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Three DVD box set pays tribute to Lou Reed, Velvets, Iggy, Bowie and punk

Seemingly just as Lou Reed left this earth, I noticed this box set on Amazon called Lou Reed Tribute from Chrome Dreams, a UK company that has put out some cool DVDs (this one, Frank Zappa, Keith Richards, etc.) and some stuff that puzzles me (Springsteen, Prince, Britney Spears?).

I wasn’t sure about it but it had three DVDs in a nicely designed box and it was so inexpensive that I had to get it. I had just learned about another product of theirs that looked great, a double DVD documentary about Zappa and Beefheart called When Don Met Frank: Beefheart Vs. Zappa, only to read in the reviews that it was a total ripoff and that it was two old documentaries repackaged in one set without any mention of this anywhere on the product. I was prepared for the worst.
Surprisingly, these were actually pretty good! First up is The Velvet Underground Under Review—yes, the awful title sounds like a science project, but inside is a concise and interesting documentary featuring interviews with at least one person I’d never seen interviewed before (Norman Dolph, who did their first demo acetate that’s been floating around the last few years and is, in fact, on eBay now for $65,000). I really liked the Billy Name segments as he was actually there on the inside in those early days, which they go into pretty deeply, including the pre-Velvets Pickwick Records budget-goofy rock ‘n’ roll recordings Lou was doing, which I love (and which were not all goofy as there was some true garage greatness in there as well). Also great are the Moe Tucker and Doug Yule interviews.

It had a good approach and really, I can watch stuff like this all day.
The second DVD is The Sacred Triangle: Bowie Iggy & Lou 1971-1973. I really enjoyed this one, though as I started to realize, Chrome Dreams is a bit of a “quickie” company and similar people were overlapped in this and the other DVDs making me realize that these were probably not originally intended to be watched back to back. This also has some amazing interviews, and again really delves into the early days of Bowie’s more whimsical period in the sixties when he was already obsessed and ripping off (and covering) The Velvet Underground, having been given one of the first and only pre first album demo acetates in 1965 or ‘66.

It goes into great detail about Bowie’s “cool beginnings” when the cast of Andy Warhol’s play Pork were in London and looking for bands to see and decided to go see an unknown David Bowie because he was wearing a dress on his then-current album cover. These people (Tony Zanetta, Cherry Vanilla, Wayne County and Leee Black Childers) all became Mainman Ltd., the bizarre company that ran most of Bowie’s affairs and mutated him into Ziggy Stardust in no time. Seeing Leee Black Childers (R.I.P.) interviewed, with him in his rockabilly best and with a big Band-aid® on his forehead said it all as far as who he was and how much he gave a fuck, one of the first true punk rockers, ever.

Similarly but multiplied by a hundred is Wayne, now Jayne County (“now” meaning for the last 35 years or so!) who is amazing in a huge red chair with a wild matching red outfit, makeup and her trademark fishnet stockings over her arms like long gloves, talking matter of factly about what really went down. Everyone knows Jayne County as a glam and then punk rock innovator, but we forget (or some don’t know) that Jayne was a real Warhol Superstar along with Candy Darling, Holly Woodlawn and Jackie Curtis. And Jayne starred in Warhol’s Pork (as Vulva, a characterization of Viva). The interviews with Angie Bowie, as always, are insane and classic. This DVD was really great and informative about my favorite small moment in rock n roll. The only annoyance is that they didn’t know who Cherry Vanilla is, and they talk about her a lot as she starred in Pork but kept showing a photo of someone else every time they referred to her!
The last DVD, Punk Revolution NYC: The Velvet Underground, The New York Dolls and the CBGB Set 1966-1974 is also really great, surprisingly. Believe me, with a title like this, where I come from this should be a real groaner, but it wasn’t. Not to discredit some of the interviewees, but I think that a lot of bigger names wouldn’t talk to Chrome Dreams, or couldn’t, so they had to dig deeper and get some people that did not become famous, but certainly are people I know that most definitely deserve to be interviewed and put a new spin on a now pretty tired subject. So it actually worked in their favor.

