Artist – Album: Lou Reed – New York
Released: 10th January 1988
Sounds Like: Scary tales of New York
Lou Reed has racked up a substantial amount of albums throughout his career – no less than twenty-two solo studio albums adding to the five he managed with The Velvet Underground – and as many of those have been awful as have been awesome, so getting to grips with his back catalogue can be tricky. New York isn’t the best of the lot (it’s hard to look past The Velvet Underground & Nico or Transformer for that honour), but it’s hard to think of one that has so perfectly encapsulated what his music is about.
The album is fourteen urban poems, tackling problems both personal and global, and woven together to represent one complete discourse on life in New York and life in general. Reed may discuss politics, homelessness, AIDS and life choices in this selection, but he manages to avoid sounding preachy and the lyrics are so clearly carefully constructed and cleverly crafted that it is hard to think of a better wordsmith in this soft of territory. All of this is backed by just a guitar, bass and drums, as well as a few doo-da-doo’s, and this sparseness helps each track retain it’s clarity, while also maintaining a solid rock and roll ethos.
The liner notes for the album instruct the listener to sit through it all in one go, a seemingly unnecessary move in the times of LP’s and tapes, when skipping a track was as easy as shedding all of that bloody festive weight by mid-January. But in the world of today, with ipods, ipads and ipids (wait, is that right?) and your music usually set to shuffle, it’s the norm to just pick out your favourites and skip the rest. Don’t do that here. Lou demands it.
Albumaday... rating: 8/10
1. Romeo Had Juliette – 3:09
2. Halloween Parade – 3:33
3. Dirty Blvd. – 3:29
4. Endless Cycle – 4:01
5. There Is No Time – 3:45
6. Last Great American Whale – 3:42
7. Beginning of a Great Adventure – 4:57
8. Busload of Faith – 4:50
9. Sick of You – 3:25
10. Hold On – 3:24
11. Good Evening Mr. Waldheim – 4:35
12. Xmas in February – 2:55
13. Strawman – 5:54
14. Dime Store Mystery – 5:01
Listen to ‘Dirty Boulevard’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7z3TPwOT31g