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"CAPTAIN BILLY’S MAGIC 8 BALL" - A New Series Created By William Mesnik, The Mind Behind “Mesmerized”- EPISODE #6: LOU'S VINDICATION - FEATURING THE ALBUM "BERLIN" BY LOU REED IN HIGH DEFINITION - RCA, 1973

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LOU’S VINDICATION

EPISODE #6: BERLIN by Lou Reed (RCA, 1973)

This is a love/hate story about an album which I adore, but can be very hard to listen to. It’s baroque in its operatic, art-house production by Bob Ezrin – (who apparently came up with the concept when he asked Lou about “whatever happened to the couple” in the song from Lou’s first solo album). You might find it off-putting. The subject matter, portraying children crying for their mother and descriptions of domestic abuse, etc – is cringe-worthy, to say the least. It’s like Brecht-Weill without any of the ironic humor. In short: it’s tough sledding.

However, I truly love it. I love Lou’s audacity; I love the fact that he followed up his world-wide popular hit, Transformer, with this Olympian attempt at really transforming his medium; and these songs, (many recycled from the Velvet’s archives), are fucking great – they stick in your head like ear worms. I also love his brilliant examination of a co-dependent relationship – so authentic and honest in its complexity and depiction of the push-pull of the human heart.

The critics lambasted it when it first appeared – I distinctly remember Stephen Holden’s ultra short dismissal in Rolling Stone, and thinking he just didn’t get it, or didn’t care to try. But, Lou had the last laugh: in 2007 he toured the album with a 30 piece band and 12 choristers. Julian Schnabel filmed and released it as Berlin: Live at St Ann’s Warehouse, and the album’s now been heralded as a masterpiece (ranked 344 on RS’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time). Take that, Mr. Holden.


By Rich Buckland 04/18/2021 06:43 PM

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