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Friday, September 10, 2004

LOU REED

In my post about the Ramones I called them the Mount Rushmore of New York. In that same line of thinking Lou Reed would be the Ben Franlin, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton all rolled into one. With The Velvet Underground Lou invented New York style Rock and Roll, and set the stage for everyone who would call themselves a punk rocker. Indeed we would have no Ramones without Lou. Every book written about punk starts with a chapter about the Velvets. My partner Chris and I are both big Lou fans (Chris a bit more than me), but we have a long standing argument about what his best post Velvets record is and why. My position is that Transformer is without question his best album, and I credit David Bowie and Mick Ronson with providing Lou with excellent arrangements and production as well as getting great preformances from the notoriously lazy Mr. Reed. My favorite album, however, is Rock And Roll Animal. In 1973 Lou spent a few nights at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and this live album is the result. Lou's band at the time was the best band he ever had. Through Bob Ezrin, who produced the Berlin LP upon which Lou was touring to support, he hooked up with the twin guitar attack of Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter (see Alice Cooper), as well as the talents of drummer Pentti Glan, and bass player Prakash John. This album slams, dives, moves, grooves, and slams again. This is the record that introduced me to Lou (via my brother Fred) and the version of "Sweet Jane" on this record simply kills. Many Lou fans, including Chris, sort of poo poo this record, labelling it the 'heavy metal' record, as if that's a bad thing. Lou never rocked out more, before, or since. That being the case it is a departure, but one hella good one. Since the early seventies Lou has put out good records, bad records, and okay records. He has sunk into alcoholism and speed addiction and come out the other side. He's a legend, an asshole, and a New Yorker to the core. I salute you Lou, and one day maybe I'll have the pleasure of you telling me to fuck off.

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