Archive | August, 2017

Certain Songs #979: Lou Reed – “New Sensations”

Album: New Sensations
Year: 1984

Fading in like a motorcycle coming over the crest of a distant hill, “New Sensations” feels like one of the most important songs of Lou Reed’s solo career.

Or at least it is to me. I’m not normally a lyrics guy, but when a song has as great of a set of lyrics as “New Sensations” does, it’s almost impossible for me — even 21-year-old-me in 1984 — not to notice. The message, to me, was that you’re never to old to experience new sensations.

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Certain Songs #978: Lou Reed – “I Love You, Suzanne”

Album: New Sensations
Year: 1984

It probably seems counter-intuitive that at some point in 1984, the number one album on College Radio was the 13th solo album by a man who was 20 years older than his target audience. It me. But that was the weird confluence of events that surrounded the brief second cultural ascension of Lou Reed.

It was, of course, infamously signified by the “Hey, don’t settle for walking” Honda scooter commercial, but it manifested itself in other ways, as well: the V.U. and Another View outtakes albums, his participation on the Sun City album and the Conspiracy of Hope tour, appearances in various soundtracks like Perfect to Rock and Rule, and of course, this shameless attempt at manufacturing another massive hit single.

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Certain Songs #977: Lou Reed – “The Blue Mask”

Album: The Blue Mask
Year: 1982

“The Blue Mask” begins with an ending.

At first you hear Robert Quine’s guitar screaming like the thing that scares a banshee, then Lou’s guitar shouting back in the other speaker, while drummer Doane Perry keeps trying to crash the song to an ending before it even begins, as if to say “you really aren’t prepared for this, so here’s your chance to leave.”

But Fernando Saunders is having none of that wimpy-ass bullshit, and so he plays a straightforward, strangled boogieish bassline — forsaking his usual magic for sheer power — and Lou says “aha!” and riffs right along with it, and “The Blue Mask” is off, and what’s underneath it is revealed.
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Certain Songs #976: Lou Reed – “The Gun”

Album: The Blue Mask
Year: 1982

Unlike John Cale’s “Gun,” which starts off loud and only gets crazier, Lou Reed’s similarly-titled-but-not-even-remotely-the-same song “The Gun” slowly tiptoes up behind you like a burglar in a dark alley.

Spare and spooky, “The Gun” is one of the most harrowing songs of Lou Reed’s entire solo career.

Shifting back and forth from the first and third person, Lou not only warns us about the guy carrying the gun, he ends up inhabiting him as well.

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Certain Songs #975: Lou Reed – “Underneath The Bottle”

Album: The Blue Mask
Year: 1982

I know that this is going to get me thrown out of the fan club, but I’ve never been enamored of Lou Reed’s 1970s material. I appreciate the subversiveness of “Walk on the Wild Side,” the ambition of Berlin & “Street Hassle” (and Metal Machine Music), and the guitars of Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal.

But I don’t l-u-v love any of them, and while I thought about writing about a couple of songs just to provide some kind of overview or not get kicked out of the fan club, I decided to skip straight to the first Lou Reed solo album that totally and completely blew me away, 1982’s The Blue Mask.

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