Near the beginning of this brilliant new album [Street Hassle], Lou Reed sings: "It's been a long time since I've spoken to you." The line has a resonance far beyond its literal meaning. In the years following the breakup of the Velvet Underground, Reed's bizarre and half-baked semistardom became a travesty of his art, as one of the most magical raw nerves of our time coarsened into a crude, death-trip clown.
Whereas Reed with the Velvets had once broken our hearts with a compelling vision of sin and redemption, he now broke them by turning his post-Underground LPs into floating freak shows. While much of Reed's solo work was far from bad, one has to remember that his admirers expected him to...
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