BY JOE GILSON
Lou Reed in the 1970’s, after he quit his band The Velvet Underground, leaving behind four brilliant albums and the part of his life that surely will be looked on as the most creative, influential and downright momentous. Although few knew it at the time.
The 60s: The Beatles were already running from flocks of screaming teenage girls, The Rolling Stones were stirring senses and controversy and soon thousands of hippies would flock to a field somewhere and lose themselves in music and fantasy. But there was an altogether more fascinating musical storm brewing. One found in the dingiest, darkest depths of New York City. One shrouded in drugs and sleaze. One encased in the mind and soul of Lou Reed.
Reed and his bandmates were on the brink of something that would be remembered as probably the most influential album of all time: The Velvet Underground & Nico. With its rhythmic, excited chords of I’m Waiting for the Man, the screeching viola of Heroin, the sinister lyrics of Venus in Furs, it’s still one of the most groundbreaking records recorded.
Brian Eno once said of this album: “It only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.” And some of those bands became big. From Iggy Pop to David Bowie, The Sex Pistols to The Strokes, musical heavyweights have consistently cited this album as an influence.
White Light/White Heat followed. And so did The Velvet Underground and Loaded. All as good as the last. All pioneering, all classic albums, all with Lou at the centre.
I don’t want to delve into Lou Reed’s solo career beyond The Velvet Underground because, arguably, the band was his crowning glory.
Just please do yourself and Lou a favour and listen to Heroin off The Velvet Underground and Nico and just bask in one of the greatest songs ever made.
Biography Victor Bockris said: “Modern music begins with the Velvets, and the implications of what they did seem to go on forever… The only thing I think would be a mistake would be romanticising them too much.”
Just for this brief period let’s make that mistake, let us revel in the glory that Lou Reed and his bandmates invented in the studio and let us believe that nothing has or will ever be as good. Because it might just be true.