A good “for instance” is Elda Stiletto (Gentile), someone I knew and someone who is the perfect bridge to the exact time frame of this documentary. Elda was married to Warhol Superstar Eric Emerson. Emerson started pretty much the first glitter band in NYC, The Magic Tramps, only to be steamrolled by the New York Dolls and all that came in their path. Eric Emerson was also the upside down figure on The Velvet Underground and Nico LP’s back cover, who sued hoping to get some quick dough, but was foiled when he just caused the LP to be delayed, first with a big sticker covering him, then with his image being airbrushed out of the photo entirely. (Why none of this was mentioned is beyond me.) Elda Stiletto then went on to form The Stilettos with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, a sort of “glitter doo wop” group that morphed into Blondie after all the other girls were gotten rid of. Two of the other gals in The Stilettos were Tish and Snooky who would go on to sing in The Sic Fucks and founded Manic Panic, a small punk store (that is now a large corporation—I was their first employee!) on St. Marks Place (just a few doors down from where The Dom was, where The Velvets played, later to become The Electric Circus where The Stooges and many others played).

Also interviewed are Suicide’s Alan Vega, Richard Lloyd from Television, Leee Black Childers and Jayne County, this time in the most insane outfit ever! She’s on a big black couch, reclining on her back, facing the camera completely covered in a ton of black fabric so she looks like a demented floating disembodied head! Ha ha!! To top it all off she’s wearing a black witchy wig and crazy electric blue makeup that is just insane looking. She never fails to blow my mind! They also talked to Richard Hell, Ivan Julian from The Voidoids, photographer Roberta Bayley, Danny Fields and more. There was oddly, no mention of The Ramones!

Ultimately all three DVDs come off like extremely dry BBC docs and there is a lot of overlap, but it doesn’t totally take away from the experience. The punk DVD just suddenly says “End of Part One” and stops, which is annoying because it actually was good. Where is part two? Sprinkled throughout these documentaries are critics like Robert Christgau and Simon Reynolds, biographer Victor Bockris and other experts.

Below, here’s the lead doc, The Velvet Underground Under Review. The quality is “eh” so you might want to get the DVDs. The Lou Reed Tribute DVD box set sells for less than $20 on Amazon. Used it’s under $10.

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Cranky Lou Reed interview from 1975 is full of hilariously nasty gems
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Lou Reed

Oh, my…. Hell hath no fury like Lou Reed in close proximity to a journalist who has gotten on his bad side. I’d imagine a good chunk of the DM audience has already seen the hilarious clip of Lou Reed being royally unhelpful to some Australian journalists in 1974…. my first exposure to that footage was before a Morrissey show I saw in Dublin in 2009, it was part of the pre-gig entertainment.

This desultory interview from 1975 isn’t as well known, but it deserves to be considered in the same league as that Australian clip. It’s odd footage because it’s almost uncut raw footage, we get to see a dude with a boom mic several times—a couple times at the start or end of a take, the camera might zoom off crazily to one side, etc.

The best bits come right around the middle, when Lou and his interviewer engage in a series of one-liners that are somehow vaguely reminiscent of an ill-tempered Abbott and Costello routine:

LR: Don’t believe what you read.
I: No, I don’t.
LR: Don’t believe what you see.
I: Is it true that you wrote Sally Can’t Dance in the studio?
LR: If I say so, I guess….
I: But did you?
LR: I wasn’t there!
I: You were there.
LR: No I wasn’t. Dougie [Yule] did it.
I: Are you happier as a brunet?
LR: Ahh…. are you happier as a schmuck?
I: I’m no schmuck.
LR: I’m no brunet.
I: You were blond last time.
LR: No I wasn’t.
I: You were.
LR: I was a bleach blond.
I: A bleached blond.
LR: Trashy blond.
I: You looked younger as a blond.
LR: Well, you look older.
I: I’m not a blond, though.
LR: I know, it’s worse.

At one point, in response to an admittedly inane query about Berlin, Lou says, “It was a long time ago. I’m obsessed with Metal Machine Music.” So the interview was perhaps in support of what is widely considered one of the more prominent eff-yous in recording history, a fact that informs Lou’s contrary attitude, perhaps? (Or else it was for Lou Reed Live, which also came out in 1975.)


