Lou Reed Solo

Message Bookmarked
Bookmark Removed
He's released 20+ albums on major labels, including one rock opera, one Edgar Allen Poe re-telling, one album that almost everyone hated (Metal Machine Music), and one live album that is now considered "comedy" where he was clearly on drugs (Take No Prisoners). He had one minor Top 40 hit and his records don't sell well. And yet, he is always able to do exactly what he wants. How did this happen? How does one major label after another give Reed a blank check?

Mark (MarkR), Monday, 4 October 2004 15:12 (fifteen years ago) link

he's a fucking pro

Loose Translation: Sexy Dancer (sexyDancer), Monday, 4 October 2004 15:27 (fifteen years ago) link

His albums are cheap to produce (most of them are recorded live in-studio, with minimal overdubs and post); he has a fairly well-off middle-aged fan base; he's a living classic and thus a "presige singing" for any label.

joseph cotten (joseph cotten), Monday, 4 October 2004 15:38 (fifteen years ago) link

In all this time he's had two gold records, for Rock'n'Roll Animal and New York. No platinum.

Mark (MarkR), Monday, 4 October 2004 15:44 (fifteen years ago) link

He's lucky he got in right before record sales went through the roof in the 70s. Dylan never sold much, either.

Loose Translation: Sexy Dancer (sexyDancer), Monday, 4 October 2004 15:54 (fifteen years ago) link

Dylan never sold much, either.

um, not counting compilations and catalog stuff, he's made three albums in the past decade. two have gone gold and one went platinum. and his catalog continues to sell quite well. and his records are probably relatively cheap to make. even if he wasn't dylan, any label would be extremely happy to have him. plus, he IS dylan.

fact checking cuz (fcc), Monday, 4 October 2004 16:51 (fifteen years ago) link

maybe compared to his son's band that sold 14M right off the bat.
but if we're talking about cultural value, Dylan outsells em all.

Loose Translation: Sexy Dancer (sexyDancer), Monday, 4 October 2004 17:05 (fifteen years ago) link

Dylan has more than 20 albums that have at least gone gold.

Mark (MarkR), Monday, 4 October 2004 17:52 (fifteen years ago) link

I found it interesting that after so many years Patti Smith finally left (or was made to leave) Arista, after decades of Clive Davis ass kissing. But unlike Lou she's at least had a few songs that got some regular radio play.

Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Monday, 4 October 2004 18:11 (fifteen years ago) link

RCA stuck with Lou much longer than they did Bowie, who probably sold similar numbers in the U.S. while they were label-mates. Bowie never had a gold record in America until Let's Dance, his first album after leaving Nipper.

briania (briania), Monday, 4 October 2004 18:13 (fifteen years ago) link

According to the RIAA website, Bowie had several gold albums before Let's Dance, starting with Ziggy Stardust in 1974.

o. nate (onate), Monday, 4 October 2004 18:17 (fifteen years ago) link

They don't distinguish US sales vs. other sales though, so those are probably for combined numbers.

o. nate (onate), Monday, 4 October 2004 18:18 (fifteen years ago) link

Those might be from catalog sales -- my factoids are recalled from way back in the day when RCA dropped him.

briania (briania), Monday, 4 October 2004 18:32 (fifteen years ago) link

I think he might be popular with the kind of people who run record labels, i.e. wealthy aging record geeks. But cotten raises good points: His albums probably all still turn a small profit given how inexpensive they would be to make + they bring favourable critical attention.

sundar subramanian (sundar), Monday, 4 October 2004 21:31 (fifteen years ago) link

and one live album that is now considered "comedy" where he was clearly on drugs

Take out the "live" part and that sums up pretty much all of Lou's output in the 70s, bless 'im

Dadaismus (Dada), Tuesday, 5 October 2004 09:22 (fifteen years ago) link

Both Young Americans and Station To Station were big hits in the States, weren't they?

Jonathan Z. (Joanthan Z.), Tuesday, 5 October 2004 10:23 (fifteen years ago) link

My Lou Discog (that I own)

Metal Machine Music
Take No Prisoners
Transformer (CD)

That's also the chart (for me) inasmuch as most played...

mark grout (mark grout), Tuesday, 5 October 2004 10:26 (fifteen years ago) link

New York sold pretty well, didn't it? But it's the prestige thing, I think. You get more slack if you're a legend.

jimet, Tuesday, 5 October 2004 11:36 (fifteen years ago) link

Those might be from catalog sales

Couldn't be - because they were certified gold not long after they came out.

o. nate (onate), Tuesday, 5 October 2004 12:57 (fifteen years ago) link

His albums probably all still turn a small profit given how inexpensive they would be to make + they bring favourable critical attention.

