Lou Reed

Walk on the Wild Side

Song Review by

Lou Reed's first-ever hit single, after it peeled off the Transformer album in early 1973, "Walk on the Wild Side" is one of the most analyzed, discussed, and surprising hits of all time -- surprising because an unequivocal reference to oral sex passed unnoticed by even the most scissor-happy censor; analyzed and discussed because, if anybody ever needed a who's who to the New York art scene of the early '70s, "Walk on the Wild Side" was all they could ask for.

Upon a stage surely lit by flickering light and velvet shades, we are introduced to Hollywood Lawns (who "shaved her legs and then he was a she"), Candy Darling ("she never lost her head"), Joe Dallesandro (he "never once gave it away"), the Sugar Plum Fairy ("looking for soul food") -- for four delicious minutes, the Warhol circus parades past in all its garish glory, while the bass line slides like a monkey up a pole and the colored girls go "doo-doo-doo." It's one of the most recognizable refrains in modern music.

As for what the song's stars made of it all, Reed himself admitted he was a little nervous -- "I thought they were going to claw my eyes out. But when I got back to New York, Candy Darling came up to me and said she wants to make a 'Candy Darling Sings Lou Reed' album. That would be great."

The one song you can guarantee finding on every Lou Reed compilation since 1972, "Walk on the Wild Side" remains a staple of his live show and has made its mark in other ways, too -- Love and Rockets used it as the model for their 1989 hit "So Alive."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Transformer 1972 BMG / Sony Music
Walk on the Wild Side & Other Hits 1975 RCA 4:12
Lou Reed Live 1975 BMG 5:59
Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed 1977 BMG / BMG / Sony Music / Sony Music Entertainment
Live: Take No Prisoners 1978 Import 16:54
Times Square 1980
Original Soundtrack
RSO 4:12
No Image 1983 RCA
Live in Italy 1984 BMG International 4:27
Wild Child [Pair/RCA] 1987 Pair 4:30
Retro 1989 BMG
Heart Rock: Rock Für's Herz 1990
Various Artists
Media Records 4:14
Sounds of the Seventies: 1973 1990
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 4:12
A Night with Lou Reed 1991 Lightyear
No Image 1991
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Between Thought and Expression: The Lou Reed Anthology 1992 RCA 4:13
Classic Rock Box: WNEW-FM 25th Anniversary Box 1992
Various Artists
PolyGram 4:13
A Retrospective 1993 RCA 4:13
Drift Away, Vol. 1 1993
Various Artists
Sounds Direct
Storytellers [Nectar] 1994
Various Artists
Import 4:14
Top Gear [Concept] 1994
Various Artists
Concept 4:13
No Image 1994
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd.
No Image 1995 Camden International
Songbook: The Best of Singer/Songwriters 1995
Various Artists
Magnum
No Image 1996
Various Artists
Camden
Rock On 1973: Diamond Girl 1996
Various Artists
Rock On 4:12
Different Times: Lou Reed in the '70s 1996 RCA 4:13
Best of Rock [BMG] 1996
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 4:13
Ultimate Rock 'N' Roll Collection [EMI] 1996
Various Artists
Legacy / Sony Music Distribution
Club Verboten 1997
Various Artists
DCC Compact Classics 4:14
70's New Rock 1997
Various Artists
Rhino / Essex 4:14
Rockin' 70's [BMG] 1997
Various Artists
4:12
The Number Ones: Rock It Up 1998
Various Artists
Simitar Distribution 4:12
Time in a Bottle 1998
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 4:14
Spirit of America [Crimson] 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
Sound of the Suburbs [#1] 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 4:10
The Best of the Best [Insight] 1998
Various Artists
Insight (3)
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Telstar TV Records 4:12
Time in a Bottle: Mellow Rock Classics 1999
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 4:14
The Definitive Collection 1999 Arista 4:13
Very Best of Lou Reed 2000 BMG International 4:15
Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1973 2000
Various Artists
Buddha Records 4:15
The Wild Side: Best of Lou Reed 2000 BMG International 6:07
City Rocks: New York 2000
Various Artists
Cityrocks 4:16
Drive [Insight] 2000
Various Artists
Insight (3)
Walk on the Wild Side: Hits of the Seventies 2001
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 4:13
American Poet 2001 Superior 5:55
Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1970-1974 2001
Various Artists
Buddha Records 4:15
The Ultimate Jukebox Hits of the '70s, Vol. 3 2001
Various Artists
Collectables 2:33
Jukebox Hits of the '70s [Collectables] 2002
Various Artists
Collectables 4:12
40 Years of Jukebox Hits: The 50's, 60's, 70's & 80's 2002
Various Artists
Collectables 2:33
