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Albums Of The Week: Lou Reed | Words & Music, May 1965

This collection of long-lost acoustic demos expose the folk roots buried beneath the noise and nihilism of the late Velvet Underground frontman's ’60s art-rock classics.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Light In The Attic Records, in cooperation with Laurie Anderson, proudly announces the inaugural title in their ongoing Lou Reed Archive Series: Words & Music, May 1965. Released in tandem with the late artist’s 80th birthday celebrations, the album offers an extraordinary, unvarnished, and plainly poignant insight into one of America’s true poet-songwriters.

Capturing Reed in his formative years, this previously unreleased collection of songs — penned by a young Lou, recorded to tape with the help of future bandmate John Cale, and mailed to himself as a “poor man’s copyright” — remained sealed in its original envelope and unopened for nearly 50 years. Its contents embody some of the most vital, groundbreaking contributions to American popular music committed to tape in the 20th century. Through examination of these songs rooted firmly in the folk tradition, we see clearly Lou’s lasting influence on the development of modern American music — from punk to art-rock and everything in between. A true time capsule, these recordings not only memorialize the nascent sparks of what would become the seeds of the incredibly influential Velvet Underground; they also cement Reed as a true observer with an innate talent for synthesizing and distilling the world around him into pure sonic poetry.

Words & Music, May 1965 presents in their entirety the earliest-known recordings of such historic songs as Heroin, I’m Waiting for the Man and Pale Blue Eyes — all of which Reed would eventually record and make indelibly influential with The Velvet Underground. Also included are several more previously unreleased compositions that offer additional insight into Reed’s creative process and early influences. Produced by Laurie Anderson, Don Fleming, Jason Stern, Hal Willner and Matt Sullivan, the album features newly remastered audio from the original tapes by Grammy-nominated engineer John Baldwin. Rounding out the package are new liner notes from acclaimed journalist and author Greil Marcus, plus in-depth archival notes from Fleming and Stern, who oversee the Lou Reed Archive.

A bonus 7-inch, housed in its own unique die-cut picture sleeve and manufactured at Third Man Record Pressing, includes the only vinyl release of six previously unreleased bonus tracks providing a never-before-seen glimpse into Reed’s formative years, including early demos, a cover of Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right, and a doo-wop serenade recorded in 1958 when the legendary singer-songwriter was just 16 years old. An accompanying saddle-stitched, die-cut 28-page book features lyrics, archival photos, and liner notes Also included is an archival reproduction of a rarely seen letter written by Reed to his college professor and poet, Delmore Schwartz, circa 1964. The set includes a CD containing the complete audio from the package, housed in a die-cut jacket.”