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2023/4 Albums Thing 294 - Lou Reed “New Sensations”

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In the 80’s I had this album on cassette. I was never a particularly big Lou Reed fan so I must have got it cheap from somewhere but I got right into it and played it to death. I’m guessing it’s not many people’s but on a small sample size (i.e. I don’t know that many of Lou’s solo records that well) it’s my favourite Lou Reed album.

Released in 1984 it’s a very 80’s sounding record, big drums, mostly clean sounding chorused and reverbed to death guitars but there is something about the songs within that really drew me in and hooked me. Side 1 kicks off with the pop ’n’ roll romp of “I Love You Suzanne” which is followed by the vaguely dancey pairing of “Endlessly Jealous” and “My Red Joystick” (wink wink). All OK but nothing too special.

After that, starting with “Turn To Me”, this album really takes off. “Turn To Me” begins with the withering lyric “If you gave up major vices, You're between a hard place and a wall” but winds up being a beautfulliy supportive thing promising that whatever ill befalls you, you can rely on Lou. Title track “New Sensations” feels quite important to the whole record. Lou sings of wanting to change “I want the principles of a timeless muse, I want to eradicate my negative views” and jumping on his motorbike to head out of the city “I headed for the mountains feeling warm inside”. Now to me Lou Reed’s writing has always been firmly set in the city, more precisely in New York City, so to hear him heading for the hills is quite the departure.

Side 2 begins with the gorgeous “Doin' The Things That We Want To”. Lou talks about going to see a friends play and how that made an impression on him. Then he moves onto Martin Scorsese’s films about New York and how they inspire him. He finishes with the lyric “I wrote this song 'cause I'd like to shake your hand, In a way you guys are the best friends I ever had” and the admission that what he wants is “A true love”. "What Becomes A Legend Most" feels like it may be looking back at one of Warhol’s “superstars”.

“My Friend George” is my absolute favourite, a strange tale of Lou’s friend George who sounds like something of a card who had a “killing stick” (which may or may not have been a sword), boxed and was ready for “the fight”, whatever that may be. It’s a song of friendship and  love it. We end with the gentle “High In The City”, a tale of how dangerous New York can be while at the same time wanting to be there, and all that alongside a Steel Drum solo. And thats where the interest ends for me as final song “Down At The Arcade” is a companion to “My Red Joystick” and suggests Lou may have spent too much time playing video games.

There seem to have been some changes going on in Lou Reed’s life when he was writing “New Sensations” and all of that is played out in song. Its a record that’s been with me a long time and one  still turn to regularly.

My Friend George - https://youtu.be/9Et2mU16CjU?si=ZRR7rBhp3s4RYUVj

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