When Joe Strummer died I listened to nothing but old Clash albums, and his fantastic solo album Streetcore, for 2 weeks straight. During that time I rediscovered what it was about Strummer and especially his old band The Clash that made them so special. I’ve been a fan since I was 13 years old and can still recite word for word virtually any song in their discography from memory. Maybe because of the familiarity and overexposure as a teen I rarely feel the need to throw on a Clash album. When Strummer died, though, I felt the need to listen and was shocked at how fresh those old songs sounded to my rapidly-approaching-middle-age ears. It was a bit of a revelation.
On a much lesser scale, when Michael Jackson died I discovered, for the first time really, what an incredible album Off The Wall was, and remains. Thriller is good, but it has its share of drek, too. OTW is 100% all the way through.
So when Lou Reed died I dusted off all my old VU and Lou Reed CDs and discovered that:
a) I really don’t care for White Light/White Heat
b) That only New York, The Blue Mask, Berlin, Rock and Roll Animal and Transformer are worthwhile Reed solo efforts. The rest of his discography is spotty at best.
c) The 3rd VU album is a masterpiece, and probably my favorite out of all of them.
d) The much maligned Loaded album is a far better album than people give it credit for being.
That 4th point is what I wanted to chat about this morning. When I bought Loaded I bought the “Fully Loaded” edition, which contains a bunch of b-sides and remixes of songs from the album proper, but unlike a lot of ‘bonus’ tracks a large majority of these are worthwhile, particularly Ocean, a long lost version of a track from Reed’s first solo album. Ocean is rapidly becoming one of my all time favorite Lou Reed songs, VU included. Who Loves The Sun is a terrifically light and airy song that seems out of its time (1970); had it been released in 1966/’67 it would have most likely been a hit, even with Doug Yule on vocals. Oh, Sweet Nothin’! is a standout, and really how can anyone fault an album with Rock and Roll and Sweet Jane on it?
The death of Reed didn’t affect me as much as Strummer’s did, but it did make me pause to reflect on his music, and in the process I re-discovered a gem!