Lou Reed

Outside of a dog, heroin is a man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark for Lou Reed
*special introductory paragraph!
*Lou Reed
*Rock 'n' Roll Animal
*(Eric Sweenor Reviews) Lou Reed Live
*Sally Can't Dance
*Metal Machine Music
*Coney Island Baby
*Rock And Roll Heart
*Street Hassle
*Live - Take No Prisoners
*The Bells
*Growing Up In Public
*The Blue Mask
*Legendary Hearts
*(Eric Sweenor Reviews) Live In Italy
*New Sensations
*New York
*Songs For Drella (with John Cale)
*Magic And Loss
*(Eric Sweenor Reviews) Between Thought And Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology
*Set The Twilight Reeling
*(Eric Sweenor Reviews) Perfect Night: Live In London
*(Eric Sweenor reviews) The Definitive Collection
*American Poet
*The Raven
*Animal Serenade
*Spanish Fly: Live In Spain DVD
*Hudson River Wind Meditations
*Berlin: Live At St. Ann's Warehouse
*Lulu (with Metallica)

Lou Reed used to be the main singer/songwriter for the Velvet Underground, one of my least favorite bands from the druggy '60s -- more like SMELLSHIT UNDERWEAR, if you ask Mee!!! (Mee Mua, that is, an Asian girl I went to high school with. I hate to put words in her mouth like that, but I just have a very strong suspicion that she might say something like that, even though it completely doesn't sound like something that she would ever say). Fancy my surprise then when I began buying up Lou's solo albums at an outrageous pace and discovered that I actually like Lou Reed?!?!? At this point, I think my main problem with the Velvet Underground is the weak rhythm section and messy self-conscious artiste attitude that permeates through most of their work. But solo Lou Reed? Mostly just songs galore, songs galore, a hundred thousand songs knocking at my door! He can't sing at all, having a voice as tuneless as Bob Dylan's (though much smoother and less scraggly), but he writes a dandy melody and is generally successful at merging his lyrics and music to very effectively paint precise moods, be they dark, romantic, happy, depressed, drug-addicted, carefree, Mexican, constipated, angry at those fucking towelheads or whatever the hell else he's trying to convey. So on with the show - ladies and gentlemen, Lou Peed! (in my mouth)

Lou Reed - RCA 1972.
Rating = 8


Well, not the entire band, but certainly Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman. What they were doing on a sloppy soul/folk/rock/pop album when they were supposed to be in the studio working on Close To The Edge is beyond me, but there they were, supporting Mr. Reed with twangy, occasionally irritatingly redneck guitar work and lovely pianowork reminiscent of that famous young piano player that everybody's talking about. You'll find a surprisingly normal, traditional Lou Reed here, far removed from the evil 'Heroin" persona that he had presented in the VU. I have a tissue sticking out of my nose.

It's a loose, messy, unpolished, raw potato of an album, full of hooks that sound like ones you've heard before, but with minor twists that make them resonate through several listens, especially through your ears. The songs are great - "Walk And Talk It" will make you shake and bake me a chicken and the dramatic album-closer "Ocean" will make you reach to the heavens and scream bloody murder she wrote. Even through the Cat Stevens/weak Dylan years/Grass Roots "sooner or later" mustache-and-cocaine early-70s sound, you can't help but notice a cool batch of rockers that actually *rock*, slower piano-style ballads of sad characters and folky pop tunes about love and such. I still have a tissue hanging out of my nose.

Did I mention that it's BLOODY???? (a scary noise would go here if I had only clue how to make that kind of thing happen in HTML). Last night my fiance' and I went to a Mexican restaurant with some dog run friends, we both got drunk as shit, started arguing over a bowl of ice cream of all unlikely things and finally I stormed out of the restaurant as she tried to give me the Vulcan shoulder-pinch thing (???) and yelled down the road at me that I was a "fucking faggot." Eventually I realized that I was walking alone up Park Avenue (I had completely passed my home avenue) and missed my fiance'. I didn't even care about the ice cream anymore! I went home, called the restaurant and was told that she'd left already, then I took the dog outside to wait for her. When she showed up, we were both sober enough to realize how ridiculously funny the whole situation was. We went to the dog run and loved each other with love. So don't ever give up on love. Love can't hide in a bottle of brandy. Love doesn't care about making a spectacle about itself in public. Love transcends arguments and stupidity.

I'm of course referring to Mike Love from the Beach Boys. Has the world ever known a more sensitive and understanding man?

Reader Comments

personally i think "wild child" and "i love you" which ive heard only from lou reeds Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed compilation are really underrated tunes. i think now i may check out Magic and Loss, since i love my mp3 of "Whats Good". that song makes a whole lot more sense now after reading your M and L review although "sanskrit to a pony" still makes absolutly zero sense whatsoever.

I never understood the uproar about how bad this album was meant to be....Don't get me wrong it's not his best, but its fine..I suppose when the weight of the full velvet underground back catalogue is straining against your shoulders its not improbable that the reviewers will get their knuckles stuck in their cocks. Lisa says, Love makes you feel and I can't stand it are great and although the velvet underground versions of Ocean and Walk it and talk it were far superior, people like me can't keep harping on about it....The velvets were the best of all the groups to ever make music so I can't compare 1/4 of the velvets to the whole equation...and if you don't get it(the velvets), don't feel bad....just listen. Not for the production (go to the Elton John section if you want great production) but for the art. Remember its only pretentious if you're pretending, and they really weren't. You're not angry at artists, but people who fooled you into believing they were artists....you've had your musical heart broken and are scared to love again....but be brave my little soldier and you'll be rewarded!

I actually prefer this to anything Lou did with his previous band. I don't care if these songs are reworkings of leftover VU songs, I like all of them. Favorites are "Riders in the Sky" and "Going Down".

Add your thoughts?

Transformer - RCA 1972.
Rating = 8

Okay I'm gonna say something here, and please understand that I mean no offense by it. It is not intended as an insult or slur of any sort; I'm simply using it as a descriptor:

This is a fag album for fags who screw each other in the rear because they're gayfers.

Right around this time, Lou was eXXXperimenting with his sexUUUality by dating a transvestite of some sort. And he himself was wearing makeup and toying with the whole androgynous thing that all those cool people like David Bowie and the New York Dolls and NYC mayor David Dinkins were championing. So it should be no wonder to you, the listener of Lou Reed merchandise (or "merch" as we say in the business) that the album features a title, back cover photographs, lyrics and instrumentation that all suggest the ideal of males proudly brandishing their feminine wiles like an icky, bristly weapon against straight America (or "me," as I say in the business).

But if your sexuality isn't threatened by such an idea - and it shouldn't be, for heaven's sake - you are gonna LOVE these tunes. Produced and created with assistance by David Bowie and his MainMan Mick Ronson, Transformer is a quintessential "glam rock" experience, utilizing creative production and often hilarious character sketches (how on God's Green Earth did the lines "But she never lost her head/Even when she was giving head" become ACCEPTABLE to FM radio?) to breathe new life into what are, quite frankly, a rote collection of riffs. Seriously, riffs like "Vicious," "Wagon Wheel" and "I'm So Free" have been around since the very beginning of rock and roll. There's NOTHING to them. But mix in those great lyrics, plus a gorgeous guitar tone that appears to mix light distortion with a barely-on wah-wah pedal, violins, a male chorus of probably homosexual backup singers, tubas, saxes and ridiculous tap dancing noises (featured in THREE DIFFERENT SONGS?!?!?!?) and you've got a jolly fuckin funride of Sweet-style rocking roll!

Let me clarify - I'm thinking like "Little Willy"-era Sweet, not "Ballroom Blitz"-era Sweet. Make no mistake - this stuff is in no way, shape or form macho in any way, shape or form, macho. In no way, shape or form.

Macho. So yes, although the creativity is almost all lyrically and productionally focused (aside from a fantastic piece of piano melancholia entitled "Perfect Day" and the groove-rap masterpiece (of shit) "Walk On The Wild Side"), the album is 2 good 2 B 4gotten. Except for a couple pieces of annoying big band kitsch near the end. Those songs are 2 bad 2 B R-eeMEM-bird.

I couldn't get that one to work. Also, FYI, I really like "Walk On The Wild Side." But I felt that it was more important to use the hilarious turn of phrase "masterpiece (of shit)" than state my true feelings. That's how much I care about you, the cesspool of shit that reads my site.

Reader Comments

donnyg@brandx.net (Don Guarisco)
Mark has got his events mixed up in the intro of this review when he says Reed was dating a transvestite around the time he made TRANSFORMER. He was actually married at the time to Betty, an all-American blond stewardess who was 100% woman. Needless to say, the marriage didn't last long and Lou dumped her between TRANSFORMER and BERLIN.

I believe the transvestite Mark is referring to is Rachel, an effiminate male (most people mistook him/her for a real woman) that Reed took up with during the SALLY CAN'T DANCE/CONEY ISLAND BABY era. In fact, Reed gives Rachel a shout-out at the end of the song "Coney Island Baby."

Just thought you'd want to know.

It may be camp as hell, but this is the most fun you'll ever have in around 40 minutes. Sure, Wagon Wheel, I'm So Free and that other one with the name that I can't remember because I haven't slept in days are utter shit, but tracks like Makeup, New York Telephone Conversation and Satellite of love are tunes you can't help but love. I'm not even gonna mention Perfect Day or Walk on the Wild Side, because everyone who knows Lou Reed knows how good those two are.

Hey, Prindle, you're only gay if you're taking it, not if you're giving it.

I must say, I basically agree with you. Apart from a couple lousy tracks ("Goodnight Ladies", stupid stupid stupid, and "New York Telephone Conversation", annoying) it's mostly good stuff here. Any album that can take songs about heroin use ("Perfect Day") and turn them into swirling pop symphonies ready-made for dancin' and such, plus get a top 20 hit from songs about transvestites (you know that one) has got to be good. 8/10

You're right, its an excellent album, Mick Ronson(R.I.P) used to play his Les Paul through a marshall with all the dials turned up to 10 and use his wah-wah pedal to cut the mid-tone...hey presto!The Sweet Sound of Fag Rock from a straight as a die builder from Hull! (I got the MainMan joke by the way....Tony would be proud).The male back up singers you were referring to are Reed and Bowie. And the Female trio were called the Thunder Thighs (who were obnoxious...I had the pleasure of being in a band with this harpee who dined out on "do do do" for the rest of her fat life. Don't be threatened, just take some poppers relax your musical sphincter and let Dave and Lou work some sense into your virgin ass.

I think Mark is a fag in the closet and cant admit it to himself. Mark doesnt like the music simply because the artist explores his sexuality? Grow up. You fuckin loser. NEVER has a review pissed me off more than this one. Lou Reed, no matter what he has done in the past, is a natural badass in my book.

I don't like VU very much either, but Lou Reed has done some pretty cool stuff. I can't believe nobody has mentioned "Vicious" yet! It's a great way to open the album, Ronson's guitar sounds great and it's got a really cool groove... Oh, about the "giving head" line, it didn't get on FM radio, they cut it out in America. But, the people in charge of that stuff in England apparently didn't know what it meant, so they just left it in!

Oh, Uncle Lou has provided me a lot of comfort in stressful times before (the Velvets did change people's lives, Mark - they did: Ubu's David Thomas will agree), and here he gives me some wonderful light entertainment (this is, of course, before he started to like shitting on his audience circa 1974 and his proceeding long painful recovery from that circa 1978). In no way, shape, or form is this rockin', but it is wonderfully fun. David Bowie camps up the proceedings a leetle too much, but Ronson keeps him from going too overboard. Lou's ridiculously fun lyrics make this album totally worth it. I've also started focusing far more on his vocal performances in his solo recordings, oddly. The backing vocals are also super-campy, by (who else?) Bowie and Ronson. I wish that Lou had played a little more of his guitar on the album (to rough it up a bit), but it's a huge amout of rather non-wholesome sophisticated nightclub fun. I give this way fun piece o' plastic a 9/10. Oh, and Berlin is like getting a valentine candy coated in furniture polish - that poisonous. So have fun with this one; and cry to the next album. No wonder "Transformer" is more popular.

Gawd, I just don't get this record. Lou sounds like Bowie propped him up and poked him whenever he needed to sing, and these songs are some of the least convincing of Lou's career. "Perfect Day"? Sub-Elton John wallpaper crap! "Walk On The Wild Side" isn't much, either. Lou-by-numbers, y'know? He's faking it, all over this album.

you r thoughts are right on lou reed and david bowie they did dress like fags but the new york dolls came out a little bit latter then them yess they dressed female but they never dressed like women david bowie said that the new york dolls and kiss where never glam becuase you never questioned their sexuality. The reason why the new york dolls went over the top on the album cover(live they never dressed that feminan they dress more dollsy costum not girly) was 1.It is the album cover you are going to dress more over the top girly 2. They where saying we are no trend we are musicians so to say reed bowie and the dolls dressed the same is not correctly true.

My favorites on this one (apart from the hits which are obviously included) are Make Up and Satellite of Love.

The "I've been told..." bridge in SoL pisses me off, though. Maybe I'm crazy and I'm rejecting the entire thesis of the song, but that part sounds like shit and is shit.

The 70's, you should have been there - And brought your KY.

As a big fan of British Glam I, of course, had very little use for American Bands in 1970-74.

But my brother Burrhead loved Lou Read. So on those old fashioned summer acid trips, besides listening to T Rex, Mott The Hoople, Slade (Burrhead hated Slade), The Sweet, Bowie, Mud, Sparks (Sparks wasn't British, but often pretended to be - Sort of like Billy Joe Buttfucker from Green Day) blah blah blah, we'd also put on Transformer. Old man Lew could glam with the best of them with this album. Of course it didn't hurt that Mic Ronson and David Bowie came over the pond for a little man on man. Ronson was possibly the best glam guitarist ever and Bowie - Well he could be a silly little wanker, but he made more money in the states than Wizzard, Slade, T Rex and Suzi Quatro put together (ooops Suzi's not a limey bastard either - it turns out)

Did I mention "out"? Yeah, fag bands. But we really didn't get the music end of it until The New York Dolls and Orphus Annie. (Alice Cooper - HA! A pansexual dillitante - Golfing with Bing Crosby! No doubt about it)

The sexual end of glam had little interest to me - But I did like pretty flashy stage shows, the unique energy in the music, and a tradition of performing about a half-note off the timing - when properly called for -The Sweet and T Rex were the masters at this, despite the fact that their own studio versions were flawless. In fact T-Rex jumped from slick-as-butter anus on his albums (Thanks Tony Visconti - I think) to near pre-punk blasting live. I know that not playing in cohesive time signatures sounds worse than it really is, but it's a musical affectation that few can pull off properly, if at all. To understand what I'm talking about look at The Sweet's live video of Hellraiser. Almost perfect glam live. But sadly there isn't any really live stuff of T Rex that really shows what a master Marc Bolan was.

But then we were talking about Lew Costello, weren't we? Who's on fist? GRAAAABIT! GRABBIT! OHHHH GRAAABBBITT!

Oh, Grabbit....Mick wants me to dick flop. I'm a baaaaaad boy Grabbit.

Wagon Wheel, by the way, was a favorite of mind. And I don't swallow.

I gotta give this a 9 (or maybe 9.5.) Sure this is better written and produced than the first album (which I'll give a 10), but the songs aren't as good. "Perfect Day" outshines everything here, but the rest of the songs are fantastic. Even that silly "New York Telephone Conversation" is good, and I usually hate songs like that. I noticed George Starostin labeled this album is best album and the previous one his quintessential. I think it's the other way around. This album is more diverse.

Add your thoughts?

Berlin - RCA 1973.
Rating = 9

People are always talking about how depressing this album is. It's not that depressing. Parts of it are, certainly, especially the part where the slut whore woman has her kids taken away from her when the cops find out what an adulterizing trollop prostitute woman of the night she is. But, despite a number of raw, aurally empty performances that create a tone of cold, disturbing reality (especially when creepy scraping noises and screaming children are added in), half of the tunes are way too theatrical, coming across about as grim as a Broadway musical about a really sad clown who can't turn his frown upside down. You can thank Bob Ezrin for that. And I'm not even putting him down this time! I've grown to enjoy his work with Alice Cooper (Welcome To My Nightmare) and especially Pink Floyd (The Wall). He's certainly more Andrew Lloyd Webber than Steve Albini but when you combine that overblown "That's Entertainment!" style with the work of an honest artist, the results can be fairly intriguing.

This album appears to tell stories about a bunch of drug-using, sex-doing people in Berlin. They're all depressed and things aren't looking up any time soon. Most of the songs are incredibly great. Slow and somber acoustic guitar/piano pieces interspersed with Ezrin-style horn-driven gallivanting "Look At How SAD We Are!" show tunes. The melodies run circles around anything he came up with while in the VU and the instrumentation will keep you on your toes (the album BEGINS with a disorienting collection of sounds, voices and nauseatingly speed-manipulated music before turning into a solo Lou song so quiet you have to turn your stereo up to 50 bajillion to see if anything is actually going on).

But dig this, Jack - there was this one point where I kept saying to myself, "God, why do I hate this one song so much?" And then my fiance' started singing it. And I said, "How do you know this song?" And she's all like "It's an old Velvet Underground song - he just changed the girl's name." Boy, I did hate the Velvet Underground, didn't I? Good thing Lou dumped those fogies and started writing songs geared towards me! Check out his next album Rock And Roll Animal. That is so TOTALLY about me. I love rock and roll and I have a really long tail that I wag back and forth when I'm happy.

Look, YOU call it what you want. To me, it's a special little waggy tail with love.

Reader Comments

Some people seem to think this and Transformer are polar opposites, but I disagree. This is an album of SHOW TUNES! Aside from those three slightly unsettling tracks (Caroline Says 2, The Kids, The Bed, all of which I love, I might add) these tracks all wreak of the bombasticity that is totally Broadway. If I were a critic, I'd be saying somewhere around 9 and half. But I'm not, so instead, I'd like to say "I think it's more Bollywood than Hollywood". Does anybody know what that means?!?!!?

