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Classic Album Review: Lou Reed, John Cale & Nico | Le Bataclan ’72

This impromptu mini-VU reunion turns out to be less than the sum of its parts.

This came out in 2004 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


“It took us a while to get here,” says Lou Reed at the start of Le Bataclan ’72. No kidding — this obscure recording of a live Velvet Underground mini-reunion is finally getting an official release after 30 long years.

But even though VU devotees will doubtless feel it’s well worth the wait, casual fans may want to think twice before shelling out for this 70-minute set. The gig was reportedly an off-the-cuff affair, and you can tell. The set list is a mish-mash of VU oldies (Heroin, Waiting For The Man, Femme Fatale), Reed solo material (Berlin, Wild Child) and Nico’s Teutonically bleak barbiturate balladry (Frozen Warnings, Janitor Of Lunacy). Further, the lackadaisical performance and so-so recording are spotty at best, with bum notes and technical glitches aplenty. Granted, it’s cool to hear these intimately stripped-down, acoustic versions of The Black Angel’s Death Song and All Tomorrow’s Parties. But I’d be more interested in seeing the video of the televised event. Guess we’ll have to wait a while longer for that.