Spanish Fly: Live in Spain
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2005, Volume 12, #6
Written by John Metzger
From the time of his self-titled, solo debut in 1972 to his hour-long examination of death on 1992ís Magic and Loss, Lou Reed issued 17 studio albums. Since then, he has released precisely three collections of new material: a pair of exquisitely crafted explorations of relationships (Set the Twilight Reeling and Ecstasy) and The Raven, a tribute of sorts to kindred spirit Edgar Allan Poe. Whatever the reason, his muse has been visiting him far less frequently, which undoubtedly explains the abundance of concert recordings that have flooded the market in recent years. The latest is Spanish Fly: Live in Spain, a DVD that features an 11-track, 74-minute performance that was recorded last August at the Benicassim Festival. While it is far from a definitive compilation of Reedís music, its songs, which range from an updated rendition of The Velvet Undergroundís Venus in Furs to several selections from the Ecstasy sessions, do formulate a concise and inspired retrospective. Alternating between melodic, pop-imbued rock and dissonantly ambient experimentalism, Reed and his long-standing band ó which features guitarist Mike Rathke, bass player Fernando Saunders, cellist Jane Scarpantoni, and drummer Tony Smith ó occasionally struggle to find traction. The opening Modern Dance, for example, is playful, but uninspired and the perennial favorite Sweet Jane understandably sounds tired. On the other hand, Romeo Had Juliette bristles with energy as Reed laces the tuneís pressure-cooked groove with a blast of thick, distortion-heavy guitar, while The Blue Mask builds to a nearly chaotic, crash-and-burn climax. Elsewhere, Ecstasyís tormented and tragic affair is enveloped in a tear-stained, cello accompaniment through which stabs the former Velvet Underground front manís cold, foreboding feedback. Indeed, after more than 40 years of performing, it would be a simple matter for Reed to coast upon his reputation, but as Spanish Fly: Live in Spain proves, he not only is willing risk everything by allowing his music to evolve on stage, but he also is as gritty and uncompromising as ever. Ĺ
Spanish Fly: Live in Spain> is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box