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Lou Reed

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iTunes Editors’ Notes

Lou Reed needed someone’s help after his first self-titled solo album went nowhere. His days in the Velvet Underground as a chronicler of deviant behavior and avant-garde sonic passions made him an important influence on the emerging ‘70s glam-rock scene but it didn’t help raise his mainstream profile and, therefore, his future as a working musician was seriously in peril. In a moment of payback, the hugely successful “Ziggy Stardust”-era David Bowie, who’d learned a thing or two from the Velvets, came to Reed’s aid and put him in the recording studio with his main co-conspirator, guitarist Mick Ronson, to help Reed sculpt a sound deserving of his colorful material. “Walk on the Wild Side” was the unlikely hit, with its spare groove, intimations of nightlife and jazz, and swooning bass line set against Reed’s stoic, plainspoken delivery of people living on society’s margins. Reed added “Perfect Day,” “New York Telephone Conversation” and “Vicious,” tunes that furthered his reputation as a reporter who saw things quite differently and more dramatically than your average singer-songwriter.

Customer Reviews

FAR from his best - highly overrated

I don't know where the notion that this is Reed's best work came from. Most accessible? Maybe, depending on your tolerance for glam rock. Yes Bowie produced it, big deal. Yes, it has Reed's only hit single (NOT a #1 as some contend, but it WAS top 20), but since when do hit singles have anything to do with BEST WORK?? It's a good album, but pales in comparison with much of Reed's later, more incisive, songwriting. It's a party album really - just something fun that can play in the background at a party. The then-unreleased VU tracks - "Andy's Chest" and "Satellite of Love" - are very arguably better than the VU versions. Especially "Satellite of Love," which underwent some key lyric improvements and vastly better arrangement. "Andy's Chest" is now moody and funky - whereas the Velvet's version was bouncy and "George of the Jungle"ish. Yeah, "Walk on the Wild Side" is a classic. No defense needed. "Vicious" has been done better by Reed during recent concert tours. "Perfect Day" became famous after it's inclusion in "Trainspotting" - it's a good song. Beyond that, eh. Middle of the road. "Hangin' 'Round"? "Wagon Wheel"? "I'm So Free"? These songs are tolerably time wasters. And "Make Up" and "Goodnight Ladies" aren't even that. Who did Lou think he was in those days, a gay Leon Redbone? He was/is so much better than all of that.

"Little Joe Never Once Gave It Away!"

.."I'm Glad I Spent It With You!"..Yes; Our hats are off to "Ziggy Stardust" for re-discovering Lou Reed and lending him his lead "Spider" to rock out the Glam-Fabulous "Transformer!" {From "Vicious" to "Goodnight Ladies"; This cool LP really took so many of us young Art Students on a real "Walk On The Wild Side!" Yeah; It's a Party Album; But with an edge & A dark sense of humor that was a dancin' favorite at "All Tomrrow's Parties" back in the early 1970's! {Dig again on: Vicious; Satellite Of Love; Hangin Round & Perfect Day!} Yeah! Grimmbo.

Satellite's Gone...

Lou Reed's first album was a flop, so for his next effort, he turned to David Bowie, who 1) produced Transformer, his second album, and 2) transformed Reed into a glam rocker. Hm... Transformer is Lou Reed's most highly praised album, mostly because it included his only Top 20 hit, "Walk On the Wild Side," but also because of its theme. Now, Transformer (In addition to mostly having to do with complete strangeness, like in "Andy's Chest") is mostly Reed's perspective on life in New York City, focusing mostly on the odd subjects like drag queens ("Walk On the Wild Side"). He was never this true, or weird, again. The opener, "Vicious," was inspired by a conversation between Reed and Andy Warhol. (Warhol: "You should write a song called vicious." Reed: "What do you mean?" Warhol: "You know, like, 'Vicious, you hit me with a flower.') Also, "Andy's Chest," (Which makes no sense, and was also part of The Velvet Underground's studio sessions) is supposedly about the shooting of Andy Warhol in the late 1960s. Even though Warhol didn't produce it (Like he did with The Velvet Underground & Nico), he still had a big effect on the outcome of the album. Some other highlights of the album are the brilliantly composed "Perfect Day" and the amazing "Satellite of Love." (Personally, I prefer the version by The Velvet Underground's, featured on the Peel Slowly and See box set, but Reed's version is still good) Transformer (Or vitually anything that Lou Reed ever did) doesn't quite measure up to what Reed was able to achieve while in The Velvet Underground, but he still is able to deliver slightly more mature music. I'd have to recommend The Velvet Underground before the listener listens to Lou Reed...but once they decide to listen to Reed's solo stuff, they should listen to Transformer first. Recommended Tracks: "Walk On the Wild Side" "Satellite of Love"


Born: March 2, 1942 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The career of Lou Reed defied capsule summarization. Like David Bowie (whom Reed directly inspired in many ways), he made over his image many times, mutating from theatrical glam rocker to strung-out junkie to avant-garde noiseman to straight rock & roller to your average guy. Few would deny Reed's immense importance and considerable achievements. As has often been written, he expanded the vocabulary of rock & roll lyrics into the previously forbidden territory of kinky sex, drug use (and...
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