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 Post subject: Lou Reed's solo career
PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 8:40 pm 
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This is more of an announcement than a review, but some generous soul(s) have uploaded Legendary Hearts and New Sensations on to Pedro's. Don't know what's going on with that tracker, but if you're already using it, I highly recommend getting those two.

Both albums have been out-of-print for awhile, even longer in the U.S., and if you don't have a turntable (like MOST people), you'd have to pay $50-80 to get either one on CD, used, and paying that much won't help Lou any.

Both CD's were mastered in the late 80's, with Legendary Hearts mastered at RCA in 1989, so none of that crappy, in-your-face mastering. It may not be audiophile heaven, but who cares, they sound fine.

For any VU fans who aren't familiar with Lou's solo career, I understand if you approach it with trepidation. I know Greil Marcus and to a lesser extent Robert Christgau love his body of work post-Velvets, but it's definitely a rough ride.

If you want good, solid albums that are listenable start-to-finish, Lou spit out three in a row from 1982-1984: Blue Mask, Legendary Hearts, and New Sensations. Blue Mask was a comeback, with a lot of credit going to the late, great Robert Quine, who convinced Lou to unleash his guitar again.

Before then, he had a rocky professional and personal life. From what I hear, people thought he was on the road to oblivion during the late 70's, something Lou addresses in his comeback albums. Starts out good, but IMHO, none of 70's albums are completely satisfying. The self-titled debut has some good songs leftover from the Velvets, but I prefer the versions on VU. Nothing against Yes (whose members back Lou), they aren't bad, but still...

Transformer is overrated, pretty uneven. Some excellent songs, but some slight ditties and sometimes the production feels spineless. Berlin gets points for trying, but it's a failure and often sounds abysmal. Some interesting songs, but not a good album. It still has its fans.

After that, things really go all over the map.Street Hassle and The Bells got raves in their time, but they sound mediocre to me, with some poorly dated 'experimental' production, especially on the latter.

Growing Up Public or whatever it's called is probably his worst. After that, BAM!, the three comeback albums that came out of NOWHERE. Seriously, after the 70's ended, who would've thought Lou would make one really good album, much less THREE in a row, with each one more tuneful than the last?

Mistrial is mediocre, but there's two, maybe three good pop tunes as well as the terrible but unintentionally amusing rap novelty, "The Original Wrapper."

New York goes on too long, it could use some pruning in the middle where it drags, but otherwise it's another solid album.

Magic and Loss is boring. Some good songs, at least four, but the rest drag and over the course of the album, Lou's explorations of death don't seem profound. You could say the same with Songs For Drella, which feels a bit slight, like it was written over a week, but it's got a nice, off-hand charm, especially since John Cale is back with Lou and both put aside all animosity to pay tribute to Andy Warhol. Lightweight, but never boring and occasionally moving.

Not big on the rest, though Ecstasy has its devoted fans - a few claim it's one of his best...it ain't bad, but IMHO, it doesn't reach any great heights and isn't very cohesive. Some good tracks, it goes places Lou hasn't gone to in awhile, but not one of his best.

Finally, if you want a good compilation, I think most of them suck. The recent Rolling Stone Album Guide trashes the three CD RCA box set, but they're totally full of shit. Compared to the other compilations out there, you should get that box set used. The mastering by Bob Ludwig is excellent, and you can't beat the booklet. Yeah, it's a box set AND out-of-print, but it's surprisingly easy to find for really cheap. BMG Music Club might still offer it, but used copies aren't hard to find on the web, and I got one in near-mint condition for $12, which is cheap even for a SINGLE CD, let alone three.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 10:21 pm 
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MK wrote:
Transformer is overrated, pretty uneven. Some excellent songs, but some slight ditties and sometimes the production feels spineless.


I'll agree with that, although I think it is probably his best post Velvets record, IMHO.

Quote:
Berlin gets points for trying, but it's a failure and often sounds abysmal. Some interesting songs, but not a good album. It still has its fans.


Yeah, this seems to be one of those love it or hate it records. I'm not quite sure where I stand. Some days, I'm in the former, most days it's the latter.

Quote:
New York goes on too long, it could use some pruning in the middle where it drags, but otherwise it's another solid album.


His second best post-Velvets album. Yeah, it's a little pretenious in spots, but I think the quality of the songs speak for themselves. Good straightforward rock and as taken from the back of the album, "You can't beat two guitars, bass and drums."

Of course you left off my personal favorite Lou Reed album of all time, the double live album - "Take No Prisoners." :D If you ever want to hear Lou totally off his rocker, than this is the album for you. He meanders through an off-key version of "Coney Island Baby" and then apologizes to the audience at the end for "taking so long" (track clocks in at around 11 minutes). Then later, he starts a pretty straightforward version of "Walk On The Wild Side" only to completely wander off topic into a discussion about the movie "Mahogany" amongst other things.

Screw "Stop Making Sense" or "The Last Waltz," "Take No Prisoners" is where its at baby! If it's not an amazing live album, it's at worse an unintentionally hilarious comedy record.

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Last edited by Beatlesfan03 on Sun Apr 02, 2006 10:21 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 01, 2006 11:12 pm 
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Take No Prisoners is great. I love when he goes after critics (Robert Christgau especially) in Sweet Jane.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 11:23 am 
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What, no 'Rock and Roll Animal'?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 03, 2006 11:05 pm 
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Thanks, MK. I've always wanted to check some of that out.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 5:05 pm 
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"Street Hassle", "Take No Prisoners Live" and "The Bells" were all recorded binaurally - i.e with a Neumann dummy head and are meant to be heard over headphones. You may notice SBS (Stereo Binaural Sound) on the covers. The sound is not as successfully startling as the Stax Space Sound CD however.
Transformer does split into the "this song is great" and "skip" categories, but what's good is excellent (Vicious, Perfect Day, Walk On The Wild Side and Satellite Of Love). Nice recording also.
Berlin is simply harrowing.
The Academy Of Music live albums (Rock 'n' Roll Animal and Lou Reed Live) are great!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 9:37 pm 
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John Buchanan wrote:
"Street Hassle", "Take No Prisoners Live" and "The Bells" were all recorded binaurally - i.e with a Neumann dummy head and are meant to be heard over headphones. You may notice SBS (Stereo Binaural Sound) on the covers. The sound is not as successfully startling as the Stax Space Sound CD however.


Re: Take No Prisoners. It seems to be hit or miss on most tracks. I have my discs packed up right now so I can't answer for certain, but I believe the track "Leave Me Alone" is where the effect is greatest.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2006 9:52 am 
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Love Transformer unequivocally, though it's quite different from White Light/White Heat, for sure. Have a soft spot for Sally Can't Dance.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2006 6:25 pm 
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Beatlesfan03 wrote:
Re: Take No Prisoners. It seems to be hit or miss on most tracks. I have my discs packed up right now so I can't answer for certain, but I believe the track "Leave Me Alone" is where the effect is greatest.

...and that's the track where they only used one of the two dummy heads to record it (the second one was used for crowd noise and was mixed in at a lower level).

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