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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert Quine helps Reed craft a masterpiece.
"The Blue Mask" is often hailed by critics and fans alike as one of Lou Reed's greatest achievements, and it is deserving of the considerable praise. The disc contains some of Reed's most brutally honest writing in a concise set of songs exploring all aspects of human frailty - good, bad and ugly.
"My House", "Women" and...
Published on August 29, 2000 by Stephen Caratzas

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK
Dodgy repeat cover. Solid first side. Women is one of my favourites, but Reed's alleged handiness with his fists make it potentially queesy, though. Second side weaker. Reed tends to recycle songs endlessly and Satellite of love turns up as Heavenly Arms with a ghastly and embarrassing chorus. JFK song is naff. What was the Heroine all about? Fun but obscure. Maybe...
Published on September 13, 2000 by Gary


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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert Quine helps Reed craft a masterpiece., August 29, 2000
By 
Stephen Caratzas (Brooklyn, New York) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blue Mask (Audio CD)
"The Blue Mask" is often hailed by critics and fans alike as one of Lou Reed's greatest achievements, and it is deserving of the considerable praise. The disc contains some of Reed's most brutally honest writing in a concise set of songs exploring all aspects of human frailty - good, bad and ugly.
"My House", "Women" and "Heavenly Arms" are inspiring tributes: the former to Reed's mentor Delmore Schwartz; the latter to Reed's then-wife, Sylvia Morales. "Underneath the Bottle" details the struggles of addiction. "The Gun", "Waves of Fear" and the title cut are easily three of the most harrowing, unforgiving songs Reed has ever penned.
The real bounty, however, has to be the sheer beauty of the musicianship. Reed is once again playing guitar, having been inspired and goaded by ex-Voidoid Robert Quine, whose work here is among the best of his influential career. Quine's guitar - at turns shimmering, droning and apocalyptic - creates sublime moods and textural frameworks that serve the songs perfectly; Reed has not been fortunate to work with such a sympathetic musician since.
The quartet of musicians (filled out by Fernando Saunders on bass and drummer Doane Perry) respond to each other with the intimacy of a seasoned jazz combo. This is a real musician's album: dynamics are carefully observed, the space between the notes is respected, and all elements coalesce into a perfect whole.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Man's Got A Gun, July 9, 2002
By 
aaron toaso (Redondo Beach, Ca) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Blue Mask (Audio CD)
Let me get this out in the open so we're all on the same page, I'm a Lou Reed fan. I enjoy virtually all of his solo records, never expected some sort of extension of his work with the Velvet Underground, and feel he has at times gotten unfairly treated by a music press expecting something that will never come, mainly, records that would touch as many people as his previous band's did. His epic solo catalogue is exactly that, a document of a single songwriter finding his way with different bands and, at times, different styles. The songs themselves more than stand the test of time, even on recordings when Lou got bogged down with exactly how he tuned his dozen guitars. That said, for my money "The Blue Mask" is his best record. Lou and Robert Quine couldn't sound better together; tough, lean complimenting sounds to great melodies and, naturally, wonderful lyrcis. Heavy, dense tracks like 'The Blue Mask' and 'Waves Of Fear' rock like Lou rarely does, cruching walls of sound punctuated with horrifying imagery that seem to always get personal in the most chilling fashion ("Make the sacrifce-mutilate my face-if you need someone to kill-I'm a man without a will"). But the true brilliance of the record is the quieter moments, odes of admiration to a former mentor, a love song to his wife that seems to be a modest stab at something almost radio friendly, and an effective time piece about America's lost innocence. These songs pull you inside the worlds of their protagonists, one moment your nursing a hangover and wondering why your leg hurts, the next remembering why you love your girlfriend. Oh yeah, and there's one about a guy with a gun, who knows how to use it...
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Blue Mask, December 2, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Blue Mask (Audio CD)
All one can really say is this: In the cold of November, Bicycle Dan strapped on the headphones, dialed up the Blue Mask, ate seven Energy Bars and played the Title Track three times before riding to victory in the Thanksgiving Cyclecross Challenge (technically, he was, however, disqualified after knocking over one of the course's obstacles). Lou's art is an inspiration to us all.
Res Ipsa.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definition of a consistent album..., October 15, 2009
By 
C. R. Newton "lunarvision" (Raleigh, NC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blue Mask (Audio CD)
In short - this is Lou Reed's greatest album.

'Transformer', 'Berlin' and 'Street Hassle' may get the most press, but 'The Blue Mask' is the real deal.

