Walk On The Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed (1977)

Lou Reed’s greatest hit… plus ten other tracks that were apparently pulled out of a fancy French beret. Not his best side.

Lou Reed the reluctant glam queen, the burned-out Factory survivor, the vicious rocker. It’s all there in the early years. Walk on the Wild Side captures some of it, sure, but this is the highlight reel Reed. The real Reed (presuming one exists) is on Transformer, Berlin, Rock n Roll Animal. Epic albums all of them, that bespeak his star quality better than “New York Telephone Conversation” or “How Do You Think It Feels” in isolation. The man only had the one hit anyway, and the decision to walk on the safe side with sundry singles left over is a copout. If you haven’t heard “Perfect Day” or “Caroline Says II,” then you haven’t heard the best of Lou Reed by far. The Bowiefied “Satellite of Love” is a fine choice, of course, and you couldn’t do this without Walk, but the rest of The Best is something of a bust. The decision to include the nonalbum B side, “Nowhere At All,” is a ballsy move, but it’s barely enough to counterbalance the castrated live version of “Sweet Jane.” They digitally remastered the whole thing in 1988, years before the industry got the remastering thing right by adding bonus cuts. In an earlier review, I called this “eclectic and delicious,” likely because I was starved for adjectives and good music. As a sampler goes, this follows. Lou Reed isn’t meant to be sampled and tasted but swallowed whole as either honeyed mead or bitter wine from blackest fruit in an act of faith befitting the fact that both libations are at the root blood Reed.

Original LP Version
A1. Satellite of Love (3:40)
A2. Wild Child (4:39)
A3. I Love You (2:16)
A4. How Do You Think It Feels (3:07)
A5. New York Telephone Conversation (1:31)
A6. Walk On The Wild Side (4:12)
B1. Sweet Jane (live) (3:32)
B2. White Light/White Heat (live) (5:15)
B3. Sally Can’t Dance (2:53)
B4. Nowhere At All (3:10)
B5. Coney Island Baby (6:35)

All songs written by Lou Reed.

The Players
Compiled by Lou Reed and Bruce Somerfeld.

The Pictures
Cover design and photos of Lou Reed and Rachel by Mick Rock. Art direction by Julie Harris and Steve Ridgeway.

The Plastic
Released on elpee and cassette in April 1977 in the US (RCA, APL1-2001), the UK (RCA, PL1/PK1-2001) and Canada (RCA, CPL1-2001); reached #156 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee and cassette in the US and Canada (RCA Best Buy Series, AYL1/AYK1-3753) and France (RCA, NL13753).
  2. Re-issued on elpee in 1981 in the UK (RCA, INTS-5171).
  3. Re-issued on compact disc in 1988 in the US (RCA, BG2-03753).
  4. Re-issued on elpee and compact disc in the UK and Germany (RCA/BMG, NL/ND-83753).

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