Lou Reed

Legendary

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Fans and critics are generally agreed that Lou Reed is one of the more important figures in rock & roll and that his output as a solo artist has been uneven. There is less consensus, however, about what recordings among his many solo albums are his best. Reed has scored only one hit single, "Walk on the Wild Side," and only a handful of his other songs -- "Satellite of Love," "Sally Can't Dance," "I Love You, Suzanne," "No Money Down" -- attracted measurable radio interest over the first 15 years of his solo career. When Reed and journalist Rob Bowman compiled the 1992 three-CD box set Between Thought and Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology, drawn from the singer's 1972-1986 recordings for RCA and Arista, they left off such favorites as "Perfect Day" and "I Love You, Suzanne," though the selection was good overall. That set is the obvious one to compare with BMG Australia's three-CD compilation of the same catalog, Legendary. Here, compiler David Rowe has made different choices. Among the 45 tracks on Between Thought and Expression and the50 tracks on Legendary, only 14 songs overlap. Rowe includes "Perfect Day" and "I Love You, Suzanne," as well as rarities like the Sally Can't Dance outtake "Good Taste" and selections from the 1984 European album Live in Italy. But he leaves out "I Can't Stand It," "Rock and Roll Heart," and "Street Hassle," among other songs Reed fans might expect. And the album has a minimum of annotations, just a generic one-page bio and song titles, as opposed to the extensive booklet included with Between Thought and Expression. On the whole, then, the earlier set is preferred, though price is also a consideration. On release, Legendary was being imported into the U.S. for under 15 dollars retail, quite a bargain.

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