Jim DeRogatis has a long-held reputation as a firebrand, and he’ll be the first to remind you he’s more than a bit of a contrarian. But we’ve always found those labels a little disingenuous, especially for someone so obviously passionate about not only music, but about being as much reporter and informed critic as opinionated scribe.
In a music critic landscape circa 2009 that’s as much lazy, laurels-resting old hands as unedited, brutally overwrought bloggers, credit the man for valiantly bucking both trends. He’s best known as the pop music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, but DeRo is also a prolific author, blogger and, with Greg Kot, his opposite number at the Tribune, host of Sound Opinions, to us one of the few music radio talkshows that’s as informative as it is passionately music geeky.
This fall came his latest book, a visual history of the Velvet Underground called The Velvet Underground: An Illustrated History of a Walk on the Wild Side (Voyageur). We caught up with DeRo a few weeks back on that and other pressing topics.
HIDDEN TRACK: Being a well documented Velvet Underground fanatic, this must have been a fun one for you. Tell me about the genesis of this book.
JIM DEROGATIS: Voyageur Press has been doing a number of coffee table art books devoted to bands and memorabilia. They did one on Led Zeppelin and I’d contributed an essay on “Houses of the Holy” to that. They had this notion of doing a Velvets art book and they called me up and said could you do the connective tissue historical essay and corral some other writers, and I said, well shit yeah, Merry Christmas. They’ve very generously put my name on the cover.
I have a shelf full of a dozen if not more Velvets and Lou Reed and John Cale books, but being even a huge fan as I am, there is a tremendous amount of artwork in this book that I’d never seen before. It’s nice to be given that context to do some of the writing. The goal wasn’t to do a definitive history for fans, it was to show them a lot of the art they hadn’t seen before, rounded up in one place.
READ ON for more of Chad’s chat with Jim DeRogatis…
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