Lou Reed - Street Hassle (Cover Artwork)

Lou Reed

Street Hassle (1978)


For those who aren't aware, Lou Reed is known as the Godfather of Punk. It's a monicker he's avoided at all costs since punk music first hit the scene in the mid-`70s. Lou always considered himself too literate, too intelligent to be called the progenitor of a music scene known more for its style than its substance (whether it deserved it or not).

Street Hassle was Lou's bitch-slap to the punk scene. It was a reminder that in order to talk the talk you better fuckin' walk the walk. Anyone who grew up in the `80s (I was born in `73) may not know that Lou put himself at the front of the gay movement in the `70s. He claimed that he was what mainstream America feared: A gay man who won't take shit. A gay man who'll stand there onstage and inject heroin, tying the mic chord around his upper arm. A gay man who dated a transsexual for much of the mid-`70s (and to whom the title track of Street Hassle is dedicated). Hell, the first track opens with Lou having a conversation with himself, calling himself a "fuckin' faggot."

If you are new to Lou, this album may take a few spins for you to truly appreciate its value. Always the quintessential New York poet, the album oozes with his very personal, very disturbing portraits of the city's darkened alleys and streets.

Several concerts in Germany were recorded and used as the skeleton for this LP. The arrangements are pretty bare with Lou's voice way in front of the mix. On "Real Good Time Together," it's basically just Lou's voice played through some HEAVY reverb, until the final chorus kicks in. The title track may be the greatest love song in his entire catalog (with arguably the best bass line of any Lou Reed song, saved until the final 2 minutes of the 11+ minute track).

I wanna be black, I wanna have some natural rhythm, and shoot twenty feet of jism, too. And fuck up the Jews.
THIS is punk. This is style backed up by substance. It's Lou taking the back of his hand to all of the poseurs and wannabes and saying, "This is how it is done." Look at the album jacket. Lou, staring through his black shades at the camera...one of the most "punk" album covers of all time.