Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal is perhaps the best live execution of music performed by Lou Reed ever recorded.
According to some folks out there, this album is up there in the pantheons of live recordings sitting next to notable releases like At Folsom Prison, At Fillmore East, and Get Your Get Your Ya Ya’s Out, or at least one of the most legendary by an outcast who often could not even stand up correctly or speak well in public. This is one of Lou Reed’s crowning achievements in music and a great token left behind in his wake.
Originally released with just five tracks on the album (two tracks added on the 2000 cd remaster), Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal is loose, yet very tight in the overall performances and quite an album to hear. The nice compact package is something you can throw on and easily hear with no rush to get through.
The man was on point that night back on December 21, 1973, but even if he were mailing in an awful performance the backup band would have made the event still worthwhile. Having the duo guitar work of Alice Cooper alums Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner was a brilliant move and their live improvisation on tracks such as “Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Intro/Sweet Jane” is incredible to hear.
The real highlight of the album though is Mr. Reed himself. Never has the man sounded so alive and comfortable with himself in performance mode. His street-talk style of singing has always sounded cool and in a live setting, it transcends boundaries and almost feels like a beat poetry exhibition. Just take a listed to “Heroin” and feel the pain of man who has been through the gutters of life. Also, take a gander at the awesome version of “White Light/White Heat” which pretty much re-writes the entire song instrumentally and throws down with a massive performance the likes of which Zeppelin would be proud to hear.
Released in February 1974, Rock ‘n” Roll Animal is easy listening and a very nice record to play in the background while lounging around the house. Take a seat, get comfortable, and let one of music’s often misunderstood, yet greatest rock icons relax your mood and chill with you for just short of an hour.Dig it!