Monday, May 19, 2003


To put it all in perspective, the Velvet Underground certainly made the avant garde aesthetic chic, though they were never that risky in reality. 'Walk On The Wild Side' was, for sure, the first blissfully post-ironic chart song. With hindsight. And 'Metal Machine Music' is one of the great enigmas of twentieth century music. Even Darmstadt would have quaked, I'd wager. Yet I have never been a drooling protagonist for Lou Reed. Scratch him and there's an unadventurous rocker screaming to get out. His guitarism is de rigeur but often little more. His material is, in some strange way, transfiguredness ordinaried. And his voice can be absolutely terrible. I caught the recent outing for his new album, 'NYC Man' (BMG, 2003), on Jools Holland's 'Later' (BBC 2). It was dire.

I'm glad the old feller spoke out against the Iraq war, of course. I think he's a lucky man to be associated with Laurie Anderson, who is an abidingly interesting acoustic artist. But I somehow doubt that Reed's own musical contribution will be what gives him a place in the cultural history of the future. It's more a case of the man being the mood being the moment being the album - and evermore shall be.

My underlying opinion that Lou is 'frankly overrated' (as they say) is most unlikely to be mitigated by his peevish, petulant performance with Simon Hattenstone in The Guardian yesterday. Rude and evasive doesn't begin to describe it. 'Not A Perfect Day' is a classic car crash interview. Hattenstone - as usual - comes across as enquiring, pleasant, acute, angular and observant. But he's treated like shit. You're left wondering whether the A&R men have eaten Reed's soul and spat out the entrails. There is a momentary spark of possibility when he fezzes up to Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry as heroes. But anyone can namecheck the hall of fame, just for one day. And as for "If you want to know the records I like, on the web pages there is a top 100 or something like that" -- get a grip Lou, it's not even funny for chrissakes...

Reed 'only wants to talk about music'. He says absolutely nothing. This is eloquence beyond volume, I suspect.

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