This is Reeds Masterpiece. The band you love so much on Rock'n'Roll animal are the same ones that brought you this statement of paranoia and apathy.(With the addition of Jack Bruce on bass, Cream fans). Producer Bob Ezrin actually sat his kids in the vocal booth and told them their mother had left them and wasn't coming home, then calmly returned to the desk to record their tortured scream(which you can hear on The Kids). Lou was breaking up with his wife, taking amphetamine abuse to new levels and drinking like a cunt. So he did the only think he knew, he took a handful of old velvet cast-offs, a scattering of new songs, an armful of methamphetimine hydrochloride and almost killed himself recording the fucking thing. Reeds reaction to the critical and public refusal of Berlin was the main reason for Metal Machine Music

"Lady Day" is wicked. The rest is kinda snoozy. Cool atmosphere, I guess.

The Velvet Underground outtakes on this album are "Men of Good Fortune" (played live really early in the Velvets' history and then forgotten until Lou rewrote it for this album), "Oh, Jim" (originally known as "Oh, Gin" and recorded by the Velvets in 1970), "Caroline Says II" (originally known as "Stephanie Says" and recorded by the Velvets in 1968 right before Cale left), and "Sad Song" (recorded in a way different version by the Velvets in 1970, but you already knew that applied to everything else here). "Berlin", of course, was released on the first Lou Reed solo album.

There are some good songs here, but the gross, turgid production absolutely kills this album for me. Lou's vocals and the backing music don't come close to mixing well together, and I'm just left wondering if it would have been more effective if everything here had been more restrained instrumentally. Lou's wobbly, depressive vocals are great, and I know he worked really hard on it, but this kind of overblown Broadway glam rock just doesn't work with the kind of material he has here, although I think you could make a case for the melodramatic lyrics demanding this treatment...all I know is that I just can't stand listening to it.

Lou was on a roll here. Sure this isn't as good as the previous two, but it's a lot more intense. This is an album where it works better if you sit through it front to back rather than individual songs. The only song here that really sticks out is the epic "Sad Song". "How Do You Think it Feels" also kinda reminds me of "Goodnight Ladies". I'll give this an 8, only because I get really bored by tracks 8 and 9.

Add your thoughts?

Rock 'n' Roll Animal - RCA 1974.
Rating = 7

This is a live album in which a skinny, shaved headed weirdo freak version of Lou Reed transforms boring Velvet Underground songs (and one originally quiet Berlin track) into loud glam-rock classics. No more chintzy light-weight playing and underproduction - "Sweet Jane" and "Heroin" sound like Mott The Hoople now! Ronson-style double-guitar pounding and a slightly less comatose Mr. Reed transform songs I don't like very much into songs that I don't actively dislike at all!

Not all of it is Banks & Shane though - the band tends to dick around with their self-indulgent cocksmithery instead of just ending the songs when they really should end - especially in "Rock And Roll," which seems to "jam" on for an additional four years before the album finally ends with a crowd screaming its head off for some reason. Who the hell would be screaming for Lou Reed? Do chicks dig hateful impotent mutants or something?

Reader Comments

What the fuck do people see in this album!?!?!? It's utter shit, full of Steve Hunter guitar solos and bland interpretations of formerly great Velvet Underground songs. Even someone who hates the Velvets has to admit that this album has nothing to offer. A more boring musical experience I've never had.

7? Prindle, you're a fool. And what size shoes do you wear?

I must confess while its not my favourite Reed live album,and I'm aware the man himself hated it with a passion, I do get off on the godfather of punk spewing his bile between two prog-rockers wanking each other off in front of a mute crowd (The Audience reaction was overdubbed). Sweet Jane and Heroin are enjoyable....just for the novelty of Lou compromising with his record company, but they would pay dearly as we, dear readers will find out.

I also agree that 'Take No Prisoners is by far the best Lou Reed album out there!

I pretty much agree with the person who wrote the first comment. Think of the original versions of these songs. Then think what it would be like if a hair-metal band full of wankers from the 80's was sucked through a timewarp into 1973 onto the stage with Lou Reed. These renditions are so polished (the bad kind) with overproduction that they're bland and rather uninspired (case in point: "Heroin" --- as if a lounge singer who hadn't slept in four days was singing, along with a band that sucked all the scary life out of the soul of the song was going through the motions behind him.)

Speaking of Reed, he sounds as if he doesn't even give a sh*t. (ie. his vocal delivery leaves a lot to be desired, cases in point "Rock n' Roll" and "Waiting for the Man").

Surely of the the worst live albums i've heard in my life.

(BTW is it possible to give a negative rating?)

By far his best live album! Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner bring staggering riffs and superb musicianship together to show a great but different side to Lou Reed. Yea Lou was a junkie and who the hell cares. Some of the worlds greatest music was born of heroin induced thinking. This album shows the diverse artistry contained in one man's vision of his own music. Again the thundering dual leads along with the mysterious but melodical rhythm section of Ray Colcord, Pentti Glan and Prakash John make the music of this album as good as it can be.

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(Eric Sweenor reviews) Lou Reed Live - RCA 1975..
Rating = 3

Taken from the same show as Rock n Roll Animal, it lacks any excitement and becomes repetitive and excruciating in place of the dramatic energy of the previous live record. Don't waste your time.

The only redeeming thing about this album is that just before the fade after the final song, you can hear an audience member scream "Lou Reed sucks!" Heh.

Add your thoughts?

Sally Can't Dance - RCA 1974.
Rating = 7

God this album sounds JUST LIKE The Frenz Experiment by The Fall! Listen - even the words are the same - "In these times - in these times" God, this is pathetic! It's as if he ripped off the ENTIRE ALBUM! Wait, hang on.

Sorry about that - I was accidentally singing the wrong album to myself. I'm all set now. Ahhhhh... listen.

Hear that?


Horns? Female backup vocals? A song about a dog and cat who get killed and then shoot up together? Not even so much self-indulgent as just completely clouded in a heroin-induced haze of confusion. But that can't stop Lou from churnin' out more great music! As per his muse, his finest songs on here are the sad, quiet ones. The "rockers" are for the most part pretty horrid - especially the rancid radio-ready funk rockers "Animal Language" and "Sally Can't Dance" - but the slow ones - WHEE! Drenched in acoustic guitars, pianos and Lou's wacked out quivering low semi-sing, they're murky, moving and melodically memorable, man It's amazing how such an ugly, unlikable creep could come up with so many beautiful songs. At least after he dumped that shittyass overrated fuckband that made him an underground legend because the underground cherishes no-talent shit music like Neutral Milk Hotel and The Strokes.

(shakes fist angrily from his rocking chair on the front porch)

Reader Comments

Let's wait until The Strokes bring in the horns before bashing them...Anyway, the shittier Lou Reed got (his opinion) the more sales he racked up. If this is Lou's shit, then I'm looking for the corn in his stool. One of my favorites from Uncle Lou b/c under the glossy mix is some of his most gutter-penned lyrics. And fuck me: "Kill Your Sons" is more scary than anything bands like Papa Roach (my parents were really mean to me) can dish out today. Finally re-issued by the same big bad label that is home to The Strokes.

This record is so sleazy that I'm embarassed to own it. (Much less two copies of it.) Sample lyrics, anyone? From "Ride Sally Ride": "Take off your pants, don't you know this is a party?" Or from the title track: "They found her in the trunk of a Ford" and "she was the first girl in the neighborhood to get raped in Tompkins Square - real good!" And I don't even want to talk about "Animal Language", which would be disgusting if it made a damn bit of sense. Yet it's still better than most of the crap released in 1974. Was Lou awake during the recording of this? On the whole 5/10. "Kill Your Sons" rocks.

The album is flawed, no question. Ride Sally Ride is a bad attempt at Al Green. Animal Language is downright embarrassing but Ennui is outstanding, one of the great downer tunes of all time. Kill Your Sons is a great track, no question, but the production over all is too fragmented. If Lou had actually put some effort into the making of the album it would have been better, but seeing as he had to be propped up by the microphone for most of the recording it is amazing they got an album out of him at all. The cover is great though-in fact his albums covers were the best part of his records for much of that era.

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Metal Machine Music - RCA 1975.
Rating = 1

Can you say "excruciating"?

No, don't feel bad. A lot of people have trouble with it. You just have to remember that the first c is a hard "kuh" sound and the second one is a soft "sss" sound. Once you know that, the rest falls right into place. Now let's try another one.

Can you say "ankylosing spondylitis"?

Well, whether you can say it or not, you'll feel like you've GOT it if you try sitting through this entire 62-minute piece of noise in one sitting. This was Lou's way of saying, "Up your nose with a rubber hose, Mr. Kotter." It's just a bunch of electronic feedback noise - one blast of it in each speaker. For a full double-album. For the first 30 seconds or so, it seems like the really, REALLY cool introduction to a kickass rock song -- weird notes that sound kind of like a nightmarish calliope mix with squawks resembling metallic birds flying through the sky. But then the song never COMES! And the same noises repeat OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER again for fuckingEVER. No drums, no bass, no guitars, no keyboard, no saxophone, no reeds, no vocals, no flute, no recorder, no piano, no pipe organ, no mandolin, no banjo, no dobro, no pan flute, no autoharp, no cymbals, no trombone, no trumpet, no triangle - just one second while I pull out my Encyclopedia Of The Names Of Musical Instruments so I can make this uproarious passage continue just a bit longer.

Which reminds me - doesn't "The Lockhorns" just kick all sorts of ass?

I like it! At least the first album (which is exactly the same as the other one). Be careful if you plan on listening to M.M.M. all the way through (I kinda doubt if Mr. Reed has even sat through both records) as your head may explode!!

For years the only Lou Reed solo albums I owned were The Blue Mask and MMM. I played MMM in its entirety on my old college radio station once. I just bought my fourth copy of MMM, in fact. Well, the first was a German reissue on vinyl which I replaced with a copy of the original 2-LP set. Then I bought (and later sold) a crummy CD reissue and now I have the new, excellent reissue with the freaky 3D cover. And a lot more Lou Reed albums. And a lot of gas in my tummy. And my eyes hurt 'cause I need sleep. Goodnight.

This is the one album I've EVER listened to where I got a headache after listening to 5 minutes of it. Which means it's either a) the most obnoxious album in history (definitely, unless you count Britney Spears which I consider less musical than this one-finger salute), or b) "the greatest album in the history of the human eardrum". Why do I own two copies of this? I'm just drawn to it...as a piece of music, 0/10. As an attitude and a conversation piece, 10/10.

Lester Bangs said it best..."Lou Reed is a completely depraved pervert and a pathetic death dwarf". Lou countered with the impeccable "He's fat and he's got a moustache." It was that sense of simplicity and not to mention acute drug psychosis which gave birth to this deformed, yet respectable child.

Metal Machine Music is the ultimate punk record and should be judged not for musical value, which would be to miss the point of this particular release, but as a cathartic "Fuck You" to the record company and to the fans that bought Rock'n'Roll Animal and Sally can't Dance in droves, but ignored his greatest work Berlin.

Lester Bangs said it best yet again..."Metal Machine Music is the greatest album ever recorded."


happy_nightmare_baby@yahoo.com (Not Telling)
I love this album! It's not the most appropriate thing to listen to for pleasure, but can be used as nice backround music. Of course I can understand why not many people like it, and why you have given it a 1. But to me, it's an easy 10.

S Fall
"But then the song never COMES! And the same noises repeat OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER again for fuckingEVER. "

This is what's great about it. It's a brain-crushing, mind-cleansing joy from start to finish. Those who want finely crafted songs can always listen to Steely Dan (if they can stay awake). MMM is THE noise-monster album that everyone should hear. Admire the sheer nerve of the man. Enjoy the car-crash sonic rush. In fact, I think we should have a Metal Machine Monday every week: let's synchronise record/CD/8-track cartridge players and get this album blasting out of cars, houses, schools, offices, public toilets, poodle parlours, churches and retirement homes around the globe until everyone has seen the light and recognized it as a true work of utterly inspired genius.

Keep up the good work.

this cd is FUCKING A man
maybe its cause im into noise but this album defined the noise rock genre
for example merzbow released a tape in 1980 called "metal acoustic music" that doesnt sound like this at all but has the same FUCK EVERYTHING sound to it!!! crass could never go against music like this

who needs "noisy music" when you can have straight up noise???

be sure to review the live version that just came out, i heard its really cool
and i hear notes in this disc
its like 2 classical music pieces through a meat grinder

If you play this album backwards, you'll hear the sounds of Reed, Miles Davis and the dude from Captain Beefhart snickering about how much that cough syrup addled, fat bastard Lester Bangs was going love this album. Nah, just kidding, about Davis and Beefhart. But if Reed did bet either one of those guys he could sell a wardrobe of invisible clothes to his fans, even more incomprehensible than any sham they ever pulled off, he won. Face it, you can't make fun of anyone who owns a Chia Pet, pet rock, mood ring or magnetic bracelets AND own a copy of MMM. Oh and one more thing - remember to degauss your CDs.

Add your thoughts?

Coney Island Baby - RCA 1976.
Rating = 4

More like Corny Island Baby, if you ask me!

This album SUCKS. It's Lou Reed's take on love songs, and it is full of cliched, generic, instantly forgettable radio-ready country-tinged tripe that might as well be by the Eagles if not for the tone-deaf rube on the mic. There isn't an ounce of melancholia on the record, but much worse than that is the utter lack of that Lou Reed MELODIC SMARTS that I have up to this point accredited him with. "A Gift" is a really pretty, relaxed number that gets stuck in my head (though that is probably because the lyrics are so hilarious - "I'm just a gift to the woman of this world"????), but the rest ranges from mediocre to abominable snowman. The nadir MUST be the final few minutes, as Lou tunelessly shouts about "the glory of love" atop a twangy, emotionless backdrop that sounds about as genuine as a 1986 Jefferson Airplane reunion.

Final word: too few interesting passages, too many happy vibes! Aside from the single strange tune on the album - "Kicks," a two-chord exercise in confusing but interesting dicking aroundisms - the rest of the album sounds like The Grateful Dead Go To Heaven.

Don't you ever make me mention the album The Grateful Dead Go To Heaven again.

Reader Comments

When you consider that the title track was dedicated to his transsexual lover Rachel and that the album was considered by many in the gay community as their poet laureates grand statement (and a very public self-outing in the wake of glam-rock), then the album has to be viewed in a new light. What Lou Reed has always been about is the writing. To listen to a Lou Reed album just to hear loud electric guitars and drug references is like going to the ball game just to eat the hot-dogs.

I like Coney Island Baby (indecently, the outtakes of 'Dirt' and 'Leave me alone' are excellent),although not my favourite album, it reminds me of the VU's third album when it grew up. Which is exactly what it is of course.

One night in 1977 I brought Coney Island Baby to the second floor apartment of the cutest drug dealer in town. He put it on the turntable and the song Kicks came on. You know the part where Lou is all excited like and he sez "the blood comes down his neck" then it sounds like some creepy dudes on speed 16 say "SLAVIC"? Well, the cutest drug dealer in town was also the most paranoid and he all the sudden yells out "HAY MAN... COPS!!!!" cuz I guess it sounded like SLAVIC was coming through a bullhorn outside the windows and the building was surrounded.

Alright, Pringle. Godfrey Diamond produced this one. He thought it was Fleetwood Man in the studio. But there is Lou Reed on the album. Kicks is the accidentally lost bonus track from Sally Can't Dance. It's so much like Kill Your Sons. And Coney Island Baby, although I find it hard to keep ignoring the stupid words, is the most beautiful song he's ever written. .... And, funny enough, the live version on the Prisoner album is really good. ou Reed is not like Springsteen. Live versions, although painful sometimes, are different to the studio originals. Hey you obviously limited numner of fans out there. Count the versions of Satellite of Love. Including those you heard on the concerts.

The VU versions can't live up the the originals. Crazy Feeling is cool. Sounds like the Pretty in Pink soundtrack. I mean it.

mongostyle@freemail.hu (Aron Gyenes)
Hey, "Gift" is the perfect song to strip at home to your girlfriend to, especially if you're old, fat and hairy. And in "crazy Feeling" when Lou sings "Now, now, now.." he sounds like really, really gay. It's a great album, I like the sound of it, the drums, the guitars. Those few seconds when he sings "that city is a funny place", in the title track it sounds just like Dire Straits, even the voice of Reed! But that's maybe just because I don't know The Fall.

slb23@shaw.ca (Simon Brigham)
This is one of my favourite 70's Lou Reed albums. The melodies are great, and the guitarist (i don't know his name, it didn't say who the musicians were on the cover) is just INCREDIBLE. Such soulful and heartfelt playing. Kinda reminds me of Mark Knopfler's playing (of Dire Straits) in someplaces. The only songs I don't like are "Kicks" (an interesting experiment gone horribly HORRIBLY wrong), "Ooohhh Baby" and "Nobody's Business" (which are good musically, but bad vocally - just the way he sings them). The rest of the songs are great:

"Crazy Feeling", "Charley's Girl", "She's My Best Friend", "A Gift", and "Coney Island Baby". I think the best song is the title track.

Go To Heaven kicks this albums asshole. "Lost Sailor">"St. of Circumstance", "Althea", and "Antwerps Placebo" are prime cuts. So what if they look like the exhumed corpses of the brothers Gibb. Coney Island Baby is an uninspired contract obligation. Good thing The Blue Mask would be just around the corner.

Prindle, you're so wrong about this album I wanna choke you.

I think that this record's brilliance lies in its simplicity and low ambition. Lou probably spent all of a day writing this one. The hooks are obvious, sometimes even stupid. The band is competent (guitarist Bob Kulick does great Keith Richards stuff all over the place), but basically faceless session dudes. The lyrics are boneheadedly straight-forward and matter-of-fact. Same with the chord progressions & melodies.

Despite all this, this is one great, catchy pop record. Seriously, all of these songs (bar "Kicks") have gotten stuck in my head for days, and Lou's wit can't help but shine through even in this setting. Who else would mutter "If I ever see Sharon again, I'm gonna punch her face in" in the middle of such a by-the-numbers 70's rock tune? Also, check out the way he goes "Hey baby ooh OOH!" in the second chorus of "Ooh Baby"; it's hilarious.

jt2005@centurytel.net (starman714)
You've got to be some sheltered little prick from suburbia or obsurdia not to know this is Lou (do-wop) Reed at his very very best. I can't believe the shallow bull***t you ppl have written here and all of the bands who came after Reed that you have cited as this album sounding like. Rock and Roll Animal was the fluke , for god's sake , not this absolute GEM ! Get some adults from N.Y.C. circa 1976 to tell you what this album is and put the rock encyclopedia bull***t away !