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Watch Laurie Anderson’s dog Lolabelle improvise her own experimental music
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Lou Reed
Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson loved her dog Lolabelle. Upon Lola’s passing, Anderson created a lovely sculpture of her ashes in memoriam. She delivered introspective monologues about their relationship. She put on concerts for dogs with Lola sharing the stage (for the record, the music is actually kind of interesting—structureless, but very tonal, and not entirely composed of high pitched whistles inaudible to the human ear). Anderson even sent Lola to music therapy, the adorable results of which you can see below.

Billing itself as “Common Sense Counseling for Dogs and their Humans,” Dog Relations NYC is a sort of Montessori-style obedience school, and as far as I know, they’re the only pet service with a testimonial from Laurie Anderson and the late Lou Reed and on their homepage—apparently dog behavior counselor Elisabeth Weiss has quite the magic touch.

Elisabeth was one of the key people in helping maintain the spirit and integrity of Lola’s life. Everyday Lola looked forward to her time with Elisabeth. It was a great relationship that we all rejoiced in. Elisabeth is a kind dog genius. Her help cannot be overestimated and went far beyond what one can buy. Lolabelle loved her. We all loved her.

Lolabelle’s musical ventures were categorized by Dog Relations NYC as Occupational Therapy—she had actually been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, but honestly I’d imagine this is the sort of thing that might just calm any nervous little terrier. At any rate, she looks genuinely rapt by her own keyboard skills. On the first video, she is receiving no instruction from a human. The second is a collaboration of sorts for Rock n Roll Rescue, a benefit for Art For Animals.


Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
The Making of an Underground Film: Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol and a ‘topless’ Velvet Underground

There is simply too much pork for the fork in this wild CBS Evening News report on the then-new phenomenon of “underground films” from New Year’s Eve of 1965/66.

Seen here are Piero Heliczer filming the Velvet Underground, along with testimony from Jonas Mekas, Stan Brakhage, Andy Warhol, a gorgeous young Edie Sedgwick, Al Aronowitz (the rock journo who introduced The Beatles to Dylan—and pot), Willard Van Dyke of the Museum of Modern Art, Chuck Wein, even shirtless and bodypainted Lou Reed and John Cale. Angus MacLise, who was still in the group when this was shot makes an appearance as well.

I think it’s safe to say that this is probably the first and so far at least, only time an excerpt from a Stan Brakhage film was ever shown on The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.

Thank you Michael Simmons!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Lou Man Group exists and seems pretty brilliant, and that’s about all we can tell you about them

In recent weeks, when former child star Macaulay Culkin’s headache-inducingly stupid vanity band—the now infamous pizza-themed Velvet Underground “tribute” called The Pizza Underground—was booed and bottled off of a UK festival stage and subsequently canceled its tour, most sane observers were heard to say (in my imagination, anyway) “WHEW! Guess that’s the last we’ll hear of high concept, non-sequitur Lou Reed related cover bands.” But such declamations would have been premature—for on the horizon, a challenger appears, and it’s a credible challenger.

All I have to share with you is this: a flier exists advertising an appearance by Lou Man Group (there’s no way this joke needs explaining, right, we all know about Blue Man Group?) this past Saturday at L.A.’s Cowboy Gallery, whose FB page says exactly squat about such an event. The “band” has a web site with a video and a few photos, which directs the reader to an equally sparse Facebook page, just established in March. About all that can be said for sure is that this Lou Man Group probably has nothing to do with Lou Piniella’s. Their YouTube channel so far boasts all of two videos, the weird and insidery “The Manager,” and a lengthier advertisement for the group that features actually really cool and worthy versions of “Vicious,” “Foggy Notion” and, unsurprisingly, “Walk On The Wild Side”.


So did any DM readers attend this show? Is this a real band, and not just a clever tease? I’m really keen to know what’s up, because I LOVE THIS.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Lou Reed shoots ‘Heroin’ onstage in Houston, 1974
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Lou Reed

Photo by Michael Zagaris, art print available at Wolfgang’s Vault
Last week I posted some Lou Reed concert footage from 1974’s Rock N Roll Animal tour and now here is some more.

First up, a nice long bash at “Heroin” complete with the infamous tied-off arm/syringe/shooting up bit. Cute. It’s easy to see why a Velvets freak like Lester Bangs would have been disgusted with his idol at this point. Talk about jumping the shark! What was the guy thinking? Nevertheless, naturally the heavily ‘luded out mid-70s audience squeals with delight as Uncle Lou pretends to jack up. Tacky then, tacky now, especially considering it was Hep C that basically killed the guy.

