Few personalities — particularly as one as protean and occasionally as brilliant as Reed’s — can be summed up in two syllables. But if you were to do a word cloud of memories of Reed in the various volumes that have been published on his life, the word asshole would turn up in surprisingly large type.
Maybe you’ve heard of this Lou Reed character? This article is worth a read, even if you think you’ve heard it all before. (And you probably have.)
One aspect of many of even Reed’s classic-era albums that doesn’t get talked about enough is the sonic inconsistency. It’s a subtle thing, but most decent rock albums have a sonic palette that forms the core of the work. It’s not that every song must be orchestrated identically, but a good album will generally sound like it was recorded a certain way in a certain universe. Reed’s own lack of sophistication and the B-level producers he used over most of his career combined to make many of his records sound internally random, and jarring. And even fans can point to few nuanced compositions to make the search worthwhile. Along the way he sold “Walk on the Wild Side” for a TV commercial for the Honda’s short-lived line of scooters; Reed appeared at the end of it, to say, “Hey — don’t settle for walkin’!”