Alice Tully Hall 1973: Remastered [no label 1CD Torrent: 65030]
Live in New York, Jan 27, 1973. Ex SBD stereo, now very clean sound.

It was official. Hell had frozen over, pigs were flying, and Lou Reed was on the edge of superstardom, beating out of every radio in the land with those colored girls going “doo doo doo.” Less than three weeks after this concert, “Walk On The Wild Side” would become Reed’s first (and so far, only) Billboard chart entry - which, in turn, means this is one of the last recordings you’re going to hear where he’s playing to the converted alone, before the chart-hopping masses stopped grooving to Grand Funk and got into “Heroin” instead.

A partisan New York audience makes him feel at home, though, and if the band is a little fussier than subsequent Reed combos, the nifty little guitar licks and drum fills that flicker and flash through every song give the performance a cheerful buoyancy that Lou rarely permitted in later years.

“Walk And Talk It” is pure pop, of course. But so is the opening “White Light,” and if “Waiting For The Man” has a subdued sobriety, an unknown onstage voice makes up for it when it demands “cut down on the feedback!” Cut down on the feedback at a Lou Reed gig? Yeah, right. Oh, and while “Heroin” is probably the perkiest you’ve ever heard, the encore “Sister Ray” is positive Partridge Family territory, so cheerful and chipper that you’d never believe that it still rates among the most forebodingly sinister songs Reed has ever written. Shame it truncates at eight minutes, though; there are a longer versions available on other period recordings, and they’re even bouncier!

Excellent (if a teensy bit treble-y) sound, great stereo separation and a solid set that marches through Velvets and solo highlights alike, this might not be the best 1972-1973 era Reed show available, but it’s certainly one of the best quality. - Dave Thompson

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August 8, 2008