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Charles Miller "objective clarity" (Baltimore, Maryland U.S.A.)
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Music For A New Society/M:FANS
Music For A New Society/M:FANS
Price: £11.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars M:FANS >> 2016 RELEASE <<, 8 Feb. 2016
This 2 CD set is absolutely John Cale's best work since the original Music for a New Society was released. It's in that masterpiece class of his works that includes New York in the 1960s, The Academy in Peril, Paris 1919, The Island Years (even though that technically consisted of three separate albums), 23 Solo Pieces For Naissance De L'Amour, Fragments Of A Rainy Season, and perhaps Honi Soit, 5 Tracks, blackAcetate, and Circus.

Interesting how the booklet confirmed my initial opinion of the original: Music for a New Society is like a combination of what a Nico album would sound like without Nico, morphed with Cale's version of Berlin (not a copy of Lou Reed's version, but as bleak). It's timeless, and cannot be nailed down to a date because it departs so radically from contemporaneous music, there's nothing evocative of the era in which it was made in to compare it to. Same goes for this reimagined version.

M:FANS is much like the original album, but radically reworked like the material on his live album, Circus… reworked to the point of being a completely new album (albeit informed by what went before). I see the musicians are much the same as on Shifty Adventures in Nookie World, however this time it works. I thought all of the slick studio production on SAINW to be a detriment to what was otherwise a good collection of poppy tunes, but here, the heavy production is almost symphonic in its scope, yielding a very important album by a very important artist. It's still disjointed as was the original, but with a lush grandness not present in its first incarnation.

The original album is also included in this package, and it makes for a handy reference point. Additionally, there is one supposedly unreleased track (it was released however on the first CD reissue), and two outtakes. The original album clearly demonstrates the oddness and almost Gothic melancholy which has been kept for the new version, although quite different overall. What a perfect bonus disc.

I will be revisiting this countless times in the near, and in the far, foreseeable future. It's not the novelty of new music that's thrilling as is often the case, but rather, how immediately it is recognizable as a timeless and unique masterpiece. The lyrics, as well as the dense and complex instrumentation serve to make this not easy listening, yet at the same time, it is surprisingly accessible overall. It will definitely land somewhere in his top 3 albums of all time in my mind. Beyond perfect.


What The World Needs Now
What The World Needs Now
Price: £7.99

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ZENiTH of this incarnation of PiL, 8 Sept. 2015
As a preface, let me get the usual charter member version of Public Image Ltd (PiL) versus the subsequent version of the band controversy out of the way first. This PiL is not the one of the late-1970s/early-1980s, which featured charter members, Keith Levene and Jah Wobble. Comparisons have always been made, and probably always will be, but with nearly 40 years passing since then, in tandem with the fact the new PiL band members have remained consistent since John Lydon resurrected Public Image Ltd nearly a decade ago, this new incarnation can be considered its own valid entity now, complete with its own unique sound.

Like most new releases, numerous listenings are required before making objective commentary, and such is the case for Public Image Ltd’s new release What The World Needs Now… After one run-through, it may not sound as John Lydon claimed it would be prior to its release: “My best work ever!” Repeated plays indicated that perhaps Mr. Lydon’s assessment was correct however.

What is remarkable about this album, and what makes it an improvement over its predecessor, This Is PiL, is how well thought out and well-crafted the tracks are. The band plays with real gusto, musical segues are potent, and more so than ever, this version of Public Image Ltd has reached its zenith. Lead guitarist, Lu Edmonds, shines with his multitude of stringed instruments, while bassist Scott Firth and drummer Bruce Smith provide the familiar thunderous rhythm section. But as good as the instrumentation is, the high-point of this release is the lyrics and their delivery. Replete with 4-letter words from start to finish, Lydon is in fine form here. John’s words evoke those of the halcyon days of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd's First Issue, but are now evolved and relevant to the modern times in which they were written. The best example of this is the final track, ‘Shoom’, which also can be considered the highpoint of the album. In what would appear to be an intentional decision, this is the only song where the band pretty much plays the same few notes over and over like a loop with little variation as the background to Lydon's exceptionally confrontational lyrics. This technique emphasizes the already powerful words even further. On this particular track the F word is used to great effect. They are not gratuitous, but rather, give the thoughts behind them the potency they require. The last two words delivered at the end of the track make for the perfect coda to all that has gone before. Suffice it to say these lyrics finish what the title began: What The World Needs Now... ("is another F-up").