So, basically, he is the Woody Allen of rock.

joseph cotten (joseph cotten), Tuesday, 5 October 2004 12:58 (fifteen years ago) link

Well "Growing Up In Public" is exactly what Woody Allen would sound like if he was rock star

Dadaismus (Dada), Tuesday, 5 October 2004 12:59 (fifteen years ago) link

New York is what an Alan Alda album would sound like. Ho ho ho, cackle at "the Statue of Bigotry" line repeated approximately 8 million times throughout the record! Marvel in awe at the "Beginning Of A Great Adventure" where he drools about/over his new kid! FUCK OFF DRIED IGNEOUS ROCK-FACED BUFFOON!!

Metal Machine Music is the sexiest album ever made, mark you.

Marcello Carlin, Tuesday, 5 October 2004 13:49 (fifteen years ago) link

Both Young Americans and Station To Station were big hits in the States, weren't they?
I'm sticking by my story that Bowie was a commercial dog for U.S. RCA - the Billboard article I remember gave actual sales figures, and they were all below 500,000, with only Station to Station even approaching that figure. RCA's implication was, IIRC, that they had devoted Elvis-level promo to a relative disappointment.

briania (briania), Tuesday, 5 October 2004 14:12 (fifteen years ago) link

Yes, well, we all know that sales are the only thing that count. All those huge-selling acts from the '70s we remember so well...Debby Boone, Hamilton Joe Frank & Reynolds, Captain & Tennille, Melissa Manchester, Starland Vocal Band, Mike Love...

Marcello Carlin, Tuesday, 5 October 2004 14:17 (fifteen years ago) link

"Looking Back with Love" was a big seller? There is some justice in the world after all!

Dadaismus (Dada), Tuesday, 5 October 2004 14:21 (fifteen years ago) link

Apparently "Kokomo" outsold all the Wilson-penned BB singles put together.

Marcello Carlin, Tuesday, 5 October 2004 14:33 (fifteen years ago) link

Once the Beach Boys were asked to play a Vietnam vets benefit gig, but Joan Baez was top of the bill. "We can't go on stage with her!" Love exploded. "She's a fuckin' Commie!"

Marcello Carlin, Tuesday, 5 October 2004 14:35 (fifteen years ago) link

Now if only he'd said, "We can't go on stage with her! She's fuckin' shit!" he'd be a hero.

Dadaismus (Dada), Tuesday, 5 October 2004 14:37 (fifteen years ago) link

Steering back somewhat towards topic, one of the reasons the major labels held onto "prestige" acts so long back in the 70s is that there were so many old workhorses (Fleetwood Mac, Steve Miller, Boz Scaggs) who eventually scored big. It never happened with Reed, but it did with Bowie - just one album too late.

briania (briania), Tuesday, 5 October 2004 15:22 (fifteen years ago) link

Bowie was dropped by RCA? I thought his contract was up and he decided to go elsewhere. He had a great contract with RCA as well - retaining the rights to his master tapes was a smart and, eventually, very lucrative move on his part. How many times has his back catalogue been reissued now?

Reed moved from RCA to Arista in 1976, and then back to RCA again in 1981 until 1986. His albums may not have all been massive hits, but he had a solid fanbase which insured that his albums would sell X number of copies. He enjoyed a certain amount of success with Transformer, Rock and Roll Animal, Coney Island Baby and Sally Can't Dance during his initial RCA run, and then with New Sensations and possibly Mistrial during the second run (the videos for "The Original Wrapper" and "Video Violence" certainly received a lot of airplay here in Canada). When he left RCA the first time, he was in debt to them for $700000, so they must have seen some potential for profit to sign him again five years later. It was also about this time that The Velvet Underground was finally beginning to receive some recognition for their influence on modern musicians and their albums began to appear in print again in the USA. So the VU "legend" may have played a part in his re-signing to RCA (or not being dropped during this time), but it certainly wasn't helping him shift units in the US in the mid 1970s. There was no VU Legend in the 1970s.

