Lou Reed: Words and Music, May 1965 Album Review

By | September 17, 2022

It is an archivist’s dream: someday, dusting a nook desk, you uncover extra of the previous, asleep on a shelf. After Lou Reed’s dying in 2013, Laurie Anderson commissioned Don Fleming and Jason Stern to look by the 1000’s of tapes, photographs, letters, memorabilia, bar tabs and bank card receipts that made up the Reed’s inventive life. And there, hidden behind artwork books, was a weathered package deal made out to Lewis Reed in pale blue ballpoint pen. The handwriting was Reed’s and the deal with was that of his dad and mom’ residence at 35 Oakfield Ave. The postmark was Could 11, 1965 – the date of the primary legendary and never-before-seen recording periods between Lou Reed and his then new pal, John Cale.

As a result of actual life usually detracts from the cleanliness of archives, the small, spindly demo recordings which have escaped from the packaging have been not, actually, made this classic day. Nonetheless, the songs from the long-lost tape seize the beginnings of John Cale and Lou Reed’s creative partnership. Right here you will discover the earliest recognized renditions of future classics similar to “I am Ready for the Man”, “Pale Blue Eyes” and “Heroin”. Reed mailed them to himself with a notarized signature as a type of “poor man’s copyright”, an inexpensive and efficient method to show that the songs on the tape had been certainly his.

In different phrases, Lyrics and music captures Reed simply as he was starting to take himself severely as a songwriter. “Phrases and music by Lou Reed,” he intones at the beginning of every efficiency, his deadpan concealing the slightest trace of shy pleasure. As demos usually are, these recordings are naked bones and unadorned: solely Cale and Reed harmonize over rapidly strummed acoustics and a hissing harmonica. They sound extra like a people duo than the unholy terror of a rock band they may quickly develop into.

On every monitor, Cale and Reed are heard happening a fishing expedition, looking for the darkish and indomitable spirits that might quickly occupy their songs. They knew they had been there, however they solely discover them intermittently. These builds are mild and sneaky and easy; generally they fail to even faucet you on the shoulder. nothing on Lyrics and music redefines or amplifies the legend of Reed. As an alternative, what we get is {a photograph}, austere and charming. For an artist recognized for his chilly and merciless observations, for his slicing remarks and his diversions, these recordings present him fully free from trickery. Lewis Reed, unattended.

There isn’t a higher illustration of this than within the two included variations of “I am Ready for the Man”. The primary model opens the set. You hear Cale and Reed harmonizing in a approach they’ve by no means finished once more – no twisted notes, no howls, no giggles, Reed’s voice turning into an honest-to-God yodeling. They sound just like the Weavers or the Kingsmen, and the slouch that Reed would work so arduous to excellent is nowhere in sight. The second model is much more offbeat, with a innocent clippity-clop knocked out on the hole physique of the guitar, and the harmonies much more muffled. This narrator would not actually look sick and soiled, extra useless than alive, and there isn’t any risk, no risk, to the road “Hey white boy/Whatcha doing uptown?” You may see by the swagger of the track right down to his fragile, bird-like bones.