Lou Reed is also the title of Victor Bockris' biography of the man himself, which is an excellent read. It doesn't paint too pretty a picture of the man himself, but the detail of the VU, of the chaos around Lou's solo career, and the turmoil of his personal life, is incredibly compelling.
Also, although the song Heroin forever linked him to that drug, Lou Reed is a common name given to speed or amphetamines (especially in Melbourne, according to my sources, where speed is called "Lou" or "Louie"), which was really his drug of choice during the late sixties and most of the 70's.
There's way, way, way too much for me to write about Lou here, so if you're interested, buy the book. You won't regret it.
As a follow-on to ailie's write-up: Later, in the 80's, Lester Bangs, who was one of the Velvets' biggest fans, advised Lou to "start shooting up again", to improve the quality of his work. Lou replied by commenting that "(Lester) is fat and has a moustache. I wouldn't shit on his nose". Go figure....
Lou Reed, as most of you are probably aware, passed away on October 27, 2013, due to complications following a liver transplant. The first thing that sprang to mind for me was a lyric from his song, Magic and Loss - "There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss just to even things out"*
Lou Reed is also the title of Lou's first solo album, released in 1972. Having broken up the Velvet Underground in 1970, Reed took some time out, moving back in with his parents and taking a regular job. However, through Danny Fields, an acquaintance of Reed's from his days on Warhol's Factory scene, Lou became a member of a salon for writers, based in the New York apartment of Lisa and Richard Robinson, called Collective Conscience; in awe of Reed, the Robinsons fawned and flattered him, eventually persuading him to start making music again.
- I Can't Stand It
- Going Down
- Walk and Talk It
- Lisa Says
- I Love You
- Wild Child
- Love Makes You Feel
- Ride into the Sun
So, having signed to RCA
, Lou was shipped to London
, and bundled into the studio with a made-up band, featuring Rick Wakeman
and Steve Howe
, to record an album. Practically all the songs (apart from tracks 2, 5, 7 and 9, as far as I know) had been previously recorded with the Velvets, although never officially released until recently (mainly on VU
, Another View
or the Velvet Undeground boxset
, Peel Slowly and See
); and, it must be said, the Velvets did a much better job of them. Still, Lou Reed the album does mark the first appearance of Berlin, which is a pretty, slightly melancholy torch song
(although it gains more pathos
in the setting of one of Lou Reed's best albums, Berlin), and Wild Child is a great little rocker. Although later Lou would start improving on songs he had demo'd with the Velvets (especially Sad Song
, off Berlin), his first album is really nothing more than a curiosity.
* - I admit to being quite gratified when Neil Gaiman used the same lyric in his pseudo-obituary on The Guardian's website. Also, thanks to avalyn for prompting this update.