Add your thoughts?

Rock And Roll Heart - Arista 1976.
Rating = 8

It's 2:03 in the morning on a school night and I'm high. Not on drugs, maybe on caffeine? I don't know what it is but my mind isn't focusing and I'm interested only in happiness, joy and glee. As such, this album hit me PERFECTLY. Most of this record is upbeat, uptempo rock and roll with saxophone. I'm too fucked up to tell whether it's Motown or 50s style rock and roll or Philly Soul or something brand new, but it has guitars, it swings, it's fast, it has a saxophone, the melodies are so wonderfully bouncy and catchy, and not only that but he puts on some of those slow, sad Lou Reed piano songs that I love so much, to break up the happy mood! There are a few drab numbers near the end, but only a few. Most of it will have your ass dancing and your fingers shining brightly. Even my fiance enjoyed some of the songs, and she HATES Lou Reed! She used to like the Velvet Underground, but those were the college years. God, I hate the Velvet Underground. I should go back and change all their grades to zeros. Fuckin' bunch of pretentious pricks. Thank god that Lou Reed, the unpretentious member, left the band so that he could elevate his self-satisfaction to unheard of levels in a solo career full of so many ups and downs, it's quite spectacular that he still holds such a high opinion of himself. He thinks he's a "poet." Quite honestly, a lot of his lyrics are great. He does a dandy job of using words to create very visible, picturesque scenes and character studies. But to go around claiming to be a great poet is just offensive and moronic. I'm only talking about quotes I've seen from him though. They may very well have been taken out of context. I have a very low tolerance for smugness and people who presume that they are more talented than other people. It offends me terribly. Self-degradation is a wonderful tool for making people like you. If you downplay your strengths and talents, then when you DO come through intelligently, people will think you're a genius. If, on the other hand, you go in there and say "I'm the best," people are going to go out of their way to prove you wrong - to find your faults and make fun of them. I have chosen not to do that with Lou Reed just because he makes so many goddamned great songs. The Spin Alternative Record Guide gave this album a 4 out of 10, so please understand that the high grade I awarded it may just be the result of the ridiculously paradise-ical state of mind that I'm in right now - quite frankly, I feel like somebody slipped a drug into my drink or something, and I would not be a bit surprised to hear that this is what has happened. I don't want to go to sleep. I don't even have anything to say, but my fingers keep typing. Type type type type type type away. This album is happy and if you listen to it, you'll become happy. I will stop writing now, but let me say a few things that are important to me: It's important to realize that the World Trade Center no longer exists. It hasn't just been closed for repairs; it is now part of history. The tallest building in New York City is the Empire State Building. For the rest of your life, please take note of every time you see the World Trade Center in pictures or movies - and say, "Oh yeah! I remember when that existed!" Maybe you even took a trip in it once. See, a lot of people have horrible lives in horrible underdeveloped countries and it's very easy to see why they would get mad at the U.S. for being so affluent. However, Osama Bin Laden is a fucking multimillionaire. If only the poor citizens of Afghanistan had the strength and weapons necessary to rise up and bash the fuck out of this Taliban, then hunt down Osama and STEAL HIS MONEY, this world might be a bit safer for normal everyday people again. But a lot of people love Osama. It is an entirely different mindset. My mindset is that I was born in the USA and will simply live my life in the land where I was born and not cause any trouble. But Osama and his freak followers don't see it that way. For some reason, I am evil and need to be exterminated. I'll tell you what needs to be exterminated: all religions. They are stupid, asinine fairy tales for idiots. They hold no truth and contain nothing of value besides simple moral rules that everybody should be kind and smart enough to abide by anyway. If nothing else, we have LAWS and people who enforce those laws. We do not need Christianity, Islam, Hindu, Judaism or any of that other worthless fucking shit that turns entire nations against each other and creates a mindless world of stupid terror between gun-toting idiots who refuse to accept the fact that both they and their enemies are most likely COMPLETELY WRONG about what is going to happen to them when they die. It is all bullshit. Created long ago and spread throughout an ignorant and gullible public in need of something to believe in. Or enforced, in many cases (thanks, Christianity!). Islam is a piece of shit. Hindu, Buddhism, Satanism - all religions keep people away from reality. Or at least as much reality as we have the brains to comprehend. For all we know (and this is obvious but it bears repeating), NONE of what we see is real. There is enough evidence to support the fact that we don't really know "what time it is". When you are dreaming, do you KNOW that it's a dream? Sometimes sure, but most of the time, it seems completely real and you treat it as such. So imagine being stuck in that state all the time? For all we know, we ALL ARE stuck in that state all the time. But back to religion - faith adds nothing to society. It makes people weak and dependent, and most importantly, violent and/or scared. It's unacceptable. In America, we should not have to be subject to endless talk about God and prayer simply because the majority of people refuse to think on their own for half a second and realize that the odds on the Bible being anything more than a boringass book written by fools and liars is about 15 billion to 1. Christianity came WAY TOO LATE in the history of the world to have any credence. But I can deal with that. As a former co-worker once said to me, "If I find out that somebody is religious, I instantly have a bit less respect for them," but Christians, as repressive and repressed as they often are, at least no longer believe in "jihads". Nope - just killing abortion doctors! Whee! Because life is SUCH a treat, every little unwanted fetus should have the chance to experience it! Yay! I get to be born and get the shit beat out of me by a mother and father who wanted me dead, but weren't given that choice! Yay! I get to have 18 years of sexual abuse and mental torture so that I can grow up and either feel like shit ALL THE TIME or take my aggressions out on other innocent people! Oh god. Book II. If there is a God, I just hope to hell it's not the Christian one. Because he created people simply so he could judge them and condemn them. If that's God, I don't want God. I don't need a God who created me, gave me no sign that he existed, then demanded that I believe in him and love him or he'll condemn me. WHO THE FUCK MADE THIS SHIT UP? People who wanted to control weaker people - that's who. It's a lot easier to keep people in line if you're able to somehow convince them that if they get OUT of line, then their afterlife - entire eternity - will be painful. Very few people enjoy pain. I am not a smart person. I know this is obvious by the middle-school-level bitching and moaning I'm doing right here. But it's really late and my head is on backwards. But back to me not being smart. I 'm NOT smart, but I'm smart enough to make my mind up about things. And smart enough to know how LITTLE I know about anything. I have no faith. Faith is for stupid people. Stupid people who get angry when you point out how asinine their beliefs are. I love a lot of things about the world. But I don't believe that ANYBODY really knows what it is, where it came from or how expansive it is. That's why I'm much more interested in stuff that can be *proven* -- at least as much as possible. Prove to me right now that there's a God. What are you going to do, point to a tree and say, "Look at how perfect it is! How could it be this way without a God? Look at people! We're alive! It MUST be because of God!" Well okay then, this same God is then responsible for cancer and AIDS and heart disease and pain and torture and brains decaying with Alzheimers and strokes, bodies falling apart, people losing loved ones - if God gets the responsibility for all the good stuff, he has to take the responsibility for the bad too. Don't give me that Satan shit - God should protect us from pain, fear and terror. But he doesn't. Which means either he's a fucking asshole or he's not real. I'm not saying that there is no God. I'm only saying that I don't think you or anybody has any clue what it actually is. I believe that it is most likely that all religions are completely wrong, and it makes me so fucking angry to see so many people treated like shit and even killed because of a bunch of idiotic stupid nonsense. The World Trade Center disaster had many causes, but you can trace most of them back to religion. Thanks, religion. You were such a good idea. Fuck you and fuck everybody who believes in you in any way. You are not good. You have never been good. If you bring people solace, it is solace in lies. Ignorance is bliss. I am STUPID, but at least I know I'm stupid. Now let's talk about sex. It's pretty fun. Now let's talk about sports. I think they're kinda boring, but I can get into them if somebody forces me to. Now let's talk about music. I love a lot of music; hate a lot of it too, but love a lot of it. Now let's talk about going back and deleting all this drug-induced garbage I just wrote.

Bottom line: Rock And Roll Heart is a sax-happy rockin' and reelin ' experience of funness with a few slow melancholy ones that Lou is so good at. It's 2:37. I should retire to my slumber. I bid you a happy evening.

One last thing - if you are religious and you are offended by what I've written, please know one thing: if you're a good person, I don't want you to die. I would never make you sick, take your loved ones away from you or kill you before your time. That's a lot more than you can say for your "God."

So worship me! What the hell?

Reader Comments

Mark, Just wanna say that im totally with you about your essay on religion. I always believed that religion leads to violence instead of unity. Lots of hypocrisy and segrigation involved in the whole organization and no one seems to realize, nor give a shit. It's a problem that will never get solved, i guess. People seem to care more about death then living. Ohh, and i disagree when you say you aren't smart. I think you are very smart, and it also takes balls to write something like this, especially in public, since in religion wise, people foam at the mouth at this sort of thing if they dont agree with you (well, actually, they call it "Holy Wars", man what a contradiction).

mattro@raptorial.com (Mattro)
In the spirit of Mark's long-ass diatribe on religion, I present two of my favorite quotes on the subject. I have my own opinions on the matter of course, but quotes are so much easier to type. Here they are... enjoy!:

"The most preposterous notion that Homo Sapiens have ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history." (Robert A. Heinlein, author of Stranger in a Strange Land)


adooley3@hotmail.com (Erik Petersen)
Like your review, the reply is not really focused on the album (to be honest i haven't listened to it, or anything else that lou reed made after 1972) . I agree that there is not any sort of spiritual after life or transcendant being. However, your attack on religion reveals the insecurity and unhappiness that you and I and i'm sure all atheists feel. I was raised Christian (I agree the religion is repressive, etc) and I know I was happier from day to day believing that consciousness was permanent. 90% of the population cannot imagine that this is not the case. If one can acheive an understanding of this, that makes them a person of greater character and worthy of some respect (as you said). However, you can't possibly hope to convince everybody the let go of their ignorance, just as I cannot hope to convince you that lou reed post-VU is just fake-bowie. Secondly, capitalism and materialism (which you have inadvertently proven to be your masters) and modern political philosophy are derived from the "worthless" Judeo-Christian morals. If you consider Western civilization, which despite its many fallacies does encourage thought, to be the best system ( which whether or not you admit it, you do) than you owe an incalculable debt to a heretic who died on a cross. Indeed, even if he was merely a fabrication, Jesus had a more significant impact on history than you and I could ever dream of having. Like religion, whether or not you like the Velvet Underground, you must choose but to admit they were the most revolutionary and undercelebrated band ever or to be labeled ignorant. I enjoy your album reviews, you really know how to use a thesaurus. I highly doubt you will post this on your webpage, even though it gives you a huge opportunity to belittle me. Have at it.

(a few minutes later)

I was hasty before. Although I tend not to agree with your opinion, your site provides a good forum for people to discuss the music they love and hate. You do have some issues in your VU section.

Religion is a bit like Rock'n'Roll heart. They were both created because the people needed answers, but the creation caused more problems than it solved. Lou Reed came back with the real reply Street Hassle twelve months later in 1977. We're still waiting for Gods follow up album....

gray0187@tc.umn.edu (Jon)
maybe i am only drunk. There is a god, mark. religion is neat. people went and fucked it up. didn't someoone say punk was good for a year? whether youre based on a bunch of asian or european or american mythology or some semitic mythology, or neat bashing angst with prickly, chainsawy guitars none of it was thought up by the guys inc harge--the guys in charge just coopted it. same as anything else. thats like saying strauss was responsible for the holocaust, cause them nazis used his brassy ten-inch wang horn-orchestra for their propaganda, but i bet hitler would have killed some people if strauss never existed. same with all the guys you mention above. arabs and hebrews, the races, would be offing each other anyway in this situation without religion--but instead theres a really cool excuse that polarized and sped shit up. nah, there are some things in the bhagavad gita, the bible, the tora tora tora and the korrin hatch that are worth looking at, bunch of stories from thousands of years ago that are pretty neat. plus that slut angel gabriel is in all three big semitic religions! not a team player. plus the pope crapped on bush's face. it was a crap-by in the popemobile, man, you shoulda seen it.

mongostyle@freemail.hu (Aron Gyenes)
sheltered life is really good, the voice he uses and the music behind it, both are very strong. He seems to take a piss on the middle-aged peole who lead a sheltered, boring life. And then "where's the number, where's the dime and where's the phone". If you concentrate on the music, I think it's not a worthy album, but the lyrics are often hilarious.

Dang it all, Mark. You just HAD to go and write something thought-provoking on a review for an album I've never listened to. And probably never WILL listen to. NOW I have no legitimate reason to post a comment except for political reasons. Thanks a LOT.

Heh heh heh. I'm just messin' with ya there, buddy. Now, I'm not going to respond to the part about religion being a piece of shite--that would just be redundant, without purpose, and boring as hell for me. But I will respond to one teensy tiny little bit. Speaking as a former fetus, I think I would rather live life, shitty as it may be, than never exist at all. No offense to anyone here, but I think it's rather cuckoo to think that all these children living hellish, abused lives all over the globe are thinking to themselves: "Man! I wish I'd been aborted as a fetus. Then I'd die of asphixiation and/or dismemberment instead of starvation and beatings. On top of which, I'd never walk, talk, eat, or think conscious thought at all. Man, that would be SWEET."

Keep in mind, I'm not a religious person at all. I'm an agnostic, to tell the truth. And yet I side with Michelle Malkin on this one. Destructive bitch, that one, but she's got it down on this issue.

For further reference, check the Cider House Rules. It's a pro-choice movie, but Toby Maguire manages to articulate my viewpoint quite accurately midway through.

This is the best review of Lou Reed's "Rock and Roll Heart" I've ever read.

YAWN! Good early mawning! I just thought of something. Fer all yer incredulity aboot Satan and Christian-related stuff n' all, Mark, read Milton's Paradise Lost. I guarantee ye, if IT was the Bible, people wouldn't be so darned confused about the religion all the time.

Kevin Loy
Hi Mark,

I don't remember how I stumbled across your site, but I'm rather glad that I did...this would have been a few months back, I suppose. True, our musical tastes are sometimes divergent (you seem to like Bob Dylan, who bores me to tears, though I like quite a bit of jazz [admittedly, though, more from a compositional angle than an improvisational one] and even Steely Dan [you're probably already reaching for the 'delete' key]), yet they sometimes align (for whatever reason, I like Faith No More too...wait, maybe that's because they were a great fucking group, at least when they were a group*). Regardless of whether either of us likes or dislikes a particular artist, though, your reviews are almost always hilarious (yet amazing in the level of historical details), and I find myself coming back to your reviews on a pretty regular basis. I must mention, however, that I had a revelatory moment when reading through your Lou Reed reviews this evening.

Hell, I don't even know why I'm writing what I'm about to write. I guess 'rage' would be one reason why. Anyway, your discussion on religion really struck me -- rambling though it may have been, there was one bit in particular that I found to be striking...if I may be permitted to quote Mark Prindle here:

"All religions keep people away from reality."

Which really says a lot to me, especially at this point in my life. You don't know me (you probably wouldn't want to either), but it should suffice to say that, a couple of months ago, I went through a nasty split with my fake Jewish girlfriend (now EX, obviously). What made it nasty? Well, I ended up losing my apartment (as well as access to just about everything I own...most importantly my recording equipment), my job, my life...I lost my girlfriend too...did I mention that? Well, truth be told, she was a terribly arrogant, manipulative, miserable fake Jew bitch, so that doesn't bother me quite as much as the real tragedy: not having access to nearly all of my recording and musical equipment. Well, not having a fixed address sucks a bit too. But I keep bringing up the fake Jew comment because she considered herself to be a Noahide (and, admittedly, my hatred of her has kinda made me a borderline anti-Semite, which is apparently worse than being a racist here in the US...if I'd only known that, I would have chosen the other route...but I find it impossible to be a full-blown anti-Semite since I do actually have a few Jewish friends who don't completely suck as humans). But she used to really piss me off, going on with trying to push her belief system upon me and trying to make me feel like I was fundamentally flawed for not adopting it. It didn't work because I had gotten over the whole religious guilt trip system many years ago when I realized that Christianity was fraudulent, but she still used to needle me with it, talking about how just about every fucking thing in this world was a product of Judaism (see, I beg to differ there...I think that just about everything is a product of hydrogen), before launching into her whole "you have the potential to achieve a greater spiritual consciousness than most people" bullshit. I felt like she was trying to sell me a copy of the Cabala half the time...problem was, I had already been past all of that shit in my personal life. After dropping the Christian belief system that was forced upon me as a kid, I started looking into other religions...and I noticed a lot of similarities between most of them. So I eventually stopped paying attention to religion, and it was at that point that I realized 'hey, there's a world full of assholes around me! Maybe, instead of distancing myself from humanity by aspiring towards religious and/or metaphysical goals that will probably turn out to be a bitter joke anyway, I should focus on humanity.' I guess that is why music appeals to me -- at its best, it isn't necessarily technically perfect...it is still human, but it is the sound of humans creating something that, while transcendent, could only exist with humanity. If you believe the party line, any selected deity is infinite and exists regardless of whether the peons on Urantia exist beneath it, is beyond the realm of human comprehension, etc. But the beautiful thing about music is that, whereas religion celebrates the greatness of a certain deity (or deities), music celebrates the true greatness of humanity and its ability to overcome the trappings of life, even as it often wallows within them. To quote the great Albert Ayler (or, rather, his whacked-out girlfriend Mary Maria), "Music is the healing force of the universe".

Well, it would appear that I am rambling here. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for your religious diatribe during the Lou Reed review. Maybe I should sent you some of my albums some day so that you can mercilessly rip them apart on your site (you probably wouldn't like them)...hmm, maybe I should proofread this e-mail, since I'm wondering now if my rambling actually makes sense.

