Sunday, May 18, 2014
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: LOU REED - CLASSIC ALBUMS: TRANSFORMER/LIVE AT MONTREUX (Blu-ray)
I'm sure there will be more and more archive stuff to come in the wake of Reed's passing. This is stuff that has already been out on DVD, and now Eagle is making it available on Blu-ray for the first time. Economically, there are two different features on one disc; a live concert from 2000, and an episode of the fine Classic Albums series, on Reed's landmark Transformer album.
The gem is the Transformer doc, as it features Reed in full participation. Made in 2001, it follows the usual Classic Albums pattern, participants discussing the making of the disc, going over it cut by cut, even isolating specific parts on the original multi-track tapes. It's a joy to see Reed at the console, fading down everything else so he can hear vocals by co-producer David Bowie, or parts by the other producer, MIck Ronson, praising both. Reed is nowhere like his nasty reputation, happy to talk about the genesis of songs such as Perfect Day, Walk On The Wild Side and Satellite Of Love. Of course, it's all praise on the doc, which he obviously agrees with. There's not much to criticize about this album, though. Only Bowie's input is missing, and that would have been quite the reunion on screen.
After those high moments, the concert feature is a disappointment. Recorded at the Montreux festival in 2000, Reed is promoting his latest, Ecstasy. Not a bad album, but the performance is leaden and lifeless. Aside from Fernando Saunders' fluid bass lines, the guitars drone and the songs over little variety. Reed uses a teleprompter to read the lyrics, and smirks his way through, the whole show feeling like an in-joke for the band. Even a trio from the acclaimed New York album (Romeo Had Juliette, Dirty Blvd., Dime Store Mystery) and a closer of Perfect Day can't liven up this flat set.