New York’s Bottom Line was something of a home away from home for the late Lou Reed. So it’s appropriate that Reed’s first posthumous release is Lou Reed and Kris Kristofferson: In Their Own Words with Vin Scelsa. Out Sept. 15, the set includes a live rendition of the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane,” featuring Victoria Williams, premiering exclusively below.
“Lou was very comfortable on the Bottom Line stage,” Gregg Bendian, the club’s archivist and producer of the Bottom Line Archive Series, tells Billboard. “He loved the Bottom Line. Live: Take No Prisoners (1978) was recorded at the Bottom Line.” That familiarity, according to Bendian, is heard throughout the two-disc title that blends conversation and performances, both solo and collaborative, from the two singer-songwriters.
“It’s very intense,” Bendian notes. “All of the songs where Lou plays by himself, you can hear the audience hanging on every word and every sound. Throughout the whole evening the audience is gasping. The audience is laughing. The audience is interacting with (Reed and Kristofferson). Lou just lets it all hang out; He’s funny, he’s irascible, he’s sarcastic. It’s a full Lou experience, and it’s very pared down and very raw.”
Like many of the Bottom Line Archive releases, the Reed/Kristofferson show — from February 2, 1994, with radio personality Scelsa moderating — was recorded on cassette and digitally restored by the Magic Shop. And though the two performers might seem like an odd pairing, they both shared a love of literature and, in fact, both wanted to be writers before going full-time into music. “They came from two very different worlds — Lou from New York City and Kris from part of the South,” says Bendian, who also wrote extensive liner notes for the set. “But they had so much in common in terms of expression — what they say very explicitly, what they experienced, what they witnessed, and no shortage of humor or scathing commentary on society.” In addition to their own material each man was asked to perform a cover; Reed chose Smokey Robinson & the Miracles’ “Tracks Of My Tears” while Kristofferson performed Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On A Wire.”
Bendian says more releases will be coming from the Bottom Line’s archive of more than 1,200 shows, though continuing negotiations for rights keep him mum about specific future titles. Meanwhile, the Bottom Line will also be hosting another In Their Own Words session during October with David Johansen and David Bromberg, hosted by Paul Shaffer, at NYC’s Schimmel Center.