Have you ever heard that Hendrix bootleg where a drunken Jim Morrison screams "FUCK HER IN THE ASS!!!" for 45 minutes? You know, Morrison may very well have been America's Greatest Poet after all. I had a friend in high school whose father was utterly convinced that The Doors were Satanic (he even chided me once, in front of everyone in their household, for listening to The Doors because they were Satanic). How could a man who wanted to spread love to the darker recesses of humanity really be Satanic? Then again, they were a pretty die-hard Christian bunch, so I guess anything that didn't extol the virtues of g*D was inherently Satanic. But then again, I wonder what he would have thought about that whole bit in The Soft Parade where Morrison says "The Monk....Bought...Lunch".

Any plans to review the output of the Red Hot Chili Peppers? I find it hilarious that Kiedis complained about Mike Patton ripping him off. Even in their waning years, Faith No More could eat the Chili Peppers for breakfast without the slightest hint of indigestion. Particularly Billy Gould -- he looked like a pretty hefty fellow in their later years...plus, he was a great bassist (unlike Flea, who is a technical bassist but, at least up until four or five years ago, seemingly knew nothing about creating 'musical' bass lines).

* By the way, I find that, theoretically, I agree with your rating for King For A Day...whenever I'm not actually listening to the album...I also really like the album when I'm only listening to selected tracks, but for some reason, the album as a whole just falls apart for whatever reason. I'm not sure why, because there's a lot of kick-ass rage here ("Ugly In The Morning" in particular). But then again, I find it harsher and bleaker than Angel Dust...by the way, have you ever seen the video compilation Who Cares A Lot? There's this hilarious bit where straight-laced straight-faced ladies' man Roddy Bottum describes gerbilling to a female reporter...and her response is a shocked "are you serious???" I guess I'm still a bit stunned by the fact that people couldn't pick up on Roddy being anything other than a ladies' man. I mean, for fuck's sake, he's dressed like a gay cowboy in the group photo for The Real Thing...I remember being nine or ten when I saw that photo and thinking to myself "wow, that guy looks like a gay cowboy".

Oh, and by the way...if, for whatever reason, you really didn't know this, Dr. Demento's last name is Hansen.

So I don't really care for Lou Reed's music, except for maybe Rock N Roll Animal, but I was reading these Lou Reed reviews for fun and I came upon this one. I just wanted to tell you a couple things.

First off, your reviews are awesome and hilarious and true all the time. I get so much joy out of reading them because along with being true, they're just incredibly funny.

Second, your "essay" on religion is so so true. As of late, I've been thinking about religion a lot. I've never had any faith, and frankly, I've never wanted to. I've always frowned upon religion more than anything else in the world. I wanted to thank you for making such an opinionated argument about the horrors of religion. You're right, it should be exterminated. It's got little to no positive qualities, and whatever morals it enforces are far outweighed by all the millions upon millions of deaths that it's caused.

Thanks for saying all that.

Add your thoughts?

Street Hassle - Arista 1978.
Rating = 7

Hey! It's everybody's favorite working class hero Louce Reedsteen! No no, listen to what I'm saying - this is the most bombastic music Lou Reed had made up to this point ("Waltzing Matilda"?, "Real Good Time Together"?, "Gimmie Some Good Times"?), but it's like the ANTI-Springsteen! Instead of chiming and smiling with the happy grit of working class life as Springer did on The Wild, The Innocent And The E Street Shuffle and Born To Run, Lou's bombast is filled with murk, shadow and bassiness, with a "wall-of-wound" mix full of relentlessly busybody lead guitar, keys, omnipresent saxophone, bass&drums and '50s style backup singers ("doo wop she dooby dooby doo wop" they say in one song; "ba ba-ba ba ba" they repeat in another as if they were Pavement writing a non-hit single). And obviously Lou's voice isn't exactly bombast-ready, so his druggy uhh... medium baritone.. Umm..

sounds tired and tuneless like always! Most of the album is fairly melodically uninnovative, but the packed to bustin' production and hypnotic repetition makes for a delightful street listen, free of hassle.

Plus, it has "I Wanna Be Black," one of the most unnecessarily offensive songs I've heard all weekday. I can't remember the lyrics but I know he is the first person in history to intimate that black people have whores and big cocks (his language, not mine - I choose not to defile my tongue with the words of evil).

(Except "pussyjuice" - that's a funny word of evil)

Reader Comments

In January 1976 a new magazine was launched. Punk.

On the cover was a spookily accurate cartoon of Lou Reed with a bolt through his head. In the aftermath of disappointment for "Rock'n'Roll Heart" (which wasn't as bad as all that) Lou needed a break...Punk gave it to him, single handedly transforming him from the "Phantom of Rock" into "The Godfather of Punk". Lou was never a punk, that's why he could rule the punks...the punks would never respect another punk and Bowie was just too stylish, so Mr Reed got the mantle. But he realised he needed to give the animals some food...

Street Hassle is awesome, maybe not if you're seventeen years old used to toneless dirge, but taken in the context of its time Street Hassle was like a new mandate for the scumbags who had nowhere to go. I'm not going recommend a track, it deserves full attention from the top of its unwashed head to it's cracked varnished tippy toes. For what its worth its my favourite Lou Reed album.

I did try full 6 years to get a grip on that album. ARISTA had somehow abandoned it in the 80s. I bought it in Spain as a late Spanish vinyl pressing. 3rd world quality. And there it was again. Street Hassle, the song. The theme for my desparate moments, my hangovers, my wet dreams. There it was. 11 minutes about sidestreets, whores, squares in the neighbourhood and other scum. How could Lou ever fuck this diamond up like on Take No Prisoners ? Like his unnumbered uninspired live version of Sister Ray in the late 80's. Songs like these are being recorded and left on the master. Forever. And yes, Dirt. 'Who'd eat shit and say it tasted good..?' Again Lou Reed delievers the definition of bad temper and pure disgust. Anybody can do New Sensations. But nobody, leave alone Springsteen, writes tunes and lyrics as dirty as Lou Reed.

Besides, who was engineer on 'Wait' ? Please fire him, if he's still with the studio. I wonder if ARISTA gave gim more than 5.000 $ to record and mix Street Hassle. Thank God, he never completed that hideous Binaural Sound. Then again, it pretty much sounds like VU, like recorded under water.

grq04@dial.pipex.com (Simon Phillips)
As a late come who has surfed into your mess of a Lou Reed review site, I have to mention you make a few snipes at Brooocie Baybee at the start of the review of Street hassle without mentioning that he is actually on the album's title track trying to rap even less well than Lou Does, that said the album is a classic.


Wow, this record is FUCKED UP. The production is the epitome of sleazy 1978 cokehead madness. Slimy, decadent, dark. Wicked. One of his finest.

Tom Troccoli
The fact that this remains his finest solo album can only stand to remind you what a waste his solo career has been. Like a lead weight, the damn thing is so ponderous it needs Springsteen mumbling 'poetry' (on the title cut) to justify it's release.

Two great songs, the rest is nonsense.

The best of the material shows up in far superior versions on the much maligned and truly unique 'Take No Pensioners, er, Prisoners' LP. Okay, but why SPRINGSTEEN? Why not say, Andy Gibb? He was even more popular at the time, and he was cuter too. Better singer, far more astute songwriter. Even at the time, the question was 'WHY SPRINGSTEEN?'

The CD reissues have never sounded as good as the original 'Stereo Binaural System' used on the original vinyl releases. Sounds muddier than a coalminer's shoes.

By this point Lou was coming from a place so boring that his most original tunes were about jerking himself (Banging On My Drum from R&R Heart), settling in here as the 'inventor of Punk Rock' for two whole LPs (Street Hassle and Take No Prisoners), and then divebombing into further boredom and inconsequence with his pseudo 'jazz-pop' of the 1980's. Of course, that was before he discovered RAP! Ugh...

This album is weird. It's been hyped as Lou's "response to punk," because it's much nastier lyrically than at most other points in Lou's career, it rocks nominally harder than much of his other stuff had before (though he's rocked harder before and after), and because it was released in 1978. Well, it sure as shit doesn't sound like punk. (Then again, I'd argue that the only time Lou Reed ever sounded like a punk, and not even a straight punk, but an art-punk, was on White Light/White Heat, but points given to the fact that he was basically inventing art-punk in 1968.)

It sounds like Lou put a shitload of effort into this album on a lot of different fronts. He sounds about as full of contempt as he ever would (not an inconsiderable feat, since this is Lou Reed we're talking about) on poisonous rants like "Dirt," which is one of the cruelest, angriest songs he ever wrote, and "Gimmie Some Good Times," where he eviscerates himself for turning into a gigantic self-parody in 1974, calling himself a "fucking faggot junkie" and sneering "no matter how ugly you are, you know to me it all looks the same." He also gets more sleazy here lyrically than he had since Berlin; the title track first talks about a woman who pays for sex, then talks in not-so-delicate terms about a woman who's overdosed on drugs, and "I Wanna Be Black" is offensive enough to make those guys behind "South Park" blush. (Supposedly it's a Lenny Bruce homage, which makes sense considering The production is some of the strangest on a Lou Reed record, with "Real Good Time Together" made up for most of its duration by three reverbed, tremoloed, distorted guitar tracks playing nearly the same thing, which then fades into a sloppy, pounding live version of the same song. The band sound is, as Mark noted, bombastic and Springsteen-esque; but since this is Lou Reed, he makes everything sound sick and sleazy, rather than corny. (Well, this album can be pretty corny at times too, but I prefer my corn with a little sickness mixed in.) The band on this album sounds kind of like a mix between trashy glam-rock and Springsteen at his angriest. Much of the record consists of live takes in Munich that were later doctored and overdubbed in the studio, and the decision to mix in binaural sound makes everything sound that much murkier. If anything, I don't think Reed concentrated as much on the melodies of the songs, which are good enough, but they really aren't too catchy. The things that will get you into the record are the lyrics, the intensity of the performances, the weirdness of the production, and Lou's vocals.

One thing about the record that I notice is how much care and time Lou put into his vocals. Since Lou Reed practically wrote the book on how to talk-sing (a book which I crib liberally from), it's strange to hear him attempting to harmonize with himself and sing melodies that consist of more than four notes. It's even weirder to hear him succeed most of the time. The timbre of his voice is noticeably different than it was before - he's not just singing in that inimitable flat Lou Reed monotone, and his voice has thickened and decayed a little since the days of "Transformer" and "Berlin." His voice wavers and warbles all over the place, trying desperately to stay on the notes he wants. There's much more overt emotion in his performances than there was before: mostly the emotion was always just hidden under the monotone.

The best songs are "Dirt" and "Street Hassle," in that order, and while nothing else on the record quite measures up to that one-two punch, nothing else out-and-out sucks, although the happy-sounding "Wait" really sounds out-of-place on a record this pissed. Street Hassle gets an 8.

When I first heard this album I hated it. When I had listened to it 10 times I thought it was the greatest album of the 1970’s. that was 30 years ago and I still feel the same- IT IS the greatest album of the 1970’s. It also has the greatest album cover of the 1970’s. why? Because the cover so perfectly matches what is inside- sleazy, street wise, stoned rock n roll. The album is masterpiece, and along with Take no prisoners the last great recording solo made. Why? Because he quit drugs. Hate to say it, but Lou is only great when he is high. All the junk he released in the 1980’s- the laughable “New Sensations” and all that crap, it just trash compared to Street Hassle. Just listen to the title track where Lou says “Love has gone away…”- the bomb, pure and simple. Or the final cut “Wait’- a messy, off kilter masterpiece of rock n roll. Dirt, a brilliant two-chord mess a of a song- you remember that guy from Texas his name was Bobby Fuller? I’ll sing it for you it went like this…

Add your thoughts?

Live - Take No Prisoners - Arista 1978.
Rating = 7

Hush, ladies and children. For the great poet Louis Reed hath some words of deep import for us all:

- "What do you mean it's rainin'? We know it's fuckin' rainin'!"
- "I said 'BOYFRIEND,' what you can't fuckin hear or somethin?"
- "Fuck the little people - I hate all people!"
- "Gimme an issue, I'll give you a tissue. Wipe my ass with it."
- "Fuck (Patti Smith's LP) Radio Ethiopia, man - I'm Radio Brooklyn! I ain't no star."
- "What do I look like, Henny Youngman up here? "
- "So what's wrong with cheap dirty jokes, huh? I never said I was tasteful."
- "I'll sing when you shut up!"
- (Regarding Jane Fonda) "I don't dig lesbian bitches." - "Diana Ross, she's great -- as a person. She hasn't made a good album in a long time."
- "I know, so now everyone's gonna say oh Lou Reed's mellow now that he's older - he didn't act mean, he talked. We'll mug you later, alright?"
- (keeps stepping on distortion pedal, creating earsplitting blasts of feedback) "Isn't that annoying?"
- "Go leave if you don't like it."

Yep, this is the famous one. The live album where Lou can hardly get through a song without breaking for some ridiculous monologue about nothing. And quite frankly, this album belongs less on a "Lou Reed" review page than it does on a "Speed" review page (see All-Music Guide) because man if speed wasn't responsible for this album turning out the way it did, then no artist has ever done speed ever.

Hurrah! No artist has ever done speed! Warning: This Radio Is Now A Drug-Free Zone!

Musically, the album is somewhat reminiscent of the Rolling Stones' messy, overdone Love You Live (though less Funky). The piano/guitar songs are oozing through and through with vibrating female backup soul sisters and a saxophone that uses cocaine. And strangely, he's moving his sounds towards, alternately, long blues-rock mediocrity and/or Springsteen-esque '50s nostalgia bombast. "Satellite Of Love," for example, is so Springsteen, Lou might as well have used the pseudonym Lou Reeferty And The Spread Beaver Brown Hole Band. And "I'm Waiting For My Man"? Think not of thy Velvets: 'tis but an endless blues groove with nothing at all in common with the VU track of the same name -- "Lonesome Cowboy Dave."

10 songs in 80 minutes, piquing with 16 minutes of "Walk On The Wild Side," in which Lou rambles on and on about different celebrities and insults the hell out of the Village Voice's "Dean of Rock Criticism" Robert Christgau (among other critics -- that means YOU, George Starostin!!!!!) without actually managing to make it even through the first chorus as far as can be told by the person living in my vagina.

Yes, that's right. I'm in the process of giving birth as I write this! I can't believe the doctor allowed me to bring my laptop, but luckily

Oh never mind. It's just a stream of urine.

Check out this biting political satire joke I'm about to make: "A stream of urine? Oh no! I gave birth to a Republican!" AHHHAHQHAHAHAH~!~! HAHAHAHAHA~~~~ AHHAHHAAH SOMEBODY GO TELL RANDY NEWMAN MY HILARIOUS JOKE SO HE CAN WRITE A SHITTY, OBVIOUS SONG ABOUT IT!!!!~!

In return, you shouldn't buy this double-album for the songs. If anything, you're buying it to hear Lou rant. Not JOKE - it's not a "funny" album. It's just "fun" to hear him rant like a lunatic. So much so that it's a disappointment when he lets an entire song go by without using the "Fuck" word ("F"). Like "Pale Blue Eyes," a boring song made even shittier, no thanks to Lou's 70s-era quivery, tuneless "singing" voice.

Count the quotation marks in this review and win a prize!

Congratulations! You've won a Buick Skylark! Pick it up now at any Buick dealer near you. Just be sure and say the magic code words to let them know that you're a winner of the "Prindle Quotation Mark Contest." These words are: "I have a gun. Give me the car."

Tell 'em Dave sent ya!

Reader Comments

Eric Sweenor

I don't like this album.

Maybe that was an overstatement. But let's face it, this album's a big, nasty piece of shit. It's a ninety-minute rant set to some slick, obnoxious performances of Lou Reed's Greatest Hits. Over two discs, he gets through roughly 10 songs (listed) and stops occasionally to insult the audience, a few critics (bastards deserved it anyway), and generally act like a fifth-rate comedian. So why is it so great? For the same reason I love Metal Machine Music. It's a punk record, but it's so much better than the Sex Pistols or whoever was selling confrontation at the time. No, wait, don't bring the straitjacket yet, let me explain myself...

The extremes that Lou Reed took his listeners to with Sally Can't Dance and MMM are exploited brilliantly here. Reed gives the people what they want, so to speak. Take a look at the track list - "Sweet Jane", "Walk On the Wild Side", "Pale Blue Eyes", "Satellite of Love", "Coney Island Baby", and even a version of "I'm Waiting for the Man" which mutates into "Temporary Thing" roughly halfway through - stunning stuff! The versions here are all sickeningly sleazy, backed up with cheap effects and loud female backing singers. After starting each song, they degenerate into the repetition of the song's main riff, over which Lou rants and rants, makes bad jokes ("isn't that funny, ha ha ha?"), insults peers ("fuck radio Ethiopia, man, I'm radio Brooklyn!") and critics, and generally entertains. It's brilliant! And people paid for this! Hell, I paid $20 for this album! It's almost unlistenable.

But that's why I like it. Sure, you can listen to Lou Reed's Greatest Hits, but you're gonna know how pissed he is about having to play the "so many of your favorites to choose from". Hell, "Walk On the Wild Side" goes on for 17 minutes! How can you lose?

The only reason this doesn't get a higher mark is cause Johnny Thunders did it better, and more natural too.

Tom Troccoli
I have used this album for years thoroughly convincing my more naive pals that Lou is indeed the illegitimate child of Jerry Lewis. Try it some time...

dgolumbia@gmail.com (David Golumbia)
sorry, this is just one of my very, very favorites, especially the expanded "Coney Island Baby" and the hilarous and moving and grooving "Sweet Jane" and the druggy/drunken slow "Waiting for My Man" and the propulsive "Leave Me Alone" and the funky 18-minute "Walk on the Wild Side"--oh hell I just love it, what can I say?--and I must slightly alter or emend your transcriptions of some spoken lines from it. you may disagree, just what I've heard listening to these things over and over again:

-- "A boyfriend--can't you fuckin hear, what's wrong with you?"
-- "Fuck Radio Ethiopia, man, I'm Radio Brooklyn--I ain't no snob, man"
-- (keeps stepping on distortion pedal, creating earsplitting blasts of feedback) "Isn't that annoying? That's how Metal Machine was born, by the way"
-- "Where were you on the list when they called you for Vietnam--hey man, for Vietnam? You political, Lou? Eh, what--political about what? Gimme an issue, I'll give you a tissue--you can wipe my ass with it"

-- [audience member yells about Patti Smith/Radio Ethiopia comment]: "What about her?" [guy yells again]: "If you write as good as you talk, nobody reads you."
-- "You ever put a quarter in those machines, man, like the bear that plays basketball? You put a quarter in me... uh huh, I guess you never put a quarter in me."
-- "We're just here to make out.. we'll put the head in, you don't like it we can talk about it."
-- "Whaddya think this is, question and answer?"
-- "I don't have anything to say, I just wanted it quiet for a while."
-- "I have no attitude without a cigarette. I'd rather have cancer than be a faggot. That wasn't an anti-gay remark, coming from me. That was a complement. It's like going to bed with a brontosaurus man, it's out of style."
-- "Watch me turn into Lou Reed before your very eyes. I do Lou Reed better than anybody, so I thought I'd get in on it."
-- "What does Robert Christgau do in bed? You know, is he a toe-fucker?"
-- [mimicking anonymous rock critic]: "When is this shit over, Marty? You got some coke?"

