Lou Reed, Live: Take No Prisoners (1978)
As far as live albums go it’s flawed – as far as stand-up comedy albums go it’s perfect. Here Lou Reed showed how punk he really was, no need for guitars, no need for conventional song-structures, no need for not having contempt for the audience. Here Lou Reed spits his fury in that deadpan comic tone where he’s bitchy and catty and acting like a stuck-up, punch-drunk queen. And it is fantastic. That opening version of Sweet Jane where the show band arrangement is transmogrified by Reed having a couple of goes at quoting Yeats and memorably sniping, “gimme and issue I’ll give you a tissue – and you can wipe my ass with it”. I was warned away from this double-album – Reed’s third live album in less than five years. The cover sticker announces – somewhat proudly – This Album is Offensive. But I was warned off it before then (that sticker is a beacon). I’d read a couple of Reed bios and the authors tried to talk smack about it; tried to run it down. It’s like telling a three and a half year old nephew to not do something by putting don’t in front of it. It makes him just want to do whatever it is you’ve said no to; it makes him just hear the sentence – everything after the don’t. Well, that was the same with Take No Prisoners – the warnings against it just make you want to hear it. It’s one of the great truths in Lou Reed’s catalogue. And yet in its own way it’s as manufactured as he ever got. It makes a lot of sense on vinyl – across four sides. That nearly side-long version of Walk On The Wild Side which basically exists for him to tell us all the story of how the song came to be. And after that long build up there’s the giant fuck you of Leave Me Alone – a fuck-you to both the audience and himself. Glorious. As petty as you expect Lou Reed to be. As perfect as he could be. It is the real summation of him in the 1970s.
Sample Track: Walk On The Wild Side
The Vinyl Countdown is a document of every LP I listen to, brand new discoveries and old-old favourites; extremely pre-loved, previously abandoned or with the shrink-wrap having just been removed it’s all here at The Vinyl Countdown