Maria McKee introduced me to Lou Reed in the summer of 1986.

Not personally, of course, although I am now Facebook friends with Maria (thank you, internet!). Lone Justice was recording its second album Shelter at the time, and they played some gigs around L.A. to work on the new material. I saw two shows that summer, and they played “Sweet Jane” at both of them. Maria said it was her “favorite rock and roll song.”

1986 may seem a little late for a music junkie to arrive at the Lou Reed party, but you must consider that I grew up in Plano, Texas. Aldo Nova was considered cutting edge in Plano, Texas. I went off to college in Austin, and it’s not a cliche to say that my musical world exploded. And thanks to Maria and her band and a summer vacation in California, I went out and bought a Velvet Underground album called Loaded.

If you’re going to pick one Velvet Underground album to start with, Loaded may be the best choice, It’s certainly the most accessible (clearly by design), which may explain why Reed quit the band before the album was even released in late 1970. I played Loaded to death that year. I liked it so much that I went out and bought Mistrial, Reed’s current solo album.

That one admittedly set my fandom back a couple years. I continued to dig into the Velvets catalog, though, and I still own those vinyl pressings of White Light/White Heat and The Velvet Underground & Nico. 1989 saw Lou Reed return to masterful form with the New York album, and he continued to push musical boundaries over the next 24 years. And now, sadly, Lou Reed is gone.

It was inevitable that I would have eventually discovered Lou and the Velvets, even without Maria’s help. After all, I think it was mandated that every ’80s alternative band had to talk about them and how they discovered their records at a garage sale. An old quote attributed to Brian Eno said, “The Velvet Underground’s first album only sold a few thousand copies, but everyone who bought one formed a band.”

No one can actually find a source for this quote, or if Eno even really said it. I can say only this: I bought a copy of that first record. Shortly thereafter, I formed a band.

Coincidence? Maybe. But probably not.

In Memory: Five Lou Reed Covers

This World Is Not My Home

Lone Justice: “Sweet Jane” [Live] (Lou Reed)

From the album This World Is Not My Home

Geffen Records, 1999

Sweet Jane [Live]

This must have been recorded in 1985, as it clearly features the original Lone Justice line-up. A certain famous Irishman even shows up to lend Maria a hand.

 

Rainy Day

Rainy Day: “I’ll Be Your Mirror” (Lou Reed)

From the album Rainy Day

Serpent Records/Rough Trade, 1984

Vinyl rip courtesy of The Analog Kid

I’ll Be Your Mirror

Yes, that is Susanna Hoffs on lead vocals. Rainy Day was sort of an early alternative super-group, similar to the revolving band member concept of the Golden Palominos and This Mortal Coil. This rare EP is one of my most-cherished pieces of vinyl.

 

Sparkle In The Rain

Simple Minds: “Street Hassle” (Lou Reed)

From the album Sparkle In The Rain

A&M Records, 1984

Street Hassle

Simple Minds gave Lou the full-on arena treatment, and it works wonderfully. Lou’s original epic version appears on his 1978 album of the same name.

 

Duran Duran_ Singles & B-Sides (2)

Duran Duran: “Femme Fatale” [Alternative Mix] (Lou Reed)

From the CD single Perfect Day

Capitol Records, 1995

Femme Fatale [Alternative Mix]

Duran Duran originally released “Femme Fatale” on their self-titled 1993 album. This alternate mix comes from the Perfect Day CD single– yes, another Lou Reed cover.

 

Jane's Addiction

Jane’s Addiction” “Rock & Roll” (Written By Lou Reed)

From the album Jane’s Addiction

XXX Records, 1987

Rock & Roll

Rock and roll.

Lou Reed

If you close the door, the night could last forever

Leave the wine glass out, and drink a toast to never.

About The Analog Kid

"I'm 5-foot-8, 123 pounds. I have, uh, brown hair, blue eyes. I enjoy surfing, backgammon and men who aren't afraid to cry."

7 responses »

  1. smokezilla says:

    As far as the lineup on the live version, yep that was the original lineup. Lone Justice opened for U2 for one leg of the tour between Unforgettable fire and leading up to Joshua Tree being recorded. The first time I ever heard of Lone Justice was an interview with The Edge in Rolling Stone. The guy asked what he was listening to on his walkman. He said a new band with a girl who sings like Dolly Parton. He said, “We hope to have them tour with us soon.”

    I got to see Lone Justice at the Fast and Cool in Dallas on the Shelter tour. I always liked the original Lone Justice lineup better than the followup version. Marvin Etzioni is vastly underrated.

  2. smokezilla says:

    And I forgot about R.E.M.’s cover of Femme Fatale from “Dead Letter Office” though they had been doing that since at least 83.

  3. MaxHorn says:

    Smokezilla, I was at the same show at the Fast & Cool club! I was underage, so I waited out back and Shane Fontayne put me on the guest list. They still wouldn’t let me inside, so I went to the back door again and they gave me a crew pass and walked me in past the seething bouncer.

    • smokezilla says:

      Lone Justice had rescheduled that show several times due to Maria’s throat issues. F&C was one of the strangest venues I’ve ever seen a show in and I don’t remember ever seeing any other shows there but she set that place on fire that night.

  4. WTF Pancakes says:

    Is it wrong that I prefer the Cowboy Junkies’ version of Sweet Jane to that of Lone Justice (and the Velvet Underground)? I really think Reed was overrated as an artist, but underrated as a songwriter. That makes for some wicked cool covers, eh?

    • MaxHorn says:

      I prefer the Junkies’ version as well, but didn’t link it because it just seemed a little TOO famous. They also put back in the long-missing bridge that had been excised from the original without Lou’s consent.

      Lou wasn’t always an easy listen (hell, he was never an easy listen to be truthful). But man of man, what a songwriter…

  5. Don’t forget about Big Star’s “Femme Fatale” cover! Elle est une femme fatale…

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