This was shot in Houston, Texas on November 13, 1974. It’s a bit wobbly, but it exists, you know? It exists.

“Sweet Jane,” “Vicious” and the beginning of “Heroin” on this clip (made from the original 1/2” B&W open reel mastertape, it says). Lou Reed obviously could not dance for shit:

Personally, I’m of the opinion that some of the best live Lou Reed recordings come from when “The Phantom of Rock” (as RCA was marketing him at the time) was being backed by a band called The Tots. This is the period around when Transformer first hit, “Walk On the Wild Side” was a massive smash and Reed had pretty much become a superstar in Europe. He had not yet fully gone over to the insectoid speedfreak dark side as seen above, but clearly he was working on it.

There are two fantastic bootlegs of this group worth looking for, “American Poet” recorded on Reed’s Long Island home turf in late 1972 and “The Phantom of Rock” taped live at Alice Tully Hall in January 1973.

This footage was shot for France’s POP2 television show. Reed sings “Walk On The Wild Side,” “Heroin” and “White Light/White Heat.” You’ll enjoy it more if you turn it up.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal’: High quality footage of Lou Reed live in concert, 1974
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Lou Reed

Although, this footage of Lou Reed performing live in Paris in 1974 on his celebrated Rock n Roll Animal tour has been around for years, it’s always been pretty much unwatchable tenth generation VHS garbage. In the early 90s I was thrilled to buy a bootleg copy of this for $16 from a street vender on Fifth Avenue only to get it home to find that it was a “one” on a scale of one to ten. Ten years ago I found a DVD boot at the Pasadena Flea Market, but that turned out to be bad quality, too. It’s been posted various times on YouTube in the past, but none of these versions were much of an improvement… until this one.

It wasn’t as if a freak like Lou Reed would have gotten on television all that often in the 1970s, and of course European audiences often accepted America’s wildest performers with open arms long before we ever did, so this could probably be counted as only Reed’s second major TV appearance (the first having been the Velvet Underground mini-reunion at the Bataclan nightclub with John Cale and Nico that aired on French TV’s POP2 series in 1972).

And then there is this. The infamously smartassed ‘74 Australian press conference has been on YouTube for years, and will be familiar to many readers, but take a gander at the live footage from Down Under that comes after that, at the 5:27 mark: An excellent “Walk On the Wild Side” (complete with Uncle Lou’s spazzy dancing) and “Rock and Roll.” And it’s great quality.

Thank you Chris Campion of Hollywood, CA!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Lou Reed, Nico and John Cale do Velvet Underground mini-reunion on French TV, 1972
01:49 pm


Lou Reed
Velvet Underground
John Cale

In 1972, Velvet Underground alumni Lou Reed, John Cale and Nico reunited before the cameras of the POP2 TV program at Le Bataclan, a well-known—and very intimate—Paris venue. It was Cale’s gig originally and he invited Reed and Nico to join him. Reed, who hated rehearsing, spent two days with Cale working out what they were going to do. According to Victor Bockris’ Lou Reed biography Transformer, rock critic Richard Robinson videotaped these rehearsals, which took place in London.

Both the videotape and the audio from this show have been heavily bootlegged over the years. A legit CD release happened a few years ago, but it still sounds like a bootleg. A high quality video turned up on various torrent trackers and bootleg blogs after a rebroadcast on French TV. It’s fairly easy to find. Now if only some of the outtakes from the Le Bataclan filming (if there were any) would slip out—they did “Black Angel’s Death Song” which I’d dearly love to see—not to mention what Richard Robinson might have (There is an audio only recording of the rehearsals attributed to Robinson’s tapes already making the rounds on bootleg torrent trackers.)

This is Reed coming off his first solo record (which had not even been released yet) and just a few months before he recorded “Walk on the Wild Side” with David Bowie and took on a totally different public—and we can presume, private—persona. This is “Long Island Lou” last seen just before Reed’s druggy bisexual alter-ego showed up and took his place. Cale does the lush “Ghost Story” from his then new Vintage Violence album and Nico looks stunning and happy here singing “Femme Fatale.” It’s before the damage of her drug addiction took its toll on her looks.

I will direct you here for the full version, but I can’t embed the file.

