Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Later Works Of...Lou Reed

Everyone knows Lou Reed - the seminal fathers of all things indie rock The Velvet Underground, and then his early solo albums like Transformer & Berlin that regularly make those Mojo-esque "best albums of all time" polls, but I've always been fascinated by the part of his career between the glam-junkie era and then re-invented "thank god I've finally become hip again" New York era when he was just an embarassing middle-aged bloke with a guitar and a mullet.

In the 10 years between his last critically acclaimed album Street Hassle and the aforementioned "return to form" of New York, Reed released six studio albums that pretty much bombed or were ignored by the critics - punk had happened, dance music was the new thing and 80's studio techniques meant that even when Lou did come up with the goods it was suffocated by synthetic drum sounds and reverb (qv. The Blue Mask is widely regarded as one Reed's better 80's records but sounds incredibly dated to these ears)

1979's The Bells was the first album from this dark period and only contained 9 songs, maybe an indication of just how dry Reed's well was running. Each of the first 8 tracks is accompanied by a lame brass arrangement and takes in every R&B cliché going (particularly on the, presumably sarcastic, Disco Mystic). There is absolutely zero creative spark and no trace of the "good" Lou in sight.

Then something happens when we reach the albums closer and title track..

Don Cherry lets rip on free-jazz trumpet and Lou sets forth with a whispered string of consciousness lyric. It's almost like a rock version of Coltrane's Om. 8 minutes later and the horrors of the preceding tracks are forgotten, wiped away by a tidal wave of the avant garde. I probably love this song more because of it's carefully placed existence at the far end of such a bad album than anything else. It's typical of Lou Reed's stubborness and desire to annoy, yet, unlike Metal Machine Music it bears more than a couple of listens (and yes I have listened to MMM several times in it's entirety)

Lou Reed - The Bells

Just as the first Velvet's album married the sonic assault of European Son with the tender whimsy of Sunday Morning there are two sides to Reed's genius. "Tell It To Your Heart - again the last track and a hidden gem on 1986's Mistrial (where it was again obliterated by the sheen of the 80's studio veneer and preceded by songs of considerably lower quality) was reworked and included more recently on the Animal Serenade live set. Even the fat crooning sad clown from Anthony & The Johnsons can't ruin it for me. It's one of the most beautiful songs that Lou Reed has ever written.

Lou Reed - Tell It To Your Heart (live)

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Colorblind James Experience

OK - this is my first request - my chum Steve over at the Domino Rally emailed me yesterday saying he had a hankering to hear this track and did I have it?

Boy do I have it. I first heard this track at John Pyle's house Christmas 1987 on Peel's Festive 50 of that year, a magical time where we were discovering all sorts of crazy music existed. It made number 47 sandwiched between MARRS "Pump Up The Volume" and The Gun Club's "Breaking Hands".

I can't think what else to say about it - stupidly catchy riff and stupidly catchy spoken word chorus bit.

Colorblind James Experience - Considering A Move To Memphis

Interestingly this is one of 13 tracks in my library that contain the word "Memphis". Can you guess what they are?

Never considered a move there myself but Al Green's church & Gracelands make it sound a good trip. One day...

Colorblind James Experience on Wikipedia

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Happy New Year etc - two things have cheered me up no end this week - firstly someone sent me a copy of some more stuff by Those Naughty Corinithians after my heartfelt plea in the post below. 3 demos and 4 live tracks including such masterpieces as "I Hate Cats", "Give US A Clue" (about the quiz show..obviously), "Eddie The Eagle", "The Weather Is Shit" & "Greater Manchester Buses Are Rubbish". And yisssss - pretty much every song contains the word "YISSSS!"

Secondly Tom over at the Indie MP3 blog posted up the second two Peel Sessions by the band BOB. I'd not heard these for a while and after downloading them it became pretty clear that they were the same mp3's that I'd made from my old cassette copies and set free via Soulseek a couple of years back. A victory for file sharing I think. Anyway - I told Tom I'd post the missing 1st Peel Session (and in my opinion the best one) to mark my deepest joy.

BOB #1 Peel Session 18 Jan 1988

BOB were one of those bands that were always a pleasure to listen to, everything they did was pure pop and, OK, some of it might sound a bit twee now but both band and listener had smiles on their faces - particularly during the indiepop anthem "Brian Wilson's Bed" featured on their debut flexi and also on this session in a full band version.