Written By Braddon S. Williams

Lou Reed: New York

Lou Reed’s New York (1989) was a comeback album that pretty much saved the man’s career. Not only that, it was (and is) a remarkable set of songs that Lou intended to be listened to in one sitting, much like watching a movie or reading a good short story.

It isn’t a concept album, but the songs are all tied together conceptually by the narrator (Reed) and his city (New York). Lots of famous names are mentioned throughout the lyrics and many are targeted by Reed’s anger and cynical wit.

The music is stripped down, basic rock ‘n roll, with guitars, bass, and drums as the only instruments.

Production was raw and basic, too, going against the grain of the big digital mixes of that era.

I would normally single out some favorite songs, but in keeping with Lou’s wishes, do yourself a favor and listen to it straight through. You’ll be glad that you did!

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Written By Braddon S. Williams

LOU REED: Rock n Roll Animal

Earlier in this series of 365 albums, I wrote about Lou Reed Live. I should have probably started off with Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal, because it was released a year earlier (1974), but both albums were recorded at the same show and I liked the “Live” album cover better, so that was my justification. Anyway, Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal is a stellar performance from Lou and his incredible band (featuring the double team guitar elite assassins Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner) re-imagining a handful of songs from Reed’s time in The Velvet Underground. Although there are just 5 songs on the album, each one is full of dramatic dynamics and moody atmospheres, along with flat out rocking in the best ’70’s tradition. The song Heroin in particular is just a harrowing trip into some extremely heavy emotional territory. I love Lou Reed’s dry, nearly monotone style of talk/singing and of course, his lyrics are top of the line poetic masterworks of urban storytelling. As a guitarist, listening to Wagner and Hunter effortlessly weave back and forth with their lead work and impeccable rhythm styles is pure bliss. The rest of the band is airtight as well. Alice Cooper thought enough of them to basically buy them out from Reed for his Welcome To My Nightmare album and tour. I might have to add that one to my list, now that I think about it! If you are looking for some stripped down rock played by a masterful band and written with supreme wit and intelligence, Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal by Lou Reed is as safe a bet as you are likely to ever find. Get it and play it loud & proud.

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind

Lou Reed Live, a live album by Lou Reed released in 1975, makes my list for several reasons. First and foremost, Lou was an incredible songwriter, penning some of the best lyrics in all of rock music. He wasn’t the greatest vocalist, but his deadpan New York voice fit his songs perfectly. Second, his band on this record (which featured the world class guitar tag team of Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter) simply played killer hard rock music to beef up those amazing songs. Alice Cooper knew this band was top notch and he bought them out from under Lou’s nose and used them to great effect on his Welcome To My Nightmare album. Lou Reed Live was recorded on the same night as the more well known Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal album. I’m hoping they are eventually released in sequence, because both records are truly amazing. My favorites on this one are Oh Jim, Vicious, a really cool Walk On The Wild Side, Satellite Of Love, and the incredible Sad Song, which got me through a really rough spot in my life. Every time I hear any of this stuff, it makes me want to go immediately to my guitar and play.

Written By Braddon S. Williams

Influences And Recollections of a Musical Mind