Friday, March 23, 2007

Lou Reed Rock'n'Roll Animal

Having mentioned this record in the Dylan post, I was thinking maybe I would expound upon it a little.

I remember when this record came out and there was a lot negative reaction due to the extreme re-workings of the old Velvets’ material. Looking around these days, it seems like opinions have changed and most people really like this record – possibly for the same reasons that people didn’t like it at the time!

As a guitar player, I have always enjoyed this recording of top-notch 70’s rock guitar playing. Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner were at their prime as top session guitarists who played with just about everyone at the time. Some might see some of these tunes as experiments in over indulgence, but I like that kinda stuff!!

The record opens with a Hunter/Wagner “Intro” that eventually becomes “Sweet Jane” as Lou comes out on stage to the cheers of the audience. As you can see from the cover, he was into his Transformer/glam persona and I think this was his version of the big-rock of bands like the Spiders From Mars. His songs were already main-stays in most glitter bands’ repertoire so it only makes sense that he would do his best to out-do them all at their own game!

“Heroin” sounds huge and dramatic and is another guitar showcase, but certainly isn’t quite as dangerous as the Velvet’s version. It’s almost a more dreamy version, rather than a desperate cry of a junkie.

“White Light/White Heat” undergoes a radical transformation from the stripped-down punk rock of the original album version to this stadium rock take on it. Still great r’n’r, but almost a different song!

The only song on the original record from his then-recent work, Berlin, is “Lady Day”, and obviously, that is the least re-worked tune. It’s excellent, though!

Closing with “Rock’n’Roll”, this anthem also becomes a big-rock guitar jam, and while very rockin’, I have to admit that it is slightly long and excessive.

This is definitely a good primer for an average “rock kid” (as I was at the time) to learn about Lou and his Velvet Underground heritage. It doesn’t have the insane magic of the VU, but it is a high quality 70’s rock record!