December 24, 2002

"I have no attitude without a cigarette" -- lou reed

on lou reed's seminal and aptly named "take no prisoners," lou reinvents ten songs. basically, he just talk-sings over the music, explaining the songs' context or just plain ripping on people who annoy him. critic robert christgau gets abused at least twice ("what is robert cristgau doing today, is he a toe fucker?" and when lou talks about cristgau's consumer guide "how would you feel if you worked an entire year on an album and only got a b+ from some asshole at the villiage voice") during the 17 minute "walk on the wild side." in the song/rant reed talks of his anger at candy for putting "plastic in her fucking tit" and sings "little joe/little joe was an idiot."

lou discusses how the song was conceived: he was asked to create an off broadway play based on nelson algerons "walk on the wild side," which it appears lou didnt even like (he disses the book, chicago and saul bellow -- the bellow rip is likely due to bellow basing the main character in "humbolt's gift" on lou's college mentor delmore schwartz). he was asked to do the play soon after "loaded" had been released and lou left the band ("I left after we made 'loaded,' which was loaded with hits, and we were going to get too big") and was working for his dad for $40 a week as a typist. the play never came to fruition, but lou decided the book's title would be a great song title and he filed it away.

david frike, in the liner notes, states "for laughs and putdowns, electricity and delicacy, arrogance and honesty, 'take no prisoners' has no equal in the annals of live reed." he may be right, the music, while easily forgotten due to the piercing words, is tight and perfectly set for the performance and the comments resinate as much today as they did back in 1978. in "wild side," lou notes, "I've got more attitude than anyone in Jersey, just ask someone in Passaic."

for the record, christgau gave the album a c+ "I don't play my favorite comedy albums, even the lenny bruce ones, as much as I do 'rock and roll animal'." hmm. this is no mere comedy album, its great performance art and biting social commentary.

this album must be part of any lou reed fan's collection.


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