Music

Listen to Rare Recordings of Lou Reed's Monster "Berlin" Tour in 1973

The Ex-Velvet had just released his polarizing third solo album.

Music Features Lou Reed
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Listen to Rare Recordings of Lou Reed's Monster "Berlin" Tour in 1973

Did you know that Paste owns the world’s largest collection of live music recordings? It’s true! And what’s even crazier, it’s all free—hundreds of thousands of exclusive songs, concerts and videos that you can listen to and watch right here at Paste.com, from Louis Armstrong to The Who to U2 to Wilco. Every day, we’ll dig through the archive to find the coolest recording we have from that date in history. Search and enjoy!

By all accounts, Lou Reed was a difficult guy. He was a great musician, but his infamously ornery nature often poked through his recordings like a finger in the eye. From his genre-stretching Velvet Underground days, to his uneven Bowie-aided solo turn on 1972’s Transformer, to 1975’s deliberately unlistenable Metal Machine Music, Reed’s large discography is formidable in its depth and breadth.

One of his most lauded records, 1973’s epic Berlin—a concept album about a junkie couple living in the German capital—was met with poor reviews when it was released. Rolling Stone gave it zero stars, deeming the album a “disaster” and ending their review with an ominous farewell to Reed’s career, writing, “Goodbye, Lou.” Decades later, though, critics would remember Berlin much more fondly, if just for its sheer ambition. Rolling Stone would eventually add Berlin to its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Surrounded by bad press and quickly spiraling into drug addiction, Reed embarked on a tour to showcase his underdog album. Backed by the roaring guitars of Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner, the powerful organ of Ray Colcord, and the bumping rhythm section of Peter Walsh and Pentti Glan, Reed didn’t let the naysayers keep him from putting on a fantastic set of shows. Though the tour is still regarded with skepticism among die-hard Reed fans due to the often overpowering nature of his band, it’s not hyperbolic to say that these concerts could be the closest thing human beings have to earporn.

After his 1973 tour, Reed largely avoided playing Berlin songs until he revived the Berlin tour in 2006 at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, so there are very few good live recordings out there. But, thanks to the tireless Paste Vault, you can listen in on Reed’s show at the Demontforte Hall in Leicester, England, on Sept. 27, 1973. Jam to “How Do You Think It Feels” and “Caroline I” off of Berlinransformer’s “Walk on the Wild Side.” After all that, round out your essential Lou Reed listening with a taste of the Velvet Underground’s classic “Rock & Roll,” which the group played as an encore.

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