I think with 'Take No Prisoners' Lou ultimately sold himself short. I have a few bootlegs from the tour this live CD was taken from and they show Lou to be in fine form, given a abrasively driven performance backed by his great jazz/soul influenced band. Unfortunately he decided to release this live performance from the Bottom Line Club which turns out to include a number of stretched out songs with Lou giving a series of frankly irritating monologues which may appear quite amusing on a first or second listen but doesn't retain much interest once the novelty has worn off. As with his studio album from this period 'Street Hassle' i can't help feeling Lou's primary concern is to make a grand statement (maybe as a result of punk). It's unfortunate because had he released a much more structured album where he just performed the songs straight (like a few of those bootlegs) we may have been talking about a potential Lou classic.
Lou Reed released several live albums in his career- 'Rock and Roll Animal' had him fronting a slick and brutally effective band metalling up Velvets classics, 'Lou Reed Live' did the same for his solo stuff; later, his great early eighties band were celebrated on 'Live In Italy', and then he did the underrated 'Perfect Night', and then 'Animal Serenade'. 'Take No Prisoners' is probably the most wayward of Reed's live efforts. Recorded with his late seventies band who come across almost as a Lounge Act, 'Take No Prisoners' has Reed rip up his back catalogue in a hailstorm of speed freak jive, non-vocal meanderings and some amusing twists and turns. A reviewer at the time described him on this album as the 'Lenny Bruce of Rock and Roll', and there is something of that free-associating and rambling quality throughout this album. If you want a solid, entertaining and relatively undemanding Live Lou Reed album, get 'Live In Italy', if you want something more stimulating musically, get 'Animal Serenade', but if you want something that regularly wanders off in entertaining other directions, get this. The version of the Velvets 'Pale Blue Eyes' has none of the melancholy beauty of the original, but this version has a storming sax solo, and Reed really over-eggs the vocal rather brilliantly. 'Berlin' is great here, too, and the version of 'Sweet Jane' is pretty cool.
Also, a word about the recording: it's a Stereo Binaural Sound recording, and the feel and mix is quite unlike any other Lou Reed live album. Invest with caution, and you won't want to listen to it all the time, but there are times when only this will do!
I love this album. It was something a friend played to me years ago (on vinyl) and that I didn't track down again until recently.
Back then Lou Reed was making hit singles, like Walk on The Wild Side (limited to the length of `hit records', of course) but on this album you will hear a hilarious 14 minute deconstructed version that includes a droll monologue explaining the context, the source of the lyrics and more - all over this fantastic band.
Apparently these New York sets used to go on for hours, but don't think of any kind of monotony (Velvet Underground sound, say) as the band and backup singers produce a wide range of `feel' and sensitive variations, great control of dynamics, as well as head-butting rock when they let rip.
This live set has a theatrical feel, like a cabaret, with Lou talking and joking between and during numbers, dealing with hecklers, etc, so you don't just get songs but a whole performance which puts you right in the live environment. Unlike a lot of `live' albums where bands run through their usual repertoire, then overdub and remix, etc - this has a raw electric atmosphere, the real feel of a live show in a small environment, no stadium rock sound.
I say that because I only ever saw Lou Reed live once, in a roman arena (think Coliseum) in Verona, and although he did a great set, he didn't do a lot of talking between numbers to an Italian audience.
This captures Lou at his very best, in my opinion. I only wish I had been in that audience!
Lou Reed and live music fans alike should love this album . A mixture of bluesy laid back , lets get jamming , with the crowd and backing singers involved at first hand . Lock yourself in a dark smokey room and turn the volume up and you are there - Not , I fear the most technically advanced album , either in the recording or the set but what you will get is the REAL feel of Lou Reed in one of his most laid back moods . 'I Wanna Be Black ' is in my opinion the best song on this album being the one song that defines the feel and being there on the night . Without a doubt any self respecting Lou Reed / Velvet fan should have this in their collection . Likewise , if you are a fan of live music you are in for a treat .
I bought this on double vinyl back in lord knows when (1981?), listened to it and took it to a second hand record shop. I've only done this twice in 30 years. I was a fan and remain a fan to this day. This is Reed destroying his back catalogue as only he knows how and, I suggest, one for completists only. Buy 'Live 1969' instead because it is one of the best records (yeah, I bought it pre-CD) ever. Bar none.