Every other feature on the Today Programme this morning seemed to be on the death of Lou Reed. They even got in Herbie Flowers to talk about the bass playing he did on Walk on the Wild Side. There was a lot of discussion around his ‘classic’ songs such as Perfect Day and Walk on the Wild Side and what a great influence he was and that was about it. We just got a brief glimpse of why he mattered when they played a few seconds of Black Angel’s Death Song from the first Velvet Underground album and we got some of the noise and contrariness that underpinned his music.
Then talking to Dad this evening he wasn’t sure he knew who Lou Reed was so I tried to explain it was more about his influence as opposed to the number of records he sold and how they said about the first Velvet Underground album that it didn’t sell many copies but everyone who bought a copy went off to form a band. Except me of course! Why didn’t I form a band? I even have two copies of the record.
The second copy came as part of a 5 album box set that I bought in my last few weeks at university when I had no money but was able to find the credit to make the £20.00 to pay for it. The five albums were made up of the first three albums and two albums of offcuts and unreleased tracks. I bought it on the back of a South Bank Show documentary a copy of which I still have on video somewhere. I will need to dig it out and show the kids. Maybe they will then go off and form bands.
A large part of the attraction was the noise. There is a bit near the beginning of European Son that sound like it might be an electric guitar being dragged backwards across a floor with all the knobs on loud. I like that kind of thing. I can remember trying to explain that to friends twenty five years ago and all they wanted to do was listen to Billy Joel.
A lot of it goes back to REM and watching them in the mid-1980’s do covers of Femme Fatale and Pale Blue Eyes. I could blame REM for a lot of things like that.
I never saw him in concert but I have seen John Cale a couple of times. Once in the Royal Festival Hall in London and second time in the Phil here in Liverpool. There are times I prefer John Cale.