THE LOU REED STORY
BY VICTOR BOCKRIS
REVIEWED BY B. D. Poe
email@example.comFor a while Lou Reed was a friend and pseudo protégé of Andy Warhol. A crystal metharine speed freak, an abuser of hard drugs that rivaled Keith Richards’ legendary addiction-Reed became the epitome of hipness and a major influence in the world of Rock and Roll. His poetically dark lyrics, avante garde styling and minimalist production established him as one of the remaining luminaries of modern music. Victor Bockris delivers a shocking exposition of Reed’s character and personal history in TRANSFORMER. Much like Bockris’ earlier work KEITH RICHARDS: THE BIOGRAPHY, this is not a pretty book. It deals with dark interpersonal secrets and jabs at emotional underpinnings dissecting Reed’s psyche and self made mythology. At 17 Reed lived in an upper middle class environment with neighbors such as Leo Carillo, who played Pancho in The Cisco Kid and June Lockhart, Lassie’s mom on TV. To cure young Lou Reed of homosexual feelings and mood swings he was put through some 24 electro shock treatments which left him numb and an amnesiac. But these did little to straighten out the teenage Lou Reed. The shock treatments seemed to solidify his rebelliousness and for much of his life he struggled with jealous rage and mood swings. When Lou and The Velvet Underground performed their first gig produced by Andy Warhol it was a bizarre multimedia happening at a dinner for psychiatrists. It was Lou’s turn to electrify the shrinks shocking them with a wild rendition of Heroin.They became part of Warhol’s traveling entourage all dressed in black, all on drugs, and all acting out ego traumas and fantasies they were a sensation wherever they played. The Velvet Underground went on to inspire Jim Morrison of the Doors and allegedly influenced the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy For The Devil, Street Fighting Man and Jumpin’ Jack Flash with Reed’s plagal-cadence songs. Years after their demise some critics would claim that The Velvet Underground was the second most influential rock band of the 1960s after the Beatles. When David Bowie went to New York to sign with RCA, he was thrilled to meet one of his idols-Lou Reed. It was Bowie who produced Lou’s TRANSFORMER album which produced the hit song "Walk ON The Wild Side" a musical portrait of characters from Warhol’s factory. At that point Bowie, Reed and Marc Bolan of T.Rex seemed to become the founding fathers of Glam Rock. Hooking up with Steve Katz, the former lead guitarist from Blood Sweat and Tears, Reed released a live album of Velvet Underground covers on the successful ROCK AND ROLL ANIMAL LP. But the Katz-Reed collaboration was short lived, ending in the same turmoil that broke up the Velvet Underground and the Bowie-Reed partnership. Lou’s insistence for complete control, refusal to share songwriting credits and his unpredictable personality tended to damage both professional and personal relationships. Bockris recounts an amusing story of Lou Reed interviewing Vaclav Havel , writer, dissident and now president of Czechoslavakia for The Rolling Stone magazine. The outcome was so disastrous that the interview went unpublished .When Havel visited the Clinton white house he asked that Lou. Reed perform in his honor despite the previously botched interview. Throughout TRANSFOMER Lou Reed is often Linked with and compared to Edgar Allen Poe. Supposedly, Reed’s next venture entitled POE-TRY will address the connection. Reeds most listenable works include: SONGS FOR DRELLA, 1990. (a Tribute to Warhol with John Cale) NEW YORK, 1989. (Depicts the dark side of the Big Apple) MAGIC & LOSS, 1992.(Deals with grief and transformation) LIVE IN ITALY, 1984. (German Import- His best Live album) SET THE TWILIGHT REELING, 1996. The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed collections are available in box sets. Reed’s METAL MACHINE MUSIC and PERFECT NIGHT (1998-LIVE) do not do the artist justice and should be avoided.
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