Best concert album in the history of recorded music.

Lou is funny, unlike almost every rocker who ever lived except Jim Morrison, and, on occasion Bob Dylan. I'll listen to Lou do stand-up any day of the week. In fact there was a time back in 8th grade wherein I spun this double-vinyl goody-bag at least two times a day, much to my brother's horror.

Know why I love Lou? His sheer perversity. Around the time "Prisoners" came out, '78-'79 he showed up on the late-Sunday nite WPLJ FM call-in show (hosted always by a visiting rocker) "Radio Radio." Wanna know what he did on live radio for 3 pre-dawn hours? He only took calls from pinball fanatics, and only talked about specific pinball machines, their makes and models, which arcades they were housed in, etc. He hung up on anybody calling about music; by the first hour, every pinball fanatic in NY was calling in, to talk serious pinball arcana with Lou, who sounded like he knew more about the subject than any human being alive. This went on for 3 or 4 hours.

In between calls, he played tapes from the week of shows at the Bottom Line that produced Take No Prisoners. Guess what they sounded like: no chat, no stand-up, none of the weird Vegas/Springsteen sound of the few moments of actual music on Prisoners. The tapes sounded great, like the best parts of Street Hassle. Good ol' perverse Lou could have released some of that stuff, and instead he put out a little crappy music, and a lot of his between-song patter, a la "Having Fun With Elvis OnStage." (Except Lou's patter is funny, while Elvis' is 45 minutes of him going "Welll...AllRiiight!...Har har har...Welll....ALLriiight, oh yeah." truly amazing...)

Only the genius who brought us Metal Machine Music could have gifted the world with Take No Prisoners.

Apparently, the version of "I'm Waiting for the Man" that appeared on this album was originally half an hour long, until it was edited down to a brisk 14 minutes. The rest of the album contains no edits or overdubs, though. Kinda wish they'd had the whole thing on the CD- Lou's ranting is hilarious.

Ok let’s cut the crap. Take No Prisoners is the BEST live rock album ever! How this recording got labeled as some kind of flop I will never understand. This recording is STELLAR- perhaps the best thing Lou Reed ever did. If you don’t believe me put on the CD, cue up the song “BERLIN”, turn up the volume and check it out- what a version! Lou’s best vocal ever, girls wailing in the background, the fire-cracker ending of the tune. The sorrow, the joy. And this is not the only great moment- Coney Island Baby blows away the studio version- more sorrow as Lou pines for his football coach- “and the straightest dude I ever knew was standing right by me all the time”- THAT is the Lou we know and love.

Satelitte of Love- killer. Sweet Jane- mega-killer. I wanna be black? Jazz vamp with great solos. How about “waiting for the man”- lou goes on the nod – “I sing when you shut up”

The only live album to rival this? Curtis Mayfield- “Curtis Live!” from 1971- which in some strange way seems to me to be the predessor of Lou’s masterpiece.

Damien Browning
I do not really agree with you on most lou reed albums, however i agree with you that this one sucks.I think that when he made it he probably thought he sounded really funny and witty between the songs and what not. But in my opinion he just sounds like a jackass.Just saying stupid things and what not.

Add your thoughts?

The Bells - Arista 1979.
Rating = 5

I have a very stupid looking pair of shoes that my fiance bought for me that make me look like an elf. However, I like them because I can throw them on quickly, no laces, no socks, and wear them to the dog run. But because I don't wear socks, the shoes inevitably end up smelling very, very bad. It's an interesting smell because it's so bad, and I can never resist taking a sniff to see if it's as bad as I think it is, but it is at heart a disgusting stinky sweaty foot smell that I don't want to spend more than a second or two ruminating.

Much the same goes for this album. It is an awful, directionless collection of out-of-tune nightclub music, bad new wave bounciness and cocaine-swinger disco funk. But it's so completely inept, I can't help but NOT turn it off. The sax is back with a vengeance, Lou's voice sounds nervous and weird like he's buzzing around the room on amphetamines, and the songs don't make any sense at all. The second song is a catchy non-disco instrumental called "Disco Mystic" (?) The title track starts with a five-minute block of threatening, repetitive experimental nothingness with two tracks of Lou talking about something or other way way way in the background (?) "City Lights" is COMPLETELY out of tune and morose, with Lou speaking in the lowest, most zombie-like voice he has ever put forth (?) "All Through The Night" features the entire band chit-chatting in the background throughout the entire song (?) And for God's sake - there's a song called "I Want To Boogie With You" on it. AND IT'S NOT A BOOGIE SONG!!!! (?????)

Again, most of the songs could never, ever be considered "good" on a normal scale of "good" to "bad." But it's just so off-the-wall and completely wrong, I feel proud to wear a copy on each foot every day when I walk to the dog run.

Say, you're a broad - would you feel beloved if I called you my "Osama Bin Lady"?

Reader Comments

It's hard for me to comment objectively on The Bells. Let me explain, For a whole twelve month period in my life I did nothing, but listen to The Bells from morning to night. I was having a nervous breakdown and I decided to choose this album as the soundtrack to my personal disaster movie. I can't remember why...I was naked and wired.

So even now, fully functional and sane whenever I pop The Bells on my stereo a strange physiological phenomenon occurs. My cock gets hard and I feel ampethimine flowing through my veins, although I've been clean for years...its like a guilt free relapse. I suspect its a good album, but I don't think I can comment with any honesty. Fuck it, give it a 10/10

ericbeau@gml.lib.uwm.edu (Eric Beaumont)
The Bells is one of my favorite records ever -- unlike anything our beloved Lou ever did. "Disco Mystic" is just hilarious -- what a basso profundo! "All Through the Night" is the photonegative of "Kicks" -- Lou and friends can be heard talking over drinks in the background, but they're not spiked in and out of the mix; they're a reassuring presence with Lou's almost overwrought lyrical masterstrokes: "With a daytime of sin and a nighttime of hell, everybody's looking for a bell to ring, ooh mama, all through the night."

Not once on this marvelous, engaging, warm, weird record does Lou or the band descend into rock 'n' roll cliche, tempting though it must have been after the laugh-riot groovefest that was "Take No Prisoners."

"City Lights," the prettiest song on the album, is Lou's lovely eulogy to Charlie Chaplin. Would that the two were contemporaries. Watch the film and then listen to the song. I dare you not to feel great.

Lou's most adventurous, lyrically generous, urgent, and beautiful album, The Bells is New York alchemized onto wax. Ten out of ten!

It's not that bad! "Stupid Man", at least, is a total classic, Lou at his faggy best.

To sum my review up in one sentence: "The worst 70's Lou Reed studio album I've had the displeasure of listening to in my life (so far)."

Mark's most excellent review sums up The Bells compelling strangeness, but omits the fact that Lou, ace solo songpoet that he is, opted to collaborate with a co-writer for the ONLY time in his solo career. So who does he pick to co-author most of the songs on Bells?

Nils Lofgren, el non-entitio del hacko primo supremo. Why Nils has had a career for like 50 years is an enigma to me, and why a great conversational songwriter/primitive melodicist like Lou would team up with such a loser is beyond me. Musta been speed buddies or something. No wonder Lou sobered up for good shortly after this album, collaborating with Lofgren is probably the musical equivalent of waking up in bed with a tranny after an alcoholic black out. (except Lou would be unfazed, as he spent the mid-'70's cohabiting with a tranny named Rachel, seen on the cover photo of Walk on the Wild Side/RCA greatest hits, shouted out to on "coney island baby" and memorably described by Lester Bangs as "beyond grotesque" during one of his many classic Lou interviews....)

Add your thoughts?

Growing Up In Public - Arista 1980.
Rating = 4

Likewise, this album is so bad, it's bad! On the back cover, Lou is surrounded by what appears to be a generic bar band. Put on the record and it still appears to be a generic bar band. No sax, somehow, but the band oscillates between Bob Seger blandness, the Voidoids' quirky, dry punk lite and dimwitted Chevy Chase-style '70s novelty music, landing somewhere right around NRBQ.

God could I go for some NRBQ chicken right about now.

"So Alone" has a brilliant, unexpected chord sequence and the title track is catchy as hell. But melodically, the rest of this just reeks to high heaven. Songs like "Smiles" and "Teach The Gifted Children" reach far beyond the realms of the moribund to enter a divine, unexplored land of stupid, annoying melodies that could only have been pieced together by a hopeless drug addict. These songs literally sound like he put his hands on the guitar, played a few notes and chords at random and said "Okay, we're ready to roll." Aimless balladry, sickeningly crap-happy bombastic pop rock (imagine a Bruce Springsteen from an affluent Florida suburb), imbecilic joke music ("The Power Of Positive Drinking" - doy!) that makes you want to rip your ear off and donate it to the war effort and herky-jerky "youth music" nonsense all contribute to one of the least listenable albums that this man has ever recorded.

Some of them are okay though. And he uses lots of intellectual words like "harridan," "Gestalt therapy" and "to."

More like Growing Up In PUBIC, if you ask me!!!!!

How come nobody ever asks me anymore?

Reader Comments

For some reason I like a lot of this album. "Keep Away" has got some of the most sarcastic, vicious lyrics he ever wrote...to hell with that subtlety shit! Who needs it!? "Think It Over" is actually a quite nice song, with a straight marriage proposal lyric - and this comes from the guy who wrote "Walk on the Wild Side"? His voice absolutely sucks on this one, worse than usual even. And even if the lyrics aren't bad, the music is - check out the title track, with its WAY too loud jerky bassline, or "The Power of Positive Drinking", which is an all-time low, sounding like some sort of castoff showtune. Good thing he got off drugs....6/10

This sounds like the first clean album he ever recorded. And god he sounds like he'd kill for some speed and a quart of Jonnie Warker Black. Maybe someone should have given him some (perhaps not, we would have been spared Minstrel, but would have missed out on New York, which I can't begin to contemplate). How do you Speak to an Angel, however is one of my favourite of Lou's eighties songs and of course the title track is brilliant, I mean you don't just turn talent off like a tap, and if speed made you write fantastic songs, I would have been famous years ago, but I'm not. Shit..that's depressing. Its like being reborn, being clean for the first time...and you feel very vulnerable. For someone as abrasive and controlling as Reed it must have been a nightmare. Although he doesn't have my sympathy. The bad boy.

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The Blue Mask - RCA 1982.
Rating = 8

Aaaah, what can I say about Lou Diamond Phillips' The Blue Macadamia Nut? Well first of all, he's gone from sounding like the Voidoids to BEING the Voidoids, with the excitable acquisition of Richard Hell's bald, bearded former guitarist Robert Quine. Robert is an excellent guitar player, arpeggiating neato jazz style but in rock context with pop notes. In the other speaker, Lou's warm tone provides an absolutely gorgeous rhythm guitar counterpoint. Together, the two axes create one of the most mesmerizing dual guitar assaults (but quietly and gently, aside from the electrifying title track) I've ever heard.

Not just that but, as I'm led to understand that this is Lou's first sober album ever, the songwriting actually comes across as LUCID! Sure, he's still addicted to cheap rhyme (if he was as great a poet as he'd like to be, he'll stop rhyming so damn much - when you restrict yourself to that nursery rhyme nonsense, you totally back yourself into a corner, sacrificing honesty to fit within a restricted number of rhymey words), but the melodies are great and he's singing about things that are really important to him as a 40+ ex-junkie (his wife appears in the lyrics of more than one song). Buy it not only for the neat blue face on the cover, but also for the music. As always, a couple of numbers seem about as creative as a mathematical equation (the first song on the record is just AWFUL!), but there is a definite mood carried throughout the piece and Lou seems really into it, jive turkey.

Remember that really dumb punk rock guy in high school who once said to me, "Henry Rollins is racial!"? That guy kicked ass.

Reader Comments

Lou's first completely clean, sober and sane(?) album.

I've never loved this album as much as I should...maybe I'm not smart enough to love it enough. I respect it more than anything, and find it an amazing and emotional experience, but I don't love it the way I love Berlin or Street Hassle or The Bells. I once had a girlfriend like that, beautiful to look at, interesting in a boring sort of way, a great shag and kinda adorable, but I just couldn't bring myself to love her and ended up fucking it all up by fucking ugly people badly until my cock split and my mind fell out. I think this is an amazing if cold album.

S Fall
Yes, the album is very much a 'mixed bag', but one song really stands out: Waves Of Fear is a stunning track on which all of Uncle Lou's pent-up angst and paranoia is unleashed in a horrifyingly immense flood of 'Arghhhh!'. Put it on 'repeat play' next time you're feeling anxious and you will be reassured that you're not in such a bad way after all. The guitar and voice work incredibly well together and, for once, you can really believe he means what he's singing. Full credit goes to Lou for painting such an unattractive picture of himself, too: 'Crazy with sweat, spittle on my jaw' / 'I cringe at my terror, I hate my own smell' etc. These are not exactly song lyrics to attract radio play, big sales or crowds of groupies. It's an excellent song, and worth hearing the album for, so don't be put off by the track in which Delmore Schwartz's ghostie creeps into Lou's house (and Lou doesn't even mind). Waves Of Fear is a real corker. He could, perhaps, have called it Fear Is A Man's Best Friend except for the fact that John Cale had already used that title back in 1974. Another very slightly spooky co-incidence? What about how John Cale released an album with 'Paris' in the title the same year (1973) that Lou Reed released one called 'Berlin'. Great minds think alike, eh? Maybe not.

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Legendary Hearts - RCA 1983.
Rating = 6

This record album features the same band as the one before it, but the songwriting is much spottier than on that release, and the fretless bass is WAY too darn loud in the mix. I am no fan of the fretless bass phenomenon. It's too high pitched! It might as well just be a third guitar! There's nothing BASSY about it! But the key issue is the songwriting. About half of the songs are really pretty and I wouldn't throw them out of bed for creating ackers. But when a band this relaxed and advanced in age fails to achieve melodic meltdown, they wind up sounding as soulless and bland as Dire Straits (listen to the lifeless, endless, worthless "Home Of The Brave" for the best example). Just empty, predictable guitar arpeggiations that can't even be shaken to life by Lou's always exciting, lively vocal manner.

And nobody - NOBODY - can slip a "Pachelbel's Canon" ripoff past me. "Rooftop Garden" is just that. And I loathe it every bit as much as I hate the repulsive wedding song it imitates.

Say, did I mention that, when I get married in a month, the song that Brenda and I are dancing to is going to be "Emotional Rescue"? It wasn't my idea, but it was the tape I was playing in the car on our first date, so she thought it would be appropriate. And then our honeymoon song will be "I'm so hot for her - SHE'S SO COLD!" Ha HHAE!!! had Ha!!!!

Please pray that I have more success with my marriage than the Rolling Stones had with that album.

Reader Comments

Marriage will work out fine......she likes the velvet underground, taste is timeless.

This is a pretty boring album, although he has made worse. By the way that song that you mentioned that imitates the wedding song sounds nothing like it. anyway I agree about half the songs are any good, just enough tomake the album worth it to most fans. But i figure most lou reed fans own everything he's done anyway. The bass, i must say sounds especially shitty on here.

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(Eric Sweenor reviews) Live In Italy - RCA 1983..
Rating = 6

Okay, so you're Lou Reed. You finally get off drugs. You record one great album (The Blue Mask) and a respectable follow up (Legendary Hearts). You put together one killer band with a massively innovative lead guitarist and a virtuosic drummer. You take them in front of an enormous audience in a country where you're revered. What do you do? Apparently you slap together a yawn of a live show that doesn't rise above its claims to being average and generally mediocre. What the hell?

I'll admit, there are some damn good versions of the songs here. "Sweet Jane" is wonderful, as always. "Kill Your Sons" is vicious and it's great to hear guitarist Robert Quine shred on here. And Fernando Saunders' bouncy basslines on "Heroin" and "Walk On the Wild Side" (in one of my favorite versions) are pretty impressive. Yet there are more detriments here than recommendations.

On the whole, the record isn't bad - it's just pretty dull. I never thought one could make "Heroin" a dull song, but I found myself on the verge of falling asleep here. "Betrayed", "Martial Law", and "Average Guy" were never among the most exciting songs in the Lou Reed catalog, but here they're given a competent but ultimately yawn-inducing treatment. The medley of "Some Kinda Love" and "Sister Ray" meanders for 16 minutes without doing much of anything, and Reed's vocals don't sound like he even gives a damn while singing. When he does sound a bit passionate, Reed sounds hoarse and often subjects the listener to some "novel" updates in his vocalizing - "Rock and Roll" turns into "Uptight - Everything's All Right" halfway through, and only leaves me shaking my head in disbelief.

Hey, it still beats Lou Reed Live. There's some fine music on here. But it's certainly not his best live album, even though it's often considered to be.

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New Sensations - RCA 1984.
Rating = 7

Robert Quine has gotten his bearded, bald ass out of the band and suddenly they're all chockfull of energy! Uptempo songs and catchy hooks! HOOKS!!!! Lots of 'em!!!! Interesting, catchy - new and wonderful and free! Chord sequences unfamiliar to the ear! Lou's rock and roll guitars, drums a-drumming and songs about videogames! A couple are slow and surprisingly underwritten ("Fly Into The Sun" and "Turn To Me" are faceless to the point of not even existing. There are simply 3 or 4 minutes of empty space on the album where the songs should be. And maybe they DO exist, but try finding a human being who can actually tell you how they go), but most just shimmy out loud with a great foot-tapping rock backbeat and riffs you'll want to hang your coat on and ride around town.

