Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed was the standard record company "hits" compilation surveying Reed's five-year, eight-album sojourn at RCA from 1972 to 1976. Its 11 songs included two from Lou Reed, three from Transformer (among them, of course, this album's title track, Reed's sole chart hit), one from Berlin, two from Rock N Roll Animal (one of which is "Sweet Jane" minus the introductory fanfare), and the title tracks from Sally Can't Dance and Coney Island Baby, plus the previously non-LP B-side "Nowhere at All." It was a bulletproof selection, as unimaginative as it was dependable, which oddly was why it worked so well. Reed's solo career had seen some extreme tangents, and this album caught them, from the Dylan-ish "Wild Child" to the glam pop of the Transformer material, and from the heavy metal rearrangements of old Velvet Underground songs on Rock N Roll Animal to the attempts at straightforward adult singer/songwriter rock on songs like "Coney Island Baby." The regular albums had been uneven, but here Reed comes off as an accomplished dabbler in a variety of styles who really had something to say and said it, sometimes humorously, sometimes frantically, but always with conviction. Reed has been a prolific artist, and this album captures only a fraction of his catalog, but he is actually less eclectic as a rule than this collection makes him seem, so the result is an excellent introduction.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann