Lou Reed, Walking On The Wild Side

Matthew Fritch

By Matthew Fritch

on 10.26.12 in Reviews
Lou Reed’s most engaging, crowd-pleasing concert recording

The only thing to dislike about this 1972 live recording is its unimaginative title—and even that is an improvement from its previous moniker, American Poet. Whatever you call it, and it’s no doubt had many other handles in its life as a long-sought-after bootleg, it stands as Lou Reed’s most engaging, crowd-pleasing concert recording. Taped at a New York radio performance shortly after cutting his glam-rock statement Transformer with David Bowie and Mick Ronson, the famously cranky, recently dyed-blonde Reed is almost genial here, perhaps due to the obvious excellence of his then-new material: “Vicious,” “Satellite Of Love” and “Walk On The Wild Side.” Even the Velvet Underground songs, including a slowhanded “I’m Waiting For The Man” and eight minutes of “Heroin,” bristle with energy. Walking On The Wild Side is more controlled, nuanced and nicer than either Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal (Reed’s forcible arena-rock live album) or Live: Take No Prisoners (often called Reed’s comedy album due to his drunken, angry monologues). During a mid-album interview segment, however, even a cheerful and well-adjusted Lou Reed can’t pass up the interviewer’s softball question: “Where’s Doug Yule?” Reed: “Dead, I hope.” Maybe blondes really do have more fun.