Coney Island Baby is ultimately a record-deal-filler album, something to get Lou back on track after the unlistenable Metal Machine Music. Nonetheless, its very good indeed. Lou's vocal style is exactly the same as on Transformer, but instead of Mick Ronson's buzzing glam riffs, we have some impeccable mid-70s session muso backing- a supple, intricate rhythm section and lots of wanky note-bending guitar. It has a real period charm, and the songs are up to the mark. Nothing here quite up to the heights of Walk on the Wild Side, but it comes close. The cute lick which opens Crazy Feeling is infectious, She's My Best Friend is another stand-out, and Gift has a lovely melody as well as showcasing Reed's tongue-in-cheek humour. Kicks, despite its jazzy stylings, tries to explore darker, more sadistic lyrical themes- it sounds a bit too much like Lou trying to live up to his Velvets reputation. But the sweeping closer of the title track is another stand-out, and explores more a intimate, vulnerable Lou, expressing his dream as a kid to "play football for the coach." Who would have thought it, from the man who wrote "Venus in Furs"?
The mastering on this re-issue is superb- this album is definitely one of Lou's high points from the 70s.