Compiled by Lou Reed himself, The Definitive Compilation not only doesn't live up to the promise of its title, it proves that an artist is not always the best judge of his own work. Though he is obligated to throw on "Walk on the Wild Side," he bends over backward to avoid his most popular material, concentrating on selections from Street Hassle, The Bells, and Rock and Roll Heart, plus album tracks from The Blue Mask, Coney Island Baby, New York, Set the Twilight Reeling, Magic & Loss, and Perfect Night: Live in London. There are some hits (two from Transformer, "Vicious" and "Walk on the Wild Side"), plus some great songs (most notably "Coney Island Baby"), but the compilation really plays up his willfully difficult side. In that sense, it certainly is representative of Reed, who seems to never have wanted to be accessible, but it's neither a good collection of his best solo material (which would have included some challenging material, as well) nor a good introduction for the curious. It's just another scattershot, ill-conceived, intermittently enjoyable compilation in a catalog filled with scattershot, ill-conceived, intermittently enjoyable compilations.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine