Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Street Hassle & Show # 482

Lou Reed’s 1978 album Street Hassle is often seen as one of the last raw records that he made. The album itself questions, parodies and dives deep into many beautifully ugly narratives that are prevalent throughout its eight songs. Many of the songs contain poignant personalized themes that reflect Lou Reed’s career at that point in time. It also contains what many fans believe to be the finest solo Lou Reed composition recording, which would be the song “Street Hassle.” Street Hassle also was one of the first commercially released albums to utilize the binaural recording technique. This is a recording method that involves a mannequin head and two microphones to create a 3D stereo sound of sorts. By using this technique, listening on headphones are said to have better results than listening over loud speakers. In addition to all this, Street Hassle also featured studio and live recordings (with the audience sound mixed down).

“Gimme Some Good Times” starts off Street Hassle. In the opening lines of the song Lou Reed parodies himself and one of his best known Velvet Underground songs “Sweet Jane.” Lines such as “Hey, if that ain’t the rock ‘n’ roll animal himself/What you doing bro/Standing on the corner,” and “Jack, sweet Jane, I’m in a rock ‘n’ roll band/
Well, I can see that”
emphasize this. The chorus also echoes many ugly themes that are to be displayed on this album with the lines “Gimme, gimme, gimme some good times/Gimme, gimme, gimme some pain/No matter how ugly you are/You know to me it all looks the same.” “Dirt” continues next in a sloppy Rock and Roll fashion questions the scene and critics alike, the lyrics “Cheap uptown dirt” seems to take over as the song comes to a close.

The title track Street Hassle, is approximately eleven minutes and is separated into three parts “Waltzing Matilda,” “Street Hassle” and “Slip Away.” Musically, the song is a moving epic, while lyrically it tells a story in a dramatic way that was once done in a similar fashion on the seventeen minute Velvet Underground song “Sister Ray.” The first part of the song tells of a woman paying for a male prostitute, while “Street Hassle” deals with a drug dealer talking of the death of a woman, and “Slip Away” discusses love and death. This last part of the song is also notable because Bruce Springsteen reads the spoken word section of this song. He was uncredited on the album’s liner notes. This was rumoured to be due to legal related issues that he was going through at the time.  

On the 2004 live album Animal Serenade Lou had this to say of the song “Street Hassle”: "I wanted to write a song that had a great monologue set to rock. Something that could have been written by William Burroughs, Hubert Selby, John Rechy, Tennessee Williams, Nelson Algren, maybe a little Raymond Chandler. You mix it all up and you have 'Street Hassle'." As mentioned, many Lou Reed fans declare this song as one of his finest, if not his greatest recorded moment, as a solo artist.

Other songs include “Real Good Time,” which is a re-worked version of the Velvet Underground song “We’re Gonna Have A Real Good Time Together,” “Shooting Star” seems to recall sounds found on Transformer, with dominant horn sections and an overall sloppiness, “Leave Me Alone” is a more fast paced dirge of a Rock track, while “Wait” ends the album on an offbeat upbeat note musically and lyrically compared to the rest of the recordings found on Street Hassle.

Street Hassle has been analyzed by many critics and contains many diverse elements, which in essence is the reason people have and continue to talk about it. The album at the time of its release can be seen as a reaction to punk, which was taking place at the time. Lou Reed’s Street Hassle is deliberately sloppy, poignant, and raw. Lou Reed was never one to do what was expected. He went against the grain many times in his career with Metal Machine Music being an example of this. Street Hassle had all the attitude and sloppiness that influenced punk, but done by one of the people that helped influence it. Right down to the album’s cover which features a seemingly uninterested Lou Reed in a leather jacket and sunglasses and album font which exudes attitude. That could be argued to be one of the most “punk” thing of all.

This Week's Play List:

1. The Rolling Stones – Dear Doctor (Alternate Version)
2. The Folk Implosion – Waltzin’ With Your Ego
3. Real Kids – Common At Noon (Live)
4. Holy Wave – The Pass
5. Obits – Spun Out
6. Invasions – Rosy
7. Silent Movie Type – Pickpockets
8. Daniel Romano - Chicken Bill
9. James OL – Sk8 Or Die
10. Twin Library – They Have No Fallen
11. U.S. Girls – 28 Days
12. The Mo-Dettes – White Mice
13. TV Smith’s Explorer’s – I Live For Everything
14. Paul Jacobs - Frustration
15. Brazilian Money – Long Black Veil
16. Famines - TWA Flight 553
17. Lou Reed – Average Guy
18. Lou Reed – Don’t Talk To Me About Work
19. Lou Reed – Gimme Some Good Times
20. Lou Reed – Street Hassle

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for Novenber 12. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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