Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

7. Lou Reed – Ecstasy

This is from 2000, but it’s not a deliberately obtuse Lou Reed album to pick. I got into him when I was about 16 through a live album called Rock’n’Roll Animal, and then devoured his back catalogue and was delighted to find that he was still recording… so this is the first album he released when I was a fan. I saw him twice on this tour and I just think he’s the coolest man I’ve ever come across, in any art form. Everything, every outfit I’ve ever seen him in, even his early 90s mullet haircut and specs. I wanted to be him so much. I loved that he’d been in this most influential band of all time, yet and then had a 40-year career after that, recording stuff which was at times brutal and at times really touching and sweet, and every so often slightly modern in the worst sense. Like, there’s a song on New Sensations where he sings about playing his red joystick, and songs about being sat at his computer. There’s a couple of albums in the mid-80s, there’s one called Mistrial, where the front cover is just appalling. Even though some of Lou Reed’s 80s stuff is great, I think it’s a big ask to expect someone to be cool in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s. A lot of artists had a troublesome 80s.

But when Ecstasy came out, because I’d been listening to all the other stuff, it felt like some of the ground was being retrod but with a new sound. Some of it’s really gritty and brutal. Some of it’s about sex, but it’s talking about sex in middle age. And in contrast to Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy who I think has a balanced empathetic approach to relationships at times, I just love Lou Reed’s no-holds-barred… I’m not going to say ‘misogyny’, but it’s an incredibly male view.

I love that his idea of a nostalgia show was doing Metal Machine Music. You know, all these bands reforming to tour their big hit record, and the one he would do is the one that everyone hates.

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