You’ve GOT to love Lou Reed…. Doesn’t matter if you care for his music, his projects, or what he says, but you’ve GOT to love Lou Reed. Does what he wants, says what he wants, when he wants to do it, fuck you, and fuck me. Love it. More punk than punk, if you ask me. Always loved Velvet Underground and any Lou Reed I got my ears around, but (and when you think about how rarely I listen to live albums, this isn’t that unusual) I never listened to his Live: Take No Prisoners double LP. In a way, I’m kinda glad, listening to wonderful member churrito’s vinyl rip of this 1978 record, I don’t know how well I would’ve appreciated it. This is unreal, Lou Reed’s ramblings make my jibberings look like mere haikus. That’s not an easy thing to do. Speaking of, instead of my usual mumbling, let’s let our vinyl-ripologist, churrito, do the talking:
“Hello. Sorry we were late but we were just tuning…”
“Here you have it, one of the most beloved and old titles in churrito’s collection, Lou Reed’s “Live: Take No Prisoners”. I remember paying a bargain price for it second-hand as a teenager in a street market devoted to rock music in Mexico city. It was one of my first introductions to Mr. Reed’s work. My English wasn’t as good then, but I just found awesome that he had the balls to do what I was hearing on record. This must be one of the most outrageous live albums ever and to this day it still amazes me that it was released as it is. You could say this is a spoken-word as much as a concert album, since half of the album consists of Lou’s banter showing him in a state of pure steetwise-punk brilliance, addressing issues that range from Vietnam to the Oscars and Barbra Streissand to his own stardom. This is Lou defending his right to be a person over the shallow character sold by the marketing department of a records company. Oh, but that’s what rock’n’roll is: Bullshit”, he says before fighting his own “Walk on the Wild Side” hit, he confesses: “I am sick of that song” as he continues to delay the moment of singing the verses that everybody wants to hear, and when he finally does he once again drifts away, commenting on where the lyrics came from and then giving his approval to Springsteen. All this doesn’t mean there’s no musical highlights like that guitar breaking just before the end of “Satellite of Love”, I dare you to not shiver when you listen to it the first time. “Berlin” evolves to an electrifying height, “Conney Island Baby” is rendered in the most heartfelt way, “Street Hassle” blossoms as you hear in a trance-like experience.
“The recording took place at the Bottom Line on June 17th and 21st, 1975 by Manfred Schunke, inventor of the “Stereo Binaural Sound” recording technology used in most of the albums that Lou Reed recorded for Ariola, which pretended to achive a “3-D” listening experience. The method didn’t become popular apparently because the effect only worked when you listened through headphones.
“Curious thing: though the order of the songs on the record sleeve puts Conney Island Baby and Street Hassle as the final tracks (side 4), when you listen to the actual vinyls, one of them comes with side 1 and side 4, while the other has sides 2 and 3, which is something that I’ve found happens quite often with double albums from the seventies (The Song Remains the Same by Led Zep from my own collection comes to mind), the funny thing here is the label stickers at the center of the vinyls state “Walk on the Wild Side” and “Leave Me Alone” as the final songs on side 4, opposed to the sleeve list. This was the order followed on a cd re-edition released a few years ago and also the order I prefer to listen this record to. At the end of Coney Island Baby I missed the final couple of seconds of the track, nothing important, just fading applause, then I noticed to correct the mistake I had to start the whole ripping again but I was too lazy to do it, hope you can forgive.
Nothing to forgive, my friend, only thanks to be given! This is a great rip, literally sounds like churrito dusted off the 30 year old record, plugged in some headphones, dropped the needle, and began to record. It’s loaded with all the snap, crackle, pop you’d expect from a used record this old and I love it. And seriously, an almost 17 minute version of “Walk On The Wild Side” that explains our infamous cast of characters while the band just keeps playing that riff quietly in the background? What the fuck? Who was doing coke off who’s dick when someone proposed to release this? Yeah, this is brilliant.
Thank you again, churrito, a completely unique listening experience to a completely unique album. For the rest of you, grab, load, and enjoy (and then get your ass down to the society to see all the other amazing good times going on in there) as the…