Lou Reed - Live In Italy
It may therefore come as something of a surprise to find that I have a double live vinyl of Lou Reed which I rate so highly. I can't explain what prompted me to buy it because I cannot remember, but once I had it, I found myself listening to it much more than all the other stuff I had gathered by then with Lou Reed on it combined. If you ask me, Live in Italy, which was recorded, among other places, at the great Roman amphitheatre in Verona, is much better than any of his studio output and is a quality live album. This album restored my faith in Lou Reed and it was this which finally led me to purchase a couple of Velvet Underground albums in due course.
The album contains tracks both from Reed's solo career and his time with the Velvet Underground. The highlight for me is the truly emotional rendition of "Heroin", which is absolutely superb. It is fuller than the original and Reed's voice carries with it a true weariness which the original lacked in favour of suppressed anger. There are similarly stronger songs than the originals with "Average Guy", "I'm Waiting For My Man" and "Kill Your Sons".
The guitars throughout are better as well, perhaps because Robert Quine had more basic competence in that field than any other guitarist Lou Reed has played with the possible exception of Mick Ronson. But I was never really that much of a fan of Mick Ronson. The production, so often a failing of live albums generally, is also top notch on this so it sounds pretty much perfect. Whether holding it in the acoustic perfection of a Roman amphitheatre had anything to do with that, I don't know, but I'd like to think that it did.
Whatever demons had been haunting Lou Reed's life (and they were many and varied) he seems to have come to terms with them on this album. Whatever aspirations he may have had, he is, on this album, at peace with himself as a musician to a much greater extent than before. The outcome is Lou Reed grown up. The rebelliousness and the anger of his youth have gone. He was also off the booze and the smack by now as well. He is now the mature man who realises he has a back catalogue of some pretty good, but not striking material, and he works within whatever limitations that imposes on him to the best of his capability.
In the end, I cannot say a bad word about this one. It is sad that this album is not given the recognition that it truly deserves by any of the critics. I would recommend anyone to go and hear this, even if you don't like Lou Reed or the Velvet Underground, just to hear how good a polished live act can sound.
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on 2011-05-03 CharlesMartel Said:
A much overlooked album which contains fine versions of some of Reed's best songs