Top critical review
10 people found this helpful
The Lou Reed Chronicles Part Three: In Which Lou Stakes His Claim in the Pantheon
on 2 June 2012
The third, and to date (June 12) final mini box of Lou's work. This set covers Lou's return to RCA and the years 1982 to 1986 and unfortunately is probably the least interesting of the sets on offer. It's not all fallow and I guess even Lou deserves a little quiet time.
* Blue Mask: Lou becomes an Artist with the emphasis on the capital A. Ruminations on Delmore, Kennedy and wife Sylvia are particularly lovely but like Townshend before him our Lou starts to trip himself up with cumbersome lyrics. "Silvia and I got our Ouija board" would sound faintly ridiculous no matter who was singing it. Likewise the Blue Mask track itself which gets way too wordy to work. It's also worth mentioning that on this LP, and the subsequent Legendary Hearts, that Lou starts to try and "sing" the songs. Now Lou has a unique voice, he could read from the NYC telephone directory and make it sound interesting, but he just can't sing. What makes it worse is that he sounds so damn earnest as well.
* Legendary Hearts: Less arty than Blue Mask, the title track is terrific and Don't Talk To Me About Work is punchy but you get the distinct impression he's trying too hard. There's no edge here, no challenge. It's music as reportage but as with Rock n Roll Heart, even when he's not on target he's never less than interesting.
* Live In Italy: I could never work this one out, what was the purpose of this? Originally a double LP and now on one CD this was only ever released in Europe and was sourced from a couple of nights in Rome and Verona during the Legendary Hearts tour. In a review in Sounds at the time of release, Sandy Robertson and erstwhile VU and Lou fan berated this release and unfortunately the intervening years have done little to change its stature. Kill Your Sons still crackles, but that's it, and as that track has been compiled onto NYC Man this release is pretty redundant. Not half as much fun as Take No Prisoners (Lou as Lenny Bruce).
* New Sensations: The voice is back! Lou ditches earnest and gets playful. He even gets a sniff of chart action with I Love You Suzanne, unfortunately you get the impression that Lou is playing the game here. He can push the buttons as required but again, there's no challenge. The title track is smart, but again that's done to that wonderful vocal delivery.
* Mistrial: Another one lost in the cracks. This is a little more edgy that New Sensations but essentially cut from the same cloth. I prefer the harder edge that this Lou gives us but I'm struggling right now to list one memorable thing about it.
Nice box, fantastic value but in all honesty none of the albums in this box are one's I return to on anything other than an infrequent basis. After this Lou got all worthy with New York, Magic and Loss and Drella but since then he's been as confounding, confusing and challenging as ever. God bless him, he's a true maverick.