Original Album Classics
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UK-only five CD set containing a quintet of albums from the Rock great packaged in miniature LP sleeves and housed in an attractive slipcase. Features the albums Rock N Roll Animal (1974); Rock N Roll Heart (1976); Street Hassle (1978); Bells (1979) and Growing Up In Public (1980). Sony. 2011.
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1. ROCK N ROLL ANIMAL 1974 (Dick Wagner,Steve Hunter-Guitars, Pentti Glan-Drums, Prakash John-Bass, Ray Colord-Keys) This live album record at the Brooklyn Academy of Music wasnt exactly LOVED by the critics of its day, but the people loved it, and loved seeing super skinny, super strung out LOU in his leathers and dog colar sing versions of Velvet Underground songs, and material from Berlin and Transformer. These songs are hard, metalic, and it was MY first Lou Reed album. This album included extra songs not found on the Vinyl. 1. Intro/Sweet Jane 2.Heroin 3.How Do You Think it Feels? 4.Caroline Says I 5.White Light/White Heat 6.Lady Day 7.Rock N Roll
2. ROCK AND ROLL HEART 1976 This is when Lou decided to be a jazz/swing artiste. It was critically bashed, and to this day its seen as a more or less artistic failure. (Only in comparison to his recent string of triumphs) Admittedly, Lou must have been in a fallow period, even going back to the Velvet Underground to mine unused demos, and live jams (Sheltered Life-1968), (Follow the Leader-1969). The songs here are 1.I Believe in Love 2. Banging on my Drum 3.Follow the Leader 4.You Wear It So Well 5.Ladies Pay 6.Rock and Roll Heart 7.Chooser and the Chosen One 8.Senselessly Cruel 9.Claim to Fame 10.Vicious Circle 11.A Sheltered Life 12.Temporary Thing
3. STREET HASSLE 1978 Famous for using this supposed 3D "biaural" recording process, and constructing songs from live and studio componants, "Street Hassle" was a return to form for Lou. The standout track was the 11 minute title track, which had movements like "artrock" songs by Yes. (tho this is a million miles away from artrock esthetics) Once again Lou mined the Velvet Underground unused songbook for material, this time rerecording 1967's "We're Gonna Have a Real Good Time Together", a song played by the Patti Smith Group. Just looking at the song titles, and you have Lou's life laid bare. Songs include 1. Gimmie Some Good Times 2.Dirt 3. Street Hassle 4.I Wanna Be Black 5.Real Good Time Together 6.Shooting Star 7.Leave Me Alone. 8.Wait
4. THE BELLS 1979 For me this was one oddball Lou Reed album. Its not that i didnt like it, it just didnt sound at all like him. First, most of the songs were cowritten with other composers, mostly Nils Lofgren, tho even Don Cherry helped compose a song. Don Cherry's an avant guard jazz trumpet player famous for being in Ornette Coleman's quintet when he was releasing his best Free Jazz albums in 1959-1962. Don plays TRUMPET on the album, and african hunting guitar on the album. The album had a percussionist, a sax player too, Michael Fonfara still on keyboards, bass, drums, backup vocals...this was a "kitchen sink" approach to bringing together an album. Apparently Lou was searching for a type of "adult rock", by going back to jazz influences, and thick, almost psychedelic production values. (The nine plus minutes of the title song, with its odd synth bells clinging, was the song that blew my mind when i first encountered this album.) It was almost as tho Lou was looking towards everybody in the music world for fresh inspiration, except himself. Overall, this isnt a bad album, but Lou was nearing the end of this musical series, and in the next box set, his final attainment would be realized. Songs include 1.Stupid Man 2.Disco Mystic 3.I Want to Boogie With You 4.With You 5.Looking for Love 6.City Lights 7.All Thru the Night 8.Families 9. The Bells
5. GROWING UP IN PUBLIC 1980 Look at the cover, where Lou looks at the audience, tired, shoulders dropping. This was a tired album, one recorded under the influenced of lots of booze. Lou was about to turn 40, and he seems as tho all he could commit to artistically was about round of backward looking autobiographical sketches. Much like "Rock and Roll Heart", this album was Lou treading water, and also like R&RH it was critically bashed. However, you cant be a Lou completist, without these songs. Of course, Lou Reed never released a total turkey except for Metal Machine Music, and there are fluxus freaks who praise that album to the moon. Songs include 1. How Do You Speak to an Angel? 2.My Old Man 3.Keep Away 4.Growing Up in Public 5.Standing on Ceremony 6.So Alone 7.Love is Here to Stay 8.The Power of Positive Drinking 9.Smiles 10.Think it Over 11.Teach the Gifted Children.
So, there you have it. If I were to start my exploration of Lou Reed's solo material (beyond a best of), I would definately begin with the first 5CD Box set by Original Album Classics, since his post Velvets classics are all there. This isnt a bad box set, since the good material is SO GOOD, that is lifts up the more slight material. Fans will find this 5CD body of work exciting, intriguing and insightful. The next 5Cd set of CDs finds Lou discovering his mature Rock voice, stripped of overproduction, and then Lou's New Wave-drum machine period. Whatever Lou releases, he remains one of America's leading musicians, and thru his leadership of the Velvet Underground, and subsequent solo albums, the founder of our punk/grunge/underground rock esthetic.