One thing worth pointing out here is that during “Berlin” you can see Nico’s face as Reed sings a song which he told her was about her. She might even be hearing it for the first time.

Here’s a version (oddly in color, the only one on YouTube, the rest are all B&W) of Reed and Cale performing a languid, stoned and thoroughly unplugged “I’m Waiting For The Man”:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Watch Lou Reed interview his 100-year-old Polish immigrant cousin in his short film, ‘Red Shirley’
05:57 am


Lou Reed
Red Shirley

Lou Reed and his 100-year-old cousin, “Red” Shirley Novick
Lou Reed’s deeply personal directorial debut does not ease the audience into its heavy subject matter slowly. In the very first shot, we see his cousin Shirley Novick on her 100th birthday. She dedicates the film to her hometown in Poland, and the Jews that once resided there. She says she wants to talk about her family who died in the Holocaust, along with all the Jews of her town, and she thanks her cousin for the opportunity to tell her story. Off-camera you hear Lou’s unmistakable voice, “Is that the statement?” She nods and he gives a little applause.

What follows is the recounting of a truly fascinating life. During World War Two, Shirley’s town was under siege, and she remembers hiding in the Russian church as a child while Russian and German troops fought it out. At 19 she left Poland with two suitcases and settled in Montreal for six months. Finding it too “provincial,” she left for New York—Lou laughs a little at the idea of a 19- year-old-girl from the shtetl finding someplace “too provincial.” With the help of an uncle, Shirley found work in New York’s infamously exploitative garment industry—she was a real live factory girl. What followed was 47 years of ardent labor activism—she even joined the 1963 civil rights march on Washington. Despite her hand in fighting for a more just United States, she never became a legal citizen, on principle.

Despite the struggle and tragedy throughout her life, Red Shirley is ultimately a very warm film, and not without levity. At one point she recounts a shell hitting her family’s home that failed to detonate and how they just left it in the wall unable to remove it. Perhaps a little overwhelmed by the brutal conditions of Shirley’s early life, Lou just starts laughing, saying, “This is terrible.” He also replies with a lot of “You can’t be serious,” and “You’re joking,” and it seems not so much from actual disbelief, but from that incredulity one feels when they hear a very intense personal story. Lou is visibly tickled by her company, and witnessing their affectionate conversation is an intimate experience. The film is both technically and emotionally lovely.

Via Open Culture

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Lou Reed and Brian Eno, together at last: it’s ‘Metal Machine Music For Airports’

When the mashup phenomenon hit remix culture a dozen or so years ago, I found the whole business exhilarating. DJs were gleefully combining a capella tracks with instrumental beds from often wholly incompatible songs and making it work, sometimes giving valuable new context to classics, sometimes even creating tracks that improved on both of their sources. People like dsico, Freelance Hellraiser, and the massively gifted and almost frighteningly prolific Go Home Productions were fashioning technically impressive and admirably witty pop-song syntheses.

What I’m sharing with you today isn’t nearly as advanced as all that.

Some clever or stupid person (it’s such a fine line) using the nom de YouTube “machined01” has mashed up Lou Reed‘s immortal noise prank Metal Machine Music with Brian Eno’s groundbreaking Ambient 1: Music for Airports. Not a dazzling technical feat, surely, but the results, surprisingly, are really lovely.

‘Metal Machine Music For Airports 1

‘Metal Machine Music For Airports 2

‘Metal Machine Music For Airports 3

‘Metal Machine Music For Airports 4

Feel free to kick the concept up a level and play all four at once.

Here’s a fantastic TV clip of Eno talking about Music For Airports, and how he arrived at the ideas that would codify just about all of the ambient music that followed. It’s not very long, and well worth the few minutes of your time.

A big ol’ hat tip is due to Pitchfork/The Wire scribe Marc Masters (who also co-wrote the book on No-Wave, as it happens) for this find.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Amusing TV commercial for Lou Reed’s sleazy ‘Sally Can’t Dance’ album, 1974
10:43 am


Lou Reed

Last week when I stumbled across that corny 1974 Bowie TV commercial for David Live, I spied another oddity of the same vintage: A 30-second TV spot for Lou Reed’s ultra sleazy Sally Can’t Dance album!