Yes, that's a steep claim; but after listening to Lou's output over the years, 'The Blue Mask' holds up like none other. It's an absolutely beautiful, moving and soulful album. Lou is at his most mature, honest and vulnerable. He's also brutal, as this album contains two of Lou's most devastating songs - "Waves of Fear" and "The Blue Mask". And man, what a doozy that title track is - we're talking psychopathic, desperate and intensely powerful! (Like a lost GG Allen tune that GG could never competently express.)

I've owned different versions of The Blue Mask, and the 2006 BMG Japan Mini LP remaster is the best (although pricey). The expanded sound quality finally do justice to the intricate, almost avant-garde guitar play between Lou and Robert Quine. Their harsh, angular riffs rock like the greatest Sonic Youth material.

Beleive the hype - The Blue Mask is the definition of a consistent, rewarding album. A true comeback album. One of the greats.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lou's Blues, March 21, 2011
This review is from: The Blue Mask (Audio CD)
The Blue Mask from 1982 has passed the test of time with flying hues of blue. The varied material takes the listener from domestic bliss on My House which is also a tribute to the poet Delmore Schwarz ("I've really got a lucky life/My writing, my motorcycle and my wife") and the long, slow rumination titled Women, to extreme panic and paranoia ("I cringe at my terror/I hate my own smell/I know where I must be/I must be in hell") on Waves Of Fear.

Musically, the first four tracks follow a mid- or down-tempo rock ballad pattern. Then, the feedback on the title track introduces a maelstrom of edgy drumming, roaring and squalling guitars and Reed's intense delivery of a dark, oedipal rant about punishment and pain. There's up-tempo driving rock on Average Guy, a majestic melodious wall of sound of Waves of Fear, a tender, yearning ballad about John Kennedy and the tuneful, stirring love song Heavenly Arms.

This album revisits many of the themes that had inspired Reed from the start of his career with the Velvet Underground: His mentor, Delmore Schwartz is invoked on the opening track, reminding the listener of the Velvets' European Son (to Delmore), while Underneath The Bottle, a harrowing account of a struggle with alcohol, brings to mind an earlier song The Power Of Positive Drinking from the album Growing Up In Public, whilst the beautiful Heavenly Arms with its gorgeous cascading vocals is not too far removed from Satellite Of Love on Transformer.

The approach is different, however: gone is the decadent, sometimes snarling narrator of the demi-monde, and instead Reed turns into an essayist or reporter writing and singing with admirable maturity but still passionately about subjects as diverse as women, gun violence and the day John Kennedy died.

The guitars of Reed and Quine, the bass and the drums work perfectly together, whether on the slow numbers or on the more intense rockers like Waves of Fear or the title track. Best of all, the melodies are strong and memorable and the arrangements are innovative. The Blue Mask is a true masterpiece.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Behind the Blue Mask......Lou Reed, November 5, 2013
By 
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This review is from: Blue Mask (Audio CD)
This is a mature work from Reed when he was forty years old (1982).....he's gone now and many young people don't understand or like his music. Hell, many older people don't either. His influence is undeniable, however.

The main theme here is the same one that Reed explored his entire career. The desire to find a place of peace and understanding in a violent, horrifying, confusing and yet beautiful universe. The need to understand and express what he felt..... Hero worship, spirituality, alcoholism, gun violence, murder and assassination, sex and redeeming love, and Death Fear ....... charges all through this album. In other words the things that make us human, good or bad...as filtered through Reed's personality and perspective. "The Day John Kennedy Died" is to me Reed's most powerful statement concerning America and civilized life in general. That day it seemed like reality shifted forever and Reed really captures the helpless and hopeless feeling that engulfed the whole country.....a sick psychological vortex developed in our country that is ongoing today. It's mainstream now...

Reed's guitar dueling with the great Robert Quine is really good. This unit is just right...two guitars, bass and drums. This is recorded well, remastered and if you like Lou Reed's music you should have this. When you listen to the harsh rock edge of "Blue Mask" or "Waves of Fear" you can see why Metallica wanted to work with him. Two stunning workouts that surely influenced Metallica. When this album was recorded (82) Metallica had not released an album...yet. Maybe one day Lulu (with Metallica) will be considered a masterpiece by some people that didn't understand it when it was released. His final powerful statement. That particular album (Lulu) made me look at music in a totally new way...it was exciting.

