Album Reviews

Lou Reed

Lou Reed – The RCA & Arista Album Collection

Artist:     Lou Reed

Album:     The RCA & Arista Album Collection

Label:     RCA/Arista

Release Date:     11/18/2016

100

Sweet Lou. Street poet. Rocker. Rebel. Visionary. Provocateur. Exile. Army reject. Back alley mystic. Pusher of envelopes, musical and otherwise. Cultural icon.

Lou Reed – The RCA & Arista Album Collection brings together, for the first time in one comprehensive CD anthology, the 16 groundbreaking studio and live albums he made as a solo artist following the 1970 dissolution of the Velvet Underground. This box set was Lou’s last project and lived to oversee the re-mastering of all of it. It’s a stunning package.

It comes in a big black box full of passion and magic with Lou’s name indelibly stamped across the front. Each of the 16 albums comes with the original artwork. It’s interesting to see the visuals of Lou evolving and experimenting, time and time again over the years. It includes an 80-page hard-bound book featuring memorabilia from his personal archives, rarely seen photos and artwork, interviews with Lou during his years as a recording artist for RCA and Arista and evocative in-depth liner notes, written by Lou’s longtime friend and the collection’s co-producer Hal Willner. Produced by Lou Reed, Hal Willner and Rob Santos, this box set is masterfully done. To have all this material in one place and put together with such care and respect is a genuine rock and roll gift.

Lou’s music has always had and continues to have a big effect on me and I’m happy to see it presented in such a thorough and beautiful way. The overall package is a barnburner and a great lesson and example for aspiring musicians and artists of all kinds to see a risk taker and real artist showing how it’s done.

There are lots of interesting things in the 80-page book, including hand written lyrics and a copy of the summons to appear in municipal court in Miami Beach for performing “in an ‘obscene’ manner by using obscene language and making obscene gestures while entertaining the public at the Miami Beach Auditorium.” Priceless!

It also contains five 8×10 prints suitable for framing and a rare RCA promotional poster, with Lou’s own short ten-point bio, that alone is worth the price of admission.

There was only Lou Reed, and this collection bears great witness to his brilliance and his courage. He followed his heart and trusted his instincts no matter what anyone else thought or said and I think that’s one of the reasons why he was so loved by so many.

Thanks, Lou, for the wild ride that continues to inspire.

Willie Nile

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