Or better yet in the snark department, if John Lennon could say that Elvis Presley died when he joined the army (and that H. Gertz could say that Lennon himself died when he met Yoko Ono), then maybe Lou Reed died when he kicked John Cale out of the Velvet Underground! Now how does that one come off for doof-addled brilliance?
Not too good, hunh? Well yeah, I could've popped out a better one only I don't wanna come off too precociously smart like Oscar Wilde, and look what happened to him! But we're not talkin' that fag, we're talkin' this one, Lou Reed, a guy who love him or loathe him was responsible for almost single-handedly reorganizing rock 'n roll during its silver age, not to mention help keep the entire fanabla from totally tumbling into a stew of hippie spectacle and cheap progressive ploy. Perhaps he was thee rockin' redeemer at a time when we certainly needed a rock savior during the just-post-British Invasion era when rock music was beginning to flounder about unsure of its rightful place inna universe. Face it, the guy set the stage for Iggy, the Dolls and all of your favorite seventies bargain bin faves a whole lot more'n Jagger. Bowie or Morrison could, and you can tell he was good because he rubbed too many people the wrong way which in these days of unbridled cause/cult felcharama is certainly an asset.
And yes, the Velvet Underground were responsible for all of the good rock 'n roll music to have come out of the late-sixties and seventies, as well as all of the BAD music to come out afterwards. Can't argue with a bold fact like that!
But when Lou and the Velvets were making their own good rock 'n roll who but the stodgiest "classic rock" fan would deny that they were creating the best music to have come out of the form not only then but a good five decades later. The only groups that could come close were those that were directly influenced by 'em and yeah, I can name many instances of acts who had never even heard of the Velvet Underground who put out some wild sides themselves, but then again I get the feeling that your standard stuck up rock snob would blanch at the mere thought of the 1910 Fruitgum Company, Tim Buckley, the Sonics, the Sweet or the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (among many others) being considered "good" rock 'n roll. Kinda shows what kind of a chasm there is between high energy rockers like ourselves and the majority of people who claim to love rock 'n roll while paying homage to a hollowed out, cheap imitation of it.
Although it's supposedly hip to say so (even if Peter Laughner, a Mattel model version of Lou Reed if there ever was one, begged to differ), I will agree that the Velvets were at their best when Lou's street slime was countered by John Cale's avant garde inclinations. Hey, I will tell you up front that just about every note that the classic Cale-period Velvets, forever touted as being the "early Velvet Underground" even a few months after Cale had left the act (witness Dave Mush's review of the first Stooges album in CREEM) was beyond measure the best rock 'n roll to have been laid down to vinyl ever. Those sides continue to stand as a monumental testimonial to noise as art as a reason to tear things up, and its no wonder entire rock genres could be built on those two platters which were so powerful that they were talked about in tones maybe not so hushed even when these records had gone out of print in the USA. A basic template that could be extrapolated on or reduced to a basic pulse, and whatever was done it was something that was bound to make the unacquainted squeem in terror as any listen to WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT in its nerve-shattering entirety will prove.
Even the latterday Velvets would get compared to their early selves which only goes to show you just how important and life-reaffirming the Velvets were, even when they were singing about death and dope making a whole load of kids wanna cop some of that dark universe in the process.
But hey, I don't give a coprophaggot Reedian ass that the Velvets sang about drugs and sex practices that might now be legal but are certainly not risk free no matter how you look at it. It's the drone, the ideas and the repeato-riffs that sold me. And although the lyrics did have their air of beauty I guess Reed could have been mumbling the telephone book and it still would have come off overload. Some people just have that gift.
Of course solo Reed, even with the few bright spots and METAL MACHINE MUSIC searing the synapses of your mind, never did add up to anything he was able to cook up during his Velvets tenure. The early eighties Robert Quine band was a magnificent romp true (and I have been known to enjoy TRANSFORMER on a once-in-a-lifetime basis), but given the material Reed gave Quine to perform its a wonder it came out as good as it did. It reminds me of what Thomas Fleming on the CHRONICLES website recently wrote about how he much more enjoyed Reed back when the chap was a drug sotted degenerate...when he went liberal he started singing about saving the whales just like all of those protest kiddies Reed once upped nose at! The perfect move to cuddle up to the Jann Wenners in order to get some crucial bigtime rock space but certainly a downer for people like you. Or what Harvey Gold said at a Tin Huey concert in 1973 (prior to a particularly potent "Sister Ray" dedicated to Peter Laughner and Maureen Tucker)...that Lou Reed was once great, now he's only good (and guess what he became by 198X...a bigger embarrassment than the time Brad Kohler's uncle unscrewed that Oreo cookie and stuck 'em to his nipples while imitating a topless island hula dancer and in front of the entire fambly t'boot!).
Well, there is one thing that we should all be grateful about regarding Lou's death, and that is he won't be around this November 22nd to sing "The Day John Kennedy Died" for the fiftieth anniversary hullabaloo bash that's undoubtedly gonna happen all over the place. And you know he would have, for some sycophantic clingons out there!