Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Rock n' Roll Animal...The Story of Lou Reed ....Show # 290

Lou Reed exited The Velvet Underground in 1970, prior to the release of their fourth album Loaded.  He did not immediately return to music, upon quitting The Velvet Underground Lou Reed moved back home with his parents and took a job as a typist at his father's accounting firm.  In 1971, things changed when Lou Reed signed a contract with RCA.  He then headed to London in the UK and began work on his first full length solo album.  Titled Lou Reed, the album featured ten tracks, eight of which were re-recorded versions of songs that were written while he was still in The Velvet Underground (those eight songs which were recorded with The Velvet Underground would be released on the Peel Slowly and See box set).  The other two songs were new compositions, "Going Down" and "Berlin".  The song "Berlin" would later be re-recorded for an album of the same name in 1973.  Despite the great interest in Lou's first solo effort, the album was overlooked by most critics.  The album was recorded with a series of session musicians such as members of the Prog Rock group Yes, Steve Howe, and Rick Wakeman.  Lou Reed was released in 1972. 

Lou Reed's next album would be produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson.  Transformer featured primarily new compositions, but also featured a few songs that can be traced back to his days with The Velvet Underground, most notably "Satellite of Love", and "Andy's Chest".  The music reflected more of a Glam Rock direction than Lou's previous solo effort.  The first single released from the album was "Walk On the Wild Side", despite it's subject matter (which was edited and even caused the song to be banned in some countries) the song did very well.  The song is said to have many origins, it has been said that the characters featured in the song were influenced by real people in Lou's life and to stem from the novel Walk On the Wilde Side by Nelson Algren.  The single was backed by another Transformer album track titled "Perfect Day".  This Pop song was one of the songs that featured an arrangement by Mick Ronson, and it comes out beautifully.  Mick Ronson plays guitar and many other parts on this album, while David Bowie helps out with some backing vocals. 

"Vicious" opens the album and is said to date as far back as when The Velvets were working with Andy Warhol.  Apparently Warhol suggested that Lou Reed write a song about someone that vicious, when Lou inquired about what he meant by that statement Andy replied "Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower".  Another song on the album that has a similar demeanor to "Vicious" is "Hangin' Round".  All the songs on this album (which relfect Lou Reed's Pop and Rock song writing abilities) help to make it unique and with the help of Bowie and Ronson, Lou Reed finally recieved commerical success in the UK.  The now iconic image of Lou Reed that dawns the albums cover was taken by photographer Mick Rock. 

Berlin followed Transformer in 1973.  The album addressed drug use, depression, and a darker subject matter in general.  The album also featured more of an orchestral production style and featured numerous session musicians that included the likes of Steve Winwood, and Jack Bruce.  The album has been called Lou Reed's most ambitious project, people were excpecting another album similar to the uptempo Rock of Transformer.  The albums title track, was re-recorded differently for this album (previously it was recorded for the album Lou Reed) and the songs "Oh, Jim", which was a re-working of a song done with The Velvets titled "Oh, Gin", and "Caroline Says (II)", which was a reworking of the the Velvets song "Stephanie Says" were also featured on Berlin.  This album produced by Bob Ezin, was recieved badly by critics and US fans, it went to # 7 on the UK album charts. 

In 1974, Sally Can't Dance was released.  This album was a return to a more Rock based sound, it was also a huge commericial success reaching the top ten.  The album was also the first to feature all original compositions (none were perviously done or written while Lou was in the the Velvets), and the song "Billy" featured former Velvet Underground bandmate Doug Yule on bass.  Lou has said that he was unhappy with the production on this record and when his record company asked for a quick follow up album, he responded with Metal Machine Music in 1975.  This double album recorded in Lou Reed's New York apartment, was an Avant-Garde, Electronic, Noise filled album.  There is also said to be classical music hidden amongst the feedback and noise.  Some people claim that this album was an ultimate artistic statement, while other claim that it could have been to fulfill his contract, or just a an attempt to alienate fans.

