Reason #318 Why the ’80’s Didn’t Suck: The Blue Mask

blue maskI fully admit I am a neophyte when it comes to Lou Reed solo albums. Sure, I have been familiar with The Velvet Underground for decades and own all four of the Reed fronted albums; but up until 3 years ago I only owned Transformer out of the 20 some odd LP’s in his discography. I’ve been catching up, though, and now own 11. The Blue Mask is one of my favorites so far. Now while I am more of a fan of Reed’s more melancholy tracks (Perfect Day and Dirty Blvd. are good examples of the kind of Reed I dig the most) vs his heavier stuff, this album (and it’s louder-than-usual guitars) really appealed to me. Reed sounds focused here too; I found out that The Blue Mask was recorded right after he overcame his addiction to alcohol, and that makes perfect sense. The Day John Kennedy Died is a particular favorite, but The Gun, My House, Average Guy and the title track are all Grade A, and the rest is far from filler, just a little paler in comparison to these over achievers.

As much as I love Transformer, and Coney Island Baby, and Berlin, I can’t shake the feeling he was trying to be someone else (Bowie) when I listen to those albums, but the Blue Mask just sounds like Lou Reed to me. And that’s a good thing. In my opinion he would peak with New York, but that was a few albums away yet. To me, this is the beginning of Phase III for Lou Reed, and what an enjoyable phase it was!

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