What The World Needs Now… kicks off with the single, Double Trouble, and the album version of this track will never get airplay. It's simply too top-heavy with obscenities, which makes the last track, ‘Shoom’ (at least on a lyrical level), the perfect reprise. But again, the usage of the F word is never invoked in a gratuitous manner, or shock for the sake of it. Taken in context, they can be both hilarious, dead-serious, or both. Only a puritan would not laugh out loud when hearing them used this way, and only the infamous John Lydon could have pulled this off. In between, he is at his confrontational best: angry, satiric, ironic, clever, and more often than not, makes more relevant social commentary about the state of affairs in the world today than ever before. The track, ‘Corporate’, is the perfect example of this.

Throughout, Lydon weaves his potent word-play seamlessly into the instrumentation to the point where they blend to perfection. Together, the already great lyrics and melodies become more than the sum of the parts. If the vocal acrobatics weren’t present, the power of these songs would be lost. Conversely, without Edmunds, Firth, and Smith, the words would lose their punch.

Overall, this is a very cohesive and perfectly executed album. My only complaint is that it is almost too perfect; slickly produced, which yields a deep and full sound experience, but will probably sound better live as a straight-up vocalist, two guitarists, and a drummer act. Public Image Ltd is the perfect example of a band that indeed does sound better live than in the studio. Certainly that was the case with this album's predecessor, This Is PiL. The live versions of that album’s tracks, featured on the bonus DVD, were superior to the studio versions. In summary, I would recommend this album to long-time fans and newcomers alike. The former will be more than satisfied that Public Image Ltd is still evolving and surpassing previous albums, while the latter may find this release to be something of a revelation with its fresh and in your face impact. While it is true Lydon released no new music between 1997 and 2012, this album is indeed his best work in over 30 years.


Karajan: Notes on a Career
Karajan: Notes on a Career
by Robert C. Bachmann
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hatchet job, 5 April 2015
What a wretched book written by a man who was once a pupil and admirer or Herbert von Karajan. After a falling out with the conductor, Robert C. Bachmann attempts to get his revenge via this hatchet job, bending over backwards to misrepresent Karajan's so-called association with the Nazis at every turn. The conductor was no friend of the Nazis, but rather, joined the party in 1935 to further his career (at a time when the future atrocities were unimaginable to Karajan or any German living there during Hitler's reign at that time). As a matter of fact, Hitler did not like Karajan, openly criticized his Wagner interpretations, and Karajan's ability to conduct in Germany during the later war years was extremely limited as a result even though Bachmann relentlessly and erroneously states his way was smoothed by the tyrant. Additionally, Karajan married a woman of partial Jewish descent, which needless to say, did nothing help matters. Bachmann ignores these facts and his book focuses instead on hearsay and second-hand misinformation to make his invalid points. No bibliography is provided of course. Furthermore, there isn't a page in this book that isn't packed with tedious, gratuitous and unrelenting negative adjectives to further bash his subject (greedy, diminutive, power-mad, selfish, blah, blah, blah). Making matters worse, Bachmann never, ever, not even once acknowledges Karajan had even so much as a modicum of musical talent, but rather, states his popularity was nothing more than self-created hype or being in the right place at the right time.

The book also contains other made-up details, such as the exact weather conditions in Salzburg on a certain morning over 100 years ago, how Karajan felt "shivered" when hiking on another certain day, and so forth. I guess this nonsense was inserted to flesh out a book already short on facts. Perhaps worst of all, is Bachmann's psychoanalysis of Karajan based on the most ridiculous of source material. For example, Karajan once described himself as physically "weak" compared to his older brother as would probably be true of most younger brothers. So what does Bachmann make of that? Through perhaps the most contorted "logic" I have ever read in my entire life, Bachmann claims this proves Karajan clung to his mother, which in turn made it likely he had homosexual tendencies. Seriously?!!! Self-important clowns like Bachmann lose all credibility when they psychoanalyze people from afar and based on nothing (like the obnoxious, so-called "Doctor" Keith Ablow). Despicable. If Bachmann's intent weren't so malevolent, it would be laughable.

This book was exposed for the fraud that it is by Richard Osborne in his most excellent biography Karajan, A Life In Music. I cannot recommend that title highly enough. It is written by someone who personally knew Karajan and was sympathetic to his character; however, the book is written in a truly objective manner, complete with some uncomplimentary details. Yes, Karajan was no saint, but certainly not a monster as portrayed by the author of the currently reviewed title.

