The Raven

A wildly ambitious theatrical project revolving around the words of Edgar Allan Poe, Lou Reed's The Raven often falters distressingly in this double-disc audio presentation; overall, though, the recor

A wildly ambitious theatrical project revolving around the words of Edgar Allan Poe, Lou Reed's The Raven often falters distressingly in this double-disc audio presentation; overall, though, the recording impresses with its deeply felt connection to the dark power of Poe's still-influential art. Willem Dafoe, Steve Buscemi, and Elizabeth Ashley are among the spoken-word performers, while musicians joining Reed's potent band include free-jazz legend Ornette Coleman, Laurie Anderson, and a new Jimmy Scott-style singer named Antony (who contributes an otherworldly interpretation of Reed's classic "Perfect Day"). Beyond Dafoe's acutely resonant readings, the highlights include Reed's remake of "The Bed" (from Berlin) and his affecting new September song, "Who Am I?" There is also a one-disc version of the album, which should please most Reed fans.—BB