Take No Prisoners
In the early '70s, Lou Reed was dangerous, and it wasn't just his depictions of the nocturnal New York underworld that were on the edge; his interactions with his audience and the press could be volatRELEASE DATE: Sept. 24
In the early '70s, Lou Reed was dangerous, and it wasn't just his depictions of the nocturnal New York underworld that were on the edge; his interactions with his audience and the press could be volatile, to say the least. Witness the still-astonishing live album Take No Prisoners, recorded in 1978 at New York's Bottom Line. Reed does as much talking as singing, and his often X-rated raps present a cavalcade of late-'70s urban characters, with his targets ranging from Barbra Streisand to Village Voice critic Robert Christgau. He also tussles "good-naturedly" with his New York constituency and gives props to Andy Warhol and Bruce Springsteen. The discursive version of "Sweet Jane" sounds better suited to a comedy album, but the "Berlin" here is superior to the studio take.
If Take No Prisoners is strictly for hardcore Reed fans, Transformer is now a mainstream classic, strangely enough. The former Velvet Underground leader's breakthrough solo LP of 1972—boasting the ever-iconic hit single "Walk on the Wild Side"—made the media world safe for drag queens, gay cruisers, hookers, drug dealers, and pimps. The proto-glam production by David Bowie and Mick Ronson has never sounded better, and alongside classics "Vicious," "Perfect Day," and "Satellite of Love," the reissue appends bonus acoustic demos of "Hangin' Around" and "Perfect Day." Both albums have been bracingly remastered and include extra photos and scene-setting new liner notes. These reissues join remastered versions of Blue Mask and the live Rock'n'Roll Animal in BMG Heritage's Reed series, with more to follow.—BB