Ecstasy

Ecstasy

4.0 3
by Lou Reed
     
 

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For nearly 30 years, Lou Reed has alternated streaks of provocative and inspired albums with unmemorable duds, so after his last studio album, 1996's disappointing SET THE TWILIGHT REELING, Reed seemed due for a good one. And "Paranoia Key of E," ECSTASY's first track, brims with promise by combining an instantly catchy guitar

Overview

For nearly 30 years, Lou Reed has alternated streaks of provocative and inspired albums with unmemorable duds, so after his last studio album, 1996's disappointing SET THE TWILIGHT REELING, Reed seemed due for a good one. And "Paranoia Key of E," ECSTASY's first track, brims with promise by combining an instantly catchy guitar hook, horns, and Reed's patented talking/singing voice in a defense against a lover's accusations of infidelity. It's a great song, but the album can't quite maintain its energy. ECSTASY alternates sparse ballads with crunching rockers for a lengthy 77 minutes, and while it's not as coherent a concept album as Reed's NEW YORK or MAGIC AND LOSS, the lyrics dwell on sexual obsessions and broken relationships, and the perspective is usually unsettling. With their desperate middle-aged lust ("White Prism" and "Like a Possum," which drones for 18 minutes), their casual misogyny ("Mad"), and their excuse making and blame laying ("Tatters"), Reed's libidinous characters challenge the listener to accept them on their terms, which isn't always easy, or swallow them as razor-sharp parodies, products of Reed's always tart humor. But it's hard not to like Reed's guitar playing, and the band's inspired playing counterbalances the narratives' cheap thrills. Due partly to Fernando Saunders's melodic bass, ECSTASY's music hearkens back to Reed's strong early-'80s albums, such as THE BLUE MASK and NEW SENSATIONS. Although horns and strings occasionally add color, the guitar interplay, whether rocking in anger or strumming in frustration, is at the heart of ECSTASY. Reed's characters can be heartless, but ECSTASY's music isn't.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mark Deming
Never let it be said that Lou Reed has lost the ability to surprise his audience; who would have thought that at the age of 58, on his first album of the new millennium, Reed would offer us an 18-minute guitar distortion workout with lyrics abut kinky sex, dangerous drugs, and (here's the surprise) imagining what it would be like to be a possum? For the most part, Ecstasy finds Reed obsessed with love and sex, though (as you might expect) his take on romance is hardly rosy ("Paranoia Key of E," "Mad," and "Tatters" all document a relationship at the point of collapse, while "Baton Rouge" is an eccentric but moving elegy for a love that didn't last) and Eros is usually messy ("White Prism"), obsessive ("Ecstasy"), or unhealthy and perverse ("Rock Minuet"). Reed genuinely seems to be stretching towards new lyrical and musical ground here, but while some of his experiments work, several pointedly do not, with the epic "Like a Possum" only the album's most spectacular miscalculation. Still, Reed and producer Hal Wilner take some chances with the arrangements that pay off, particularly the subtle horn charts that dot several songs, and Reed's superb rhythm section (Fernando Saunders on bass and Tony "Thunder" Smith on drums) gives these songs a rock-solid foundation for the leader's guitar workouts. As Reed and his band hit fifth gear on the album's rousing closer, "Big Sky," he once again proves that even his uneven works include a few songs you'll certainly want to have in your collection -- as long as they're not about possums.
Rolling Stone - Robert Christgau
"... a complex, musically gorgeous synthesis of the obsessions that powered Reed’s failled 1973 Berlin and his great marriage albums of the early Eighties, especially The Blue Mask."

Product Details

Release Date:
04/04/2000
Label:
Warner Bros Uk
UPC:
0093624742524
catalogNumber:
247425
Rank:
16042

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Lou Reed   Primary Artist,Guitar,Percussion,Vocals,Background Vocals
Laurie Anderson   Electric Viola
Don Alias   Percussion
Tim Latham   Recorder
Mike Rathke   Guitar
Fernando Saunders   Bass,Background Vocals
Doug Wieselman   Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Jane Scarpantoni   Cello
Steven Bernstein   Trumpet
Paul Shapiro   Tenor Saxophone
Thunder Smith   Percussion,Drums,Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Lou Reed   Composer,Producer
Tim Latham   Engineer
Fernando Saunders   Arranger
Hal Willner   Producer
Richard Bishop   Management
Steven Bernstein   Horn Arrangements

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Ecstasy 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved this album!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
perfect. one of the greatest albums to come along since the velvet undreground disbanded 30 years ago.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The best Loud Reed CD since New York.