31 October 2013
Lou Reed - Berlin:Live At St. Ann's Warehouse
March 2 1942 - October 27 2013: Lou Reed is no more, this is a sad thing for the music world; yet the man himself did not like the 'rest in peace' phrase. To be honest, Lou Reed is an artist I admired for his attitude more than his music at times. The Velvet Underground were a strange pack of dogs, most of his solo stuff just confuses me and as I have stated elsewhere - I am sure I am the only man in the UK who loves the collaboration he did with Metallica 'Lulu' (cleverly linked here). But his attitude, his desire to go down his own path no matter what it takes and to hell with the rest of the world is just one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in the music business. He wanted to do things his way or not at all - also the man had a knack of doing an album that was hated upon release, yet a few years or decades later it would be herald as a lost classic - point in case here is with the album 'Berlin'. When it first came out, Rolling Stones magazine called it a "disaster"; yet in 2003 it made the same magazine's top 500 albums ever released. Maybe there is hope for 'Lulu' in the future. This was a live recording of the album doing in 2006 and released with a live film of the concert in 2008. I could have started elsewhere, but I decided to start with something that I have no idea of what I think about it at first, there is no preconception to what is going on here, I am going in blind and I think that might have appealed to him; someone to listen without any prejudice.
When this was released it was the first time in 30 years that the album had been played as a whole and the tour and film were a success; as I said it was a start contrast to the original flop and this concept album about a doomed couple, and stories of drug use, prostitution, depression, domestic violence, and suicide. It is a harrowing tale which has not real hope; there is no salvation for the audience at the end of the record. Yet there is a beauty here. Yes it is broken, songs like "The Bed", "Sad Song", "Lady Day" and "Oh Jim" are (and I am being honest here) some of the darkest pieces of music I have ever heard. This album would make the happiest man in the world start to doubt himself, it is just heart breaking, desolate and without redemption.
Yet from beginning to end, I love this work. It is an amazing piece of music which was beyond it's time when it was released and has a timeless feel now. The fact this recording is down with a full chorus and backing band which rivals the albums original team just works for me. After the original failure, Lou Reed would not visit this album too much; I can see why in one way - would you want to be reminded of what was perceived as a failure? But over the years it was shown to be a fantastic piece of music and is now held as a classic. This live recording is a beautiful side note to that original record, as live recordings go. I find it beautiful and well done. It has served the purpose to perked up my appetite for more here. I will be honest; my next mission is to listen to the original release and probably to cry myself to sleep. If only Mr Reed could be around for when 'Lulu' gets the recognition it deserves; we will miss you Mr Reed, glad you were a one of a kind.
8 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart
You can purchase the album from Amazon here
You can go to the Lou Reed website here
You can listen to the album on Spotify here
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