Thursday, December 14, 2006
Lou Reed's Berlin, On Stage and On Eight-Track
Did a double-take on Dec. 13, when the New York Times gave both front-page play and a cover in the Arts Section to the fact that Lou Reed was performing Berlin in all its self-wallowing glory, 33 years after the fact, over four nights at St. Anne's. I'll let you in on a little secret: Even at age 16 in 1973, when suicidal angst should have ridden in stride, I thought Berlin was a tad bit overblown, like a quaalude soap opera gone mad. If the Mountain Goats had been around when I was in high school, that would have fit my apocalyptic sense of humor much better, but Berlin, while interesting, was over the top. Still, it's about time it got its proper airing. "They're taking her children away, because they said she was not a good mother...."
Conducting a little research on this topic made me realize that I was not crazy back in the 1970s. I bought Berlin on 8-track tape first, and had the most complete version that existed. The folks at the 8-Track Heaven web site confirm that this version had almost one minute of music from the album that was never on LP, cassette, or CD. And they even provide the sound clip to prove it. See, mom? It wasn't the drugs! That strange intro to Lady Day really does exist!