Lou Reed is one of the most legendary and definitive voices in rock and roll, one of the creators of alternative music in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when he was a member of the legendary New York City-based band, the Velvet Underground. Now, after three decades and over 25 solo albums, Reed is back with one of his best albums to date, “Set the Twilight Reeling.”
Dedicated to Reed’s girlfriend and fellow performance artist Laurie Anderson, “Set the Twilight Reeling” has a central theme of emotional discovery and transformation. Reed once again mixes wry songs with tender ones and irreverence with brutal honesty. Also included is “Finish Line,” Reed’s tribute to fellow Velvet Underground member Sterling Morrison, who died of cancer in 1995. The song portrays death as the finish line of life, and all of us are the runners who race closer every day.
Reed’s sense of humor is evident in many of the songs, especially in his comparison of his disastrous break-ups to the amicable ones of his new love interest in the song “HookyWooky.
” In it, he comically reflects “None of my old flames ever talk to me/When things end for me they end/They take your pants your money your name/But the song still remains.”
Another side of Reed which is not so often revealed comes through this album. Pushing aside his tough-guy image, Reed wears his heart on his sleeve in “NYC Man,” “Trade In,” and the album’s title track. “Trade In” is especially poignant in its self-loathing portrayal of a man experiencing an identity crisis after falling in love.
Reed is best known for his powerful writing, and in his usual style, each song packs an extra lyrical punch. Whether Reed is fondly reminiscing about the egg creams he enjoyed as a boy in Brooklyn in “Egg Cream” or contemplating on how to keep a grip on life in “Hang On to Your Emotions.” Reed adds a poetic dimension to his music that most artists just can’t duplicate. All in all, “Set the Twilight Reeling” is a rare find, combining creative lyrics with hard-edged alternative music to come up with a unique listening experience that could only come from the incomparable Lou Reed
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