In retrospect, the word "hooks" would have made more sense than "riffs" there.

Not that mellow monotoned Lou Reed is known as a "rocker," but I still think it's worth noting that New Sensations is one of the most rockin' albums he's ever done. And it features the first ever and best ever Lou Reed song I ever heard! "I Love You, Suzanne"? More like "I Love You, 'I Love You, Suzanne'," if you ask me!!!!! I love it, the singer for the Crucifucks loves it and you'd love it too if you weren't a fat loathsome ultra-rightwing radio talk show host. Get the shit out of your ears, Deafy!

Reader Comments

lnwatts@comcast.net (Lance Watts)
Seven? You only gave this record a seven? What can I say? You're wrong. It deserves a nine or ten. Sure the production is a bit dinky but Reed's lyrics and Fernando's insane bass lines catapult this record far above the wasteland of humdrum "sevens" to which you would so capriciously damn this fine record. Sure, nobody else likes it but that's the story of my life. Everybody hates me. God, I'm so alone. Please love me.

Damn, i can't believe anybody could give this record anything less than a ten. If any one of his albums deserves a ten it would be this one, definately not magic and loss, as good as that one is also. And i find a lot of the lyrics to be really funny also, something that doesnt happen a lot on one of lou reeds albums. But i guess that's beside the point, what i Am tryin to say is the lyrics are some of the best he's ever wrote so far. How could anybody not love this i just don't know.

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Mistrial - RCA 1986.
Rating = 5

Take some generic blues rock cliches (but played by a 16-year-old) and add some hilarious '80s fake drums. Sing poorly over it. Rap way out of rhythm in one song. Write a few really catchy pop tunes and some nice lyrics about your wife. Make all the verses and choruses musically identical so that there are no changes in the songs at all and the riffs wear really thin. Add lots of silliness and energy, but make sure that it is completely impossible to take the album seriously because it sounds so ridiculously dated and dopey.

That was a letter I wrote to Lou Reed in 1985. Do you think I should mail it or keep shoving it up my ass every day?

Reader Comments

Picked this one up the first week it was released. Sold it back at a loss about two months later. When Lou fucks you in the ass, it either feels really good or it hurts like a motherfucker. This one tears your anus and makes it bleed. I was only in high school when Unle Lou fucked me with "Mistrial." Can I still call the police and have him arrested for it? We'll see about a mistrial then, you boy fucker...

Ha ha ha...this album is such a guilty pleasure. How often do you get to hear a 40-year-old cranky white guy rap anyway? If nothing else, the song "Tell It to Your Heart" is quite good. "No Money Down" must be one of the worst songs he's ever recorded. This collection might have been decent had it not been slathered in that "my label's feeding me goldfish bowls full of cocaine" sound that was oh-so-popular in the 1980s. 6/10, which is low (or Lou? *giggle*) for a Lou Reed album.

"That was a letter I wrote to Lou Reed in 1985. Do you think I should mail it or keep shoving it up my ass every day?"

Shove it up your arse. Then it can keep Mistrial and its drum machines company.

"Give me an issue, I'll give you a tissue, you can wipe my ass with it" - L.Reed.

Love your work, by the way.

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New York - Sire 1989.
Rating = 7

The political album! Lou's comeback! Pity that nearly all the music is throawaway Stones/Mellencamp "average guy" bar band rock. But the lyrics are dandy-candy! He rails against "Hymietown" Jesse Jackson, sings about the starving homeless on the streets of New Dork, speaks of this and that and pregnancy and Andy Warhol dying. This and that and rape and murder. Drugs and child abuse and politics and Mark Prindle's awesome web site. All with two guitars, bass and drums. The rock and roll set up for rock and roll guys. And he was pushing 50!

And probably bench pressing 20!

The music at least never sounds DUMB - it just usually seems like an afterthought. A backdrop for Lou's narration, which is REALLY all he does on this one. Spoken word. He hardly even tries to sing or shout. Maybe he was afraid that his important social messages would be taken less seriously if they were sung out-of-tune and he didn't want to take a chance. Either way, the lyrics are really good. He sounds smart, clever and well-rounded. Minor diversions: "Sick Of You" is upbeat country/western, "Beginning Of A Great Adventure" is jazz, "Dime Store Mystery" is viola-driven and "Xmas In February" is a slow song of just Lou and pretty guitar. The other ten songs are bar band rock, like Bob Seger used to read about!

It's a concept album about life on the mean streets of Iowa.

Ha ha! "Iowa." Yeah, THAT counts as a real state.

Fuck you if you're from Iowa.

If you're from Iowa, here's a message for you: "(my middle finger is sticking up the air and shaking around menacingly)."

Reader Comments

I'm from Iowa...so fuck me. My home would go for about $500,000 in some "Mecca" like, say Portland and we don't have nearly as many homeless teenagers giving blowjobs for crack. There are no "mean streets" here but, at the same time, there's nothing as menacing as an Iowan amped up on meth looking to knock the piss out of some smartass like Mark Prindle. Most of us have no idea about this website, Mark Prindle, Lou Reed, but we'll leave you toothless if you talk bad about Bon Scott. For those of us who have heard of this website and share an equal amount of love for Prindle, Reed, and Scott (definitely not in that order), we love Lou's New York and forgive him for how sore he made us feel after Mistrial. Just when we were about to write him off, he comes back with a new label, new creativity, and then gives us two more worthwhile albums (Songs For Drella + Magic & Loss) afterwards. Give him time: Lou's made a career out of raising your expectations only to drop your ass just like you're Sylvia Reed. Pick on North Dakota...I don't think they even have phone lines in that state.

new york is his best album but more than that I say 1989 is better than 1986 cause rock dinosaurs rule over teenypop shit! think of it this way bob dylan oh mercy, the stones steel wheels, areosmith pump, pete townsend the iron man, peter gabriel passion and the who join toghether anniversy thing! we are the rock champions! oh I forgot queen! yes my mom loved them I got the greatest hits collection as a gift for her and I have been in a mellow mood so pedro andino is not here to ramble or rant! oh I forgot kiss hot in the shade, queen the miracle, and rush presto!

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Songs For Drella (with John Cale) - Sire 1990.
Rating = 8

John Cale used to play viola in a band with Lou Reed called The Velvet Underground in the sixties. He did neat things and then left for a solo career. But this is a reunion for Lou Reed and John Cale, in which they pay tribute to our lord - and money unto me!

Unfortunately the previous paragraph turned into a Dead Kennedys song at the end, so I must begin again. This CD is a tribute to John and Lou's late friend, pop artist Andy Warhol. It is a fictional story based on his factual life. A lot of his silly beliefs are celebrated through low-key, alternatingly lovely, campy and somber piano/guitar/viola works - NO DRUMS! DON'T BE LOOKING FOR A DRUM! The problem is few care about the people in despair. If you help no one, you're guilty in this Hellnation.

This is a really good CD. John Cale brings a neat experimental melodicism to Lou's work. His voice sounds pretty stodgy, like a haughty Welshman, but the lyrics these guys have written for Andy are beautiful. Especially Lou's regarding how bad he feels for not appreciating Andy enough, especially in his later years. Even though some fun is poked at Warhol's eccentricities, these are clearly two men who loved him very, very much and miss him dearly. Listen to the way Lou rails against the insane girl who shot Andy and you'll see what I mean ("I believe life's serious enough for retribution/I believe being sick is no excuse/And I believe I would've pulled the switch on her myself." I get the feeling that Lou Reed has become a really nice guy since getting off drugs. Private? Probably so. But you don't have to run around giving people smiles and high fives to be a good person. Is he a good person? I wish somebody would tell ME, because all I know are the old interviews where he was purposely an asshole to increase his mystique. Point being that this album isn't rock - it's more of a piano-driven chamber work than anything else, but it's a beautiful tribute to an interesting fellow - and the songs are greatly good!

Reader Comments

Lou Reed is still an antisocial prick. When my friend saw him in concert, in Detroit, he made really smug comments like, "I always wondered what it's like playing in a small town."

Probably the gayest record he ever made, then again anything that has to do with andy warhol would have to be in many ways. That being said, there's not alot of strong songs on here. But the ones that are are very, very good, but only in the context of this album. All the songs are pretty un-universal , as they deal specifically with andy warhol's life,at least I assume they are, the liner notes state differently. Pretty much four songs stand out among the retarded ones.

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* Magic And Loss - Sire 1992. *
Rating = 10

Holy cripes is this a depressing record. It's Lou's ruminations on two friends who died in the previous year - one of cancer, the other I'm not sure. Their names were Doc and Rita (at least, that's who the CD is dedicated to). The album is full of really somber, emotional guitar music and titles like "Cremation," "Goodby Mass" and "No Chance." The guitar tones are angelic, almost unforgivably beautiful - and the collection of slowly jazzy riffs and gorgeously harrowing melodies never, EVER cheer up - and even if they threaten to, the lyrics will bring you right back down to Hell On Earth. Check some of these out:

"Harry thought of the range of possibilities/A new face a new life no memories of the past/And slit his throat from ear to ear"??? JESUS CHRIST! "Your optimism made me think you really had it beat/So I didn't get a chance to say goodbye.". sigh... "They say in the end the pain was so bad that you were screaming/Now you were no saint but you deserved better than that." ARGH!!!! "Since they burnt you up/Collect you in a cup/For you the coal black sea has no terror." Oof. Oof. Okay. Oof. "They're trying a new treatment to get you out of bed/But radiation kills both good and bad/It cannot differentiate." How about this one - "What good is seeing eye chocolate/What good's a computerized nose/And what good was cancer in April/Why no good - no good at all." It's really too much to bear, isn't it? For Lou, it certainly was. And yet it drove him to create his most amazing record ever. Oh wait - did I mention that all of those lyrics were from different songs?

I suppose the ending of the album is intended to make everything seem a little better - "There's a bit of magic in everything/And then some loss to even things out." But it hardly helps. Death is final. A loved one's death is FINAL. Having not yet lived what Lou is describing, I don't even want to think about it. But he forces himself to, and he forces the reader to. And it's good. Not cathartic, not fair, but honest and true. And as a famous poet once wrote, "Truth is beauty, beauty truth/That's all you need know; can I chew on your tooth?"

Not every single tiny bit of the music is outstandingly interesting but a whole lot of it is (the title track, "Sword Of Damocles" and "Warrior King" are EASILY among my favorite Lou melodies ever), but the lyrics make them SEEM great. And Magic And Loss is easily the most complete and artistic musical statement that he has made to date. Don't listen to anybody who tells you that youngsters are inevitably more talented than oldsters.

Which is not to say that Staind isn't a hundred gillion times better than this, because they are, but you kind of get what I'm talking about anyway probably.

Reader Comments

fakeplastic_man@hotmail.com (Mark Patterson)
Spot on, Mark. To paraphrase something someone once said in a UK magazine about OASIS of all groups (and that says just about all you could ever need to say about the state of the British music press over the past few years), what happened here was a miracle and I want people to acknowledge that. Art from pain...miles better than 'Berlin' just by dint of being 'real' (God, I hate the fatuous rock myth that 'authentic' automatically means 'better', but it seems appropriate here). This album and New York on their own justify all the self-serving 'I'm a poet, me' posing Reed's indulged in down the years, simply by proving that he was right.

NMcpherson@fac.unc.edu (Earl McPherson)
You're right Mark, its DARK! I found out that I couldn't drink and listen to this thing at the same time so I traded it in for something else.

"Harry's Circumcision" is just amazing. It's hard to believe that something could stick out as depressing and grim on an album as bleak as this one, but it does.

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(Eric Sweenor reviews) Between Thought And Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology - RCA 1992.
Rating = 6

What a freaking disappointment. There was a lot of potential for a Lou Reed boxed set...plenty of outtakes, demos, live stuff, instead of just an expanded version of a "best-of". Out of 45 cuts, there are only 8 tracks which are rare or outtakes. But those are all good!

"Nowhere at All" was a Coney Island Baby era b-side, with a very nasty glam-rock sound sort of like Rock n Roll Animal era without the cheese, and let loose in the studio. A slow, simmering alternate take of "Dirt" (entitled "Downtown Dirt") proves vicious and slays the Street Hassle version. The jaunty version of "Leave Me Alone" is also an improvement over its previously released version. The 12-minute live version of "Heroin" is overrated, but demonstrates how tight Reed's band was at the time and has about four notes played by Don Cherry (effective ones, though). The rest of the obscurities are also quite good.

However, the track selection here is really quite lousy. Where's "Wild Child" from the debut album? Where's "Perfect Day"? Why are there SEVEN tracks from Berlin on here, when you need the whole album anyway? Where is "Families" (from The Bells)? What about "Keep Away"? And "Underneath the Bottle"? And "Bottoming Out"? "I Love You Suzanne"? Oh screw it. There's a lot of stuff missing here. There should be seperate outtakes and best-of collections. But stop letting Lou Reed select them, that only leads to trouble.

Reader Comments

Give me a break, you don't want to have Families (The Bells) on this, do you ? Nobody does. I think Lou had his best moments in the ARISTA years. But Families was definitely not among those. It served best to get some beer between 'All Through The Night' and 'The Bells'. Or some crack. It never takes mor than 6 minutes. And 'Wild Child'. I have some notion, Prindle, that you never pay attention the real Lou Reed. 'Wild Child' and 'Keep Away'. It's like, claiming to be a Led Zeppelin fan (which you are not, I know) and calling The Song Remains The Same your favorite. It's off the beaten track. Not to their benefit. Which song reflects Lou Reed dirty mind best ? Dirt, Kill Your Son, Dirty Blvd. Not Wild Child!

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Set The Twilight Reeling - Warner Bros. 1996.
Rating = 6

Just a minor MAJOR letdown after the last one. This is Lou Reed trying to be happy and whimsical, but he just sounds old and stupid. "You scream, I steam/We all love egg cream"? That's no way to begin an album! Especially when your chosen riff is "E-E-A-E" over and over. From there, it's nowhere but nowhere really, with cliched ballads, generic bar rock, some head-shakingly pathetic attempts to be fiery old grungemaster Neil Young (check out "Riptide"! Ha ha ha ha!)

(No, not the old TV show "Riptide"! Get back here!)

He starts sounding a little smarter during the second half of the album, with some pretty acoustic guitar melodies and understated singing to take your mind off the quivering mass of lameness that is his "singing" in crap like "NYC Man" and "Trade In." Plus, there's a really funny song that suggests that politicians have sex with their parents. But all in all, Lou is NOT a good "goodtime entertainer." I respect the effort, and respectfully decline. I don't insist that he feel bad; I just want to see him smile. But if he wants to write happy songs, he still has to bother writing melodies. Which he certainly does on, say, "Adventurer," which is a great damn song. But for a lot of this, the bass player is the only band member doing anything even semi-interesting. Therefore, I give it a 6! It's not bad. It just sucks.

Reader Comments

Mike Noto
"I don't insist that he feel bad; I just want to see him smile."

A '65 Who reference. I did not pick up on that until just now.

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(Eric Sweenor reviews) Perfect Night: Live In London - Reprise 1998.
Rating = 6


Oh fine, the sound on this live CD is great. It's one of the finest recorded and performed live discs I've heard in a long time. That doesn't mean it's enjoyable to listen to that much, however.

Lou Reed's voice is wicked ugly on this here disc. Things start off nicely enough with a gentle acoustic version of "I'll Be Your Mirror" recorded before his voice gave out that night. The next few tracks are pretty good, too. At least he's not repeating himself from past live albums. However, things go downhill with the version of "Vicious". At six minutes, it's way too long - wasn't the original roughly 2:58 or so? Also, the lightly strummed acoustic guitars here don't do it justice, because it's meant to have those glammy slashing riffs. "Kicks" tends to lose a lot when stripped of its sound effects, and in this setting, it loses all semblance of the chilling cut that was on Coney Island Baby. "Riptide" also proves dull, dull, dull without its electric roar. "Dirty Blvd." is filled with obnoxious "woo-woo-woo"'s and also goes on about two minutes too long.

There are a few new songs on here which I actually like! "Talking Book" and "Into the Divine" are very good songs, and Reed doesn't make the mistake of throwing them haphazardly into a setting where they don't belong.

It's good to note that Lou Reed makes an attempt to trawl through the lesser-known tracks in his back catalog. He just picked the wrong night to record. "New Sensations" would have been a good choice, if he decided to actually sing well on it and not add random lines like "crank that muthafucka open". I think I may be the only person on earth who enjoys the rap monstrosity "The Original Wrapper" from Mistrial, but here it sounds dated and pathetic - more than before, at least.

Hey, it's worth it for that lovely "I'll Be Your Mirror" and the new songs. You just probably won't go back to it much. And egad, that cover is ugly.

Reader Comments

grq04@dial.pipex.com (Simon Phillips)
Maybe it was the fact that I had fifth row seats for this Gig, but for my money at least it was probably Lou's best live show in London in about 20 years. He actually did justice to the songs he played from his back catalogue and didn't throw them away as he did on both the New York and Magic and Loss tours. That said it isn't exactly the Lou Reed album I turn to when I want to get a shot of Lou Live in my ears. Also the point about the quiet acoustic nature of it, is partly to do with the nature of the Royal Festival Hall that was built for Classical music rather than Rock and Lou was perhaps overly reverential of his surroundings. Now I had better look at some of the other reviews on the site...

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(Eric Sweenor Reviews) The Definitive Collection - Arista 1999.
Rating = 5

Again, Lou Reed is a terrible judge of his own work, and makes a complete mess out of any attempt to compile his best or even his most passable works. This compilation only proves it.

Admittedly, I cannot quibble with the ferocious opener, "The Blue Mask". This track should be on any best of. But from there, the disc devolves into pure weirdness and seemingly random track selection. "I Wanna Be Black" shouldn't be here (it's not that good a song - neither is the obnoxious, overproduced "Looking for Love"). Probably half of his albums are not represented at all. Even when the compiler hits upon a decent track, they choose a terrible version. "Dirty Blvd.", live from Perfect Night: Live In London, is overlong and tired-sounding, full of unnecessary "woo-woo's" and such.

