Lou Reed’s take on the master of horror, Edgar Allen Poe is… well… horrible. Commissioned by the Thalia Theatre in Germany, Reed has crafted an almost unlistenable (even by his standards), unconnected mishmash of song. Most of the pieces have nothing to do with Poe, and the ones that do suffer from infantile lyrics (“Edgar Allen Poe/Definitely not the boy next door” is one “notable” example). Even guests such as David Bowie, Laurie Anderson and The Blind Boys of Alabama can’t redeem this drek, and one almost feels sorry for someone such as Bowie, reducing to chanting “Call me the hopfrog” over and over again.
All is not lost, however. Spoken word moments from Amanda Plummer and Elizabeth Ashley are chilling, Ornette Coleman wails on “Guilty,” but for every moment like that, you have something like actor Steve Buscemi’s bad version of a lounge singer on “Broadway Song” or the retake of Reed’s “Perfect Day” featuring someone called “Antony” who warbles unconvincingly, making the listener long to hear Reed’s vocals again, and that takes something. Really, don’t waste your time with this. Lou Reed’s place among the mighty is forever intact, and while he certainly is capable of stunning work, this ain’t it. If Poe is half as eerie as he’s been portrayed over the years, Reed should be looking over his shoulder for a raven, ready to exact vengeance for this tripe.
Nevermore, Lou. Nevermore.
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