Perfect Days: Lou Reed's Best Works

Lou Reed in 2000
Photo Credit
Lionel FLUSIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The word "iconoclast" seems tailor-made for Lou Reed. The New York rocker spent nearly five decades making music his way, earning acclaim by staying consistently himself. He never shied away from speaking his mind, even if he had almost nothing to say.

Seven years on from his passing, here's a look back at some of his most powerful and interesting musical works.

The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)

Brian Eno's classic 1982 observation sums it up pretty neatly: The Velvet Underground's debut album may have only sold around 30,000 copies, but everyone who bought it started a band. Reed's challenging songwriting showcased a gritty side of urban life and rough situations that no rock and roll group had committed to tape so impressively.

Loaded (1970)

Lou left The Velvet Underground shortly before their fourth album came out, but Loaded was an incredible testament to his songwriting - this time unadorned of the avant-garde trappings of previous VU works. Tracks like "Sweet Jane" and the aptly-titled "Rock & Roll" are as straightforward radio-ready works as the Velvets ever did.

Transformer (1972)

Conventional wisdom might dictate a record full of bold takes on sex, gender and drugs would have had a hard time selling to the public. Luckily, Reed had popular allies on his side in producers David Bowie and Mick Ronson, who were helping bring a new kind of rock to the masses. Thanks to immortal tracks like "Perfect Day," "Walk on the Wild Side" and "Satellite of Love," it's easy to understand what makes Transformer a classic.

Read More: Turn and Face the Strange: David Bowie's Biggest Hits



Metal Machine Music (1975)

Lou was disappointed in the overdone production of 1974's Sally Can't Dance, but was surprised to have a Top 10 album on his hands and a record label interested in another hit. Because you couldn't tell Reed what to do, Sally was followed up by a four-sided bouquet of dissonant guitar feedback summarized by Rolling Stone as "the tubular groaning of a galactic refrigerator."

The Blue Mask (1982)

After a stint on Arista Records, Lou returned to longtime home RCA with an energizing album that featured notable guitar work from Robert Quine. Quine, who'd famously taped several of The Velvet Underground's live shows, counted VU as an inspiration in shaping his distinctive punk guitar style - perhaps the first underline of what an influence Reed was becoming to the world of rock.

New York (1989)

One of Lou's most revered solo albums has its pen toward the present - lyrical bombs thrown are thrown at, among others, then-recent president Ronald Reagan and future president Donald Trump - but its straight-ahead rock sound (meant to draw attention to the words) recalled Reed's best moments with The Velvet Underground, with whom he'd tour the following year for the first time in almost two decades.

Read More: Lou Reed's 'New York' Reissue Includes 26 Unreleased Recordings

Magic and Loss (1992)

The post-New York period culminated in a few years of revisiting the past: Lou collaborated with VU member John Cale on an album reflecting on the late Andy Warhol, who co-produced The Velvet Underground & Nico, then hit the road with The Velvet Underground. The best from this period, though, may be Magic and Loss, inspired by the death of two close friends including songwriter Doc Pomus. It ranked on the Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critic's poll for the year - both a hometown honor and a national one.

Lulu (2011)

Birthed from an unlikely collaboration at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th anniversary concert, Lou's final full-length studio album was a sprawling collaboration with metal legends Metallica that dared to challenge fans of both acts. In typical fashion, Lou didn't care that critics didn't know what to make of Lulu. "I don't have any fans left," he cracked to USA Today. "They all fled. Who cares? I'm essentially in this for the fun of it." Not a bad way to live.

I don't have any fans left. After (his 1975 noise-rock album) 'Metal Machine Music' they all fled. Who cares? I'm essentially in this for the fun of it."

Read More: Lou Reed: Metallica Fans ‘Are Threatening to Shoot Me’ |
I don't have any fans left. After (his 1975 noise-rock album) 'Metal Machine Music' they all fled. Who cares? I'm essentially in this for the fun of it."

Read More: Lou Reed: Metallica Fans ‘Are Threatening to Shoot Me’ |
Artist Name

Read More

Angela Weiss/Getty Images
It's been a rough year for Ozzy Osbourne but things are starting to look up.
Paul Natkin/Getty Images
Wishing the metal bass player with heavy, heavy skills a rockin' birthday.
(Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)
Country star and recent addition to the Eagles live lineup, Vince Gill, provides lead vocals.

Facebook Comments