Well, you can't call it predictable, I guess. But you can't call it "good" or "worth your money" or "worth your time" either. I suppose it does cherry-pick from all periods of Reed's career, but it does a bad job at it, and as such is just another in a long, long line of failed compilations.

Reader Comments

definetime@rediffmail.com (Sanjay Ghosh)
Couldn't agree more. I think for any major artist this must be 'the' worst collection ever compiled. Especially given the fact that there weren't any rights issues. If the listener has heard his Lou Reed, he'd merely be intrigued. It's obviously not meant for that guy. As an introductory set it's an absolute disaster.

I OWN the definitive collection. Im very satisfied with it, PUSSY

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Ecstasy - Reprise 2000.
Rating = 8

This works! A mixture of happy, sad and mad songs performed with an equal mix of acoustic and distorted guitars (often in the same song), most of these tunes sound smartly written and produced for the times. Lou's singing is as bad as always, but he keeps it together during the non-rockers, which is all that is really required. On everyday blastabouts like "Future Farmers Of America" and "Paranoia Key Of E," it's not so important that he doesn't sound like a slobbering nincompoop. It's the gentle songs - both the sad ones and the peaceful ones - that grow on the listener like a tomato tree grows on my penis. The guitar tones are smooth as silk, the production is as full and rich as a poop wrapped up in a candy bar wrapper and the melodies are understated but not underwritten.

The more I hear these songs, the more I WANT to hear them. The lead guitarwork is goosebumpingly melodic (check out the double-distorted beauty between the verses of "Big Sky") and the guitar riffs, even the simple ones, somehow come across as "perfect." No super-hooks from Heaven seem necessary - just a delightful collection of tuneful simple little tunes from Planet Lou. Repetition breeds content and appreciation. Even, humiliatingly enough, a very mesmerizing, overpowering feeling of "ecstasy" at times.

But that doesn't mean I want to look at entire booklet of crinkly old man Lou Reed making orgasm faces! Jesus Christ, are you trying to make America's Record Dealers puke?

If you're successful, please place the upchuck in a manila envelope and mail it to that prick Jeremy that lived down the street from me when I was eight years old. God, I fuckin hated that guy. Remember that time he took my baseball cap and wouldn't give it back? And I was late for practice and he was making me cry? He'd better be dead by now.

No no, I changed my mind - I hope he's awake, but a guy is slowly peeling his skin off with an industrial machine.

And I have a cult following -- I can make this happen.

Reader Comments

Best ending ever

COSMICBEN@aol.com (Ben Marlin)
Prind-man! What a great page this is. Especially the rant about religion -- it was honest and almost scary. And all of the reviews are good. Awesome job.

Okay, a man of this age scares me singing lines like those in "Like a Possum". And it also scares me that a man whose best work was allegedly 30 years ago with the Velvets can make an album this absurdly good! You're right - the guitars sound perfect. Yeah, there's some dodgy lyrics, and a couple of songs drag a bit...but every time I hear it I like it more. I especially like "Modern Dance", "Baton Rouge", "Big Sky", and "Future Farmers of America", which must be the most forceful (musically) song he's written in as long as...um...yeah. 9/10

Lou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking DeadLou is Fucking Dead..............but such an attractive and fuckable corpse. Amazing Album 8/10.

Add your thoughts?

American Poet - Burning Airlines 2001.
Rating = 8

"Where in the bloody hell was this show hiding for the past twenty-nine years?," you'll ask yourself upon encountering this 1972 concert featuring four Transformer tracks, one from the upcoming Berlin, one from his debut, and five from his Velvet Underground years.

"Forget the heavy-metal cock-rock of Rock n Roll Animal," you'll continue, "this is Lou Reed's best live album." "The sound's a little bit fuzzy at times," you'll admit due to several tracks where the crashing cymbal drums combine with the rhythm guitar and bass into an early '60s-sounding monophonic blast of energetic white noise, "but the performances - holy crap!" After wiping up your feces that has been blessed by God, you'll continue by making fun of Reed's band, to wit: "With a gang of nobodies behind him, Reed ripped through a set of some of his best songs up to that point ('White Light/White Heat', 'Vicious', 'Wild Side')." Taking note of the fact that Reed even addresses his crowd between songs, something he no longer does AT ALL (much to his fans' shock and chagrin), you'll continue, "His vocals sound as if he actually gives a damn about what he's singing for once." Noticing that even the formerly boring shitty Velvet Underground songs sound full of zest and improved melody, you'll then put forth the challenging statement, "Musically, whoever this band of boogie-rock rejects are, they complemented him well. It's all powerful and a hell of a lot more entertaining than most of his other live albums." At this point, you'll get a little accusatory, tossing out a witty aside like "Or the studio ones for that matter." You'll continue with an enquiry: "C'mon, what do you prefer? This or Sally Can't Dance?" I guess I prefer this, but only barely. Sally Can't Dance is a good album!

"The versions of 'Heroin' and 'Sweet Jane' on here are, to my estimation, the best solo versions he did," you'll suddenly announce, ignoring the fact that both songs drag on for eight and a half months and have like two chords. "'Heroin' has the same percussive straight-ahead 'rock' arrangement as on Rock n Roll Animal (he introduces it as 'the rock version')," you'll note, "yet without the metal guitars or the silly posturing, it works so much better." These are your opinions. And although I agree with them 100 percent, I should point out here for fairness' sake that everybody has their own distinct opinions and they all smell foul. This is what opinions have in common with the common arsehole, it is said in some quarters.

Although I personally would point out that the title chants in "White Light/White Heat" are unforgivably out of tune, "Satellite of Love" has a lame chorus, and "Berlin" is, like most songs, a total rip-off of Paul Revere & The Raiders' "Oh! To Be A Man," you'll see no need to bitch and moan like Negative Nellie Prindle. Instead you'll argue that "This disc would have gotten a nine, except for the atrocity of its packaging. It's got some pretty pictures in the book, but the notes read like they were written by an illiterate nine-year-old." I would likely agree with you, had I not received my copy as an illegally-recorded MP3 disc with no packaging. Also, I would agree that it's hilarious to make fun of retarded children. ;7)

However, after all of these perfectly sensible and intelligent statements, you'll oddly conclude by plagiarising Richie Unterberger's All-Music Guide review ("If you're looking for one interesting bonus that doesn't seem to have made it onto many of the prior bootleg releases of this material, there's a brief interview with Reed in which the naïve-sounding DJ asks him where Doug Yule is. "Dead, I hope," Reed deadpans, to sincere gasps of shock from the audience.) with your 'original' passage, "It's worth your $15 just for the fun interview segment on here. A naive sounding DJ asks Reed, 'where's Dougie Yule?"', to which he replies, deadpan, 'dead, I hope' to the genuine shock of the audience." I don't know for sure why you'll do that, but you will, believe me. Then you'll purposely 'get my goat' by using my most-hated nonsensical record critic cliche "Worth the price of admission" and order your readers to "Go buy it."

That's exactly what you'll do. I know you.

I know you.

You were too short. You had bad skin.


Reader Comments

Eric Sweenor

Where in the bloody hell was this show hiding for the past twenty-nine years?

Forget the heavy-metal cock-rock of Rock n Roll Animal, this is Lou Reed's best live album. The sound's a little bit fuzzy at times, but the performances - holy crap! With a gang of nobodies behind him, Reed ripped through a set of some of his best songs up to that point ("White Light/White Heat", "Vicious", "Wild Side"). His vocals sound as if he actually gives a damn about what he's singing for once. Musically, whoever this band of boogie-rock rejects are, they complemented him well. It's all powerful and a hell of a lot more entertaining than most of his other live albums. Or the studio ones for that matter. C'mon, what do you prefer? This or Sally Can't Dance?

The versions of "Heroin" and "Sweet Jane" on here are, to my estimation, the best solo versions he did. "Heroin" has the same percussive straight-ahead "rock" arrangement as on Rock n Roll Animal (he introduces it as "the rock version"), yet without the metal guitars or the silly posturing, it works so much better.

This disc would have gotten a nine, except for the atrocity of its packaging. It's got some pretty pictures in the book, but the notes read like they were written by an illiterate nine-year-old.

It's worth your $15 just for the fun interview segment on here. A naive sounding DJ asks Reed, "where's Dougie Yule?", to which he replies, deadpan, "dead, I hope" to the genuine shock of the audience. Worth the price of admission. Go buy it.

mprindle@nyc.rr.com (Mark Prindle)
SEE???? I told you I knew you! You were TOTALLY too short!

And your skin? Well, don't look now but it starts with a "B" and rhymes with "NAD"!

(Speaking of which, you had really dinky nads too, but Rollins was too polite to bring that up)

Add your thoughts?

The Raven - Warner Bros. 2003.
Rating = 7

What a week for music! So much has happened, it almost feels like that week where Godd made the Earth! First and foremost, I attended a reunion performance by `80s metal legends Great White and mister they were ON FIRE! But secondly and most important were the Grammy Awards. No no, I don't mean the awards they hand out to the "Grandmother of the Year"! Ha ha! HAHAHAHH! HAHAHAHHA

Look, if you're afraid of laughter, just tell me. We don't need to keep lying to each other like this.

If you watched the Grammies like I did, you couldn't miss reading about how the guy in The Flaming Lips wore a blue bandage under his eye as a statement against a possible war in Iraq. They never showed him on the telebision though, which is unfortunate because as an artist of his stature, having had a minor hit with `She Don't Use Jelly' nearly a decade ago, his protest would have had significant ramifications all over the globe, especially on George W. Bush, to whom every opinion matters, because an opinion is like a child and children are our future.

But the guy in The Flaming Lips wasn't the only one with a war bone to pick. Norah Jones, winner of 500 musical awards, also had some strong words for the government, exclaiming in a vicious, brutal tirade with both middle fingers pointed through the studio cameras, "I just want to say, at a time in the world that's really weird, I feel really blessed." Move over, Abbie Hoffman!

I'm serious. Your rotting corpse is smelly.

Speaking of symbolic Band-Aids, Nelly for a while had been wearing a bandage on his left cheek in support of some thug friend of his who got arrested. Imagine the look on our faces when he came out onstage (at the Grammies, where I was right up front in the mosh pit) without the bandage! His reason? "Symbolic Band-Aids have been adopted - I should say STOLEN - by the anti-war crowd to push their own agenda. Not only am I pro-war, but I hate Jews." That's what Nelly said.

And no, maybe the Nelly I'm talking about isn't the same one you're talking about, but a first name can't be copyrighted and there's no reason I can't change my name to Madonna and start cashing her checks.

Speaking of symbolic Band-Aids, Bob Geldof - who needs him?

In other recent music news, legendary (to old boring people) `60s producer Phil Spector was arrested for shooting a woman stupid enough to somehow not know that he's been out of his mind for like 30 years. On the bright side - it was Phil's first hit in years!

And against all odds, R. KELLY IS BACK ON TOP OF THE CHARTS!!! Kelly and Kim Chart are 13-year-old twins from Brooklyn.

Turning to sad news, there were two major deaths in the hip-hop music community this week. The first was Johnny Paycheck, who passed away at age 64, just 26 years after he turned the global economy on its ear by commanding the entire American population to "Shove Your Job Up Your Ass." This.ahem."death by natural causes" (murder) has "conspiracy theory, unfounded" written all over it.

The other death involved Tom Petty's longtime bassist Howie Epstein, who, at 47, was a full 35 years younger than Johnny Paycheck upon his passing. This death is even more tragic, as it could have easily been averted by purer heroin.

And in the biggest news of the year, Lou Reed has issued the most asinine album ever recorded by any human being EVER -- a CD based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. A CD whose first chorus is "These are the stories of Edgar Allan Poe/Not exactly the boy next door!" Not to put down anybody because we're all human, but Lou Reed is a doddering old fool. I love the guy, you understand, but what is this SHIT?!?

I'll tell you what this shit is -- Songs that sound like late-period Swans (majestic, mournful, depressing as all Christ) interspersed with Lou Reed rock and roll stupidity. With lyrics that I'm going to have to assume are based on or inspired by the works of American horror writer Edgar Allan Poe. Gee, what an innovative idea. I liked it even better the first time when it was called THAT SHITTY ALAN PARSONS PROJECT ALBUM!!!!!!

Remember when David Spade made that joke on Saturday Night Live that time? That was the best. I love mainstream Alan Parsons Project humor. As for running over pedestrians, this CD is available in both a ONE-disc and a longer TWO-disc set, as well as a shorter ONE-disc set and a longer TWO-disc set. I have the shorter ONE-disc set, but not the longer TWO-disc set. I also have the shorter ONE-disc set. It features guest stars out the usps, including People Magazine's Sexiest Man of the Year Steve Buscemi singing a "Broadway Song," versatile actor who you never know what he's going to do next because all of his roles are so diverse Willem Dafoe reciting "The Raven," Lou Reed-soundalike David Bowie singing a shitty itty bitty ditty called "Hop Frog" (it's called that because it SUCKS so bad!). And Amanda Plummer, Elizabeth Ashley and Fisher Stevens doing their own assorted crap. I like it! I like crap and I like this album! It has lots of saxophones and violins, as well as a nice mix between depression, frighteningness and Lou Reed yelling in what may be the least tuneful dumb-guy shout ever set down on tape.

I'm just saying -- if you're still buying Lou Reed albums, you know how iffy he can be. And he's certainly iffy on this one -- but it's a fun, multiple-mooded release that features just as many vocals by non-stupid-sounding people as it does by Lou Reed! And the music always sounds good. He's got a good band behind (guitars!) and more cellos and flugelhorns and trombones and things than a conductor can shake a stick at. HA!!!! ORCHESTRA HUMOR!!!!

You know, I wouldn't mind being so hilarious if I didn't have a really loose bowel.

It's not every day that the world encounters a week as musical as the one we've just had, all filled with fire and grammies The Raven and anti-war hippy communists and stupid bandage symbolism and a guy who has sex with little girls. So appreciate it while you can. Some day it'll all be over. And THEN where will we be???

Well I know where I'LL be. Burning in HELL with George Harrison! Ha ha ha yeah I know!

Reader Comments

Like you, I hated this album the moment it began. I continued to hate it until I pulled the plug (song 4 I think). Couldn't take it anymore. In hind site, I am going to cut it a little slack. First off, this was developed as a stage production, so maybe with the visuals, Lou is onto something. I saw Laurie Anderson's Moby Dick in a staged performance in Ann Arbor, and my mind was blown! I went on tho read Mody Dick 3 times. Would Mody Dick work as just an Audio? I don't know. It may just come off as silly.

So, I leave The Raven to Rest In Peace. I can't think ill of it because the CD is taken out of context. I will still never listen to it again, but I have stopped wondering "What was Lou thinking?"

Add your thoughts?

Animal Serenade - Reprise 2004
Rating = 8

Hello Teenage Canada. I'm the one living human who finds Lou Reed's solo material far more enjoyable than his work with the Velvet Underground. I simply don't feel that the "groundbreaking" "bullshit" that the VU released (Wow! They sang about DRUGS and SEX!!! And only about a year after The Fugs did the same thing!!!) was anywhere near as melodic and unannoying as, say, Berlin. Or Transformer. Or Magic And Loss. Or The Blue Mask, Songs For Drella, Lou Reed, Ecstacy, Rock And Roll Heart -- to be honest, I could throw a sock on the turntable and enjoy it more than White Light/White Heat. But the alarming thing is that I always thought I hated the VU because of their sluggish smack-addled lack of energy. Three listens to the new double-live Animal Serenade and that theory's out the window with Darwinism (thanks to Mel Gibson's recent biopic).

This is the slowest album in history -- the drumbeats themselves are so slow, they only show up in like two songs! The other 17 or so are just guitar, bass, viola, piano, keyboard or some combination -- but NO DRUMS! And the songs somehow end up better as a result! The guitar tones are harrowing and gorgeous (clean, thick, rich, full), the vocals are as committed and emotional as Lou Reed has ever sounded and the song choice is incredibly inspired for a man of 61 long asshole years: three songs each from Berlin and The Raven, one each from Songs For Drella, Mistrial, Ecstasy, The Blue Mask, Street Hassle, New York and Set The Twilight Reeling, five old VU songs (every single one of each is superior to its original VU counterpart) and -- this is the weird one -- a song written and performed by another member of his band!!?!? Is this the same Lou Reed who forced John Cale out of his band because he was getting too much attention? The same Lou Reed who has broken the hearts and souls of countless women and musicians over nearly forty years in the goddamned music business? Robert Quine is STILL crying over that time that thing happened!

Returning to my original topic, I now conclude that my main gripe with the VU is that I just don't like the messy, drab way they chose to present their material. Because in this context, with these musicians, "Heroin," "Sunday Morning" and "Candy Says" are absolutely beautiful. And so are most of the other tracks on here. Beautiful tones + repetition repetition = MC Squared.

YO! I'm MC Squared and I'm rockin' the mic! Blastin' out the E that the homeboys like! First I got mass, then I got -- wait, what's "C"? Cocaine?



I don't understand it. Somehow cocaine made me LESS talented at my craft.

Should somebody warn Eric Clapton about this phenomenon?

Add your thoughts?

