Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock ‘n’ Roll Since 1967

You won’t find a lot of flyers or album art in this massive, lavishly illustrated volume. Rather, these critical essays are matched with full color reproductions of artworks to show how avante-garde artists and rock bands have mutually inspired one another through the past forty years. It begins — as it must — with Andy Warhol’s two-year collaboration with the Velvet Underground and surveys the phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic. The fascinating juxtapositions that follow include Richard Hell’s poignant analysis of the graffiti at CBGB and Dominic Molon’s look at the effects of Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton on the thoroughly “mainstream” — yet still highly art-conscious — Beatles. Simon Reynolds matches Yoko Ono’s “conscious regression” with Brian Eno’s early devotion to the primacy of the artist over the medium. Both Ono and Eno injected vital experimentalism into a rock scene dominated by the cult of virtuosity and musicianship — and arguably prepared the ground for the DIY punk culture of the ’70s and ’80s. Most of the art accompanying these thought-provoking pieces stands well on its own, though some of the plates of video installations are hard to fully appreciate on the printed page. On the whole, however, this is a gorgeous work that makes manifest the creative vitality that visual artists and musicians share. –