Lou Reed – Street Hassle (1978)

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Like so many of his greatest achievements, the three-part, nearly 11-minute title track to Reed’s 1978 album seems like a bad idea on paper. In its execution it is one of those rare rock epics that doesn’t suffer from overblown pomposity, but rather lives up to its ambition through the strength of a remarkable set of multi-perspective lyrics and a recurring musical theme that begins and ends the piece, first on quietly bowed strings and later in a beautifully mutated guitar workout. Between these moments, too much happens to describe — practically a novel’s worth — but the essence is an arresting, unsentimental look at junkie culture and life on the streets, including a brilliant spoken-word cameo from Bruce Springsteen, who cheerfully deflates the romanticism of his own epigram: “Tramps like us/ we were born to pay.” “Street Hassle” captures and conjures just about every trick in Lou’s bag: It is harsh and humane, profane and dignified. There are not too many songs which could rightly both be described as beautiful and also contain the insight. [Source]




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