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Lou Reed - Lou Reed's Berlin

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 24 / 5 / 2008

Lou Reed - Lou Reed's Berlin


Anthony Strutt previews 'Lou Reed's Berlin', an 85 minutes-in-length concert film of his 1973 third solo album, 'Berlin', which directed by Julian Schnabel will be released in cinemas in late July

'Lou Reed's Berlin' is directed by Julian Schnabel and is an 85 minutes-in-length concert film of his third solo album, Berlin', which was released originally back in 1973. At the time, after the success of his second solo album, the previous year's 'Transformer' which drew him into the spotlight, it didn't live up to expectations of him, but since has gone on to be seen as a masterpiece. Reed spent much of the final part of 2006 and much of last year touring America, Australia and Europe with 'Berlin', and will be doing so again this summer. The album consists of ten songs and is a concept album telling the story of Caroline, a bad mother who at the end has her kids taken away. Of these ten songs, half of the album consists of old songs. 'Berlin' first appeared on his eponymous 1972 'Lou Reed' album, his first after leaving the Velvet Underground who carried on without him and produced one more album, 'Squeeze'. 'Men of Good Fortune' is an old Velvets tracks which the band never recorded but that was played as early as 1966. 'Oh, Jim', was again a Velvets track formerly known as 'Oh, Gin' and appears as an extra track on 1997's remaster of the Velvets' 1970 album,'Loaded' as does 'Sad Song'. Both appear there as demos and are also on the Velvet Underground 1995 box Set, 'Peel Back Slowly and See'. 'Caroline Says II' is another Velvet Underground track as it is basically a rewrite of 'Stephanie Says', which finally emerged on the 80's rarities collection, 'V.U.'. The album and live setting of this follows Caroline through birthdays and parties to hanging out with guys, having sex, having children, taking drugs, and then not being able to cope, so having the children taken away. 'The Kids', which comes two thirds of the way through the album and in which her children are finally removed from her, is especially harrowing as no one was writing about subject matter like this at that time. The film was shot at one of a series of New York warm up shows which took place over five nights at the St Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn in December 2006. It was commissioned to be an exclusive for the Sydney Festival in 2007, but it went down so well he toured Europe with it in July of last year and is doing so again this summer as well. The film features Reed on electric guitar, whereas on the original album, he only played acoustic. It is very well directed by Schnabel, showing the 30 piece ensemble including his band, a string and horn section, and a children's choir, who have toured 'Berlin' with Reed, and has also additional clips of a film of Caroline, played by French actress Emmanuelle Seigner, to help the story along. The film also features Antony of the Antony and the Johnsons fame as a backing vocalist. He has been a friend of Reed's for a number of year and toured with him on his 2003 tour for 'The Raven' album, but didn't tour with him in Europe last July. The film features almost exactly the same set as he toured Europe with last summer, the only difference coming in the encores. The encores for the film consists of 'Candy Says' from 1969's 'The Velvet Underground', sung firstly by Antony then Lou, followed by 'Rock Minuet' from 200o's 'Ecstasy' and finally as the credits roll up, 'Sweet Jane' which goes down a storm with the audience as as it is lightweight comparision to the heavy material the audience have just had to witness. At the London shows last year the audience in contrast was given as encores ' Sweet Jane', which comes from 'Loaded', and 'Satellite of Love' and 'Walk on the Wild Side', both of which are tracks from 'Transformer'. This is an excellent film, and a much cheap way of experiencing the album as tickets for forthcoming shows in London, Nottingham and Edinburgh this summer are between £30 and £85. It is very much worth seeing, but definitely for Reed hardcore fans only. 'Lou Reed's Berlin' opens at selected cinemas across the United Kingdom on the 25th July 2008.

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Lou Reed - Lou Reed's Berlin

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