LOU REED -- Set the Twilight Reeling (Warner Brothers)

The man once called "the poet laureate of New York City" has a new album out. Set the Twilight Reeling is the newest release from Lou Reed, his first in four years. Lou spans a wide range of "listenability" in his vast musical career. He can be brilliant, and he can be just plain awful. On his new album, he's very close to the brilliant end of the scale. A lot of this probably has to do with the fact Lou's happy. Elated. His new relationship with Laurie Anderson is the reason. "The Adventurer" is written about her specifically.

The CD is much more guitar based than his previous album, "Magic & Loss". Reed said in a recent interview that he used every guitar he owns on the new CD. The liner notes say "Due to increased dynamic range, raise volume above average. PLAY IT LOUD." Excellent advice, the album sounds great. It was recorded digitally, direct to disc in Reed's NY studio, The Roof. From the opening feedback into "Egg Cream", to the rocking finale of the title track, this is an excellent album. It's full of superb guitar work (Lou plays all the guitars on the CD), and intelligent lyrics of life and love as only Reed can write them.

There are a lot of really great songs on here. "NYC Man" has a really cool bass line running through it, courtesy of Fernando Saunders. "Riptide" is an eight minute guitar assault. Lyrically, the song conjures up images of dreams, dementia, and moonlit oceans. The brutally honest "Trade In" is another highlight. You can always count on Lou Reed to have something to say. He's never at a loss for words. The biting commentary for the right-wing conservatives, "Sex With Your Parents (Motherfucker)", is a perfect example. Reed captures several different moods with his guitar work on the CD, sometimes within the same song. The title track starts out as an acoustic tune, then rocks out at the end.

Those of us who were lucky enough to catch Lou Reed on his brief tour for the album know the musical excitement he's capable of these days. Reed has produced a fine new CD, his best in years.

© 1996 Steve Marshall