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4.0 out of 5 stars Fly, fly away, 30 Nov. 2013
GlynLuke (York UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Essential Lou Reed (Audio CD)
This has the same track listing as the much better-titled NYC Man, consisting of a very generous 2 hrs 38 mins of the sadly late Lou in many moods and attitudes.
Sensibly, we are given a few of the obvious Velvets classics, including Waiting For The Man, Rock & Roll, Sweet Jane, and the tender Pale Blue Eyes, which closes the compilation with quiet dignity. There are also live versions of White Light/White Heat, I`ll Be Your Mirror, and a coruscating Heroin.
Other highlights for me are Street Hassle, Caroline Says II, Magic & Loss, Legendary Hearts, the superbly edgy The Last Shot, the slightly Waitsian Coney Island Baby (wonder if Lou & Tom ever met), the insistent NYC Man, the rather lovely Who Am I, which opens the first side, the succinctly funky Dirty Blvd (puzzlingly the only track from the fine album New York - why not Busload Of Faith, for example?) and the inevitable `hits` Walk On The Wild Side and Perfect Day, along with Satellite Of Love - those last two, not having heard them for a while, sounding fresh and oddly touching.
What surprised me most was the combination of toughness and frailty, swagger and romanticism on many of these songs, with Lou not above singing to an orchestral arrangement on certain numbers, which blends well with his unsentimentally deadpan voice.
The Bells is a lengthy rock/jazz workout that will grow on me, but I`m afraid I still can`t stand Vicious - never could.
Overall, I`ve been quite moved (particularly considering Lou died recently, at the age of 71) and sobered too by the sheer integrity and consistency of this man`s vision.
The other thing to say is that Lou Reed played a mean guitar! So many of these tracks take off the moment Lou plays one of his eloquent riffs or illustrative clusters of notes.
Lou himself had a hand in choosing this selection from his prolific career, which only adds to its quality and variety. It`s well programmed too, not bothering too much with chronology, but more an obvious wish to juxtapose moods, tempi, and subject matter. In that sense, this is nothing short of a triumphant compilation, a model of its kind, and certainly the best one available.
However, like so many Sony (and other corporate) compilations, the packaging leaves something to be desired. You only get a track listing (including the almost unreadable white-on-grey on the back cover: gee, thanks Sony) with no mention of the musicians involved. Considering the tracks cover a period of thirty-five years, 1967-2002, it would seem to be an `essential` courtesy to Lou`s fans to list them.
So, five glowing stars for Lou, three for Sony.

Those kids on the dirty boulevard, after Lou`s told us a little about their lives, all they really want to do - like quite a number of characters in these 31 songs - is

`fly now, fly, fly away...`
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 18 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: The Essential Lou Reed (Audio CD)
Lou certainly is essential
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