The liner notes state: "Bachmann's book is destined to become the definitive study of this most controversial of conductors." Oh really? Shortly after it was published, it went out of print, while the above mentioned epic biography (800+ pages) by Richard Osborne remains the go-to biography of one the greatest conductors of the 20th Century (and has always been in print). At the time of this writing, a used copy of Bachmann's trash can be had for £1.83, which should go a long way to dispel the theory that it is "the definitive study". By the way, the asking price is £1.83 more than it is worth... less than that actually... you would have to pay me to read/endure it again.


Lou Reed: Metal Machine Music
Lou Reed: Metal Machine Music
Price: £15.12

5.0 out of 5 stars Nuanced cover version (recorded in 2012), 5 April 2015
While in a CD store recently, I discovered and purchased a copy of another acoustic Zeitkratzer-transcribed Metal Machine Music, newly recorded in 2012 and now featuring all four tracks, each clocking in at the original 16 minutes, 1 second per track as it did on the original vinyl double album. The original cover version from 2002 was much closer to the original (very harsh) and also featured Lou Reed on part 3 (which of course made it a big bonus); however, this new one is far more nuanced, gentler and almost musical, but is still fully recognizable as Metal Machine Music. It truly sounds more "composed" than any other version and reveals new details not heard on any other version. This is probably due to the fact that each instrument is clearly individually identifiable versus the wall-of-noise on the previous edition. It is so gentle in fact, it treads far closer to ambient versus the earlier cacophonous version.

For those few who have always appreciated Metal Machine Music, this version is distinctly different compared to the original and original cover versions; so much so in fact, it merits a place on your CD rack. And now more than ever, it further proves that Metal Machine Music was not made just to get out of a contract, but was a valid work of art. The fact that it could be transcribed for acoustic instruments makes this fact quite plain. For those who deny MMM as nothing more than a contract-breaker, I would play this version for them as proof there always was and still is real musical content contained within this composition.


Lament
Lament
Price: £11.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Very different for Einstürzende Neubauten (and very good!), 5 April 2015
This review is from: Lament (Audio CD)
Excerpted from the description of Lament on Einsturzende Neubauten's website:
The album version of LAMENT should be heard as a studio reconstruction of a work primarily designed to be performed live, rather than an official new Einstürzende Neubauten LP proper. In truth, the piece can only be fully realised, as well as best experienced, in its physical embodiment, performed on or by founding member Andrew Unruh's gigantic instruments and noise generating devices that visually evoke the horrors the work describes or embeds in the sounds they conjure from the filth and terror of the industrialised 20th century world at war with itself.

This description had me oscillating with regards to purchasing this album as the description makes it sound as if as if something would be missing. Well, assuming Einstürzende Neubauten's comments on their own release is true (and there is no reason not to), something indeed must be absent. That said, this fact cuts both ways. Although I do not know what Lament would be like visually, the resulting audio portion of it certainly ranks this as one of Einstürzende Neubauten's most experimental, inventive and quite different release from any other to date.

The album begins so softly, I had to check the volume control to see that it was actually playing, but soon enough, the percussion cacophony of the piece rises to the forefront. This is perhaps the noisiest track on what is otherwise, a very gentle Einstürzende Neubauten release. Another unusual feature of this album is the preponderance of English lyrics versus EN releases of the past. Of the 12 tracks, 3 are fully in German, while a few others are strictly instrumental. However, the majority of the vocal works on Lament are in English. Of these mainly English tracks, some have a few lines in German thrown in, but again and overall, there are more English lyrics on this album than on any Einstürzende Neubauten release to date. Needless to say, this makes the album more accessible for those who cannot speak or understand German and probably a contributing factor to what makes it so likable to my English-only ears. Perhaps the high-point of Lament is the track entitled, "How Did I Die?" which is very typical and instantly recognizable as Einstürzende Neubauten.

In case you have not gathered by now, this is a very different Einstürzende Neubauten album... softer than most with a considerable amount of word-play. In one case, the names of the countries involved in World War I are chanted to great effect, while national anthems are delivered on another. Even though EN's disclaimer about the audio portion of Lament's inability to portray the full effect of the work, it certainly works as an audio-only release. In fact, it is an excellent Einstürzende Neubauten release overall. While this album would not be the one I would recommend to newcomers to EN as it does not reflect their more typical works, it has enough going for it to be well-received by listeners with ears capable of appreciating something different.

