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Berlin [VINYL]


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Music

Image of album by Lou Reed

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Biography

by Richie Unterberger

The career of Lou Reed defies capsule summarization. Like David Bowie (whom Reed directly inspired in many ways), he has made over his image many times, mutating from theatrical glam rocker to scary-looking junkie to avant-garde noiseman to straight rock & roller to your average guy. A firmer grasp of rock's earthier qualities has ensured a more consistent ... Read more in Amazon's Lou Reed Store

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Product details

  • Vinyl (9 Feb 1999)
  • Label: Pid
  • ASIN: B00000IA8C
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,649,280 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 27 April 2003
Format: Audio CD
These songs are harrowing but beautiful and ultimately rewarding if you can survive its labyrinthine descent into heartbreak and despair. The most melodic songs include Caroline Says I and II, the wistful Oh, Jim, the painful The Kids, the bleak The Bed and the soulful Sad Song. Over these beautiful melodies Reed lays his vocals that are so genuine, so apt and so gripping that listening to them is like being privy to the private details of a doomed relationship. Of course, these all fit the complete picture to create one of the most cohesive and searng concept albums in rock, from the jazzy intro of Berlin with its lounge piano through the spoken poem of Lady Day, right to the melancholy last refrains of Sad Song. The grand production and sympathetic arrangements add gravitas to the somber mood to create a dark masterpiece of epic proportions. Somewhat inaccessible to some fans, Berlin has nevertheless improved with time and remains one of Lou Reed's greatest albums.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan James Romley on 27 Jun 2004
Format: Audio CD
From the cacophony of muted, distorted sound effects and twinkling piano of the opening title-track, right through to the coral backing-harmonies of Sad Song; Lou Reed's Berlin remains a shattering and deeply emotional trawl through the depths of misery, excess and theatrical despair. It's status as a cult-record is legendary; coming as it does on a wave of expectations (the most depressing album ever, the most intense listening experience ever, etc), most of which it lives up to... managing to fuse a sound that combines the heroin-chic of the Velvets and Nico with a further instrumental quality more akin to the thin white Duke (whilst also delivering what must be the most brutal album concept of all time).
Forget the public-school boy navel-gazing of The Wall... this is the real deal. A song-cycle about a couple of doped-up, washed up, drop outs going mad in a Berlin hotel room; cast adrift amidst an ocean of drug-use, mind-games, abuse, assault and sexual jealousy. It's how we would imagine the musical version of Donald Cammel and Nic Roeg's Performance would sound, if the LSD of the sixties had been replaced by the speed and junk of the era-of-Berlin. Reed opens himself up emotionally in a way few artists would dare to do; relating lyrics that point to a damaged and bitter psyche left hurt and destroyed by excess and paranoia, whilst leaving his lyrics to some extent, open to interpretation... though at the same time, they're as clear as crystal (if you get what I mean??).
It is this kind of emotional back-and-forth and juxtaposition of light and dark aspects that makes Berlin what it is...
Read more ›
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mr. F. S. Prince on 11 July 2002
Format: Audio CD
I have read so many times that 'Berlin' is a depressing album and admittedly at times it is very dark. However, the darkness is largely conveyed lyrically with much of the music quite euphoric in sound. These elements blend to produce one of the most beautiful and interesting albums of all time. In my opinion the closing duo of 'The Bed' and 'Sad Song' are absolute perfection. If you don't own this album then I strongly suggest purchasing it and giving it a few listens. It is a bit of a slow burner but well worth being patient with! Enjoy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 22 April 2009
Format: Audio CD
These songs are harrowing but beautiful and ultimately rewarding if you can survive the album's labyrinthine descent into misery and despair. The most melodic songs include Caroline Says I and II, the wistful Oh Jim, the painful The Kids, the bleak The Bed and Sad Song which is soulful in its melancholia.

Over these beautiful melodies Reed lays his vocals that are so authentic, apt and gripping that listening to them is like seeing snippets of a movie. Of course, they form a complete picture to create one of the most cohesive and searing concept albums in rock.

From the jazzy intro of Berlin with its lounge piano & brief strains of Happy Birthday through Lady Day with its spoken & sung segments, right to the melancholy last refrains of Sad Song, the album holds one's ears & attention. Berlin is unique in Reed's body of work although tracks like Oh Jim & How Do You Think It Feels would have fitted well on Transformer.

The sensitive production & sympathetic arrangements add gravitas to the somber mood to create a dark masterpiece of epic proportions. It's not really a rock album & therefore somewhat inaccessible to some fans. Berlin has in my opinion improved with time and remains one of Lou Reed's most singular achievements.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 27 Jan 2003
Format: Vinyl
What is often overlooked in judging this bleak but great concept album, is the brilliance of the individual songs. It contains some of Reed's most memorable numbers like the melodic Caroline Says I and II, the tender, wistful Oh, Jim, the heartbreaking The Kids, the desolate The Bed and the majestic Sad Song. Over these beautiful melodies Reed lays his vocals that are so genuine, so apt and so gripping that listening to them is almost like seeing snippets of a movie. Of course, these all fit the complete picture to create one of the most trenchant and vivid concept albums of all time, from the jazzy intro of Berlin through the spoken poem of Lady Day, right to the melancholy last refrains of Sad Song. The full production and lush arrangements add gravitas to the somber mood to create a dark masterpiece of epic proportions. Somewhat inaccessible to some fans, Berlin has nevertheless improved with time and stands as one of Lou Reed's major achievements.
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