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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cycle of sorrowful songs
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...
Published on 27 April 2003 by Pieter Uys

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not too bad but not too great....
I have heard a great deal about this album over the years so I decided to pick up a copy.

The first few listens didn't really sink in and even now the album has not yet fully resided within my conscious thoughts. I have to "be in the mood" to pull it out and play and that mood does not come along too often.

Casual Reed fans may not be so...
Published 7 months ago by David Bentley Newman


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cycle of sorrowful songs, 27 April 2003
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Berlin (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Film-noir meets Junky Chic..., 27 Jun 2004
This review is from: Berlin (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... with the first half of the record featuring Lou's painfully bitter lyrics backed by an almost up-tempo musical bed - showing Reed's willingness for Berlin to find a commercial audience (after all this did follow Lou's all-time commercial peak, Transformer) - whilst the second half of the record features a more stripped-down approach to instrumentation. This is obviously going to be a problem for those unprepared for Reed's magisterial misery, with standout moments like children screaming 'mummy' and lines like 'this is the place where she cut her wrists, that odd and fateful night' having already been covered by previous reviewers... though for me that standout moment is Reed's closing refrain of Sad Song in which he opines "I'm gonn'a stop wasting my time... somebody else would have broken both of her arms".
As evident, this is darker than anything by the likes of the Red House Painters, Lenny Cohen, Jeff Buckley, the Cure, Roger Waters, or Ryan Adam's Heartbreaker LP... with Lou creating a movie of emotions for our ears (less blockbuster, more video nasty!), whilst subsequently taking us on a decent into suicide and hell. However, if we step away from all the pain, we find that this is, regardless of the downbeat atmosphere, still one of the all-time great records. Deft instrumentation from a largely British collective featuring Jack Bruce, Tony Levin and Steve Winwood add a depth and panache to Lou's compositions, whilst the production is overseen by prog-rock supreme-o Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, et al)... because of this, the record has a grand, cascading style all of it's own, reflecting both the sordid background of the artist and his creative flare as a musician. So in a word: excellent.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece, 11 July 2002
By 
Mr. F. S. Prince "essdog" (Ayrshire, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Berlin (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Cycle of Sorrow, 22 April 2009
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Musical Film Noir, 27 Jan 2003
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Berlin [VINYL] (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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5.0 out of 5 stars Cycle of melancholy songs, 13 Dec 2006
By 
Pieter Uys "Toypom" (Johannesburg) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Berlin (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Lou, 13 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Berlin (MP3 Download)
I have always loved this album but be warned it is seriously depressing at times. I just needed to update my copy from a rubbish recording from my old scratchy vinyl. Amazing that I paid £3.99 for the vinyl back in the da and paid just £4 this time. Great
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic.......a masterpiece........and then some......, 13 Dec 2011
By 
Nicholas B. Gibbs "Nick Gibbs" (Brussels, Belgium) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Berlin (Audio CD)
A stunning achievement, which was obviously way-ahead of what popular taste could handle in 1973, post Walk on the Wild side. An album that stretches the parameters/envelope of what pop/rock music can do and one that still sends shivers down the spine today. His best? I think so (it's my favourite), but it's interesting that it's only now that this album is getting the respect it deserves. How long will we have to wait for another LR classic 'Songs for Drella' to get the same?
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's so cold in Alaska..., 4 Oct 2007
By 
OMG! It's got a plug! - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Lou Reed's masterpiece. Even taking The Velvet Underground into account, this is the best work that Reed has produced. Love, loss, wanting, hate, disgust - it's all here and more in the sorry story of 'Jim & Caroline' (it's a concept album). Theatrical in parts and suicidal in others, it's a haunting, frightening and exhausting listen. Highlights include the title track, and the whole of 'Side 2' (the last four tracks).

Oh, and the children crying on 'The Kids' - it depends which story you believe about how Bob Ezrin got his children to cry for their 'mommy'. He either told them that she had left them or that she had died. Whatever he said it got the desired effect.

This (re)remastered version is, thankfully, free of any unnecessary bonus tracks.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lou's Excorcism, 25 Mar 2007
By 
This review is from: Berlin (Audio CD)
Personally, I always thought Lou was a better artist for his demons and his ability to express them. He needed Bob Ezrin to produce this outpouring of his emotional scars, it wasn't going to happen with Bowie's glam-happy-pop influence. His later stuff misses these dark satanic demons whereas in the earlier stuff they're often subdued by his co-contributors. His laconic tribute to Iggy on here - 'Oh Jim' (James Osterberg)- is seedy but tongue in cheek too. The other characters that populate these stories are well on the wild side of those in 'Walk on the Wild Side'. They're the scary underclass; lost, self-loathing beings who stalk the shadows of the ghettos if they get out at all. There's little glamour here - more stark, ugly, hideous reality - you get the picture?

Okay so it's desperate, gut-wrenching, bleek music but isn't that good sometimes? Something that'll prod you out of your comfort zone, stab at those painful emotions and expose your soul to the vultures? This occupies a unique niche in my collection (one of the first CD's I bought to replace my vinyl copy). Almost everything else is derivative or plagerised to some extent but no-one's been too close to this. Nothing here will be popping up in two weeks time as the music for a tampon or insurance commercial. I still play it often and, when I'm not, it still haunts my thoughts, ideas and perceptions. Buy this album, it may enrich your life but, if it doesn't, I really don't care too much - your loss. At least give yourself that opportunity.
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Berlin
Berlin by Lou Reed (Audio CD - 2003)
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