In summary, I found it to be so refreshingly different (and just plain entertaining), I had to give it 5 stars. I hope a video version of Lament will be scheduled for release someday to be able to get the full effect (whatever that might be).


Transformer: The Lou Reed Story
Transformer: The Lou Reed Story
by Victor Bockris
Edition: Hardcover

1.0 out of 5 stars FICTION (based on a true story), 5 April 2015
The author clearly dislikes Lou Reed and paints him in a very bad light. That's fine. From what I've read over the years, Lou Reed was not the nicest person in the world. That said, Brokris relentlessly compares Reed to reptiles within the covers of his book and frequently utilizes other similar and ridiculous similes. Was that necessary to make your point, Victor? There are ways of portraying an unsympathetic character without name-calling, which this book too frequently relies upon. Oh, so Lou Reed is "lizard-like" eh? He must be a bad man.

And it gets worse... made up quotes abound within the covers of this book. Bockris frequently puts quotes around statements supposedly made throughout Lou Reed's career. Thing is, how would he know what was said behind closed doors between Reed and his friends and acquaintances at Syracuse University in 1962? How can you quote a college friend when said friend died long before this book was written? Certainly, Reed himself did not provide Bockris with these lines. Needless to say, all of the quotes further paint Reed in a bad light, but since the sources are not given, one can only conclude these were made up by Bockris to further his agenda of discrediting Lou Reed. On my "favorite" page, Bockris states in December of 1971, Reed was a "chubby 30-something" and later on that same page, "fat" ...hmmm... for starters, Reed was 29-years-old in 1971 and photographs from that time indicate he was as thin as ever. There is so much made-up crap in this book that if there are indeed some actual facts included, one would never know. You cannot trust a word. Even if Bokris was right, what does Reed's age and weight have to do with his music?

There are also other numerous inaccuracies. One of countless examples is with regards to the Scepter version of the first Velvet Underground album, which Bockris states was the exact same version that was eventually released on Verve records. Such wasn't the case, but Bockris doesn't seem to care too much about getting it right. Instead, this book is nothing more than an attempt to sensationalize Lou Reed's career and if facts get in the way, he makes up his own. FYI... the Scepter version of The Velvet Underground and Nico album had multiple alternate takes and mixes, but why bother doing the research, right, Mr. Bockris? Obviously he never heard the Scepter version, so why he did comment on it when he had no idea?

Yet another complaint: This book gives an uninformed reader the impression that Lou Reed was a pretty talentless individual overall. The first two Velvet Underground albums were only good because of the collaboration with John Cale... the second two because of manager, Steve Sesnick... Transformer because of David Bowie... Rock N Roll Animal because of Steve Hunter... ad nauseum. Seriously Victor?! It never crossed your mind that these famous albums had something else in common that had nothing to do with collaborators? They were all Lou Reed albums.

I was going to give this trash 2 stars because it is fun to read. Victor Bockris is a fine fiction writer. The name-calling, totally made-up quotes and numerous inaccuracies makes Transformer nothing more than a fiction. So I almost gave it 2 stars for entertainment value, but couldn't in the end because the lies (one or more per page x 400+ pages) are just too numerous to justify it. This is truly an awful book. Unfortunately, some of the previous reviewers took it seriously.

Also unfortunate is the fact that there is not so much as one recent, detailed and unbiased account of Lou Reed's career available. Most, including this garbage, date to the 1990s and none really seem to get it right. That even includes the ones that gush over Reed, heaping praise and hiding the warts. That's not good journalism either. There's a new book entitled "Lou Reed: The Life" published 2 months after his death which indicates the thing was an apparent rush job to capitalize on Reed's recent death. Perhaps someday someone will pen a fair and comprehensive title regarding what was perhaps the most important musical career of the 20th century.


Lou Reed: The Biography
Lou Reed: The Biography
by Victor Bockris
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars FICTION (based on a true story), 5 April 2015
The author clearly dislikes Lou Reed and paints him in a very bad light. That's fine. From what I've read over the years, Lou Reed was not the nicest person in the world. That said, Brokris relentlessly compares Reed to reptiles within the covers of his book and frequently utilizes other similar and ridiculous similes. Was that necessary to make your point, Victor? There are ways of portraying an unsympathetic character without name-calling, which this book too frequently relies upon. Oh, so Lou Reed is "lizard-like" eh? He must be a bad man.

