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Lou Chronicles Part Two: Lou Goes Wild
on 2 June 2012
Part two in which Lou leave RCA and signs up with Arista. As with the first box, the chronology is slightly adrift in that the double set Live: Take No Prisoners came out after Street Hassle. Due to length it's still a double CD so I can see why it's left out, but it's unfortunate because it's a crucial part of this period in which Lou released some of his most challenging and uncompromising work.
Here's the low down:
* Rock n Roll Animal: Left over from the first box and one of the albums non Lou fans tout. Louie pulverises his Transformer and Berlin songs into proto metal. The Sweet Jane intro is sublime and the point where THAT riff comes in is priceless, but the rest of it I can live without. As is common, you get the remaster with a couple more tracks added.
* Rock n Roll Heart: The first LP of the Arista tenure and one that's since fallen between the cracks. Plenty of parping saxophones, some VU left overs - Follow The Leader, Sheltered Life - and a curiously under rated set. It has a jazz groove running through it and is none the worse for it. Not saying you'll play it much, but even when Lou wasn't firing on all cylinders he was still a nose in front of the competition.
* Street Hassle: This is the killer, where Lou really turned up the heat. There's more punk attitude here than in the whole of the young pretenders school of 78 dissertation. You have to hear it to believe it, Lou turns on everyone including himself on the opening Gimmie Some Good Times ("hey, if it ain't the old Rock and Roll Animal himself. What you doin' bro?). Too many stand outs to list, but the title track is mesmerising and features a cameo from Bruce Boss. I Wanna Be Black takes racial awareness to a new level of coarse humour - like an aware Bernard Manning. Recorded, as was the Bells, using the Stereo Binaural System (whatever that was). Listen to the retooled live I Wanna Be Black on the NYC Man compilation for an idea of how it should have sounded.
* The Bells: In which our Lou teams up with Nils Lofgren to produce a confusing and puzzling set - Stupid Man, Disco Mystic anyone? Time reveals it's charms and there's still an edge there. The title track has a nod to the Murder Mystery as far as lyrical obliqueness goes but its swell nonetheless. One for the fans.
* Growing Up In Public: In which Lou comes of (middle) age. Recently hooked up with Sylvia, Lou grows up and gets kind of boring. This isn't bad, but you get the impression that Lou's playing the game, that he's in bed for 10:00 and that he's behaving himself. The cover got rated by Rolling Stone as one of the worst ever. It figures. And even the SBS system had been dumped.
Is it worth it? Yes, but unlike the first set it's not one for curious bystanders. This is Lou for those who want to get the real wild side.
Usual replica sleeves and outer slip case; cheap but functional.