Spanish Fly: Live In Spain DVD - Sanctuary 2005
Rating = 5


he's old, all in black, just playing songs. Live 2004, nice glittery guitar. Visual bore. Nothing happens! Are you old? Then you might like this. 3 Ecstacy, 1 VU & Nico, 2 Velvet Undergournd (self-titled), 1 New York, 3 Transformer, 1 Blue Mask. "Venus In Furs" even works w/o the cello! It's creepy! But then later, a cello DOES come in! Just to solo though. A GIRL plays it! Remember Jennifer Mitchell? No, she played trombone DUMBASS. Excellent guitar solo in "Romeo Had Juliet."! Tons of energy in it too! Fuzzed-out Neil Young-esque solo in "Exctsy." Boring equals "Modern Dqnce" and "Perfect Day." Great equals "Walk On THe Wild Side" (without the bass line), "(unfortunately) (but still good), , "The Blue Mask," "Venus In Furs," and "Romeo Had Juliet" which is 11 moinutes long. My wrists are aching from bending them to type with my fingers! OW! OWWWW! OWWWWWW! OWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW! OW OW ow Ow i can't stand It!!!! jERKY PINK CLASH. 2 1/2 11:45 9:15 OR 8:45 0-1--1-101 5 WITH A CIRCLE AROUND IT, THEN A BIG SCRIBBLED CIRCLE. lou reed live in spain? more like lou reed makes me "live in pain"! bECAUSE HE DOESN'T DO naytying LIVE! wHY WATCH THIS? aRE YOU A GAY PERSON WHO ONLY LIKES FUCKing prune men? If so, you'll love staring at Reed's prune face with glasses and you'll enjoy it. Otherwise, don't be a fool. Don't buy this, and don't ever see Lou Reed live. What's the point? Just to be old? Don't be old. Even if you're old, don't ACT old like this DVD and everyone who watches it. Oldness is for people who want to die! I'm 32 and that's not young but I sure ain't godmanned about to watch a Lou Reed DVD again! A Lew Read DVD would be nice because I'd love to watch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reading aloud to children but that's different. That's perspire, tha's difo and that's HANG UP thank you! But just buy a Lou Reed album. Don't watch his boring old skinny - although that's impressive that he's so thin at his age. Usually heroin junkies weirgh 400,000 pounds (Ed McMahon). Bed time! In New Zealand, they call it ""Bedtime" as well for all I can tell. Wife's scaring the dog - gotta go. GOTTA GOTTA GOTTA GO! That'ws a shitty Agnostic Rfont song.


Hi! I'm a noted scholar with a dick up my ass!

(*urinates up own throat; squirts yellow liguid from mouth like a fancy water fountain*)

Rich woman: "My! What a fancy water fountain!"

Guy: "Yes."

Rich woman: "Ah! It tastes like a used toilet!"

Guy: "I'm in Fugazi."

Reader Comments

richnico@yahoo.com (Rich Nicholls)
I was bored at work and googled "Lou Reed and Rachel" and accidently stumbled onto your site. It's very cool. Nice job with the reviews. Aside from Sally and Rock n Roll Heart, which are both utter pieces of crap save for "Kill Your Sons", "New York Stars" and "Temporary Thing", I agreed with your critiques.

Add your thoughts?

Hudson River Wind Meditations - Sounds True 2007
Rating = 4

It's best to know that an artist is an asshole before you become a fan. For example, there was never any risk of me becoming disenchanted with GG Allin because the guy essentially advertised that he was a psychotic misanthrope. Likewise, King Crimson can't upset me because I'd already been informed of Robert Fripp's standoffish snobbery before I'd ventured very far into their catalog. Ditto for The Doors' Lizard Jerk Jim Morrison and The Fall's legendary cantanker Mark Smith. No, the problem comes when you assume that an artist is as cool and down-to-Earth as he/she appears, only to learn later on that he/she/they/it are infamous for treating other people like shit (ex. The Replacements, Tim Buckley). How can I continue to enjoy Hootenanny now that I've read All Over But The Shouting's tales of Paul's mean-spiritedness, Tommy's arrogance and Bob's sleaziness? What am I supposed to do with Happy Sad now that I've read Dream Brother's account of the world's most self-centered man? I'm like a fairy tale lost at seaboat! My conclusions are (a) Books are a problem, and (b) Thank God everybody in Kiss is a sweet man.

My point is this: Lou Reed is a narcissistic prick. You most likely already knew this, but if not - now you do! So get on out there and enjoy his hot new release of Brian Eno ambient music!

Although I've lived in The Big Apple for 12 years, I haven't spent much time with the Hudson River. The East River, now she's my river. Henry The Dog swims in that misnomered tidal strait every weekend all summer long. But Hudson? She's way over on the West Side! With the West Siders! Throwing their fancy West Side Parties! It just goes and figures that Lower East Side Lou would grow old, get rich and become a consummate snooty West Sider, hanging out with his snooty Hudson River, and its snobby fish. With their elitist plankton.

And that's why we love him! (*winks*)


The electronic, droney and repetitive Hudson River Wind Meditations was apparently created by Lou Reed to accompany his own Tai Chi exercises. But then some hippy beatnik convinced him to release it commercially, so now he's got yet another genital wart on the penis of his discography.

Here are the specifics:

1. "Move Your Heart" (28:54) - 'whoo-oo-OOOOO-ooo doo-da-doo-da-doo/whoo-oo-OOOOO-ooo doo-da-doo-da-doo" for 29 minutes. At first, it's just a bassy tone going up and down an octave, then later a mid-scale harmony note is added. It's a very pretty and soothing electronic drone-tone, and probably serves its purpose nicely. It's certainly not the most engaging 29-minute song in history though.

Of particular note, "Move Your Heart" can be credited with inspiring this recent conversation:

Setting: Prindle homestead, early morning, about 10 minutes into "Move Your Heart." Mark is tapping on computer, wife waking from slumber.

Wife: "I feel like a fish."
Me: "You are a fish."
Wife: "Oh no! I've been reincarnated already?"
Me: "Yep."
Wife: "Then I guess I have to get up and go to SCHOOL!!!!
(*long silence*)
Me: "I get it. A school of fish."
Wife: "Then why aren't you laughing hysterically?"

2. "Find Your Note" (31: 35) - Feedback 'eee-ooo' and droning low pulsating 'woo-woo-woo-woo' in various combinations for over half an hour. Different feedback tones are added, and the piece is definitely a bit more dynamic than "Move Your Heart." At times, the bass drone disappears completely, leaving just irritatingly piercing high tones. Most interestingly, every once in a while a high feedback note will suddenly crash downwards ('VYOO!') and turn into a bass note. Near the end, some wind noise and sub-tones enter the mix.

Although more appropriate for active listening than its predecessor, "Find your Note" seems terribly inconducive to relaxation or background listening. Not only is the feedback/drone combination fairly menacing; it's also hard on the ears! Who wants to relax to feedback!? Jimi Hendrix probably did, and now he's dead. Learn a lesson from that.

3. "Hudson River Wind (Blend The Ambiance)" (1:50) - Wind noises, cars, indecipherable conversation, footsteps and a teapot brewing? Whatever it is, it makes for a nice hissy din of ambient noise! I have to assume Lou recorded at least some of this track alongside the Hudson River. If not, come on asshole name it something else.

4. Wind Coda" (5:23) - A medley reprise of the first three tracks. Think "Stars On 45" but without the singers, drums, music or song.

Once you accept Hudson River Wind Meditations for what it is, it's honestly not the worst Eno rip-off in the world. It's no Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks certainly, but it lightly beats the gentle relaxing shit out of Discreet Music, Thursday Afternoon, The Shutov Assembly, Neroli and Kite Stories! There's also a giant messy scrawl on the top of my notes page insisting that it "SOUNDS REALLY FUCKIN' GOOD WHEN YOU'RE DRUNK OFF YOUR ASS!!!" so take that into account as well, though I don't remember writing it, or even playing the CD that night.

And I'll close with a joke, to combat all the sadness in the world today:

Why did the housewife throw a shoe at the bug salesman?

Because he spied her ("SPIDER") undressing in the window!!!! Also, she feared that his "FLY" would be ("BEE") open when her aunt ("ANT") came to visit, and even though that "LADY BUG"ged her, she also couldn't stand the scent he peed ("CENTIPEDE") on her window sill; although he felt guilty afterwards and became a "PRAYING MAN, 'TIS" still not something she wanted her "WASP"y "MOTH"er's sister to see as she drank her "GRASSHOPPER" and listened to The Beatles ("BEETLES"). "I'll throw a match and make that a 'FIRE FLY!' she shouted pyromaniacally. "Oh yeah, we'll I'll rub it with butter and make it a 'BUTTER FLY'!" he retorted dietetically. "Besides, your dick is - well, have you heard the term 'mite' ("TERMITE")?" she retorted sadly. "If you smoked reefer, you'd recognize this as a 'COCK ROACH'!," he retorted, hippily. "This chick oughta ("CICADA") smack you in the mouth!" she retorted violently. "I wish you would not ("GNAT") do that," he retorted nervously. "You sissy, I bet your fly is a 'FRUIT FLY,' she retorted homophobically. Then they said ten other things with bug names in them.

Kip Adotta

Reader Comments

I guess liked the album a lot but I'm a fan of the genre. love the bass throbs on the opener and the coda thing is good for a mixtape. he doesn't break any new ground universally, but it's nice to hear an old man pushing his own musical boundaries instead of another greatest hits live album.

on a kind of related note this is the only website i can think of where stars on 45 is regularly referenced. I mention this because a few years ago i was in a thrift store and found a stars on long play! i remember it being a bunch of beatles with some random tracks from all things must pass. i bought it for fifty cents, took it home, played the first side, and never looked at it again.

ps thanks for keeping the old weird internet alive. it's nice to have a music site without every other word being a link to some other guy's blog.

I sympathize with you on finding out that Lou Reed was a jerk, as I've had an experience like that with a non-musician. I really loved Bill Cosby growing up, and thought that his comments about blacks blaming whites for their problems instead of actually trying to fix them were spot-on. But then there was an internet cartoon called "House of Cosbys" about a guy who made a bunch of Bill Cosby clones that he threatened with a lawsuit (funny how a web site with no money got a lawsuit threat, but shows like The Simpsons, South Park, The Boondocks and others that made fun of him weren't harrassed at all- he's a coward who only threatens people who can't fight back). So I was shocked that this man I admired so much was actually a bitter, humorless old coot who deserved to lose his son. I can't remember the last time I was so disillusioned.

Add your thoughts?

Berlin: Live At St. Ann's Warehouse - Matador 2008
Rating = 8

Berlin is an awfully good album. Having not listened to it in years, I was stunned and glorified when this live 2006 version began unleashing its waves of melodic sorrow all over my living box. Aided by a children's choir and 14 musicians (including Alice Cooper guitarist Steve Hunter, Tiny Lights cellist Jane Scarpantoni, Lounge Lizards trumpetist Steven Bernstein and Tzadik/Abduction/Ipecac viola favorite Eyvind Kang), Lou has created a new version of the album that is even more haunting than the original because it's not bogged down by Bob Ezrin's corny theatrical mix. It takes him a few songs to get his voice in gear (he's not even close to the right key in "Lady Day"), but once he does there's no stopping the should-have-been-hits.

And yes, the chord sequence of "The Kids" does come dangerously close to the Rolling Stones' "Backstreet Girl." But you know Lou Reed - he lives for danger.

However, I must shake my head fervently back and forth at his decision to end the concert with two Velvet Underground songs and a solo track so random it almost seems like he lined up all his albums on a wall and threw darts at them. Then he released them all, and that's why they're so bad.

It's not that these three bonus performances necessarily kill the mood of the show; they're just not very good songs! I guess the original "Candy Says" was okay, but not with Antony Hegarty singing lead and sounding like a gay black man even though he's Irish or some ridiculous nationality like that, Hebrew I don't know.

I'm sick. I'm weak and hoarse, my nose is dripping Nose-Aid all over creation, and I'm freaked out because my mother told me that my relatives have been visiting my site. Blue words! So many blue words! Egad!

In fact, let me apologize right here and now for relying so heavily on obscenity over the past 12 years. Surely I could create just as entertaining a record review site without relying on the the twin crutches of profanity and crude sexual humor. So let's get started right now, with a clean joke!

Q. What do you get when you cross this album with Britney Spears?

A. Berlin: Live At St. Ann's WHOREhouse!

Okay, judging by the full half-hour it took for me to make up a punchline without the word 'vagina' in it, I think I'll be sticking with the blue words.

Reader Comments

I just got this over the weekend - saw it in the store and had no idea it was coming out. First impression? Great! I first put it on kinda quietly in my house, heard the first 2-3 tracks, wasn't overwhelmed, but then I cranked it in the car the next day and yeaaahhhh attaboy Lou.... I haven't gotten to the "encores" at the end yet, but I like Candy Says a lot, I can't recall Rock Minuet exactly (but I really like the Ecstasy album in general), and Sweet Jane is... well, obligatory I guess. I noticed this album's on Matador! How wild is that? Almost like Brett Fahrhvhehvherre putting an album out with the NY Jets, if the Jets were a record label.

Side comment about your relatives reading this site - a couple of years ago I forwarded a particularly amusing (and clean) review of yours to my wife so she could get a chuckle. Then the unthinkable happened: she kept reading. And hit upon some particularly gnarly stuff in your Mr Bungle reviews I believe. She was appalled, and in her own protective-mother way, told me to make sure our daughter never gets to read this stuff. All was forgiven though, once she saw you on Red Eye, and finally saw you for what you really are: a sign saying "Access Denied: The Adminstrator's Firewall has blocked Access to this Site."

Berlin, the original, is one of the greats, a real record to kill yourself by

I haven't heard the update, though I plan to buy it BUT...

as is usual with Uncle Lou, he's pissing me off again. He's running around claiming he never performed Berlin in its entirety. Technically, this may be true, but I saw him in a near-empty small room Xmas eve at the Bottom Line in 1979 (he announced his impending wedding and played White Christmas) and damned if he didn't sing like 4/5 of Berlin. This is almost thirty years ago and decades of drinking has fogged my memory, so I cannot for the life of me remember what he omitted -- maybe How Do You Think it Feels, Lady Day, like two songs only. But it was like I turned to my buddy at the show, and we looked at each other and said, sheez, he's playing the whole dang album, each time he started a new tune.

So I have heard the man, when he was considerably younger and better looking, play a solid hefty steaming hunk of some Berlin live, and I was sitting (supper club style) maybe ten feet from him. It was an awesome show, incidentally, considering it followed Growing Up in Public, one of the very worst of his ninety-seven albums

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Lulu (with Metallica) - Warner Bros. 2011
Rating = 4

Terrific. Exceptional. Delightful. Just eleven years after redeeming himself with the happy, sad and mad Ecstasy, the world's most influential punk rock godfather rips the souls of Dionysia into buttonholes by recording an album with bloated boneheaded has-beens Metallica. Make no mistake: Lou brought to the project some of his most evocative poetry and experimental music ever. Unfortunately, the knuckle-dragging special ed students he hired to back him were unable to perform anything but the dullest and most obvious pounding racket imaginable.

But first, a bit of background: Lulu is a difficult but brilliant theatrical piece that Reed based on two plays by the German playwright Frank Wedekind. The album was recorded from April-June 2011, after Reed and Metallica performed together at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 25th Anniversary Concert and decided to extend their collaboration into the studio. The result should have been brilliant, but instead is being heralded as one of the worst records ever released. This is 100% because of Metallica.

As most reviews have pointed out, Metallica sounds strikingly like a bunch of talentless 13-year-olds churning out repetitive heavy metal chords while an artist and dreamer attempts to share a disturbing story about the murder of a prostitute. Even worse, Metallica's lead vocalist John Hetfield insists on periodically stepping in front of the microphone to wail out bombastic redneck anti-witticisms like "Small town girl!" and "I am the table!" I realize the man has never felt an intelligent utterance pass his lips, but he's never sounded quite THIS mentally impaired. And moronically "threatening"? Oh, the moronically "threatening"! You know Lemmy Kilmister, right? That guy would gouge your eyes out as soon as look at you, but he sings like a good pal inviting you to share a beer. John Hetfield, on the other hand, sounds like THIS:

Furthermore, Metallica's riffs are literally a plastic bag overflowing with urine, featuring such underwritten, never-practiced slop as:

- Three slow Southern rock chords repeated over and over for four minutes as John Hetfield threatens to burst out into "Don't Stop Believin'" ("Brandenburg Gate")
- Heavy trudging, sluggish, dumb-as-dirt chords followed by John Hetfield claiming to be a table ("The View")
- IQ-lowering metallic stupidity pasted awkwardly onto a slower 'evocative' part with ridiculously effected drums ("Pumping Blood")
- Overwrought, out-of-tune sub-King Crimson codpiece scraping -- i.e. Metallica's ham-handed attempt to create 'art' instead of 'horseshit' ("Cheat On Me")
- A carbon copy of a song performed earlier on the record, intertwined with drab choppy guitar chug and, God Save Us, a drum solo ("Frustration")
- A man urinating on his electric guitar as a baby with one finger performs an acoustic piece ("Little Dog")

And what a waste of the world's preeminent spoken word artist and 'original rapper'! Why on Earth did this peerless painter of dreams and darkness lower himself to collaborating with America's dumbest rock band when they could never dream of adequately supporting such vividly lyrical images as "And in a coffin your soul shaking/I want to have you doubting/Every meaning you've amassed/Like a fortune/Oh throw it away" ("The View"); "Your snake cold lips/Make a harsh straight line/That echoes through my brain" ("Mistress Dread"); "The brush strokes/Kiss your breasts and toes/I cry icicles in my stein/The heartbeats flutter/With an abnormal rhythm" ("Frustration"); "Your opium white bathrobe/Your white tales run red now/Are we both dead now?" ("Dragon") and "Would you come to me/If I was half drowning/An arm above the last wave/Would you come to me/Would you pull me up/Would the effort really hurt you/Is it unfair to ask you/To help pull me up?" ("Junior Dad"). I can only assume Reed has grown too polite with age to tell the metallic morons what he really thinks about the lowest-common denominator brainrot they've been shoveling onto America's least discerning music fans for the past thirty years.

It's truly to the credit of this legendary wordsmith that Metallousica wasn't able to wash the entire 87-minute release down the drain of its one-dimensionality. No, not even this spoiled, whiny bunch of multi-trillionaires could ruin the spine-shredding speed metal "Mistress Dread," heart-weeping Killing Joke arpeggiator "Iced Honey," hypnotic worried pounder "Dragon" or 20-minute country-rock drone beauty "Junior Dad." And this is because the musical score is augmented by a string section providing gloriously rich, deep and hypnotic orchestration as well as strange and mesmeric background drones that keep the work grounded in tunefulness and experimentation instead of fist-pumping "show us your tits" mundanity.

In conclusion, Lou Reed is a genius and Metallica share a brain cell.

Reader Comments

Hey Mark,

Just wanted to say I've been reading your page since I was sixteen (ten years or so) and I genuinely believe that the two Lulu reviews are, combined, probably your best review ever.


Van Halen Kurtz
Yeh, you topped yourself with those, pal. Probably even ol Lester Bangs read it with much amusement.

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When I'm not fucking your wife, I'm clicking on this link to buy Lou Reed CDs. Perhaps you could do the same! Be sure and click on the actual album covers to access hidden USED CD prices! I'll be here fucking your wife.

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