And it gets worse... made up quotes abound within the covers of this book. Bockris frequently puts quotes around statements supposedly made throughout Lou Reed's career. Thing is, how would he know what was said behind closed doors between Reed and his friends and acquaintances at Syracuse University in 1962? How can you quote a college friend when said friend died long before this book was written? Certainly, Reed himself did not provide Bockris with these lines. Needless to say, all of the quotes further paint Reed in a bad light, but since the sources are not given, one can only conclude these were made up by Bockris to further his agenda of discrediting Lou Reed. On my "favorite" page, Bockris states in December of 1971, Reed was a "chubby 30-something" and later on that same page, "fat" ...hmmm... for starters, Reed was 29-years-old in 1971 and photographs from that time indicate he was as thin as ever. There is so much made-up crap in this book that if there are indeed some actual facts included, one would never know. You cannot trust a word. Even if Bokris was right, what does Reed's age and weight have to do with his music?

There are also other numerous inaccuracies. One of countless examples is with regards to the Scepter version of the first Velvet Underground album, which Bockris states was the exact same version that was eventually released on Verve records. Such wasn't the case, but Bockris doesn't seem to care too much about getting it right. Instead, this book is nothing more than an attempt to sensationalize Lou Reed's career and if facts get in the way, he makes up his own. FYI... the Scepter version of The Velvet Underground and Nico album had multiple alternate takes and mixes, but why bother doing the research, right, Mr. Bockris? Obviously he never heard the Scepter version, so why he did comment on it when he had no idea?

Yet another complaint: This book gives an uninformed reader the impression that Lou Reed was a pretty talentless individual overall. The first two Velvet Underground albums were only good because of the collaboration with John Cale... the second two because of manager, Steve Sesnick... Transformer because of David Bowie... Rock N Roll Animal because of Steve Hunter... ad nauseum. Seriously Victor?! It never crossed your mind that these famous albums had something else in common that had nothing to do with collaborators? They were all Lou Reed albums.

I was going to give this trash 2 stars because it is fun to read. Victor Bockris is a fine fiction writer. The name-calling, totally made-up quotes and numerous inaccuracies makes Transformer nothing more than a fiction. So I almost gave it 2 stars for entertainment value, but couldn't in the end because the lies (one or more per page x 400+ pages) are just too numerous to justify it. This is truly an awful book. Unfortunately, some of the previous reviewers took it seriously.

Also unfortunate is the fact that there is not so much as one recent, detailed and unbiased account of Lou Reed's career available. Most, including this garbage, date to the 1990s and none really seem to get it right. That even includes the ones that gush over Reed, heaping praise and hiding the warts. That's not good journalism either. There's a new book entitled "Lou Reed: The Life" published 2 months after his death which indicates the thing was an apparent rush job to capitalize on Reed's recent death. Perhaps someday someone will pen a fair and comprehensive title regarding what was perhaps the most important musical career of the 20th century.


Transformer: The Complete Lou Reed Story
Transformer: The Complete Lou Reed Story
by Victor Bockris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.43

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars FICTION (based on a true story), 5 April 2015
The author clearly dislikes Lou Reed and paints him in a very bad light. That's fine. From what I've read over the years, Lou Reed was not the nicest person in the world. That said, Brokris relentlessly compares Reed to reptiles within the covers of his book and frequently utilizes other similar and ridiculous similes. Was that necessary to make your point, Victor? There are ways of portraying an unsympathetic character without name-calling, which this book too frequently relies upon. Oh, so Lou Reed is "lizard-like" eh? He must be a bad man.

And it gets worse... made up quotes abound within the covers of this book. Bockris frequently puts quotes around statements supposedly made throughout Lou Reed's career. Thing is, how would he know what was said behind closed doors between Reed and his friends and acquaintances at Syracuse University in 1962? How can you quote a college friend when said friend died long before this book was written? Certainly, Reed himself did not provide Bockris with these lines. Needless to say, all of the quotes further paint Reed in a bad light, but since the sources are not given, one can only conclude these were made up by Bockris to further his agenda of discrediting Lou Reed. On my "favorite" page, Bockris states in December of 1971, Reed was a "chubby 30-something" and later on that same page, "fat" ...hmmm... for starters, Reed was 29-years-old in 1971 and photographs from that time indicate he was as thin as ever. There is so much made-up crap in this book that if there are indeed some actual facts included, one would never know. You cannot trust a word. Even if Bokris was right, what does Reed's age and weight have to do with his music?

