My Life in the Cutout Bins: Lou Reed/Rock and Roll Heart
Welcome to the cutout bins...
Being a fan of Lou Reed was like having a special one way passport stamped for the cutout bins. A cult presence for most of his career, Reed would make a great album only to follow it up with what seemed, at the time, like a throwaway. At the very least he would change things up frequently enough to upset any group of fans who might have liked what he had just produced by stomping all over that shit with his next few releases. Rinse, repeat.
At some point you would ask yourself, 'why am I still a Lou Reed fan? Why do I still buy his records even though they confound me?' And inevitably Lou would pull something out of his backpack that would let you know why you were still there. On Coney Island Baby he pulled out the old 'glory of love' play, and here, on his next release, he's pulling out the old 'deep down inside/I got a rock and roll heart' play.
Lou put some effort into Rock and Roll Heart, and the result is maybe his finest record of songs in the rock and roll tradition since Loaded or his debut solo record. He had a new record label, Arista, who he wanted to impress. It had been four years since Transformer had made it seem like Lou could be a mainstream hit artist, like his pal David Bowie, and folks in the record industry were writing him off at an alarming rate.