Lou Reed: Critics hail rocker who walked on the wild side
Hugely influential, but polarising too, Reed pushed boundaries as well as wring beautiful pop songs
THE importance of Lou Reed to the development of rock music - and alternative rock, in particular - is almost impossible to overstate, writes Alexis Petridis in The Guardian. As the architect of the Velvet Underground's 1967 debut, The Velvet Underground and Nico, Reed was the creative force behind arguably "the single most influential album in rock history".
Writes Petridis: "Certainly, it's hard to think of another record that altered the sound and vocabulary of rock so dramatically, that shifted its parameters so far at a stroke. Vast tranches of subsequent pop music exist entirely in its shadow: it's possible that glam rock, punk, and everything that comes loosely bracketed under the terms indie and alt-rock might have happened without it, but it's hard to see how."
— Lloyd Cole (@Lloyd_Cole) October 27, 2013
To the Daily Telegraph's Neil McCormick, Reed - who has died at the age of 71, was "unarguably, an artist". But while some of his avant-garde work "pushed the frontiers of rock out in multiple different directions that are still being explored today", he was also capable of penning some of the most affecting songs in pop. "At his most accessible," writes McCormick, "Reed created recordings of such depth, beauty, brilliance and dark energy that they will live on for as long as songs are sung."
RIP Lou Reed (March 2, 1942 - October 27, 2013) - forever in our hearts :( pic.twitter.com/h1Y8PV7ieR
— Brian Eno (@dark_shark) October 28, 2013
Writing in The Independent, Nick Hasted says Reed's lyrics - "literate reportage from the depths of drug addiction and sadomasochism" - were what set him apart. His writing was inspired by his association with New York writers such as Wallace Stegner, Hubert Selby Jr and Nelson Algren, writes Hasted.
For his part, Reed believed he had simply raised a bar that had been set dismally low. He told Cut magazine: "Rock 'n' roll had been treated as such a mutant idiot child medium, it made it easy for someone with even half a mind to just walk in and dominate that end of it."
Lou Reed - She's My Best Friend http://t.co/YQC2I39T7f
— Irvine Welsh (@WelshIrvine) October 28, 2013
Reed was famously dismissive of the music journalists that venerated him, writes Alexi Mostrous in The Times. When he produced a double album with Metallica, Quietus, a music website, called it "a candidate for one of the worst albums ever made".
"Who cares?" Reed snapped, when critics were mentioned. "I never wrote for them then, I don't write for them now. I write for me."
David Bowie and John Cale lead tributes to Lou Reed http://t.co/MWq9jVxWvm
— Uncut Magazine (@uncutmagazine) October 28, 2013
The New York Times' Ben Ratliff says Reed was an outsider, a "powerful, if polarising force", who somehow managed to shape rock 'n' roll in his own image.
"Reed confidently made artistic decisions that other musicians would not have even considered," writes Ratliff. "He was an aesthetic primitivist with high-end audio obsessions. He was an English major who understood his work as a form of literature, though he distrusted overly poetic pop lyrics, and though distorted electric guitars and drums sometimes drowned out his words." ·