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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 3 April 2000
Although it has been a while since Lou Reed graced us with a new album, it has definitely been worth the wait. This album is everything for some people and something for everyone. Reed's lyrics once more prove that Mr. Reed is a true American poet. No-one writes like Lou Reed and no-one confuses as well as he does. Ecstacy contains 14 songs - ballads and pure rage, love and drug-filled despair. Listening to the album is truly like going to a movie, or reading a good book. I not only recommend to everyone to buy this album, I also recommend that you buy all of Lou Reeds albums. Not always great, but only the complete work of this man, gives you an insight into what a great writer he is. Enjoy Ecstacy. Enjoy Lou Reed.
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This edition of the 1999 album Ecstasy includes a second disc, a live album recorded at a festival in London.

The mid-tempo rocker Paranoia Key of E opens the album, closer to his talking than his singing style, a love song of dreams & nightmares. On the next, Mystic Child, he sings! Impressive guitar work with stylistic shifts, an urgent beat and passionate vocals make it great.

Mad, about domestic strife, has an interesting, jazzy arrangement, whilst the title track, contrary to its title, is a subdued number in slow tempo, giving impressions of New York with some personal reminiscences. Another song in this style is Tatters - poetic lyrics but not much of a tune.

Modern Dance is a ballad, mostly tender but containing highly melodic segments with driving guitars over a lilting beat. As the song progresses, lovely backing vocals join in to make it sublime. The fierce Future Farmers of America blazes like a comet over the hitherto mostly quiet landscape. Once again Lou sings, the guitars roar and the melody is gripping and memorable.

Then comes one of Reed's most delicate and melancholy songs, Turning Time Around. This one is in the league of Perfect Day and Satellite of Love. What a magical composition with its tender tune, stirring lyrics and sensitive delivery! O by the way, it's about how to properly designate love & mentions Harry, family, lust and the heart's hieroglyphic.

Rock Minuet is a tour de force, a sort of short Street Hassle for the late 1990s. Laurie Anderson contributes electric violin on this sordid biographical tale of woe. After that, Baton Rouge is a welcome return to normality even though it deals with marital strife, whilst Rouge is a melancholy one-minute instrumental with Laurie again on electric violin.

Like A Possum is something else - all 18 minutes of it. Perhaps, like the aforementioned Rock Minuet, it's an updated Street Hassle. The guitars groan, wail and whine as Lou sings of the hole in his heart as huge as a truck. The disc concludes with the roaring rocker Big Sky.

The second disc is a semi-acoustic live set where he employs an unusual device on his guitar. The sound tends to the subdued side and the song selection is refreshing, including some delightful obscurities. There's the The Velvet Underground classic I'll Be Your Mirror and early Reed like Perfect Day plus a determinedly grim version of Vicious.

The Kids & Berlin from the album of that title stand out, as do the powerful Dirty Boulevard. Other remarkable performances are New Sensations, The Original Wrapper, Coney Island Baby and a song previously unknown to me, titled Into the Devine. Ecstasy is a five-star album whilst the live one merits four. These two albums are highly recommended for fans of Mr. Louis Reed, debonair New York poet & musician.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 October 2010
By which I mean he won`t release another album as good as this (if he does indeed release anything ever again). It`s a brilliant work of art, at times thrilling; less overtly political than the much-heralded "New York" and less sentimental than "Set The Twilight Reeling" and frankly, less disturbing than "Magic and Loss". It`s the Lou Reed album I return to most of all. It has big rock songs, even sing-along choruses ("Big Sky")! It has acutely observed songs about deteriorating relationships ("Mad", Tatters" and the sublime "Baton Rouge"). It has some social commentary ("Future Farmers of America", "Rock Minuet"). And unlike any other record in history, it has an eighteen-minute epic, with a relentlessly unchanging tempo, the possibly semi-autobiographical eye-opener that is "Like A Possum" (the nearest explanation I can come up for it is the guy from Lou`s fantastic "Street Hassle" has somehow got to his 60th birthday, and this is his story). What I hope this review illustrates is that this is quite probably Lou Reed at his very best. The mixture of songs, styles and emotions is really quite incredible, and I`m sure anyone interested in intelligent music will appreciate this.
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on 24 August 2008
Lou Reed has had an uneven career overall. Needless to say, it certainly started with a big bang (The Velvet Underground) and there is not dud in the bunch.

His solo career is another matter however. While mostly on the positive side of the fence, there have been disappointing knock-offs wherein it is obvious that Mr. Reed did not put much effort into the projects or where it just didn't work for whatever reason. Some releases that come to mind is his first self-titled solo album and Sally Can't Dance (wherein Lou Reed himself admitted that he wasn't really there; just adding the vocals to previously recorded instrumental tracks). Later misfires include Mistrial and Set The Twilight Reeling.

Then there were the misunderstood albums; specifically, Metal Machine Music, and more recently, Hudson River Wind Meditations. These are actually excellent, experimental works that many who wanted to hear the Rock 'N Roll Animal over and over again just don't get. The Raven may or may not fall into this catagory. It's either a great album or a pretentious effort to add to his already secured legacy. You decide.

Finally, the masterpieces, of which there are plenty. To name a few: Coney Island Baby, Street Hassle, The Blue Mask, New York, and Ecstasy, the summit of Lou Reed's long career. As was the case with all his great albums that have gone before, Mr. Reed is in fine form on this greatest of all releases, bringing to the recording studio his ability to write lyrics that are really true poetry, backed with the distinctive Lou Reed sound that only he can create.

Virtually all of the songs feature Mr. Reed's best lyrics to date, with Rock Minuet standing out as one of the most intense listening experiences of all time. No one else in the musical industry could have pulled this off. It's Lou Reed's territory alone.

Some may complain of the length of Possum Day, while not getting the significance of a very long, somewhat repetitive track that harkens back to his roots with The Velvet Underground (i.e.: Sister Ray). Indeed, to have such a long song for the first time since the Arista years was more than welcomed.

Musically, this is one of the strongest releases as well. It features that distinctive Lou Reed sound that only seems to occur every five years or so these days. Certainly in the league with VU records and the other masterpieces mentioned above. The songs are well-crafted and the playing is as good as it gets.

Overall, lyrically and musically, this is Lou Reed's best album to date. So good in fact, that it may never be equaled again. Ecstasy is to be recommended to both long-standing fans as well as to newcomers as it is so good, it will certainly have them coming back for more.

In summary, I realize nobody is reading this review in that it is being written 7 years after its original release. At this point, either you own Ecstacy or you don't and never will. But let's get the record straight: despite the numerous duds, overall Lou Reed was, is and will be a greater influence on rock and roll than any other artist. The likes of Madonna and Britney Spears at best will be footnotes in some future music history books, while Lou Reed will get his own chapter.
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on 27 May 2000
This album is a grown-up rock album which tackles big themes. The music is classic Lou Reed with clear guitars one minute and big heavy guitars the next. 'Baton Rouge' is a song about wasted opportunities and love turning to hate, all in a kind of parallel domestic life Lou Reed never lived. 'Tatters' is a beautiful and soulful song about relationships which builds up to a wonderful ending. The opening track, 'Paranoia Key of E' is a ripping guitar and drums piece with poetic lyrics over the top. Surprisingly, there is no self-pity or false emotion to be found on this album. One of his best.
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Here we go again. Never write Lou Reed off. By now, well into his sixties, he should be slipping into his musical pipe and slippers. However, Reed, on 'Ecstasy', shows no signs of entering his creative dotage, preferring to whack up the guitars and crafting a diverse, captivating collection that doesn't break too much new ground but represents an artist defying the years. Songs such as the title track, 'Rock Minuet' and the moving 'Tatters' are up there with the best of his solo work. Certainly, the dreamer in me likes to visualise how these songs would've sounded with the Velvet Underground, but in Lou's hands, these songs still sound more than fine. Give it a bit of time, and you'll love it. I certainly do...
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More vintage stuff, he still has it. If you liked any of his recent albums you will like this. Well up to the standard of New York and Twilight. And beautiful clean production values.
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on 24 January 2013
I have just played my way through all Lou's studio albums. I was surprised how strong this is. The use of brass gives it a soul undercurrent and Lou's voice and lyrics give it a real emotional edge. It really isn't quite up there with career classics like Berlin, Magic and Loss and New York but its a fine record full of musical ideas and lyrical challenge
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on 12 April 2000
Great, just great. 1st few seconds, rumbling bass then a raw cranked 3 chord riff of pure fuzzed up dirty Lou Reed patented guitar and we're off. Paranoia Key Of E, great lyrics, great tight loud sound stripped right down. Next song he's managed to get down to just the 1 chord but its still quintessential Lou genius. The production is immense; it sounds like they are in the room playing live in front of me. No let up in quality all the way in here, Lou picking apart the debris of his personal relationships histories, and holding them up to the light warts and all. The title track is the highpoint, slow and moody great support from Tony Smith on the drums. Like a Possum is 17 minutes of bleak grinding guitar undertow that even Neil Young would baulk at but hey it seems like it's only been going a few minutes when my cd display tells me it's at the 13 minute mark. This is as good as New York and Magic and Loss which is high recommendation indeed. In fact imagine if every song on Set The Twilight reeling had been as good as Riptide. Ecstasy is that album...
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on 3 April 2000
Okay, this is a straight-out-of-the-box-and-on-to-the-player review. Just one listen and hit the pc. This is one barmy album. Unlike 'New York' or 'Berlin' or 'Transformer', there is no consistent 'sound'. Many of the tracks could have been lifted from different albums. At times, Lou is at his mellowest, at times his heaviest (almost metal-machining his way through one track!) Ah, but the horns. Soulful, sublime. This album is ridiculous. Got to play it again.
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