Album review

Lou Reed : The Raven
Sire / Reprise

Lou Reed : The RavenWhat the fuck is going on here? I guess when you're Lou Reed you can do whatever you like, but a low concept delivery of Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven? Oh yes. Does it work? You betcha! The Raven is seemingly an afterthought of Reed's 2000 POEtry project - it takes a while to get used to, but if you know Lou Reed that will come as no shock.
    The great thing about The Raven is that it broods in the way that Marilyn Manson has been threatening to do for so long now and we're all bored of waiting for. Reed succeeds with this oddball idea because he has believed and lived it for the last couple of years, and rather like David Bowie's Heathen, it will do his public persona the power of good because it quite simply is genius incarnate.

Willem Dafoe's delivery of The Raven itself is excellent. Underrated as an actor anyway, this will remain one of his finer moments and I can honestly say it takes some doing to deliver Poe's work with honour and shine. Dafoe is just the tip of the guest list though. The Raven also features Steve Buscemi, Amanda Plummer and Elizabeth Ashley to name some of the more notable. Also, there's no show without Punch, so we are also treated to a guest appearance from Bowie (natch) on Hop-Frog. Also present are long time cohorts Mike Rathke, Tony Smith and Fernando Saunders. Surrounding yourself with trustworthy names is a good idea when you're about to change the rules on people.
    The Raven shines most brightly though where Lou is left to his own devices. Science Of The Mind is a wondrous canvas and whilst Change is quite frankly a bit shit, Who Am I is one of his best pieces of work in years.
    It would be lame to try and line The Raven up with a 'true' Lou Reed album because that's not the point here. The point really being that when a true artist turns up and decides to do something a bit different, he excels at it, takes a stand and doesn't care what the world says. If the world was listening, the world would agree.

At the end of the day, it's probably too late for Reed to build a new fan base, and some of the old school may have gotten bored of late, but with The Raven, Reed reasserts himself as one of the most diverse and influential artists of our times. Hopefully, this album will satisfy the fans and Reed himself. It's been a long time coming, but it's been more than worth the wait.

:: Sion Smith

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