There are also other numerous inaccuracies. One of countless examples is with regards to the Scepter version of the first Velvet Underground album, which Bockris states was the exact same version that was eventually released on Verve records. Such wasn't the case, but Bockris doesn't seem to care too much about getting it right. Instead, this book is nothing more than an attempt to sensationalize Lou Reed's career and if facts get in the way, he makes up his own. FYI... the Scepter version of The Velvet Underground and Nico album had multiple alternate takes and mixes, but why bother doing the research, right, Mr. Bockris? Obviously he never heard the Scepter version, so why he did comment on it when he had no idea?

Yet another complaint: This book gives an uninformed reader the impression that Lou Reed was a pretty talentless individual overall. The first two Velvet Underground albums were only good because of the collaboration with John Cale... the second two because of manager, Steve Sesnick... Transformer because of David Bowie... Rock N Roll Animal because of Steve Hunter... ad nauseum. Seriously Victor?! It never crossed your mind that these famous albums had something else in common that had nothing to do with collaborators? They were all Lou Reed albums.

I was going to give this trash 2 stars because it is fun to read. Victor Bockris is a fine fiction writer. The name-calling, totally made-up quotes and numerous inaccuracies makes Transformer nothing more than a fiction. So I almost gave it 2 stars for entertainment value, but couldn't in the end because the lies (one or more per page x 400+ pages) are just too numerous to justify it. This is truly an awful book. Unfortunately, some of the previous reviewers took it seriously.

Also unfortunate is the fact that there is not so much as one recent, detailed and unbiased account of Lou Reed's career available. Most, including this garbage, date to the 1990s and none really seem to get it right. That even includes the ones that gush over Reed, heaping praise and hiding the warts. That's not good journalism either. There's a new book entitled "Lou Reed: The Life" published 2 months after his death which indicates the thing was an apparent rush job to capitalize on Reed's recent death. Perhaps someday someone will pen a fair and comprehensive title regarding what was perhaps the most important musical career of the 20th century.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 8, 2015 7:39 AM BST


Waiting for the Man: The Life & Career of Lou Reed
Waiting for the Man: The Life & Career of Lou Reed
by Jeremy Reed
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.91

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best book on Lou Reed, but..., 5 April 2015
There are a lot of books about Lou Reed on the market today and 90% are trash. They fall into 3 categories:

[1] Suck-ups and nothing but praise, and therefore, invalid because they do not objectively cover the their subject matter.

[2] Books written to cash in Reed's recent death. The perfect example of this is "Lou Reed: The Life" by Mick Wall. With a mere 200 pages, this 2-month deadline-driven nonsense was slapped together as fast as possible while interest remained high subsequent to the death of its subject, but contains little more than what can be found with simple Google research (probably how it was written). A career as complex as Lou Reed's cannot be condensed into anything meaningful in 2 months flat. I responded to a rage-filled comment (calling it a masterpiece) for my review of this book stating: "Masterpieces are not ad-libbed in 8 weeks. Meanwhile, [the] 5-star review was written by someone who only reviews Mick Wall books. You do the math." In other words, this person was either Mick Wall's wife, or Wall himself.

[3] Hatchet jobs and the ultimate example of this is:"Transformer: The Complete Lou Reed Story" by Victor Bockris. Excerpts from my review should reveal it's intent: "Brokris relentlessly compares Reed to reptiles within the covers of his book and frequently utilizes other similar and ridiculous similes. Was relentlessly referring to him as "lizard-like" necessary to make your point, Victor? There are ways of portraying an unsympathetic character without name-calling ("reptile" or "fat" and so forth), which this book too frequently relies upon.Bockris frequently puts quotes around statements supposedly made throughout Lou Reed's career. Thing is, how would he know what was said behind closed doors between Reed and his friends and acquaintances at Syracuse University in 1962? How can you quote a college friend when said friend died long before this book was written? Certainly, Reed himself did not provide Bockris with these lines. Needless to say, all of the quotes further paint Reed in a bad light, but since the sources are not given, one can only conclude these were made up by Bockris to further his agenda of discrediting Lou Reed." This book was packed with lies to further Bockris' agenda.

