Review Summary: "Despite all the imputations you could just go out and dance to a rock 'n' roll station."
After the release of Berlin
, whose genius would be understood by the critics many years later, Reed’s label asked the Velvet Underground’s former leader to record a more commercial-appealing album similar to Transformer: in the end they came up with a live record featuring his most famous songs, four out of five of which came from previous VU’s LPs.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal was therefore built up to sell and this fact really upset Reed who one year later would decide to publish the ear-bleeding Metal Machine Music
, a 60-minute-long record of pure noise, released on purpose to annoy his label.
Despite being forged in this unhappy background, its musical content is pure energy turned into rock’n’roll, performed by a real rock’n’roll animal
The Intro to Sweet Jane
is a solid 3-minute-long guitar phrasing between the two guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner which eventually turns into the riff of the well-known Velvet Underground song. Lou Reed, with the help of his backing band of course, manages to cover his own song majestically and turn it into a hard rock machine. It’s the best version of Sweet Jane
he’s ever mad, I reckon.
The strong atmosphere seems to dissolve a little in the beginning of Heroin
and Lou’s voice becomes more relaxed as he praises drug abuse through this controversial and misunderstood song, whose original viola-lead outro is replaced by a great distorted guitar work. As a result this version is much longer than the original and loses its noise-rock roots, leaving room to a catchier tune. White Light/White Heat
also happens to be addressed in the same rocking
has the chance to be reconsidered through the reinterpretation of Lady Day
, the only song extracted from a solo album of his, and even if the original track is already perfect as it is, this does nothing but pleases you in its entirety.
The closing track to this short but intense live album is of course the masterpiece Rock and Roll
, probably the best-performed song in here along with Sweet Jane
Steve Hunter is once again able to reinvent perfectly Sterling Morrison’s raw psychedelic sound and what a guitarist he is!
There’s nothing wrong with this record, at all. It’s a perfect example of how musicians should perform songs, either of theirs or not, on stage.
Lou Reed’s vocals are not that powerful but still remain very expressive. It’s just a bit of a pity that he parted from his role of rythm guitarist to embrace the one of the yellow-dyed-haired rock star.
Anyway that’s an irrelevant detail when you’re before such a rock’n’roll masterpiece.