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on 25 January 2009
I think you need to have been to a very dark and unpleasant place some time in your life to appreciate this album. If you haven't been to anywhere dark yet, then be warned this album is good enough to take you there ! I think that is why some people find it very uncomfortable.

The song cycle works to create a journey through darkness, misery and pain, reflecting responses of anger guilt frustration and desparation. I liked the mystical parallel reflecting a necessity for the journey through pain, in order to grow and accept loss and death as necessary parts of life. Then, in case by the end you still didn't get it, the title track gives a "Summation", "There's a bit of Magic in everything, but then some loss to even things out", and "Life is good, but not fair at all".

Musicaly the opening track "Dorita" makes one of my favourite ever rock introductions, but doesnt in any way set the style for the rest of the album, which has a very varied presentation. Including two different versions of the same song.

You will never hear this music in a shop or elevator. The lyrics might be compared with Dylan or Cohen ? The music is mainly quite simple and open with lots of space and clear vocals. It feels very well produced and carefully balanced.

I loved this album from first hearing it, but i dont recall anyone thanking me for sending them a copy. Its still a gem in my collection !
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on 30 April 2012
From the first Velvet Underground album right up to his extraordinary and brilliant collaboration with Metallica, Lulu, Lou Reed has consistently been expanding the boundaries of what kind of topics can be explored through the medium of rock'n'roll. Here he moves beyond singing about drugs, illicit sex, violence and such subjects to tackle a few of the very big ones, the real taboos- death, cancer, grief.
I've always loved the first ten or 11 songs on this record but felt that he copped out a little in the last couple of more upbeat, rockier numbers, especially in the closing track, Magic and Loss, when he seems to come to terms with and pass on a few wise words about how to deal with senseless loss. To be honest, the lyrics sounded a bit hollow to me. Until I finally got it. You can never make sense of such horrible deaths but to move on in your own life, you have to find whatever formula, philosophy or thoughts will make it possible for you to find your own closure, even if some part of you knows that you are flinching and fooling yourself a little.
Aside from that one misgiving the rest of the album pulls no punches and ranges from the exceptionally beautiful to the extremely painful, from the absurd to the passionate, to the utterly profound. Standout tracks are the heart-rending Magician, the brutally honest Sword of Damocles and the old-fashioned tearjerker, Dreaming.
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on 11 November 2009
I have to say most of the Amazon reviews about this album are just about right. After his masterpiece Songs for Drella, I was really looking forward to this and since the album was about death and bereavement, all the better for inspiring some great music. However there is definitely something missing in this thematically related set of songs. "Dorita" is a very brief guitar effect instrumental which leads us into "What's Good", a competent rocker. "Power and Glory" which follows is fascinating, particularly since it makes use of the characterful contralto voice of Little Jimmy Scott, whose career enjoyed a late blooming thanks to his appearance on this album. This was also the first time since Nico that Reed had so prominently used someone else's voice and he would do so again in later years. "Magician" maintains the dirge like tempo before the very good "Sword of Damocles" wakes things up a bit. "Goodbye Mass" and "Cremation", while technically proficient, just make for a cold and bleak listening experience, although this I suppose is the point. "Dreamin'" however is both beautiful and moving with a very subtle melody and it will strike a chord with anyone who has suffered any sort of bereavement.

"No Change" kicks off the second half but by this time the lyrical references are starting to get a bit obvious and repetitive, but this is quickly followed by the bitter and vitriolic "Warrior King", the best song on the album. We are then treated to "Harry's Circumcision" which is really a short story set to music rather than a song, per se (Much in the fasion of "A Dream" on Songs for Drella"). It is both surreal and humourous and so quintessentially Lou Reed, but I'm not sure you would play it repeatedly. This is then followed by three angry tracks "Gassed and Stoked", a faster reprise of "Power and Glory" and the title track "Magic and Loss". These last three are I think just too personal to make a lot of impact on the listener and melodically are the most difficult to listen to. "Magic and Loss" in particular is just tuneless to me. There is a sense in which Lou Reed doesn't care what we think of this album because it is just something he has to do for himself. It's a bit like watching someone else go through therapy - no doubt worthwhile for them but not exactly a spectator sport. I saw him perform live around the time of release and he simply played every track on this album in the order in which it appears on the album, making no concession to the desires of his fans.

Overall there is much to be admired about this album - particularly "Warrior King", "Dreamin'" and "Sword of Damocles". However, in my view the set is about 3 songs too long and is weighed down by an absence of melody on many tracks and in places lacklustre production. Even the standout tracks could have been more cleverly presented to increase their impact and make the most of some clever riffs and melodies in the background. It seems as if Reed has deliberately left them a little understated, perhaps as a sign of respect.
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on 21 November 2014
As you get a bit older some artists make you realise how important they are or were well lou influence is more important
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on 8 December 2001
This album includes some of my personal favourites among Lou Reed's songs, "Sword of Damocles - Externally", "Goodbye Mass - In a Chapel Bodily Termination" and "Cremation - Ashes to Ashes". Other good songs include the opening song, "What's Good - The Thesis" (a typical, but good, Reed rocker) and "Harry's Circumcision - Reverie Gone Astray" (a return to the story reading of "The Gift" (1968)). But other than those tracks, I find the album mediocre. That doesn't mean this isn't a must in your record collection, because as I mentioned some of the tracks are some of Reed's best.
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on 12 April 2014
I enjoyed the album Magic and Loss by Lou Reed to be very enjoyable as I do with all CD's from Reed and other members of The Velvet Underground.
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on 8 October 2000
This is one of Reed's saddest albums. Following a similar pattern to "Berlin", this album covers Reed's loss of close friends to cancer.
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on 30 May 2015
Good album, good service... Plus uploaded to iTunes so I could play as MP3.
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on 26 December 2015
One of Reed's better ones. Seems to be underrated.
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on 21 October 2014
The first side of this album is one of Lou's best.
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