Wait, what? A Lou Reed TV commercial from 1974? At the height of his speed-shooting, bleached-blonde black nail-polish bi/gay persona? That’s right, apparently someone thought it was a good idea to push the Rock-n-Roll Animal’s career over the airwaves before it peaked. It’s not like a stone cold FREAK such as Lou Reed was going to get on American television otherwise was it?

As Lester Bangs noted of Reed around this time:

“Lou Reed is my own hero principally because he stands for all the most fucked up things that I could ever possibly conceive of. Which probably only shows the limits of my imagination.”

Let’s not forget that Reed often had quite the imagination for fucked up things. I feel sorry (not really) for the unsuspecting TV viewer who bought Sally Can’t Dance based on this rather innocuous spot only to find songs about electroshock therapy (”Kill Your Sons”), a girl who “took much meth and can’t get off of the floor” (the title track) and of course, “Animal Language” which is QUITE LITERALLY about a dead dog and a dead cat that want to fuck, but can’t, so they decide to shoot up a fat man’s sweat (lyrics here, for your convenience).

More from Lester Bangs:

“Lou Reed is the guy that gave dignity and poetry and rock ‘n’ roll to smack, speed, homosexuality, sadomasochism, murder, misogyny, stumblebum passivity, and suicide, and then proceeded to belie all his achievements and return to the mire by turning the whole thing into a monumental joke ...”

Although Lou Reed has always been dismissive of Sally Can’t Dance, due to his own, er, passive involvement in its creation (there are stories about Reed being so fucked up that he had to be propped up in the studio to record his vocals) to my mind it’s one of his BEST albums. In many respects, Sally Can’t Dance, I’d argue, is the very quintessence of the amibsexual, druggy Reed thang of the early to mid-1970s. It even presages Bowie’s Young Americans white-boy funk phase by a year or so.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Songs for Drella’: Lou Reed and John Cale pay tribute to Andy Warhol, live 1989
12:18 pm


Andy Warhol
Lou Reed
John Cale

When Lou Reed and John Cale’s collaborative tribute to Andy Warhol, Songs for Drella, came out in 1990, I didn’t love it. I didn’t even like it. It felt really forced. Over time it came to grow on me, but seeing the suite performed onstage, in the form of Oscar-nominated cinematographer Ed Lachman’s video documentation of the piece, really brought it alive.

Songs for Drella was part of 1989’s “Next Wave” festival at BAM and if you’ve ever been lucky enough to see something staged there, well, the lighting design and the general production values are usually more on a level of a Broadway show than a typical rock concert. Songs for Drella is essentially a theater piece and the visuals provide much of the enjoyment as well as a vague narrative. The songs are roughly in chronological order as they tell the story of Warhol’s life, from Pittsburgh, his early days in NYC, getting shot and his worldwide fame. The narrator changes from first person (Warhol’s POV), third person descriptions and Reed and Cale’s own commentary, as both longtime friends and collaborators with the artist.

According to a photographer I knew who shot the two of them around this time, Reed and Cale seemed to absolutely loathe each other. He described them as the two biggest bastards he’s ever been hired to shoot, in fact. Hissing snakes. The pair apparently vowed never to work together again, but they did anyway, for the ill-fated Velvet Underground reunion of 1993.

Shot on December 4–5, 1989 without an audience at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Songs for Drella came out on VHS and Laserdisc, but as yet, has still not come out on DVD. The album itself was recorded in the weeks after this was taped.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
More Lou Reed bootlegs than you can shake a stick at
01:01 pm


Lou Reed

MetalMachineManiac’s YouTube channel is stuffed to the gills with top quality live Lou Reed concerts. It’s a treasure trove of great music. Shows dating from the 1970s to performances from recent years. No solo Reed era is under-represented and there are dozens and dozens of full shows (and often individual songs as well).

I could post so many great shows, but here are a few notable selections from the 1970s…

Live in Sheffield, September 9th, 1973

Live In Stockholm, 1974. This one is positively amazing.

With Doug Yule live in Providence, 1975. One of the single best live Lou Reed shows, I’ve ever heard. As one of the YouTube commenters points out, “the band is like the Max’s Kansas City-era Velvets with a saxophonist.” Yes it is.

Here’s something complete different, a 1973 set with The Moogy Klingman Band.

