When I heard about the passing of the amazing Lou Reed, I was a bit numb. I love Lou's music. His music could be exquisite or heart-wrenching, and his words were poetry. He was born in Brooklyn, and raised on Long Island, New York. As a teen, his parents were 'disturbed' by his display of homosexual feelings, and forced him to undergo electroconvulsive therapy. It was also said he was a bisexual man, and openly spoke of one of his partners, a transsexual. But at the core of Reed's life was his music. Over the course of several decades, Reed marked his move to New York City in 1964, forming a band with college buddy John Cale, the Velvet Underground. The group made albums and song that influenced many a generation, and are still impressive today. They took on artist Andy Warhol has their manager, hoping to make it big. Before that could really happen, the band broke up, and Reed looked to a solo career.
As a soloist, Lou Reed continued to make the music that made the world sit up and take notice. In 1972, he released his second solo album, which was also his second of the year. The album managed to be spontaneous and meticulous at the same time. The songs were stunning, and told the stories of Reed's life as he lived it. The album was his impressive sophomore album, 'Transformer'.
'Transformer' was recorded in August of 1972, and released in November of the same year. While the album had many favorite songs, the most well-known of the collection is the iconic "Walk on the Wild Side", a look at life on New York's Lower East Side, from transvestites, male hookers, drugs, and oral sex, fairly shocking topics for the time. But his words paint pictures, just not the type favored by 'Reader's Digest', or the Doctor's who hand Norman Rockwell reprints in their offices. On the album, Reed combined Pop with Folk and Rock, making a sound that was new and fresh. I figure there is no better way to celebrate the man and his music that to listen to it. This is the song list for the album, all written by Lou Reed. Then you can play the video, featuring the full album.
02. "Andy's Chest"
03. "Perfect Day"
04. "Hangin' 'Round"
05. "Walk on the Wild Side"
06. "Make Up"
07. "Satellite of Love"
09. "Wagon Wheel"
10. "New York Telephone Conversation"
11. "I'm So Free"
12. "Goodnight Ladies"
30th anniversary edition Bonus Tracks:
13. "Hangin' 'Round [Acoustic demo]"
14. "Perfect Day [Acoustic demo]" (Includes a hidden track featuring an advert for the album.)
Lou Reed's 'Transformer' can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon. In 1989, Reed released what was surely one of the best albums of the year, and one that spoke to my in ways few albums could. 'New York' took the world by storm, and had music lovers and critics running out to purchase it.
The 'Village Voice' named the album the #3 album for the year in the 1989 'Pazz and Jop' critics poll. The songs on 'New York' once again painted a beautiful landscape of the city, using the spray paint on the walls of the Village and other neighborhoods, making aural images of life away from 5th Avenue and the wealthy on the Upper East Side, and the yuppies on the Upper West Side. Reed was telling stories about the life on the streets, from the young lovers on "Romeo and Juliette", to the characters he ran across on "Dirty Blvd". I loved this album from the moment I played it on my turntable, and knew once again I had fallen for Lou's charms once again. In the video below, you can listen to the full recording of 'New York', All the songs were written by Lou Reed, except for "Beginning of a Great Adventure", which was written by Reed and Mike Rathke.
01. "Romeo Had Juliette"
02. "Halloween Parade"
03. "Dirty Blvd."
04. "Endless Cycle"
05. "There Is No Time"
06. "Last Great American Whale"
07. "Beginning of a Great Adventure"
08. "Busload of Faith"
09. "Sick of You"
10. "Hold On"
11. "Good Evening Mr. Waldheim"
12. "Xmas in February"
14. "Dime Store Mystery"
The album also featured Maureen Tucker, who had worked with Reed in the Velvet Underground with Lou back in the 1960s. As I had lived in New York in the 1980s, the album most certainly told storied I identified with, and still do today. As Reed was wont to do, he wrote about the political and social issues facing many, giving voice to topics and people the leaders of the day, including Presidents Reagan and Bush (Sr.), refused to mention. There were songs about the environment, the human condition, and life of the people often forgotten about by people who preferred to watch TV shows like 'Falcon Crest' or 'Major Dad' than Dickensian tales of Reed's dark city. Lou Reed's 'New York' can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon. May you rest in peace, Lou Reed, having told your stories which have given voice to so many. I know I will miss you.