What is it that labels see now? It must be The Legend. I doubt he will ever duplicate the success of New York. I can't stand the way he sings now and thus can't rate his last few albums (the VU live 93 album was the last straw), so your guess is as good as mine.

Also, the RIAA only logs US sales innit? The labels don't care about international sales because they aren't making the profits.

Kent Burt (lingereffect), Wednesday, 6 October 2004 05:33 (fifteen years ago) link

four years pass...

I am kinda diggin Rock n Roll Heart tbh

This Board is a Prison on Planet Bullshit (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 10 April 2009 19:47 (ten years ago) link

That's my favourite one, dude!

To Float Away On A Lifelong Song (Bimble), Friday, 10 April 2009 19:49 (ten years ago) link

The line about New Wave films is batshit awesome.

I'm crossing over into enterprise (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 10 April 2009 19:49 (ten years ago) link

the lounge jazz version of Sheltered Life is endearing

This Board is a Prison on Planet Bullshit (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 10 April 2009 19:50 (ten years ago) link

lou's faux populism is so good it's almost not faux. R&R Heart always has me thinking, "yeah, i don't like opera and ballet either! yeahhhh."

tylerw, Friday, 10 April 2009 19:53 (ten years ago) link

is this the same band as on Coney Island Baby...? It bears some sonic similarities, although this one gets a little more left-field with some of the distorted guitar tones and processed vocals, and the songs are simpler and lighter in general.

fwiw I do not like opera or ballet either lolz

This Board is a Prison on Planet Bullshit (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 10 April 2009 19:54 (ten years ago) link

Yeah, that whole album is just killer. The one "Ladies Pay" about the ladies who miss their men at war especially gets me every time. And the piano! Oh god.

To Float Away On A Lifelong Song (Bimble), Friday, 10 April 2009 19:55 (ten years ago) link

not sure if it's the same band as Coney Island -- i don't think so? maybe some of the same dudes. But yeah, this one does have some odd production choices. The superfuzz guitar on the title track is fun.

tylerw, Friday, 10 April 2009 19:55 (ten years ago) link

^^^yes Ladies Pay! good stuff

Banging on a Drum rhythm track is fairly insane, was not expecting that from Lou

This Board is a Prison on Planet Bullshit (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 10 April 2009 19:56 (ten years ago) link

I'm thinkin the drummer in particular sounds like the same guy... I should just look it up

This Board is a Prison on Planet Bullshit (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 10 April 2009 19:57 (ten years ago) link

ah. yes. the rhythm section + keyboardist are all the same

This Board is a Prison on Planet Bullshit (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 10 April 2009 19:59 (ten years ago) link

yeah ... innaresting that lou plays all the guitar on R&R Heart, apparently?

tylerw, Friday, 10 April 2009 20:01 (ten years ago) link

let's take a minute to pay trib to this dude: http://www.iridescentmusic.ca/fonf.html

tylerw, Friday, 10 April 2009 20:06 (ten years ago) link

what is it about old men and terrible hawaiian shirts

This Board is a Prison on Planet Bullshit (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 10 April 2009 20:10 (ten years ago) link

maybe it's just something that happens to you, you know? like you wake up one day and you've got nothing but hawaiian shirts in your closet. and it feels good.

tylerw, Friday, 10 April 2009 20:12 (ten years ago) link

Yeah I think Hawaiian shirts are cool, actually, especially on older men.

To Float Away On A Lifelong Song (Bimble), Friday, 10 April 2009 20:58 (ten years ago) link

but... you're onstage, not on vacation!

This Board is a Prison on Planet Bullshit (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 10 April 2009 21:04 (ten years ago) link

love these shirts
http://z.about.com/d/classicrock/1/0/I/9/velvetundergroundc.jpg

tylerw, Friday, 10 April 2009 21:07 (ten years ago) link

someone told me that tai chi album he made was surprisingly decent ambient

d20 riot tard (M@tt He1ges0n), Friday, 10 April 2009 21:08 (ten years ago) link

umm it's ok? i mean, i'm not sure if i'd be super into it if i didn't know it was Lou Reed. but because i know it is him, I AM SUPER INTO IT. to a certain extent. I bought the fucking thing, anyway.

tylerw, Friday, 10 April 2009 21:09 (ten years ago) link

wow, thanks for that link - great piece!

