Reed’s attempt to combine his concept album about the wonder of the world (specifically magic) with an extended eulogy for two of his recently deceased friends is a noble effort. But I’m not sure it’s a success.
It may seem like an odd thing to say, but sometimes he is too obvious here. An artist expressing his emotions in lyrics is usually a good thing, but here it feels like he is so obvious about what he is feeling that there is less room for us to empathize with him; he’s so specific he often neglects the universal. Death remains a mystery to us on an emotional level, even if there is no rational mystery to it any more, and the record fails to connect with the part of us that still marvels at the wonder of life and death. This is a problem for a record about the wonder of existence and life and death.
I never thought I’d be criticizing a songwriter I like as much as I like Reed for being too clear in his lyrics but they do make the lyrics seem rather mundane.
Though I am sure this record helped him cope with the loss of his friends, I’m not sure it would help me cope with the loss of someone I loved. Still, I appreciate the attempt and some of it works much better than other parts.
All tracks written by Lou Reed, except where noted.
- “Dorita – The Spirit” – 1:07
- What’s Good – The Thesis” – 3:22
- “Power and Glory – The Situation” (Lou Reed, Mike Rathke) – 4:23
- “Magician – Internally” – 6:23
- “Sword of Damocles – Externally” – 3:42
- “Goodby Mass – In a Chapel Bodily Termination” – 4:25
- “Cremation – Ashes to Ashes” – 2:54
- “Dreamin’ – Escape” (Reed, Rathke) – 5:07
- “No Chance – Regret” – 3:15
- “Warrior King – Revenge” – 4:27
- “Harry’s Circumcision – Reverie Gone Astray” – 5:28
- “Gassed and Stoked – Loss” (Reed, Rathke) – 4:18
- “Power and Glory, Part II – Magic – Transformation” (Reed, Rathke) – 2:57
- “Magic and Loss – The Summation” (Reed, Rathke) – 6:39
- Lou Reed – vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar
- Mike Rathke – guitar
- Rob Wasserman – bass guitar
- Michael Blair – drums, percussion, backing vocals
- Roger Moutenot – backing vocals
- Little Jimmy Scott – backing vocals