Apr 072020

Remember when we used to have a little morbid fun over rock ‘n roll deaths with celebrations featuring the “He was a great…man” tag and clip from Alex Cox’s Straight to Hell? Those were the days.

Now, a COVID-19 tag has come into existence. I don’t like this tag. It’s not funny at all. Today, producer Hal Willner, who I first knew of as a musical director for Saturday Night Live and then the brains behind a series of underground star-studded tribute albums in the early 1980s, died from coronovirus. He was 64, right about the age for someone to feel more fondly over a Delaney & Bonnie trifle than anyone from another generation might feel. Terrible.

Sep 232016

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’!”

Nov 242014

Next to the twin guitar heroics of Television‘s “Marquee Moon,” the Lou Reed Rock ‘n Roll Animal version of “Sweet Jane” is the twin-guitar part I would be most interested in experiencing if I attended a Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp. This clip of Dean Ween and his group doing a take on that version could be used for the advertisement for this cool Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp—as opposed to actual ones I’ve seen, where you get a taste of rock stardom under the tutelage of the likes of the guys in Styx and REO Speedwagon whose names you can’t identify.

If you could attend Cool Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp, what would be your event-capping experience?

Apr 102014

Yesterday, on the eve of KISS‘ induction into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, I learned that Lou Reed cowrote a song for the band’s Bob Ezrin-produced concept album, The Elder. Certainly, upon the completion of this recording, Lou must have remarked that KISS and his Berlin producer captured his music the way it was meant to sound!


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