Home Read Area Resident’s Classic Album Review: Lou Reed | Legendary Hearts

Area Resident’s Classic Album Review: Lou Reed | Legendary Hearts

This 1983 followup to The Blue Mask is kind of a hidden gem — except for the bass.

I have always considered myself a Lou Reed fan — but maybe I’m not. Or at least not an indiscriminate one — especially when it comes to his solo output. After leaving The Velvet Underground, the late legend made 20 studio albums as a solo artist, along with two more collaborations. Of those albums, I was only familiar with five. So I decided to listen to and review the remaining 15. At times it was like torture.

In a nutshell, Reed has a big basket of bonafide classics. Unique, unmistakable and ground-breaking songs which combine poetry and prose with a variety of music styles. But he also recorded a fly-ridden heap of awful, awful songs featuring his distinctive but poor singing, along with excessive sax and fretless bass.

Here’s one of the entries in his uneven catalog:


Lou Reed’s 1983 album Legendary Hearts got good reviews from most critics, but not to the degree they loved The Blue Mask. That’s weird, because this is just as good an album. It’s kind of a hidden gem.

Guitarist Robert Quine didn’t care for it once he discovered — after it was released — that much of his work had been mixed way down or nixed completely. My only frustration with it is, as usual, the goddamned fretless bass. Still, the bass-dominant title track opener is a great song. I just wish Doug Yule was on it, with a proper bass. The next track, Don’t Talk To Me About Work, is a banger. I don’t understand why Lou decided to strip out the lead guitar, but left the slick, farty bass. This song has simple, cymbal-free, Mo Tucker-style drums. If it had no bass, it could almost be The Cramps. Still great.

Make Up My Mind is a slow, staccato one. It has zero swing. Actually, the style is pretty similar to many of Reed’s songs on 1990’s Songs For Drella. The fart bass is less prominent here, thank Christ. Martial Law is the fourth good song in a row — dominated by a very cool blues-guitar riff. Of course, it has totally the wrong bass sound again. If Masters Of Reality had covered this for the debut album, it would have been awesome. They kind of did with Sleepwalkin’. If only…

The Last Shot is like something from 1989’s New York. It’s decent. Turn Out The Light wraps the first side, and is a much-better song, with nice interplay between the fart bass and guitar. You can really tell there was a guitar solo removed, because there’s a huge instrumental section after the last chorus. This would be a cool one to cover.

Pow Wow follows and sounds too much like the rest of the record. The goddamned bass ruins the chord changes. The “I wanna dance with you” chorus is weak. Betrayed is awkward, with crappy vocals. It needs to be a bit faster for these lyrics. Lou’s vocal performance leaves you with the impression even he thinks the song is shitty. He’s right. It is. If you went back to 1983 in the DeLorean and erased this song, nothing in the future changes. Except this review.

We’re rewarded with Bottoming Out, which would be a 10/10 without the lead bass. A nice, descending progression with a prototypical Lou chorus which just repeats the name of the song four times. Home Of The Brave should suck because of the title alone, but it has several complicating factors. It’s nice and slow with two guitars, one of which is distant, trebly and feedbacking. I quite like that. But unfortunately, the chording fart bass is way up in the mix and the whole thing gets boring and tedious because it’s nearly seven minutes long.

Rooftop Garden is the album closer, and could be a Grapes Of Wrath or Warren Zevon song. Again, though — the fucking bass.



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Area Resident is an Ottawa-based journalist, recording artist, music collector and re-seller. Hear (and buy) his music on Bandcamp, email him HERE, follow him on Instagram and check him out on Discogs.