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Transformer

Lou Reed

1972

David Bowie took Lou Reed under his glam-rock wing and produced his 1st good solo record of the 70s.  Notice I said "good" because it is not quite great, in spite of having one of my personal favorite songs of all-time on it ("Walk On The Wild Side").  The rest of the album is pretty solid from start to finish.  It's got that early 70s glam rock sound to it, thanks in large part to Bowie obviously.  It compliments Lou's style for the most part, but most of the album is fairly subdued and occasionally quite corny.  Nothing really edgy or raw going on here, but Transformer has it's own distinct style nonetheless.  Overall pretty good, although slightly overrated if you ask me.

8.4

Coney Island Baby

Lou Reed

1976

Lou Reed's solo career was pretty hit-and-miss.  He put out a lot of albums, and because it's Lou Reed we're talking about, his understated, monotone, and at times corny style resulted in a lot of very average records.  While Transformer was certainly a good album, Coney Island Baby has always been my personal favorite Lou Reed record.  His albums proceeding CIB were really playing up his decadent transvestite-junkie persona, or just being outright horrible on purpose (Metal Music Machine).  But Coney Island Baby sounds like the first sincere album Reed had put out since his Velvet Underground days.  He sounds like a new man here, he sounds sober, cleaned-up, honest, more mature.  Sure, there's still songs about S&M, murder, drugs, etc (take the awesome "Kicks" for example), but for the most part, Lou is concentrating on making a high-quality, listenable, enjoyable rock-and-roll album here.  Coney Island Baby certainly delivers on that front.  Not only that, but the album has a certain warmth to it, a smoothness.  It's got a soothing quality to it.  It's chill.  It's easy.  It feels good. 

Listening to Lou Reed is kind of a state of mind.  You have to have the right mindset to get it.  Lou Reed has a uniquely detached, street-smart style to his music.  It's music for spending the day exploring the city, running errands, etc.  It's walking in the city music, taking the train music, taking the bus music.  By yourself.  It's music for city walkabouts basically, or at least it is to me.  Lou Reed's music is for all those folks rocking it solo in the city, making their way through the crowded streets, doing their thing, and Coney Island Baby is my favorite album for those occasions.

8.9

Street Hassle

Lou Reed

1978

Most of this album sounds like shit, but it's gritty, hungover, druggy, street-wise shit…"Dirt" is so bad it's good, and the title track is definitely a classic…one of Lou's last decadent 70s albums.

7.7

The Blue Mask

Lou Reed

1982

Seems really over-rated to me…although it starts out pretty good, it becomes a bit to bland and monotonous after the first handful of songs...aside from a few good songs, nothing to get too excited about really.

7.2

Legendary Hearts

Lou Reed

1983

What you would expect an 1983 album by Lou Reed to sound like, but maybe a little better…I actually like it a bit more than the Blue Mask.

7.3

New York

Lou Reed

1989

It's a shame that it took the death of the late, great Lou Reed for me to finally pull the trigger on New York.  I knew this was a critically acclaimed album of his, but prior to his death I was slowly working my way through his very hit-and-miss 70s and early 80s albums in chronological order, and understandably ran out of steam around Legendary Hearts.  Anyway, I guess I was satisfied with finding the gem of an album that Coney Island Baby is, and perhaps was naively convinced that it was Lou's best solo record, but after repeated listens, it's becoming increasingly clear that New York was in fact Lou's best solo record.  Not only is the music probably better here, the songs have much more variety to them, but this is also Lou's best album lyrically since his VU days.  In fact, for a Lou Reed record, there's really nothing on here particularly corny sounding.  I say that affectionately, because I love Lou's corny-moments, but Lou is actually saying some shit on this record, and not just street-smart junkie shit, political shit, topical shit.  It's an intelligent record with a lot of lyrical depth, and the music has an extra endearing quality to it.  Coney Island Baby was endearing too, but New York sounds a lot sharper and wiser.  And did I mention most of the songs are actually quite immediate and infectious?  It's hard to argue that New York does not sport the best set of songs on a solo Lou Reed record...ever probably.  So I guess this is the new king of Lou Reed's solo records for me, but since I've said that before, I'd best start listening to albums that came after this one before I truly give it the official crown.  Put it this way: it's the best solo Lou Reed album I've discovered yet, and I've discovered a lot of them...not just a good Lou Reed album, but rather a great Lou Reed album.

9.0

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