Posts Tagged ‘Street Hassle’

Lou Reed - Street Hassle front cover.jpg

Street Hassle is the eighth solo album by rock icon Lou Reed, originally released on Arista Records. The album is notable as the first commercially released  pop album to employ binaural recording technology.

Arguably, Street Hassle – the apogee of Reed’s adventures in the New York junkie underworld, made up of three “movements” , The first part is titled “Waltzing Matilda” but has nothing to do with the Australian song of the same name; we’re guessing the title stuck with him after Australian tours in both ’74 and ’77. Street Hassle and Slipaway. But each movement bleeds into and informs the other, adding up to a stark meditation on the fragility of human life. Besides, if the track ended after the second movement, with an overdose victim’s corpse dumped unceremoniously in the street, it would simply be too harrowing; instead, a ruminative coda – with guest vocals from Bruce Springsteen – provides a sliver of solace. Ultimately, though, the message is heart-wrenchingly bleak, with Bruce adapting the words of Born To Run to fit Lou’s more pessimistic worldview: “Tramps like us, we were born to pay.” this amazing rock opera written in 1978 by the best living rock songwriter, the NYC man Lou Reed. The song is divided into three parts (Walzing Matilda, Street Hassle, Slip Away), which have all the same music structure that meets first the orchestra, then acoustic guitars and rock bass guitars, and at the end the prayer of a penitent man, made of tears..

This was Lou’s eighth solo album, and one of many a fan’s favourites, “Street Hassle” is most often noted for its epic three-part title track.  As was common on ‘70s Lou Reed solo albums, Street Hassle contained a song originally written during his days in the Velvet Underground—in this case, “Real Good Time Together” (which more recently Patti Smith had been using as a set opener) – and the album the first pop album to employ binaural recording technology aka Dummy Head Recording, a recording technique that sounds so odd we suggest you look it up.

Street Hassle combines live concert tapes and studio recordings. All of the songs on Street Hassle were written by Lou Reed, The album was met with mostly positive reviews, Its Raw, wounded, and unapologetically difficult, Street Hassle isn’t the masterpiece Reed was shooting for, but it’s still among the most powerful and compelling albums he released during the 1970s, and too personal and affecting to ignore.

The broadcast recordings included on this release showcases Lou Reed’s eighth solo album, Street Hassle , which was issued in February 1978, during the most prolific period of the man’s recording career. Lou Reed had embarked as a solo artist in the early 1970’s, following his departure from the extraordinarily influential Velvet Underground – a group he had led since its inception in late 1965. As Brian Eno so memorably claimed, “The first Velvet Underground album only (originally) sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band.” Every one of the four Velvet Underground albums recorded during Lou Reed’s tenure with the group is included in ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine’s list of ‘The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time’. As critic Paul Nelson said of Lou in 1975: “Had he accomplished nothing else, his work with the Velvet Underground in the late Sixties would assure him a place in anyone’s rock & roll pantheon; those remarkable songs still serve as an articulate aural nightmare of men and women caught in the beauty and terror of sexual, street and drug paranoia, unwilling or unable to move.” Lou’s own versions of two of the most commercially successful tracks from the fourth VU album, ‘Loaded’ are included here. Rock And Roll is the semi-autobiographical tale of how music saved the life of a young radio-listener, invoking memories of Reed’s earliest musical endeavors as a salaried songwriter for Pickwick Records in New York in the early 1960’s. Sweet Jane, is another hook-laden delight riding a stone-cold classic riff that has been widely covered by a diversity of artists across the years, including Mott The Hoople, Cowboy Junkies, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica. After leaving the Velvets during the recording of ‘Loaded’ in August 1970, Lou moved to RCA Records and issued his first eponymously entitled solo album the following year. Well-crafted and featuring several songs originally written for the Velvet Underground, the album was well-received though not commercially successful. The follow-up, ‘Transformer’ (released in December 1972) and co-produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson was a different matter entirely. It boasted an insistently memorable hit single in the shape of the marvelously affectionate tribute to the Warhol/Factory era, Walk On The Wild Side, a song that Lou reprises here, together with the glorious ballad Satellite Of Love – surely two of the most widely known and best-loved songs in the entire Lou Reed solo canon. The album was a triumph and really served to establish Lou Reed as a solo artist of considerable stature internationally. Never one to rest on his laurels, Lou quickly followed up with the much darker-hued and heavily orchestrated rock opera ‘Berlin’ and what became his highest-charting album, ‘Sally Can’t Dance’, which reached the Top 10 in the USA (both albums were released in 1974). Also out the same year was Reed’s classic live album, ‘Rock n Roll Animal’ which memorably featured an absolute orgy of hard-rock guitar from Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter. Subsequent records ‘Metal Machine Music’ (a collage of electronic feedback and effects) and the more accessible ‘Coney Island Baby’ (a lengthy reworking of the title tracks is included herein) and ‘Rock And Roll Heart’ were not as well-received, before 1978’s ‘Street Hassle‘ marked a strong return to form. There are live versions of five of the album’s eight tracks here: Gimme Some Good Times, Dirt, Street Hassle, I Wanna Be Black and Leave Me Alone. The studio version of Street Hassle notably included a spoken piece by an uncredited Bruce Springsteen. AllMusic’s Mark Deming described the record as “among the most powerful and compelling albums he released during the 1970s, and too personal and affecting to ignore.”

01 – Gimmie Gimmie Some Good Times
02 – Satellite of Love
03 – Leave Me Alone
04 – Walk on the Wild Side
05 – Coney Island Baby
06 – Dirt
07 – Street Hassle
08 – Sweet Jane
09 – Rock ‘n Roll