Between Thought and Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology

With his dry, barely melodic vocals and offhand, skeletal arrangements, Lou Reed — New York’s gutter-poet godfather of punk-rock rebellion — has made his solo work a defiant dare to audience acceptance (he’s had exactly one hit single, ”Walk on the Wild Side”). Whether chronicling the sex-and-drugs demimonde or his emergence from it, whether backed by quiet strings and horns, a simple trio, or a bombastic heavy-metal band, Reed’s constant is trenchant social commentary. Between Thought and Expression, three carefully compiled discs (or cassettes), underplays Reed’s forays into sonic extremism (four rambunctious concert records are represented by just two songs) but touches all his stylistic bases. A sampling of 14 uneven studio albums (1972’s Lou Reed through 1986’s Mistrial), the box offers a consistently strong — if still unyielding — portrait of a serious, evolving artist. The fawning liner notes cry out for overhaul, but the track selection is largely on the money, with a batch of rare and unreleased items (like a hoarse 1976 rendition of ”Heroin,” featuring trumpeter Don Cherry) to intrigue serious devotees. A-

Between Thought and Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology
  • Music