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Customer reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
64
Berlin
Format: Audio CD|Change
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 October 2012
Looking back, it really is mystifying to me as to why the critics panned this 1973 album. I suspect that, following the relatively conventional rock/pop approach Reed adopted for Transformer, they just couldn't appreciate (or understand) such a grandiose orchestral concept as Berlin, even though its principal subject matter remained the hitherto Reed obsessions of drugs, doomed relationships, depression and death. It is, though, interesting to note that Berlin was much more successful in the UK than the US, just reinforcing my no doubt bigoted view that we Brits have more discerning musical tastes! Having said this, this view appears to be contradicted by the fact that Bob Ezrin (who Reed employed in a masterstroke to produce Berlin) had achieved equivalent success (using a similar production approach) with his star performer Alice Cooper across the pond.

One cannot, of course, detract from Reed's overall concept and songs that made up Berlin (even though a number were actually reworked versions of earlier Velvet Underground songs), but, in my mind, Ezrin's touch also pervades the album, from its sense of dynamics to its (at times) lush orchestral sound. Nowhere is this felt more obviously than on songs such as the vibrant Caroline Says I, the ironically lush sounding Oh, Jim (with its superb acoustic conclusion - a version of the Velvet's Oh Gin) and the sombre melodic brilliance and subtle instrumentation featured on The Bed. Production aside, Reed had also assembled a veritable British supergroup for the album, including the powerhouse rhythm section of Jack Bruce on bass and Aynsley Dunbar on drums (who are notably outstanding on - my favourite album track - Men Of Good Fortune, Caroline Says I and How Do You Think It Feels), together with Steve Winwood on keyboards. Reed also employed guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner for the album, who went on to excel on his later (more conventional, but still brilliant) live album Rock 'n' Roll Animal.

Berlin is, though, perhaps best known for the (much covered) superb acoustic ballad Caroline Says II, a devastatingly powerful song in which the heroine (no pun intended) of his 'opera' laments on her tragic lot of drug addiction and physical abuse. This is a song which, for me, stylistically follows his Transformer masterpieces Walk On The Wild Side, Satellite Of Love and Perfect Day, as well as the Velvet's Femme Fatale and Sunday Morning. Surprisingly, perhaps, the album actually ends on a relatively positive note (musically, at least) with the superbly lyrical Sad Song, which is another mega-production number from Mr Ezrin. The only point where Berlin overdoes the theatrics for me is the infamous children crying interlude on the otherwise suitably sombre and poignant The Kids.

As an overall concept, Berlin is a bravely uncompromising depiction of a key social problem and contains much brilliantly vibrant music to boot.
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on 11 February 2018
Very tragic and sad album yet one of my favourites.
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on 23 June 2017
A very honest and dark album which is very beautiful as the honesty pulls you in ..
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on 16 March 2013
I last listened to these tracks as far back as the late 1970's, when I had the vinyl record (stolen). It still evokes the same feelings in me today.

You need to listen to the words and concentrate to appreciate the tracks; none are just background noise; all are worth a quiet moment, probably on your own in a dark room to take the words and music in. 'The Kids' (taking the children away) still makes me sit and think just how cruel some things are. 'Caroline Says' 'The Bed' 'Sad Song' are all great tracks.
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on 6 January 2018
Great album
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on 13 March 2013
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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on 16 November 2015
Highly under rated at the time this is probably Lou Reed's finest album
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on 19 September 2017
Perfect
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on 14 January 2016
I have this on vinyl, although the content is rather disturbing I love his voice.
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on 15 July 2016
A brutal, dirty, dark and funny soundtrack to a film never made, a love story set in 70s Berlin that takes you on a journey. A work of epic beauty and violence. Utterly devastating.
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