Below, the Rock and Roll Animal interviewed at the Sydney Airport, 1974:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Luciano Pavarotti sings ‘Perfect Day’ with Lou Reed, 2002
07:20 am


Lou Reed

This Pavarotti and Friends special from 2002 was actually a benefit for Angola, and while it was performed and filmed in Modena, Italy, it got some pretty big international names. Andrea Bocelli was obviously there (the other really, really famous opera singer), as well as Grace Jones (cool!), James Brown (wow!), and Sting (eyeroll). And out of all those weird pairings Luciano and Lou is still the weirdest, but honestly, I’m so happy this exists. I love opera, and I love that Lou made a daring choice with the song.

Maybe the execution is a little unwieldy, but really, the song is a perfect choice for Pavarotti! Dramatic delivery, romantic swells—the song is perfectly primed for operatic pathos. Plus, Pavarotti’s stage makeup here could totally hold its own to glam-era Lou Reed. That brow pencil work is some expert-level shit.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Lou Reed’s sweet side: Behind the scenes of the ‘Transformer’ documentary
04:51 am


Lou Reed
Henry Scott-Irvine

Guest contributor Henry Scott-Irvine shares his experience working with Lou Reed on the Classic Albums - Lou Reed: Transformer documentary:

In the summer of 2000 Series 3 of the Classic Albums documentary brand cranked into pre-production with a roster of some twelve shows. Four of these would air on ITV during the 2002 FIFA World Cup, including most notably “Transformer.” The TV schedules signaled that if the England game was delayed or moved Classic Albums’ Transformer would feature before or after an important game. With the play-offs split between South Korea and Japan, the “Transformer” transmission had a potentially vast audience during late night soccer primetime. I recall sitting in a room filled with friends at midnight on a Saturday in June 2002 when ten million Brits watched this marvelous ‘making of’ documentary.  Oh how Lou must have smiled.

The road to this TV success was not altogether smooth. Lou had a reputation for being notoriously difficult and was rumored to hate both journalists and film makers. This was evidenced by tales of his kicking over cameras during his UK performances in 1973. “So who writes these things about you, if they’re not true?” said an Australian journalist in 1974. “Journalists,” replied Lou dryly. Flying on to New Zealand, Lou found himself amid a televised press conference at the airport. “Why do you write songs about transsexuals? Are you a homosexual or a transsexual?” Lou mumbled, “Sometimes” and shrugged. He curtailed his first Australasian tour by flying straight back out of New Zealand without performing there.

As Classic Albums series 3 Archive Producer, I set about seeing if footage survived from the original studio sessions of December 1972 and from the Transformer world tour of 1973. Nothing transpired from the recording sessions, apart from the original 16 track 2 inch master tapes. However, wonderful hitherto unseen footage of “Walk On The Wild Side” survived from Paris in 1973. Filmed with only one camera from a balcony, Lou was wearing white Japanese Kabuki-style face paint with black eye shadow and a black leather suit. Lou feigned a shuffle-step dance, appearing to be slightly out of it, before stumbling to sit down in order to conclude the song. It sounds potentially disastrous, but it was mesmeric. We had to have it!

The Institute of National Archives, France, quoted an ‘all media non exclusive license deal’ of ‘10,000 Euros per minute’, immediately scuppering our plans.  Instead we opted for three ten second bursts of this footage. Belgian and American footage of the 1974 tour only contained below par audio and just one song from Transformer, as a consequence, Lou was informed of this before agreeing to give Classic Albums up to six one minute acoustic solo performances of his choice from the album. These would be performed live and filmed in New York in the early spring of 2001 when director Bob Smeaton flew out with a film crew to undertake the proceedings.

Photographer Mick Rock provided a whole bunch of his magnificent period pictures for an agreed fee, enabling some truly wonderful montage sequences, which brought the ‘making of’ Transformer to life when intercut with Lou and engineer Ken Scott listening to all of the original album parts. It seemed at that particular juncture that the film was on a win-win footing. But on the first day of interview filming in New York, Lou brought along the writer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders for moral support, and suggested that he be included in the film, which he was. There was a tension in the air at this point and Lou was quick to point out that Timothy was “an award winner.” Bob Smeaton quickly responded, “I’ve got two Grammy’s. One for The Beatles Anthology and one for Jimi Hendrix Live At Fillmore East.” This “impressed Lou,” alleged Bob.  A further day of interviewing took place as a result of this newly found mutual respect, during which time Lou recalled how people threw their handkerchiefs at The Beatles and their knickers at Tom Jones, “Whereas with me they threw syringes and joints”. This quote made it into the final cut, as did Lou’s concluding phrase, “Bob. It’s been a pure pleasure!”