There really are no perfect books about Lou Reed and this is probably the result of the fact that Reed himself was generally hostile towards journalists and did not easily give up details about his life, with the exception of some of autobiographical lyrics for his music. That's where this currently reviewed title comes in. It is probably the only and best way to write a biography about Lou Reed that avoids the Google rip-off of Mick Wall's trash and the out-right lies of Reed-hater, Victor Bockris. Instead, "Waiting for the Man: The Life and Career of Lou Reed" by Jeremy Reed (no relation) attempts to use Reed's actual musical output as the basis of this biography along with some commonly available facts sprinkled in the bring it all together. Does this strategy work? Well yes, mostly so anyway.

I have followed Lou Reed's career since my first Velvet Underground album, "White Light / White Heat" which I purchased in 1968. But for the first time ever, after reading this book, I came to realize just how much Reed's albums did indeed reflect his life at the time they were released. The author does an admirable job of making this scenario work. While it is not encyclical (as I doubt any Lou Reed biography could be due to reasons given above), strictly utilizing Reed's works as a basis for a biography has its pitfalls based on the fact that much of his lyrics were based on fictional characters, however, Jeremy Reed takes the overall tone of the albums to base his commentary on. And again, for the most part, it works. As a result, Reed's early life on Long Island is only briefly covered, and fortunately, half of the book is not devoted to The Velvet Underground's history. That information has always been available in countless titles, none better than Ritchie Unterberger's "The Velvet Underground: Day by Day" (the best VU book ever written) and most fans don't need to read yet another rehash of those events.

This non-encyclical aspect of Jeremy's title is not meant to be a complaint about the book, but rather, to explain its unavoidable limitations. As far as it comes to actual drawbacks with regards to this title, I found it to be too brief. For example, "Metal Machine Music" which Jeremy apparently regarded as merely an anomaly, therefore is only given a few pages of coverage. And as a previous reviewer stated, there are indeed quite a few typos. But that is merely a quibble since proofreading is generally performed by the publisher and not the author. Additionally, it is pretty easy to understand the meaning of a sentence that contains a typo. For example, when listing VU members, John Cale is written as "Clale" but it's pretty easy to recognize that Clale = Cale.

On the plus side, again, the author's intent does succeed for the most part. With what I've learned about Lou Reed over the course of the past half century, I found Jeremy Reed's observations to ring true. The reader does pretty much get Lou Reed's state of mind throughout his life by following Jeremy Reed's comments about the time-frames in which the albums were written. Another plus is the objectivity of the book. Unlike the useless suck-up biographies and/or the hatchet jobs, this book comes closer to the real Lou Reed more so than another title. Yes, there is praise, but the warts are not hidden either. Translation? Genuinely objective.

In summary, I gave this book a 4-star rating for the (mainly unavoidable) deficiencies outlined above, albeit I do not blame the author for these omissions. Additionally, I thought his opinions concerning some specific Reed albums to be way too harsh, and in some cases, point-blank wrong. All that said, it was/is the best on Lou Reed ever written, or ever likely to be, based on the difficulties involved in writing a biography on such a difficult person to pin down enough to write a definitive study. Also, this is the first time I read a book that attempted to write a biography based on the subject's work... a very interesting way to go about it considering how tight-lipped the subject was about himself during his lifetime. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about Lou Reed versus all the BS all of the other books on Lou Reed suffer from.


Search For Absolute Zero (Cd+dvd)
Search For Absolute Zero (Cd+dvd)
Price: £15.45

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Search For Absolute ZeRo (& Commercial Zone 2014), 5 April 2015
Keith Levene's musical career began (or at least came to the public eye) as a founding member of The Clash. From there, he became a founding member of Public Limited Ltd (PiL), a musical "corporation" that also featured John Lydon (Johnny Rotton), Jah Wobble, Keith Levene, and a revolving door of various drummers in its early incarnation. After Levene left subsequent to the "Flowers of Romance" album in 1983, PiL's sound changed so radically, it really should have been renamed The John Lydon Band. Subsequent to "Flowers of Romance" two versions of what was to be the next PiL album were released. The first was Levene's version: "Commercial Zone" while Lydon's version was entitled: "This Is What You Want, This Is What You Get". These make it quite obvious exactly what Levene's contributions were to PiL. His version was far superior to Lydon's. In fact, Lydon's version was the absolute nadir of PiL's catalog while Levene's semi-legal, self-released version, would have become a recognised classic PiL album had it received better distribution and promotion.

