domingo, 2 de novembro de 2008

Lou Reed ~ Berlin

1. Sad Song/Intro
2. Berlin
3. Lady Day
4. Men Of Good Fortune
5. Caroline Says I
6. How Do You Think It Feels
7. Oh Jim
8. Caroline Says II
9. Kids
10. The Bed
11. Sad Song
12. Candy Says
13. Rock Minuet
14. Sweet Jane
A critical and commercial flop on its release in 1973, Berlin is now regarded as one of Lou Reed's finest achievements. Fans who had expected an upbeat, radio-friendly companion piece to Transformer had clearly underestimated Reed's indifference to his audience, and were rewarded instead with what Lester Bangs memorably called a "gargantuan slab of maggoty rancour that may well be the most depressed album ever." And that was one of the more positive reviews.
Yet, the uncompromising bleakness masks some of Reed's best and most versatile songwriting. For the uninitiated, it's a coherent song cycle with a linear narrative (boy meets girl; boy and girl do lots of drugs; boy beats up girl; girl kills self) infused with a palpable sense of drama as Jim and Caroline's story unfolds. And it's these elements of oral storytelling and dramatic tension which give real purpose to the idea of staging Berlin in its entirety. Reed toured the album for the first time in 2006; this is the aural record to accompany the DVD of the New York shows.
Reed always reinvents his material when performing live, though all too often this consists purely of spitting out individual words a fraction of a beat earlier or later than on the recorded versions, as if tinkering with the songs for the sake of it.
Here, however, he pulls his voice in many directions to track the dramatic arc of the story, which improves on the consistently flat, dispassionate croak which often made the original album sound so desolate. Here and there, we get the sardonic observational tone of his pre-Berlin solo work; the fruity 'proper' singing of his 80s albums, and the spoken-word blues of New York and Magic And Loss. Extra depth and emotion are added by the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the crooning of guest star Anthony Hegarty.
Musically, too, this live staging is more accessible and varied than its studio template. Lady Day becomes a muscular rock-out, with a full orchestra adding the mood of Weimar decadence which the original album could communicate only via taped archive recordings. How Do You Think It Feels veers between 50s rock and honky-tonk to create an exuberant, stagey atmosphere well-suited to the finger-poking aggression of the lyrics. Oh Jim, the liveliest tune on the original album, is drawn out to over eight minutes with the kind of fluid, bluesy guitar heroics not seen since Reed's excellent 1975 live outing Rock & Roll Animal.
Most effective of all is how this version interprets the closing triptych of The Kids / The Bed / Sad Song, which charts the removal into care of the drug-addled Caroline's children and her resulting suicide. The original album flatlines at this point, becoming almost unlistenably miserable. Here, though, the full orchestra and Reed's tender delivery create an elegiac rather than funereal tone; bringing the tragic beauty of the story to the fore by evoking sympathy rather than horror.
Is this, then, an improvement on one of rock music's true originals? (Ignore for a minute the three listenable but pointless bonus tracks). Perhaps for purists, it's the very harshness and austerity of Berlin which make it a great album: a perfect narration of two lives in freefall, with no attempt to shy away either from the misery of the closing chapters or from the sense of dread as the inevitable conclusion approaches. For others (myself included), maybe the original strays a little too far into minimalist gloom, for all its brilliance and integrity.
This mature, nuanced performance of Berlin communicates the human tragedy of the story, leaving behind the chilliness of the studio and using the medium of the stage to its full dramatic advantage. - Darren Harvey
Resumindo e concluíndo... uma obra de arte.
Fiquem com uma favorita minha: Candy Says... com a participação especial de Anthony. Genial.

Sem comentários: