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Friday, 18 March 2011

Forgotten Album Friday #20 - Lou Reed & John Cale Songs For Drella

Songs for Drella (1990) remains a highlight in both Cale and Reed's lengthy careers- it forms part of Reed's strongest trilogy of albums since the Velvets demise (the others being New York, 1988 & Magic&Loss, 1992) Reed & Cale had infamously fallen out when in The Velvet Underground & had not worked together since- this collaboration, along with Moe Tucker's contribution to New York, would lead to the VU temporarily reforming (the resulting live album containing some wonderful takes on classics like Beginning to See the Light & Femme Fatale).

Songs for Drella is one based around a limited musical soundscape (Reed on Vocals/Guitar; Cale on keyboards/vocals/viola) & one that has a sense of improvisation. It was a work primarily written for performance- like Tom Waits recent Alice/Blood Money setz- so perhaps some of the songs are more theatrical than melodic; but I like the whole journey around a fictional take on Warhol's life from people who were once close to him...(the final track on New York leads here...)

The tracks with Cale on lead vocals stand out- Style It Takes (wonderfully performed on Fragments for a Rainy Season),Trouble with Classicists (great guitar from Reed), A Dream & (especially) Forever Changed stand out. Reed also gets to sing some great songs- the amusing Smalltown, the ethos of Work (up there with There is No Time), the spleen-venting I Believe (Valerie Solanis surfacing...) & especially the touching Hello It's Me- which shows that its possible to continue discourse with the dead: "I know it's late in coming but it's the only way I know/Hello it's me- goodnight Andy.../Goodbye Andy"-

Key tracks:

Style It takes
Trouble With Classisiscts
Hello it's Me

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