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Coney Island Baby [30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition]

Lou Reed 8/15/2006


From 1972's Transformer onward, Lou Reed spent most of the '70s playing the druggy decadence card for all it was worth, with increasingly mixed results. But on 1976's Coney Island Baby, Reed's songwriting began to move into warmer, more compassionate territory, and the result was his most approachable album since Loaded. On most of the tracks, Reed stripped his band back down to guitar, bass, and drums, and the results were both leaner and a lot more comfortable than the leaden over-production of Sally Can't Dance or Berlin. "Crazy Feeling," "She's My Best Friend," and "Coney Island Baby" found Reed actually writing recognizable love songs for a change, and while Reed pursued his traditional interest in the underside of the hipster's life on "Charlie's Girl" and "Nobody's Business," he did so with a breezy, freewheeling air that was truly a relief after the lethargic tone of Sally Can't Dance. "Kicks" used an audio-tape collage to generate atmospheric tension that gave its tale of drugs and death a chilling quality that was far more effective than his usual blasé take on the subject, and "Coney Island Baby" was the polar opposite, a song about love and regret that was as sincere and heart-tugging as anything the man has ever recorded. Coney Island Baby sounds casual on the surface, but emotionally it's as compelling as anything Lou Reed released in the 1970s, and proved he could write about real people with recognizable emotions as well as anyone in rock music -- something you might not have guessed from most of the solo albums that preceded it. [In 2006, Sony BMG/Legacy released an expanded and remastered version of Coney Island Baby -- a welcome surprise, since it was never one of Reed's more popular albums, even though it ranks with his best work of the decade. In addition to a sonically upgraded presentation of its original eight songs, the 2006 edition includes "Nowhere at All," a emphatic and hard-edged B-side; alternate versions of "Crazy Feeling," "She's My Best Friend," and "Coney Island Baby" that rock harder but also sound a good bit sloppier; and early drafts (with different lyrics) of two songs that would later surface on 1978's striking Street Hassle, "Downtown Dirt" and "Leave Me Alone." For the most part, the bonus tracks follow a different path than the rest of the material on Coney Island Baby, and it sounds like Reed was wise to leave these takes on the shelf, but they also offer a fascinating insight into his working process and how this minor masterpiece came to be. Hopefully Sony BMG/Legacy will follow this by upgrading a few more gems from Reed's back catalog.] ~ Mark Deming
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Crazy Feeling Lou Reed 2:55
  3. 2 Charley's Girl Lou Reed 2:39
  4. 3 She's My Best Friend Lou Reed 6:0
  5. 4 Kicks Lou Reed 6:3
  6. 5 A Gift Lou Reed 3:45
  7. 6 Ooohhh Baby Lou Reed 3:46
  8. 7 Nobody's Business Lou Reed 3:49
  9. 8 Coney Island Baby Lou Reed 6:38
  10. 9 Nowhere at All Lou Reed 3:14
  11. 10 Downtown Dirt Lou Reed 4:15
  12. 11 Leave Me Alone Lou Reed 5:33
  13. 12 Crazy Feeling [Alternate Version][Previously Unreleased] Lou Reed 2:38
  14. 13 She's My Best Friend [Previously Unreleased][Alternate Version] Lou Reed 4:6
  15. 14 Coney Island Baby [Alternate Version][Previously Unreleased] Lou Reed 5:41

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