Legendary 2002 BMG International 4:15
NYC Man: The Collection 2003 RCA 4:11
Extended Versions 2003 Collectables 4:37
American Poet [Video] 2003 Import 5:55
3 CD Box Set 2003 BMG
The Platinum & Gold Collection 2004 BMG Heritage / RCA 4:13
Time 100: Music of Our Lives 1960-1980 2004
Various Artists
WEA International 4:13
No Image 2004
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 4:13
NYC Man: Greatest Hits 2004 BMG / BMG International 4:12
No Image 2004
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd.
Satellite of Love 2004/Walk on the Wild Side 2004 RCA 2:49
On the Road 2004
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
The Best of Rock, Vol. 2 [BMG Special Products] 2004
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 4:13
No Image 2005
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Songs for My Ute, Vol. 3 2005
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd.
Spanish Fly: Lou Reed Live in Spain [DVD] 2005 Sanctuary 3:26
Then: Totally Oldies - Classic Rock 2005
Various Artists
Varèse Vintage / Varèse Sarabande 4:14
Classic Rock Ballads [Crimson] 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 4:12
Lou Reed/Transformer 2006 RCA
The Songwriter Collection 2006
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 4:14
Wed-Rock 2006
Various Artists
Centaur Entertainment 2:37
New Wave Heroes 2006
Various Artists
BMG
Absolute Rock Ballads Classics, Vol. 2 2006
Various Artists
Eva 4:11
Absolute Legends 2007
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 4:14
Essential Acoustic Love 2008
Various Artists
Warner Music
Nice 70s 2008
Various Artists
Col / Sony Music 4:13
Playlist: The Very Best of Lou Reed 2008 Sony Music
Classic Rock [EMI] 2008
Various Artists
EMI 4:10
Through the Years: New York 1983 - Spain 2004 [DVD] 2008 Immortal
Bild Oldies [2008] 2008
Various Artists
Sbm Records 4:13
Top of the Pop Hits, Vol. 2: The 70s [Box Set] 2008
Various Artists
Collectables 4:13
Sounds of the 70's Generation 2008
Various Artists
Destra 4:09
Perfect Day: The Best of Lou Reed 2009 Camden
The Pop Years: 1972-1973 2009
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 4:14
Walk on the Wild Side: Recorded Live! New York 1972 2009 Blueline / XXL Media 5:49
The Collection: The Hits of 1973 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:12
The Best Year of My Life: 1973 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music
The  Pop Years: The 70s 2010
Various Artists
Crimson / Crimson Productions / Zoom
I Love Papa 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music / Sony Music Distribution 4:14
The Essential Lou Reed 2011 Legacy / RCA 4:11
Pure... Drive 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:12
No Image 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music Entertainment 4:14
The Boys Are Back in Town 2012 2012
Various Artists
Universal Music TV 4:14
American Anthems: All Time Classics 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:09
40 Ans: Les Nocturnes RTL Georges Lang 2013
Various Artists
Rhino 4:10
20 Feet from Stardom [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack] 2013
Original Soundtrack
Columbia 4:13
Pure... 70s 2013
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:12
No Image 2013
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 4:21
Winter at the Roxy: The 1976 L.A. Broadcast 2014 Goldfish 10:07
Thinking of Another Place 2014 Easy Action Records 5:05
Hassled In April: Live In Chicago 1978 2014 Let Them Eat Vinyl
Sunday Chill [Brunswick] 2014
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:11
Ultrasonic: 1972-12-26 - Hempstead, NY 2015 FM Concert Broadcasts 6:07
I Never Said It Was Nice: Orpheum Theater, Boston 1976 2015 Echoes / Hi Hat
No Image 2015
Various Artists
Sony Music 4:12
'70s Summer Album 2016
Various Artists
Crimson 3:53
The RCA & Arista Album Collection 2016 Legacy / RCA 4:15
100 Hits: Rock Jukebox 2016
Various Artists
100 Hits / Demon / Edsel
100 Hits: Supersonic 70s
Various Artists
DMG TV
70s U.S. Playlist
Various Artists
Crimson
No Image
Various Artists
Eva 4:11
Banging on My Drums Keyhole Records 9:56
Coffeebreak Concert: Agora, Cleveland, Ohio 1984 Klondike Records 5:15
De Pre Historie: 1973, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Eva 4:11
Massive Hits!: Rock
Various Artists
Mixed Repertoire 4:14
Meer Dan Het Beste Van 1972-86 Humo Selecteert
Now That's What I Call '70s
Various Artists
Now!
Onxrt: Live from the Archives, Vol. 2
Various Artists
6:42
Superstar Seventies!
Various Artists
Sony Music
No Image
Various Artists
Sony Music
Top of the Pop Hits: The 70s, Vol. 2: Disc 4
Various Artists
Collectables 4:13
Transmission Impossible Eat to the Beat 9:56
Ultimate Drive
Various Artists
Legacy
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