Lou Reed Readies Retrospective, New Album, Book

Two albums and a second book of lyrics in the pipeline
Posted Aug 2, 1999 at 12:00am
While Lou Reed toils away on his latest album, due to be finished at the end of next month, Arista Records' Masters Series is about to release a sixteen-track career retrospective masterminded by Reed himself. The urban poet produced and sequenced the seventy-five-minute anthology with longtime collaborator Hal Willner, and also insisted that Arista hire Maine-based mastering guru Bob Ludwig instead of their usual mastering service. The results, modestly called Lou Reed - The Definitive Collection, will be in stores on August 24.

The single CD compilation surveys Reed's work from his breakthrough 1972 solo album, Transformer ("Walk on the Wild Side," "Vicious"), all the way up to last year's live album, Perfect Night: Live in London, recorded at Royal Festival Hall in 1997. In between those two time markers is Reed's ironic "I Wanna Be Black" from Street Hassle and a live rendition of "Dirty Blvd." The record represents an impressive détente among the various labels that the former Velvet Underground member recorded for during the past three decades, including Reprise, Sire, RCA and Arista.

As for Reed's new album, he has reportedly recorded fifteen songs so far, after having to break camp and use another studio following the closing of his beloved Master Sound in the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens. Just after Reed began to record the album at the twenty-seven-year-old studio last May, a construction crew digging a water tunnel 700 feet below caused an intermittent rumbling to pervade the formerly soundproof studio.

So far recording at the new studio has been going well, according to a label source, and Reed is currently ruminating over a title, with Like a Possum said to be a frontrunner. Other entries in the name sweepstakes are said to be Ecstasy, Paranoia Key of E, Baton Rouge and Tatters. The album is scheduled for an early 2000 release.

In the meantime, Reed is gearing up for the release of another lyric book, Pass Thru Fire: A Collection of Lyrics. The 352-page hardcover book will be published by Hyperion Press in November.

Written by JAAN UHELSZKI for RollingStone.com News

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