Lou Reed, The Bells

Michaelangelo Matos

By Michaelangelo Matos

on 02.06.12 in Reviews

The Bells

Lou Reed

Once punk had reared its head and Lou’s old neighborhood, too and he’d answered back with 1978′s Street Hassle, Reed tried something a little less rough-and-ready. The Bells, from 1979, is all-over-the-place musically: it even features a largely instrumental cut titled “Disco Mystic” that isn’t a joke. (For its opposite number, skip to the next year’s Growing Up in Public and hear “So Alone,” with its vicious four-on-the-floor parody.) Neither is the one called “I Want to Boogie with You,” though that one is far more of a throwback doo-wop number smothered in sax. “The Bells” itself began as a one-take vocal improvisation that he wound up loving so much he kept it intact, and highlighting on three subsequent career overviews a 10-minute swirl of a track that also features Reed playing guitar synth and trumpeter Don Cherry (part of the ’50s Ornette Coleman quartet Reed worshipped, rightfully, as a teenager) blowing freely on. The Bells balances Reed’s ambitious side and his throwaway side with ease.