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American Poet

4.3 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 26, 2001
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Product Description

Previously unavailable recording from a concert at the Hampstead Theater on Boxing Day in 1972 during the 'Transformer' tour with backing band the Tots. Features material from the Velvet Underground, the first solo album & the then-current 'Transformer' LP.

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Since 1989's New York, Lou Reed has been a politically correct elder statesman of rock. Early on, though, he was the very essence of cutting edge, a time captured perfectly on American Poet. Recorded for a 1972 radio broadcast right after his return from England where he'd just recorded Transformer with the Ziggy Stardust crew, Lou and band deliver four tunes from that album sans the pop sheen David Bowie and Mick Ronson added. There are superb, near definitive takes from the Velvet Underground canon, a throwaway from his solo debut, and an early "Berlin." Lou actually sings here. The primitively wonderful band is as cool in its own way as the Rock 'n' Roll Animal group, and a hilarious midconcert interview (DJ: "Where's Doug Yule?" Lou: "Dead, I hope") reminds one how lovably vicious and politically incorrect the godfather of punk once was. --Bill Holdship
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 26, 2001)
  • Original Release Date: 1972
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Pilot
  • ASIN: B00005B0H4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #412,159 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen Caratzas on July 6, 2001
Format: Audio CD
American Poet is an intriguing reissue of a frequently bootlegged tape of Lou Reed and the Tots (Vinny Laporta - guitar, Eddie Reynolds - guitar, Bobby Resigno - bass, Scottie Clark - drums), the band that backed him during his Transformer period. Recorded live at the Ultrasonic Recording Studio in Hempstead, New York on December 26, 1972 for radio broadcast, it features Reed in excellent form. Playing guitar and singing such that one can clearly hear and appreciate his literate lyrics, Reed delivers a rock-solid performance.
Songs include energetic versions of Velvet Underground classics ("White Light/White Heat", "Heroin", "Sweet Jane"), material from Reed's solo debut ("Walk it and Talk It", "Berlin") and the just-released Transformer ("Vicious", "Walk on the Wild Side", "Satellite of Love", "I'm So Free"). The disc features an interview segment in which Reed playfully explains the recording of Transformer, has a few unflattering comments about Velvets replacement Doug Yule, and notes the ironies surrounding "Heroin" - all of this in a manner that is both good-natured and knowing. He has seldom sounded so engaging, at one point telling the crowd "You can clap" during a great version of "Rock and Roll".
The beautiful insert booklet features pages of photos by Mick Rock taken at gigs Reed and the Tots performed at London's Kings Cross Sound in the summer of 1972 - the same source for Rock's famous Transformer album cover. Also included are illuminating (though crudely rendered) liner notes by Carlton P. Sandercock, who seems to have forged a career with legitimized bootlegs, having penned the liner notes for David Bowie's Santa Monica '72 live set.
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Format: Audio CD
This show has been released in one bootleg form or another under at least 10 different titles. This, however, is its first "official" release. Finally!
This was broadcast on FM radio out of Hempstead, NY in December 1972, and sounds FANTASTIC. This is the entire show, uncut and in order, complete with mid-show interview. Lou's backing band, The Tots, put on an incredible show. Sometimes prone to unfocused and less-than-energetic performances, The Tots put on the show of their lives here. This is Lou Reed without props, without camp, and just in your face Rock 'N' Roll.
My only complaint stems from the packaging. Yes, you get great photos by Icon-maker Mick Rock, but the review/writing in the booklet appears to have been authored by a 3rd grader! Spelling mistakes, poor grammar, run-on sentences...you get the picture. However, you ARE spending money for the music, right?
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Format: Audio CD
This CD is the missing link between the sometimes rambling live sound of the velvet underground and the glamrock-like live cd's "R&R animal" and "live".
Biggest surprises for me were the arrangements for waiting for my man and berlin: they remind very much of the versions on "take no prisoners" except that these aren't over the top...
How relaxed the recording is, proves Mr Reed himself while playing "Rock and Roll" - and this is a quote - " you can clap" and his cheery "lalala" in a very friendly version of Sweet Jane.
And this brings me to the only minus of the CD: most of the songs are available in more than one differnet live-version. So how surprising these versions might be - sometimes you'd wish he'd played/the editor selected some different songs. But for the true fan a must!
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Format: Audio CD
Even if this remarkable live recording from 1972 consisted only of the five-minute interview with Lou Reed in which he adamanently states that he will "never" perform with the Velvet Underground again, it would be worth the investment. As it stands, however, the listener is assaulted with a raucous set of VU classics and originals from the Transformer album performed with the backing of a band as versed in straight-ahead rock as any with which Reed has ever fronted, before or since.
One can only comprehend the pleasure that must have flowed through the crowd at hearing "Walk on the Wild Side" for the first time. Even "Satellite of Love," which comes across a bit clumsy without the benefit of backing horns and the studio flash produced on vinyl by David Bowie, brings satisfaction for those who appreciate breakthrough performances of future classics.
When all is said and done, the tracks that really leave an impression are smooth versions of Reed's best from his days in Warhol's Studio. Unlike versions on the Velvet Underground's 1969 or 1974's Rock and Roll Animal, "Sweet Jane" is true to its original studio format, and as here when played with a solid support band comes across more powerfully than any other live recording in existence. "Heroin" is particularly noteworthy. Reed even comments before the band launches into a ferociously paced rendition that "this is the rock version."
While one can always find fault with live recordings, be it in the quality of the sound or the selection of the play list, true fans of rock and roll will genuinely appreciate this album for what it is - a window into the evolution of Lou Reed from the Velvet Underground's front man into a rock icon who will continue to influence music for years to come.
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