Lou Reed's Love and Loss

Lou Reed - Ecstasy
(Reprise Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)

By Tony Bonyata

In 1966 Lou Reed shocked the, then burgeoning, psychedelic scene with a glimpse into his own dark and seedy underworld on his first album, The Velvet Underground and Nico. Lou sang of what he saw and knew at the time - heroin, drug deals, and sadomasochism.
lou Reed Since then Reed has waxed poetically about whatever has crossed his path, and having spent most of life on the gritty streets of New York City, he's seen and crooned about more than just a few deadly sins.
But subversiveness and the gutter is not all Lou is familiar with. As a wellspring of emotion, he's also praised love, desire, hope and a lust for life throughout his nineteen solo albums. In the '90's he even focused on the subject of death - with his 1990 collaboration with one-time Velvet's member John Cale, eulogizing friend and creative mentor Andy Warhol on the stark and brilliant Songs For Drella and 2 years later mourning two other close friends on Magic and Loss.
Now at 58, Reed is mourning again, only this time it's his loss of love, trust and marriage that he's grieving about.
On his latest release Ecstasy Reed reflects on his failed relationship with musician / artist Laurie Anderson. Songs such as the gentle "Tatters" ("I guess it's true that not all matches burn bright"), "Mad" ("I know I shouldn't a had someone else in our bed, who would think you'd find a bobby pin. It just makes me mad") and "Baton Rouge" all resonate with regret, heartache and pain.
But just because Lou's down doesn't mean he still can't strut a little of his old rock-n-roll animal magnetism. The opening number "Paranoia Key of E," with it's raunchy passionate guitar, along with the pounding, straight-on rock of "Future Farmers of America" and the proud rocker "Big Sky" still prove that Lou likes to take an occasional stroll on the wild side. On the feedback frenzy of "Like a Possum" he casts a noisy "Sister Ray"-light shadow from his former band The Velvet Underground, while he tells the dark tale of a dysfunctional, abusive family on the disturbing "Rock Minuet."
It ain't gonna burn up the charts, but leave it to Lou to turn regret and lost love into art.

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