Home Read Classic Album Review: Lou Reed | Animal Serenade

Classic Album Review: Lou Reed | Animal Serenade

The rock ’n’ roll animal remains a long way from housebroken on this live offering.

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):


Three decades ago, he was the Rock ’n’ Roll Animal. But these days, as the title of his intriguing new double-live album suggests, Lou Reed is a mellower breed of cat. And Animal Serenade — which Lou reportedly (and wisely) refrained from titling Rock ’n’ Roll Animal II — is a more soothing and intimate document than his typical concert recordings.

The biggest difference? There’s no live drummer, just the occasional bit of electronic percussion. Accordingly, the 20-song set list bypasses most of Reed’s rockier hits for starker, darker works from his voluminous back catalog. This is not to say Animal Serenade doesn’t have plenty of charms. The musicianship of Reed’s band — which included a cellist and an electronic guitar — is understated yet stellar. The minimalist arrangements are nothing short of compelling. The irascible Lou is in good humour, teasing the crowd with the opening chords of Sweet Jane and offering young bands advice on how to “make a career out of four chords.” And frankly, any Reed live album that includes Street Hassle, All Tomorrow’s Parties, Candy Says, Venus in Furs and Heroin has to have something going for it. Reed may not be the wild animal he once was, but don’t be fooled — he’s still a long way from housebroken.