins aims to amplify and expand fans' understanding and appreciation of Reed's music.


The book is not just a scholarly endeavor; it's an exploration of Reed's life and artistry from the perspective of a devoted follower who can discern the highs from the lows. Through meticulous research and insightful commentary, Higgins navigates the complex and often controversial terrain of Reed's discography, shedding light on the evolution of his sound and lyrical themes.


Sweet, Wild, and Vicious is available in both paperback and e-book formats, allowing fans to delve into Reed's musical journey in a way that suits their preferences. The paperback can be pre-ordered directly from the Trouser Press Books website, while the e-book is available on platforms like Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and Apple.


The book features excerpts that provide a glimpse into Higgins' engaging writing style and deep understanding of Reed's music. For example, is discussing Reed's album Set The Twilight Reeling, Higgins offers a vivid description of the song "Egg Cream" and its unexpected tribute to childhood pleasures, juxtaposed with Reed's trademark grit and realism.


Higgins' meticulous attention to detail and passionate engagement with Reed's music have earned Sweet, Wild, and Vicious acclaim from critics and musicians alike. Greg Kot, co-host of Sound Opinions, praises the book for its contextualization of Reed's life and aesthetic, calling it an essential addition to understanding Reed and The Velvet Underground.


From Lou Reed's solo albums to his collaborations with The Velvet Underground, Higgins' book covers the breath of Reed's career with nuance and depth. As readers journey through the pages of Sweet, Wild, and Vicious, they'll gain a newfound appreciation for Reed's music and legacy.


For fans of Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, Sweet, Wild, and Vicious is a must-read, offering fresh insights and perspectives on one of rock music's most enduring and influential figures.


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The Five Best Lou Reed Albums According to Jim Higgins

(Limited to Lou Reed’s solo records)


1. New York (1989). His most passionately engaged album on all fronts – voice, lyrics and guitar, enhanced by sympathetic recording. 

2. Songs for Drella (1990). A truly successful concept album that comes closest to fulfilling Reed’s vision of rock music as literature. 

3. Coney Island Baby (1975). Blends the warmth of doo-wop and soul with provocative subjects. 

4. Street Hassle (1978). Dark, turbulent and messy, in a good way. 

5. Ecstasy (2000). The album that’s risen most in my esteem in the years since Reed’s death, because I’ve listened to it enough now to get what he’s doing – raging against the dying of the light. 

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