30 December

Several of the Lou Reed "greatest hits" albums over the years have included Velvet Underground tracks; several more, though confined to the solo years, include later live versions of V U songs. In either case, they do not successfully blend the Velvet tracks with the solo-Reed material. The difference in recording fidelity between the two is quite stark. And given how legendary the V U have become, Reed's solo work inevitably seems ordinary. It isn't of course--but, placed next to the experimentation and sonic extremes of the V U recordings, Reed's extraordinary literary contributions to the art of song are overshadowed. Moreover, the entirety of Berlin and Metal Machine Music are essential, the latter obviously distinct and not suited for a compilation anyway; much of Transformer is essential as well. And, in the last decade or so of his career, Reed stopped making Rock albums. After Ecstasy [2000], only The Raven and Lulu, both conceived as singular works, featured Lou's vocals. Instead, he returned to the noise/ experimentation of Metal Machine Music and some of the V U recordings (participating in Zeitkratzer's version of Machine, forming and recording a live album with the Metal Machine Trio, and recording a live album with Laurie Anderson and John Zorn) and did an ambient album. Thus, my compilation of Lou Reed tracks, 1975-2000, his years as a Rock singer-songwriter, sequenced like a double L P (no tracks from The Bells, a disaster that should've been great--Don Cherry's on there, for Christ's sake--Street Hassle is too for the most part, the titular track placed here because omitting it would mean this imaginary compilation fails to convey what awaits the listener upon exploring those two albums; New Sensations and Set the Twilight Reeling, fine albums but with no essential tracks; and Rock and Roll Heart and Mistrial, decent albums):

My House, from The Blue Mask [1982]
Power and Glory, from Magic and Loss [1992]
Legendary Hearts, from Legendary Hearts [1983]
Think It Over, from Growing Up in Public [1980]
She's My Best Friend, from Coney Island Baby [1975]
--
Dirty Blvd., from New York [1989]
Halloween Parade, from New York [1989]
The Gun, from The Blue Mask [1982]
Rock Minuet, from Ecstasy [2000]
--
Coney Island Baby, from Coney Island Baby [1975]
Street Hassle, from Street Hassle [1978]
The Blue Mask, from The Blue Mask [1982]
--
Magic and Loss, from Magic and Loss [1992]
Ecstasy, from Ecstasy [2000]
Waves of Fear, from The Blue Mask [1982]
Home of the Brave, from Legendary Hearts [1983]

So, what if this double L P were matched with a compilation of V U and early Reed-solo material? I see no reason for anyone not to listen to the entirety of The Velvet Underground and Nico and Berlin, but here's what I'd include for a double album to cover the rest of the V U (no tracks from Lou Reed [1972] or Sally Can't Dance [1974]):

Rock and Roll
What Goes On
Perfect Day
Candy Says
Sweet Jane [full version, first released on Peel Slowly and See boxed set]
I Can't Stand It
-
White Light/ White Heat
Sister Ray
Some Kinda Love
-
Satellite of Love [Transformer version]
Walk on the Wild Side
Pale Blue Eyes
Ocean [1970 version, from Peel Slowly and See]
Lisa Says
--
I Heard Her Call My Name
Here She Comes Now
Beginning to See the Light
The Gift (mono version, to avoid the annoying split with John Cale's vocal alone in the left channel)--or, if you're more inclined toward the band's rocking side, replace The Gift with Head Held High and New Age, but only the "full-length" version of the latter.