Tuesday, February 11, 2014

40 Year Itch: Animal Lou

Rock 'n'Roll Animal, what a degrading thing that was
-Lou Reed

Rock 'n'Roll Animal is Lou Reed making good on a promise. He promised RCA he'd made a commercial album after Berlin bombed. The public's disinterest in that 1973 concept album must have hurt. But by the same token, Lou had a hit record under his belt ( "Walk on the Wild Side") so what better time to show the world where he started. Four of the five songs on Rock n Roll Animal are Velvet Underground tunes --as played by a polished hard rock band led by two smokin' guitar gods : Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter who would soon be playing with Alice Cooper.

This live album  and 1975's Lou Reed Live were recorded on December 21, 1973 at Howard Stein's Academy of  Music in New York. Reed performed with swagger even though his singing remained as wooden as ever.

Reviews were mostly good but very, very strange.

Rolling Stone wrote 

Rock n Roll Animal is much less claustrophobic and oppressive than Berlin, but many people will probably loathe it anyway. Faggots, junkies and sadists are not very pleasant, but theirs are the sensibilities Reed draws upon. His songs offer little hope. Nothing changes, nothing gets better 

For NME future Pretender Chrissie Hynde wrote

 He looks like a monkey on a chain, court geek. Listen to him scramble to a corner, damaged and grotesque, huddled in rodent terror. Animal Lou. Lashing out in a way that could make the current S and M trend freeze in its shallow tracks. And the audience cheers after every song: we’re with you, yeah, we always loved those songs, ha ha. Well…he hates you.

But the review that probably hit Lou hardest was from his former Velvets band mate John Cale who was hardly impressed.

He thinks that by sticking to his guns, he'll succeed and he has. He's got the whole sickness market tied up. 

In tours that would soon follow, Reed would pretend to shoot up during "Heroin". The two disc, all-noise "fuck you'"onslaught of Metal Machine Music was just a year away.

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