Classic Rock Review

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Lou Reed Live In Italy (1984)


Review Forget about ‘Lou Reed Live’, ‘Rock’n’Roll Animal’ and even ‘Perfect Night in London'(all great records, by the way), Lou Reed Live in Italy is the best Lou Reed live album, bar none.

Just look at the track list, for crying out loud. After a three seconds long introduction, you can hear Reed’s guitar tears into the classic opening chords of Sweet Jane, the best riff he’s ever written. This version of Sweet Jane is arguably the best version out there – Lou singing ‘You know they’re sayin’ Jane, oh Sweet Jane’ is Lou at his finest, and Robert Quine… we’ll talk about Robert Quine.

Oh, why not talk about him now. Robert Quine is the best guitar player to have ever worked with Lou Reed. He is as good as Mick Ronson who worked with Bowie and Lyle Workman who played lead for Frank Black. He’s quite possibly even better. Listen to the lead guitar in ‘Waves of Fear’, it’s incredible.

Lou’s new stuff here is great – Waves of Fear and Average Guy are the stand outs, but the older Reed is what truly shines through. Sally Can’t Dance No More is a vicious attack on fame. The Satellite of Love is Lou’s romance at it’s best, and Walk on the Wild Side is, well, a walk on the wild side.

Still, to me this will always be memorable because of the Velvet Songs. Before and after, Reed will attempt to make the Velvet stuff feel at home in his sets, and, with the exception of the Loaded songs, he will always fail. This is the exception. White Light/White Heat, Waiting for the Man and of course, Heroin, Reed’s finest song, shine through the able musicians.

I’m way too young to have been alive through that Lou Reed tour, and even through I’ve seen Reed live, I’m still in agony for not have seen him live at those 1984 shows. This is the closest I’ll ever get.

Review The tour which gave us this album recorded live in Italy in 1984 was the first opportunity for Lou to present live the new material that would fuel his rebirth in the ’80s.

Not only was the material new – it was a new drug-free and sober Lou, and a blistering new band with Robert Quine on guitar. Featured are standard rockers like ‘Sweet Jane,’ ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ and ‘Satellite of Love.’ (Compare these versions to those included on Take No Prisoners!). Also here are new songs from the highly-acclaimed Blue Mask album and Legendary Hearts.

These shining albums brought Lou out of the late 70’s doldrums into which he had sunk, with the exception of classics such as Street Hassle, which unfortunately does not appear here. Highlights of the new material include Martial Law. For those interested in Lou’s former career with the Velvet Underground, there are excellent renditions of Sister Ray, Some Kinda Love and Rock n Roll. Lou plays straight on this album. He’s doing it right and the band are tight behind him.

Live in Italy is full of energy and lasts the test of time. It’s a worthwhile and rewarding addition to any rock collection, and serves as an excellent example of Lou Reed at his technical best.

December 30, 2013 Posted by | Lou Reed Live In Italy | | Leave a comment