Really, you either get Reed or you don't......We've lost a great artist but we've got his recorded sounds and poetry to travel with us on this death bound train.....
John Cale wasn't the only one that lost a "school yard buddy". So long Lou....and thanks,
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Playing, August 29, 2000
By 
Paul Weston (Adelaide, Australia.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blue Mask (Audio CD)
I always loved the instumentation / playing on the vinyl version of the Blue Mask. It redeemed the sometimes cloying sentimentality in the lyrics and vocals mentioned by other reviewers. Yet recently I purchased a CD copy, to recapture the pristine sound disappearing from the aging vinyl. Strangely, Lou's vocals actually sound more robust, less edgy while the lovely guitar sounds don't have their glistening seductiveness anymore. Guess I'll still be listening to the vinyl for a while.
.....Well some way down the track I have bought a new CD player, upgraded my old NAD to a new 541 and wow! what a revelation. Stuff here I could not even hear before. I was so misguided as to having thought there was not much difference between digital sources. I'll be more careful in future!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best of Lou's middle phase!, March 17, 2006
By 
Aaron L. Pincus (State College, PA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Blue Mask (Audio CD)
The Blue Mask is undoubtedly one of Lou Reed's finest albums and one of his most raw, angry, and personal song collections. I love all of Lou's music, and soon after The Blue Mask, his songs began to evolve into more allegorical tales with broader intonation and composition. The Blue Mask is the last Lou Reed album with a large collection of the hard edged, riff driven rock songs. This is combined with incredibly personal lyrics that are confessional, shocking, and provocative.

The title cut is a sonic triumph focused on sadomasochistic themes, "Take the blue mask down from my face and stick me in the eye. I get a thrill from punishment, I've always been that way." Other highly personal compositions also work well both musically and lyrically. Underneath the Bottle is a song documenting the trials and consequences of alcholol abuse (Lou sings, "I've got bruises on my legs from I can't remember when..."). Waves of Fear is another hard riffing song that captures paranoid stress and confusion. It evokes a midnight breakdown after ingesting too much and too many things. The sinister "The Gun" brings us into the mind of a gun toting criminal: "The man has a gun and he knows how to use it. 6mm Browning, let's see what he can do." The song goes on to tell us just what the man is up to.

Now if all these sound morbid and challenging, well, they are. But the Blue Mask is much more. These songs are juxtaposed with compositions that express incredible passion and empathy. My favorite of these is "The Day John Kennedy Died," which showcases Lou as a highly reflective and socially engaged songwriter.

The Blue Mask is certainly a challenging and thought provoking album that is not easily forgotten once heard. If you want to go beyond the popular Lou Reed songs and his most recent more accessible work, this album is for you. Be prepared and enjoy!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, September 13, 2000
This review is from: Blue Mask (Audio CD)
Dodgy repeat cover. Solid first side. Women is one of my favourites, but Reed's alleged handiness with his fists make it potentially queesy, though. Second side weaker. Reed tends to recycle songs endlessly and Satellite of love turns up as Heavenly Arms with a ghastly and embarrassing chorus. JFK song is naff. What was the Heroine all about? Fun but obscure. Maybe even preposterous.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revitalization, July 22, 2013
This review is from: The Blue Mask (Audio CD)
It's common knowledge now some 30 years later that The Blue Mask is regarded as Lou Reed's return to form which it is.

First off, gone are the experiments with horns, keyboards, symphonic backing (half of Berlin, title track of Street Hassle) and in their place is an actual rock band with the same musical make up of The Velvet Undreground (Two guitars, Bass, Drums). This is the setting Reed thrived in during his beginnings and he does so on this album.

Second, the songwriting is on par with his earliest solo outings. Reed's songs tended to tell mostly stories about other people in the 70's. This album includes some autobiographical material. "My House" which is a nice tribute to poet Delmore Schwartz (In Dreams Begin Responsibilities and Other Stories (New Directions Paperbook)) Average Guy, Heavenly Arms, Day John Kennedy Died, Women, Undrerneath the Bottle,are all personal aurobiographical type songs. The Gun, Heroine, Waves of Fear tell stories. This is a departure from what Reed did before. I think only Kill Your Sons on Sally Can't Dance went this far in personal storytelling.

Reed crafted a sort of trilogy of albums. The Blue Mask, Legendary Hearts, New Sensations. I believe all three have the same band behind him and the songwriting, and playing on all three are equally as strong.

Highly recommended
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The Blue Mask
The Blue Mask by Lou Reed (Audio CD - 1999)
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