Lou Reed's next album Coney Island Baby, would feature more of a stripped back approach to music and more traditional song structures and lyrics.  The albums title is said to have come from a 1962 Doo Wop song by The Excellents and a barbershop of the same name.  The songs on the album such as "Crazy Feeling", "Nobody's Business", and "Ohh Baby" are not over produced and have the classic song structure that has made Lou Reed so well appreciated.  The album also features the song "She's My Best Friend", which was originally a Velvet Underground song.  When Coney Island Baby was re-issued in 2006, it came with six bonus tracks, all of which reflect a Hard Rock nature similar to early Velvet Underground material, they also feature former Velvet Underground member Doug Yule on all six tracks.  Lou Reed's fisrt album on Arista Records was Rock and Roll Heart was also released in 1976.  A greatest hits compilation was released on RCA in 1977 titled Walk On the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed.  In 1978, Lou Reed released Street Hassle, a raw, uncomprimising album, that was released at the time of the 70's Punk scene.  On the album Lou at times parodies himself (opening the album with a parody of "Sweet Jane"), and it also features an eleven minute piece titled "Street Hassle".   A double live album titled Live: Take No Prisoners, was also released in 1978.  On this album Lou gives many explanations about songs (such as "Walk On the Wild Side") and even rants against music critics.  The Bells (1979), was recorded in Binaural sound and features some songs that were composed with Nils Lofgren.  It features songs such as "City Lights", a song paying tribute to Charlie Chaplin, "Disco Mystic", a funky track with only two words repeated through out.  The album also featured Jazz musician Don Cherry. 

In the 80's, albums were released such as Growing Up Public (1980), Blue Mask (1982), Legendary Hearts (1983), and New Senations (1984).  Songs from these album are said to contain some of the best love songs written by Lou Reed.  1982's The Blue Mask and 1983's Legendary Hearts both featured Robert Quine on guitar (who was previously in Richard Hell & The Voidoids).  In 1989, Lou Reed released New York an album that features literate interwoven lyrics and a Rock basics sound.  Many people have said that this is one of, if not Lou Reed's best solo works.  Lyrically the album addressed issues in New York at the time, in a conceptual form.  Another interesting fact is that the album features percussion from former Velvet Underground drummer, Maureen Tucker. 

Lou Reed continued to make music in the 90's even collaborating with former Velvet Underground bandmate John Cale following the passing of Andy Warhol.  The Velvet Underground reformed briefly and even released a live album in 1993, but they would not stay together long.  In 1995, Sterling Morrison (Velvet Underground guitar) passed away from cancer.  When The Velvets were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 (Lou Reed has not been inducted despite the fact that he has been nominated in 2001/2002), the original members played on stage and performed a song in tribute to Sterling Morrison titled "Last Night I Said Goodbye To My Best Friend".  Lou continued to release albums in the 2000's, in 2003 he released a double CD collection titled The Raven.  This album is a concept album that relate to the stories and poems of Edgar Allen Poe.  The album features guest vocals from David Bowie, Laurie Anderson, Steve Buscemi, and Willem Dafoe.  In 2007, Lou Reed released Hudson River Wind Meditations, a four song sound collage.

A post that I did on The Velvet Underground can be found in my What Went On post.

The Play List:

1. Nick Lowe - So It Goes
2. Some Action - Some Action
3. The Primitives - The Ostrich
4. Lou Reed - Underneath the Bottle
5. Lou Reed - Romeo Had Juliette
6. The Barracudas - Barracuda Waver
7. Young Rival - Dead End Scene
8. The Gruesomes - What's Your Problem?
9. Painted Ship - And She Said Yes
10. The Caesars - Out of My Hands
11. The Fieros - To Pieces
12. Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash - Big River
13. Lonesome Lefty - Millionares
14. Boxcar Guitars - The Ballad of Mad Ave
15. Black Rebel Motorcyle Club - Ain't No Easy Way
16. Tyranna - Back Off Baby
17. Albert Hammond Jr. - Call An Ambulance
18. Simply Saucer - Bullet Proof Nothing
19. Harlem - Caroline
20. Velvet Underground - We're Gonna Have A Read Good Time
21. Velvet Underground - She's My Best Friend
22. Boomtown Rats - Straight Up
23. Big Audio Dynamite - The Bottom Line (Rick Rubin Remix)

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for March 9. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.


Anonymous said...

you gotta teach me how to make "labels" for bands, cuz it comes up in the brackets how many posts you have on them, which could come in handy


Sergeant said...

Happy New Year 2011 !