Monday, January 16, 2012

Lou Reed 22: Between Thought And Expression

Now that Lou was making money for another label, his former homes took the opportunity to cash in. Conveniently, RCA and Arista were both under the same corporate umbrella, so compiling a box set was a fairly complication-free process, as long as they only went up to 1986.
Between Thought And Expression gets its title from a Velvet Underground song, and was also the title of a recent collection of Lou’s lyrics in book form. Here it simply traces his solo career from the first album up through Mistrial, with a sampling from each album along the way. This was a big deal in 1992, because many of his lesser-selling albums wouldn’t make it to CD for some time. Even Metal Machine Music is represented, in a 90-second snippet.
Most of the “hits” are here—“Walk On The Wild Side”, “Coney Island Baby”, the live “Sweet Jane”—though such singles as “I Love You Suzanne” and “No Money Down” aren’t. As for rarities, there are only a few: a live version of “Heroin” with Don Cherry on trumpet; a dull rave-up of the national anthem; a couple of early versions of later songs.
Lou was actually involved with compiling the set, and his reticence to open the vaults never jibes with his complaints about how the labels tampered with his work over the years. Here was a perfect opportunity to reveal his original intentions, and he passed.
As an introduction, Between Thought And Expression does the job of most box sets, so it succeeds on that level. But in an era when everybody was getting boxed, its usefulness would soon wane. Those seeking an introduction to the man’s work would have even more compilations to ponder in the racks as time went on.

Lou Reed Between Thought And Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology (1992)—

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