Friday, October 27, 2006

What would life be like if it never changed? Installment 1

Back at the end of August, Eek! began a thread inquiring about the life-changing possibilities of music, specifically calling for readers to post their Top Ten Life-Changing Albums.

Here is where the various lists were posted, including the one I contributed.

Endlessly fascinated by such things, I have decided to reproduce my list on this blog, in installments, expanding on the reasons for picking the albums that I did. They are listed in no particular order.

(Note: Italics indicate my initial response to Eek's challenge; the rest constitutes my further thoughts on the subject).

1. Rock n Roll Animal, Lou Reed. What I still wouldn’t give to be able to play the first guitar solo (not the Intro; the solo between the first and second verses) in “Sweet Jane” note for note. This album proved Lou Reed could appeal to the masses if he felt like staying out of his own way.

A good friend once pointed out this fascinating concept: It is impossible to be a fan of Lou Reed without hating Lou Reed to the exact same degree one loves Lou Reed. In fact, this album is the perfect capsule summation of Lou Reed's career, which has been solidly built on the bedrock of contradiction, misinterpretation and obfuscation.

Rock n Roll Animal
is the embodiment of what went wrong. An amazing document of a legendary concert at The Academy of Music (later known as The Palladium; now an NYU dormitory), the album rocks from start to finish. The band, which later went on to back up Alice Cooper, is tight and thundering throughout, lending an arena rock sheen to the proceedings.

The only problem is that these are Lou Reed and Velvet Underground songs, the antithesis of everything arena rock stood for. So, while the versions of "Sweet Jane," "Heroin," and "Rock'n'Roll" presented here are some of the finest ever recorded, they are pretty much the anti-definitive versions. Only the author of Metal Machine Music could render such impeccable irony!

Rock n Roll Animal (yes, the album title dispenses with those pesky apostrophes) was the first Lou Reed album I ever heard, and though I was a huge fan for many years (note my son's name), nothing else in the man's catalog ever matched the excitement it inspired. This is the album that made me want to learn how to play the guitar, and made me aware that there was something significant to be mined in the dark side of human experience.


Blogger EEK! said...


For me, "Sweet Jane" is both Loaded and the live reunion 1992 (or -3, whatever, I never really understood Roman numerals, useless code shite), but never, ever, ever the Cowboy Junkies cover, no matter what any other lame-o hipster might say.

Also, I have major heart-hands for Duck Duck Blog.

2:08 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I had this in vinyl long ago and far away. Such good stuff.

3:39 PM  
Blogger gina said...

I'm looking forward to seeing further installments!

5:11 PM  

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