That first paragraph was merely to explain Levene's origins and to set up what he brought to the table with regards to PiL. I understand that nearly 30 years later, there is still extreme bad blood between all of the original members. I am not going to comment on that, nor will I compare Levene's solo work to PiL's since then. Honestly, I like and listen to both (although Levene's output, while sporadic, is obviously far more complex and never sounds dated). The problems these former band members is between them and is out of the scope of a review for the currently reviewed title.

Levene waited 6 long years since his tenure with PiL to release his first album, Violent Opposition. Herein, one is first introduced to how great an influence he had on the original PiL sound. It is a really strong outing and I highly recommend it anyone: PiL fans and to those who never even heard of them. This album is still valid after all of these years. While I previously stated I would not make comparisons, it also far outshined contemporaneous PiL material. On the PiL titles, you always knew what the next note would be as they were typical 1980s rock and roll releases and now sound dated to the time in which they were released. With Levene however, you don't know what's coming next. And perhaps even more importantly, you cannot even tell when it was first issued because it timeless (and I mean that as praise). Subsequently, a very long time (15 years) elapsed before Levene's next solo work appeared: a way too short, 16-minute EP entitled Murder Global. While only having 5 short tracks to base this commentary on, it was a quantum leap from Violent Opposition in that it was even more timeless. Other than one true anthem rock track, Killer In The Crowd, it is difficult to categorize it.

Now that the set-up is complete, here's the actual review of Search For Absolute ZeRo (SFAZ), or things you needed to know to understand my commentary on this release. (FYI... I spelled the title as it is actually printed on the CD cover... it was not a typo). I made the point in the previous paragraph that Murder Global was a tough one to drop into any category. Well with SFAZ, it is even more difficult. While many of category elements are present on this title, none fit it enough to comfortably drop it in the rock section of your local music store. It doesn't fit in any other section either (although admittedly, it is closer to R&R than all of his other albums). That said, it's like it is it's own category and that is a very, very good thing. You really do not know what to expect next from track-to-track. And like its predecessors, it really sets Keith Levene apart from John Lydon's and Jah Wobble's work in that it far more innovative. And it also indicates yet again that Levene was the true "heart and soul" of the original PiL. After listening to his work solo work by comparison, the listener can really discern his contributions to PiL, or what made the original version of that band so innovative and essential. On the currently reviewed title, he even managed to pull off a 10+ minute "Interview with Tony Dale" into something, that unlike most spoken word tracks, only work once. Music from early PiL albums "back" the interview in a way that makes it relentlessly entertaining.

In a way, this review is also meant to set up more commentary on his latest release, a self-funded (via his supporting, contributing fan-base) album, which unfortunately is not available through Amazon. Google "Commercial Zone 2014" (CZ2014) to find out how to download it (the only way it is currently available). More so than any previous release, this title truly is the most uncategorisable of them all. Herein, on this mainly instrumental album, countless musical genres are present, in tandem with Levene's unique take on music in general wherein no category can possibly fit. It ranges from a point-blank anthemic rocker entitled Call It A Day to classical: Clowork Orange (and everything, including the indescribable in between). I don't know if an album has ever been released that offers as much diversity as CZ2014 does. It is so different from anything that has gone before by Levene (or anyone else for that matter), it makes it difficult to review because there are no reference points to compare it to. It can be played as "background" music and generally ignored while playing, or you can pay rapt attention to it to hear complexities you've probably never been exposed to before. It's really that good. And if I worked in a CD/record store, I would have a tough time finding the genre section to put it in, albeit probably rock so people who mainly associate Levene with PiL and R&R could find it.

Keith Levene is not probably, but rather is (with "is" italicised if possible in this Amazon format) the most under-appreciated, unknown musical talent/genius alive today. His full command of the instruments he uses, in tandem with his parallax view of music in general, makes him truly unique among all musicians. Disparate elements (various instruments) oft times are playing different motifs, but somehow, Levene pulls them all together into one perfect masterpiece after another. While I hope he does not "sell out" and form a band to make more ordinary music, here is a guy who could do just that and make himself very famous in the process. Oh yeah, one more thing: Keith Levene is best guitarist alive today. His playing transcends all who have gone before and takes it into realms undreamed of until he did.
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