Here I am after all these years, listening to "Sister Ray" for the first time since Lou Reed died.
I've gotta say: it sucks just as much as it always did.
At least I'm reassured that, in my old age and encroaching senility, I still think the Velvet Underground is one of the worst bands in history.
I blame Reed for most of that. Yes, he's not alone in the responsibility – the other three goofballs in the band were awful, too.
The thing is, though, Velvets aside, Reed made some solo albums I found interesting and he wrote a lot of songs I like a lot.
Maybe the best thing he ever did was to hire guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner and bassist Prakash John as his principal supporting musicians on a classic live album called Rock 'n' Roll Animal. Just listen to the stunning greatness of the instrumental intro and flowing segue into the immortal "Sweet Jane" – then compare the arrangements and performances on the rest of the album to anything the Velvets did.
It's like watching a spinal surgeon perform an anterior lumbar interbody fusion, and then, as an aesthetic contrast, diving into a wharf-side garbage bin to fish out the carcass of a plague rat with your teeth.
Goodbye to you, Lou.
You were an astonishing curmudgeon and weirdo, but New York and Coney Island Baby and Blue Mask will be occasionally welcome visitors in my ears – and not just because listening to them makes me wonder if you ever had that black leather jacket dry cleaned. Probably not. And that, I suppose, is Rock as Life.