Animal Serenade

Animal Serenade

by Lou Reed
     
 
Lou Reed releasing a live album is hardly news at this stage -- he's done it more than a half-dozen times -- but his ability to suffuse each concert work with a unique personality is enough of a reason to stop the presses. Animal Serenade, recorded in 2003 in Los Angeles, splits the difference between Reed as urbane intellectual, reflected in material culled

Overview

Lou Reed releasing a live album is hardly news at this stage -- he's done it more than a half-dozen times -- but his ability to suffuse each concert work with a unique personality is enough of a reason to stop the presses. Animal Serenade, recorded in 2003 in Los Angeles, splits the difference between Reed as urbane intellectual, reflected in material culled from his reimagining of Poe's "The Raven," and Reed as back-alley poet, the persona that still imbues his takes on classic Velvet Underground songs. The latter still packs plenty of power, as borne out by a version of "Venus in Furs" that replicates the queasy sensuality of the original -- thanks in part to Reed's acidic guitar playing and an appropriately out-of-control cello solo -- and an extended version of "Heroin" that belies Reed's claim that he's put his debauched days behind him. The Poe material comes across with varying degrees of success -- Willem Dafoe's appearance on "The King of New York Cool" is a high point, while Reed's reworked "The Raven," at ten minutes, goes on a bit too long. Still, the fact that he's still restless enough to tweak even his best-known material says something about Lou Reed. He may not be an angry young man anymore, but he's still tireless in pursuing his muse.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Apparently the notion of Lou Reed reinterpreting the works of Edgar Allan Poe didn't strike a positive chord with many folks, given the chilly commercial and critical reception accorded to Reed's 2003 album The Raven, and it seems plenty of fans were no more enthusiastic about seeing the material performed in person, since the tour staged to support the album found Reed playing smaller venues than was his custom. And in both cases, the folks who took a rain check really missed something; while The Raven was genuinely flawed, it was also one of Reed's most ambitious and compelling albums in quite some time, and the subsequent live shows found Reed and his musicians in truly superb form. Animal Serenade, recorded during the Los Angeles date of the tour, is a striking two-plus hour document of Reed and a fine ensemble in full flight; Reed brought along a small but potent backing band -- bassist and sometimes percussionist Fernando Saunders, guitarist Mike Rathke, cellist Jane Scarpantoni, and backing vocalist Antony -- and the performances presented manage to merge the intimacy of a small-group show with the force and passion of a full-on rock gig. The takes on "All Tomorrow's Parties" and "Dirty Blvd." are both hypnotic and muscular, but the more subtle and measured interpretations of "Venus in Furs," "Sunday Morning," and "The Day John Kennedy Died" easily conjure up the same edgy conviction, and Reed's interplay with his group is marvelous. These folks don't simply back him up; there's a genuine sense of collaboration among the musicians that's one of the real defining points between good and great performances. Animal Serenade isn't the hardest rockin' live album Lou Reed has ever cut, but for the sheer commitment and power of these performances, it's in a dead heat with Live in Italy as Reed's finest concert recording, and makes clear that in his fifth decade in music, Lou can still deliver the goods -- and in some respects is actually getting better. A more than pleasant surprise, and truly fine listening.
Rolling Stone - Christian Hoard
Other live albums have shown that Reed knows how to blast through his impressive catalog, but Serenade offers nice glimpses of Reed's laid-back side.
Entertainment Weekly - David Browne
As usual, [Reed's] ego rages, but so, thankfully, does his guitar. (B+)

Product Details

Release Date:
03/23/2004
Label:
Reprise / Wea
UPC:
0093624867821
catalogNumber:
48678

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