Lou Reed "Coney Island Baby" reissue

Just recently I picked up the CD reissue of Lou Reed's 1976 album Coney Island Baby, which was released this past September. This was a face-saving album for Reed, recorded shortly after his notorious 1975 double-album Metal Machine Music successfully pissed off nearly everyone within earshot. It's one of the best albums Reed made during the '70's. It's surprisingly down-to-earth, which was a big change not only from Metal Machine Music, but also from Reed's cartoonish glam-rock period in the earlier '70's. Coney Island Baby was Reed's warmest and most civilized solo album up to that point, picking up where his self-titled 1972 debut had left off before he detoured into Transformer-era self-indulgence. The title track, "Crazy Feeling", and "A Gift" showed a new and surprising sensitivity. If you prefer Reed's dark side, "Kicks" is an unsettling song sung from the point of view of a psycho who kills for thrills. Velvet Underground aficionados will be interested in the version of "She's My Best Friend" which Reed recorded for this album. It was a then-unreleased VU song which later turned up on the album titled VU. He seems to have been singing it to the tune of "Lisa Says", another then-unreleased VU song which later turned up on VU.

The 2006 reissue has a very crisp remastered sound, and it contains six worthwhile bonus tracks. Two of them, "Downtown Dirt" and "Leave Me Alone", were previously available on Reed's 1992 box set Between Thought And Expression, which, by the way, is now out of print. Another one, "Nowhere At All", was the B-side of "Charley's Girl". The other three were previously unreleased, and (like "Downtown Dirt") feature ex-Velvet Doug Yule on bass and guitar. Those tracks are alternate versions of "Crazy Feeling" (engaging), "She's My Best Friend" (rather awkward-sounding), and the title track (superior to the album version).

It's good to finally have Coney Island Baby available on CD in the U.S., especially with the clean sound and bonus tracks that this reissue offers.