"if you remember too much, you weren’t there"

niels, Wednesday, 19 September 2018 16:25 (one year ago) link

What could be more Lou Reed than insisting on the super-realism of live binaural recording, adding a bunch of mismatched overdubs, and then claiming the resulting sound is exactly what he'd wanted?

Brad C., Wednesday, 19 September 2018 16:34 (one year ago) link

its own dull, flat sound

I can listen past the production. The arrangements and playing are great.

stan in the place where you work (morrisp), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 16:58 (one year ago) link

The drum sound is great too, actually.

stan in the place where you work (morrisp), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 16:59 (one year ago) link

Good article!

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 16:59 (one year ago) link

I find the debut's sound crisp rather than dull but I also listen to a fair bit of stuff recorded & played by muso dudes whose absolute ideal is clarity over color. to me the sound of the electric guitar on "I Love You", that intro figure, is one of the most memorable musical choices in Lou's discography - as soon as I think of it, I hear it in my head & love it.

she carries a torch. two torches, actually (Joan Crawford Loves Chachi), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:18 (one year ago) link

think my main problem with the debut is the backup singers, they sound kinda lame. otherwise, i think it's a solid record!

tylerw, Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:26 (one year ago) link

yes it is! "Turn To Me" is easily in my top ten

― sleeve, Wednesday, September 19, 2018 9:25 AM (fifty-five minutes ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

i love the way this song is just the riff suspended in empty space for the first two verses. it's a really good riff. album has a lot of really good riffs

princess of hell (BradNelson), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:27 (one year ago) link

i realllly love "fly into the sun"

princess of hell (BradNelson), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:33 (one year ago) link

"What Becomes a Legend Most" sounds like he's going for a Paul Young pastiche and it works.

So many good melodies on New Sensations jfc

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:37 (one year ago) link

Just wanted to say I'm not entirely convinced by Tom's assessment of Sterling Morrison's capacity as a guitar player. Obviously, the Velvets applied restraints to themselves in how they played (like Sterling is clearly restricting himself to a particular tessitura in what I assume is his six and a half minute solo in "I'm Gonna Move Right In").

I'd actually like to have a clearer view of what he and Lou do on guitars throughout those records but that's obtainable by more close listening and playing along.

timellison, Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:43 (one year ago) link

there's another article linked somewhere else on ILM that I can't find right now that has another account of the recording process, people involved complaining about all these heads on poles littering the studio etc.

Think the other article might have been the same article, linked here: In Praise Of...Lou Reed "Take No Prisoners"

Harper Valley CTA-102 (James Redd and the Blecchs), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:45 (one year ago) link

xp there's a great quote by Mo (I think, could be Yule also) somewhere about how Lou and Sterling swapped their solos on any given night according to some inscrutable internal logic

sleeve, Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:45 (one year ago) link

I'd actually like to have a clearer view of what he and Lou do on guitars throughout those records but that's obtainable by more close listening and playing along.

i pretty much know who's doing what — any specific songs?

tylerw, Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:47 (one year ago) link

I can usually distinguish Reed and Morrison. Usually.

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:48 (one year ago) link

Not who's doing what but more like chord voicings, methods of plucking, how they approached solos, gear, etc.

timellison, Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:49 (one year ago) link

We've talked about this before but, yes, their lead sound/styles are totally different - even their rhythm playing is quite distinct.

Zach Same (Tom D.), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:50 (one year ago) link

"How in the world were they makin' that sound?/Velvet Underground"

timellison, Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:51 (one year ago) link

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAXYW-Bft5A

sleeve, Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:57 (one year ago) link

(Phil Milstein, from the quasi-bootleg What Goes On 3CD on Australian Raven label)

sleeve, Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:57 (one year ago) link

I can listen past the production. The arrangements and playing are great.

I don't think the arrangements or playing are great - it's true they are on "I Love You" though. I like the album btw!

Zach Same (Tom D.), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:58 (one year ago) link

even their rhythm playing is quite distinct.

Well...I don't see how the guitar on "Lady Godiva's Operation" sounds unlike a Morrison part.

timellison, Wednesday, 19 September 2018 18:02 (one year ago) link

Maybe not in every single song!

Zach Same (Tom D.), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 18:05 (one year ago) link

Ha, that was the first one I checked...

timellison, Wednesday, 19 September 2018 18:10 (one year ago) link

Adding my thanks to Shakey for the link - I just got up early and stretched out breakfast listening to Street Hassle and reading it, I don't think I've enjoyed the start of the day quite so much in a while.

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 21:18 (one year ago) link

lmao @ mistrial

princess of hell (BradNelson), Thursday, 20 September 2018 23:33 (one year ago) link

you're payin' a price where there's no price to pay
love is trust
no money down

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 20 September 2018 23:40 (one year ago) link

YET

"Tell It To Your Heart" is a classic.

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 20 September 2018 23:41 (one year ago) link

yeah that song and "outside" are really good

princess of hell (BradNelson), Thursday, 20 September 2018 23:48 (one year ago) link

thought you were going to say "Mama's Got a Lover"

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 20 September 2018 23:50 (one year ago) link

lol i nearly did admit that i like that "the original wrapper" exists in lou reed's discography

princess of hell (BradNelson), Thursday, 20 September 2018 23:54 (one year ago) link

The video jukeboxes are-a
playin Madonna

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 21 September 2018 00:00 (one year ago) link

I've never heard "Mistrial". I consider myself a Lou Reed fan too. Shame on me.

Zach Same (Tom D.), Friday, 21 September 2018 00:01 (one year ago) link

before the streaming age you could 99-cent copies on Amazon

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 21 September 2018 00:03 (one year ago) link

No doubt!

Zach Same (Tom D.), Friday, 21 September 2018 00:03 (one year ago) link

wow even Discogs has nothing below $2.99 plus shipping, still too much!

sleeve, Friday, 21 September 2018 00:06 (one year ago) link

Mistrial >>>>> Berlin

I love how Mistrial gets dismissed most often for "dated production" when fucking Bob Ezrin's despair-on-mothballs arrangements don't scream the seventies, and the songs suck.

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 21 September 2018 00:10 (one year ago) link

Now, you've gone too far.

Zach Same (Tom D.), Friday, 21 September 2018 00:18 (one year ago) link

The currents rage so deep inside us
This is the age of video violenc

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 21 September 2018 00:22 (one year ago) link

mistrial is up there with take no prisoners as his funniest record

princess of hell (BradNelson), Friday, 21 September 2018 00:28 (one year ago) link

the best video ever
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiyX70ZqsVQ

an incoherent crustacean (MatthewK), Friday, 21 September 2018 00:28 (one year ago) link

mistrial is up there with take no prisoners as his funniest record

"Growing Up In Public" is a hoot too.

Zach Same (Tom D.), Friday, 21 September 2018 00:29 (one year ago) link

Mistrial >>>>> Berlin

I think the time is ripe for an "Alfred's 80s records challops" thread

and I wish that it be a cheerful thread

niels, Friday, 21 September 2018 06:46 (one year ago) link

I thought this was that thread?

Preferring Mistrial to Berlin isn't a challops. A B or B- is a better grade than a C+ or C.

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 21 September 2018 11:04 (one year ago) link

I meant for a thread to include more artists than Lou!

niels, Friday, 21 September 2018 11:30 (one year ago) link

idk i can't agree with alfred on berlin, outside of the arrangements all the songs on it seem v well written to me

princess of hell (BradNelson), Friday, 21 September 2018 12:04 (one year ago) link

the (relatively) recent concert movie was v rewarding

niels, Friday, 21 September 2018 12:50 (one year ago) link

I don't know Mistrial apart from the two singles, which are OK. But Berlin is an album I've lived with all my teen/adult life and means an awful lot to me, melodramatic orchestration and all. I hadn't realised until recently though that half the tracks were recycled from VU days. It's amazing that he was recycling VU tracks right up to Street Hassle and maybe beyond.

Listening to the eponymous 1972 album right now and it's sounding pretty good, albeit sort of Loaded II

Zelda Zonk, Friday, 21 September 2018 13:35 (one year ago) link

^Right?

growing up in publix (morrisp), Friday, 21 September 2018 14:38 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

I suppose Street Hassle's ranking might uh rankle.. It's not much beyond the great title track.

TikTok to the (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 7 October 2019 01:08 (one week ago) link


You must be logged in to post. Please either login here, or if you are not registered, you may register here.