Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lou Reed - Dirty Blvd.

Although Lou Reed had only modest commercial success, he was an important and influential musician who reshaped the language of rock.  In particular, he approached songs in much the same way that a novelist would, leading to lyrics that touched on adult and even previously taboo topics in a mature way.

For readers who are unaware, Reed got his start in the Velvet Underground.  Much has been written about them; suffice to say that they were an enormously influential band who laid the foundation for punk and new wave.  The famous quote about the VU was that "the first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band."  [This quote has been attributed to both Brian Eno and Peter Buck.]

In 1989, Reed released his 15th solo album, a concept album titled New York.  Although it was well-regarded by critics (who appreciated the back to basics approach), it was not a huge commercial success.  The album peaked at #40, and "Dirty Blvd." did not chart on the main charts (it did hit #1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks).  I don't think that the video was played much on MTV, though it was played on 120 Minutes (the alternative video show running at the time).

At any rate, "Dirty Blvd." is vintage Lou Reed -- he does his talk/sing thing over a catchy guitar hook, telling a story with provocative lyrics.  I have to say, this is a guy who was creating solid rock songs 25 years after his first band started.  Impressive.

Sadly, Lou Reed died on October 27, 2013.

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