The Blue Mask

The Blue Mask

Credit guitarist Robert Quine for upping the ante and giving Lou Reed the musical challenge of his life. With Quine's definitive attack underlining the words and the terror of Reed's best batch of tunes since Street Hassle, Reed finally delivered on the promise of his post–Velvet Underground career in a way that couldn't be denied. (Berlin, his other masterwork, has its detractors.) Bassist Fernando Saunders colors the bottom end, while Reed sing/speaks songs that range from beautiful ("My House") to paranoid ("Waves of Fear") to brutal ("The Gun") to poignant ("The Day John Kennedy Died"), never shirking from the emotional commitment necessary to put these songs across. "Women" is so simple that its complexity can be lost on a cursory listen. But these are songs that repay over repeated plays. "The Blue Mask," "Underneath the Bottle," and "The Heroine" all flow with a sense of poetry and rock 'n' roll. In 1982—at a time when it was debatable if the '60s crowd could find relevance in a new decade—Reed proved it could be done without compromise. 

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