Additional archive footage from the 1980’s was added to the documentary, and in late May 2001 Lou Reed was sent an ‘approval copy’ to assess. We waited several days without a response.  On May 30th 2001 I was alone in the production office at lunchtime when the production company telephone rang. A New York accent asked if this was “The Classic Albums people?” I was convinced that this was my friend John Brett, who can do a mean New York accent. “Is that you John?” I said. “Do I sound like a John?” said the voice at the other end. “This is Lou Reed. To whom do I have the pleasure?” I quickly explained that I was the Archive Producer. When Lou asked about the lack of archive in the rough cut, I explained about the ludicrous costs, and then cheekily recalled how he had often kicked over cameras when crews had filmed him back in 1973. “You’ve got a Noo Yawk attitude, old boy!” he said. I told him I’d never been there. He laughed dryly and quietly said, “Take a compliment, why don’t you?” adding, “D’you like your employers?” “No”, I replied, “Me neither”, he said. “So that makes two of us. See. I told you you’d got a New York attitude.” He laughed huskily and seemed genuinely amused at my insouciance. He told me he would be reporting to the “executives” later that day, “Or perhaps they could do me the courtesy?” he concluded.

The following day at the same time, 1pm sharp, Lou phoned the production offices once again and asked for “Henry.” Luckily I had picked up the phone. We chatted some more and laughed a lot. Lou was a little unhappy that the film crew had under lit his face, making him look like a cross between Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein and Vincent Price’s Dr Phibes (my description not his). He was also concerned about the sequence featuring a transvestite putting on makeup. “In the song “Make Up” somebody filmed a rather tepid and plain drag putting on makeup. Why not be the sports that you are and use someone beautiful? After all, the female on the back of Transformer really is a man, or didn’t you guys know? So let’s have a little glamor, eh! Tell that to Bob, old bean.” I wrote everything down and handed the notes to the director. The drag sequence was removed and replaced with a newly shot sequence. More of Lou’s “devastating wit” was included, and Lou’s magnificent craggy face remained as it was. Lou later wrote in to say, “I am impressed by how good and interesting the show is!” The film went on to receive worldwide praise, transmitting globally with DVD availability, too.

Some three years later I was producing the Fremantle documentary Punk Attittude and wanted to use some Lou Reed performances. In this instance I was meant to ask Lou Reed’s manager. But instead I wrote directly to Lou reminding him of the two conversations we had had in May 2001. Expecting no reply, he wrote back with, “Henry. How could I forget you old boy? Consider it done. Send me the license deal and I’ll write ‘Waiver. No fee applicable’.” Some weeks later, true to his word, the agreement was returned as promised. I kept these emails and my notes of the conversations we had had all those years ago tucked away in my DVD of Classic Albums’ Transformer.

I think Lou was really decent. He had a great dead pan sense of humor and he’d shared some of that with one of the production team when he didn’t have to. “How about that?” as he often said, how about that indeed!

The “Perfect Day” sequence from the Classic Albums: Transformer includes an interview with co-producer Mick Ronson which was an outtake from the BBC TV series Dancing In The Streets, a history of Rock Music from 1996. This was the last interview that Mick Ronson ever gave to camera and it was filmed inside the former Hammersmith Odeon, the venue where David Bowie (and Ronno) had done the final Ziggy Stardust performance in 1973.  Aware of the fact that it was Ronson’s final interview, and quite clearly touched by the beauty of the raw track separation, Lou was close to tears (this appears at the 43 minute mark of the documentary). Avoiding being mawkish, director Bob Smeaton trimmed that particular moment. But you can still see how affected Lou was. It is a window into the soul of the great man, and the finest sequence in a documentary that deserved to win a Grammy.

Producer/researcher Henry Scott-Irvine is the author of Procol Harum: The Ghosts Of A Whiter Shade of Pale published by Omnibus Press in the UK, America, and Canada.

“Walk On The Wild Side” - Paris, 1973.

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