Berlin is a 1973 album by Lou Reed, his third solo album and the follow-up to Transformer. In 2003, the album was ranked number 344 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, though the publication called the album a "disaster" 30 years prior.
Background and production
The album is a tragic rock opera about a doomed couple, and addresses themes of drug use and depression. Upon its release, the response of fans and critics was not positive as many were expecting another upbeat glam outing. Despite lukewarm reviews the album reached #7 in the UK album chart (Reed's best achievement there). Poor sales in the US (#98) and harsh criticism made Reed feel disillusioned about the album and in subsequent years he rarely played any Berlin material in his live shows. Over time many have come to consider Berlin to be among Lou Reed's best studio albums as a solo artist.
Musically, Berlin differs greatly from the bulk of Reed's work, due to the use of heavy orchestral arrangements, horns, and top session musicians. Instrumentally, Reed himself only contributes acoustic guitar.
"The Kids" tells of Caroline having her children taken from her by the authorities, and features the sounds of children shouting for their mother. The Waterboys take their name from a line in this song.
As with Reed's previous two studio albums, Berlin re-drafts several songs that had been written and recorded previously. The title track first appeared on Reed's solo debut album, only here it is lyrically simplified, the key changed, and re-arranged for piano. "Oh, Jim" makes use of the Velvet Underground outtake, "Oh, Gin". "Caroline Says (II)" is a rewrite of "Stephanie Says" from VU. The Velvets had also recorded a rather sedate demo of "Sad Song", which had much milder lyrics in its original form. "Men of Good Fortune" had also been played by the Velvets as early as 1966; an archival CD featuring live performances of the band playing at Andy Warhol's Factory provides the evidence of the song's age. The CD featuring the early performance of "Men of Good Fortune" is not for sale and can only be heard at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Reed and producer Bob Ezrin planned a stage adaptation of the album upon its initial release but shelved the plans due to mixed reviews and poor sales. In 2007 Reed fulfilled his original hopes by touring the album with a 30-piece band and 12 choristers. Director Julian Schnabel filmed the concert and released in 2008 as Lou Reed's Berlin, which opened to strong reviews. The album was digitally re-mastered and re-released on compact disc to commemorate the event.
"Caroline Says II" was covered by several artists : Siouxsie in 1993, by Siouxsie 1993 for Red Hot Aids and Antony and the Johnsons.
*Lou Reed – vocals, acoustic guitar
*Bob Ezrin – piano, mellotron, production, arrangement
*Michael Brecker – tenor sax
*Randy Brecker – trumpet
*Jack Bruce – bass; except "Lady Day" & "The Kids"
*Aynsley Dunbar – drums; except "Lady Day" & "The Kids"
*Steve Hunter – electric guitar
*Tony Levin – bass on "The Kids"
*Allan Macmillan – piano on "Berlin"
*Gene Martynec – acoustic guitar, synthesizer and vocal arrangement on "The Bed," bass on "Lady Day"
*Jon Pierson – bass trombone
*Dick Wagner – background vocals & electric guitar
*Blue Weaver – piano on "Men of Good Fortune"
*B.J. Wilson – drums on "Lady Day" & "The Kids"
*Steve Winwood – organ & harmonium
*Bob Ezrin – producer, Jim Reeves – engineer, Steve Hyden, Elizabeth March, Lou Reed, Dick Wagner – choir
*Allan Macmillan – arrangement
Category:Lou Reed albums
Category:RCA Records albums
Category:Albums produced by Bob Ezrin
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