(photograph by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, taken from Lou Reed.com)
We’re thrilled to announce that Matador will be releasing Lou Reed’s Berlin: Original Film Soundtrack on September 30 (digital) /October 7 (LP/CD), coinciding with the Weinstein Company’s October 6, 2008 DVD release of the Julian Schnabel film.
Upon the 1973 release of Berlin, Lou Reed’s controversial successor to the wildly popular Transformer, Rolling Stone‘s Stephen Davis described it as one of “certain records so patently offensive that one wishes to take some kind of physical vengeance on the artists that perpetrate them…a distorted and degenerate demimonde of paranoia, schizophrenia, degradation, pill-induced violence and suicide.” A earnest pan, yes, but also a fabulous pull quote. Thirty years later, the magazine named it one of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Staging Berlin had been discussed for over 30 years, and in December of 2006 it became a reality, over four days at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn. It was the first time Reed performed the album live. The New York Times said that Reed “wasn’t revisiting these songs as oldies or artifacts; he was reinhabiting them…Berlin carried Reed’s music to an ornate extreme, but now its trappings are secondary. What comes through is the way it feels.”
The film Berlin, by acclaimed painter/director Julian Schnabel (“Basquiat”, “Before Night Falls”, “The Diving Bell & The Butterfly”), documents these historic performances. Though the album’s harrowing qualities are well documented, the experience of seeing and hearing it brought to life was invigorating. More information about the film can be found at http://www.berlinthefilm.com/.
Produced by Bob Ezrin and Hal Willner, and featuring musicians like Fernando Saunders, Antony, Steve Hunter, Rob Wassermann, Rupert Christie and Sharon Jones, a seven piece orchestra (including Eyvind Kang and Jane Scarpantoni), and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, this recording magnifies the cinematic quality of the original album. It also includes the three encores, “Candy Says,” “Rock Minuet,” and “Sweet Jane.”
Berlin remains one of the most alarming and frank highlights of a career marked by innovation and candor. Just as Schnabel’s effort is far more ambitious than your average concert film, this release stands as a majestic and poignant re-imagining of one of the 20th century’s most powerful works.
Lou Reed is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has been awarded the Chevalier Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Government, and the prestigious Hero Award by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. His incisive, literate approach to popular (and unpopular) music has spanned five decades, with a remarkable lack of complacency. Reed is undoubtedly one of the most important and influential living musicians, and the creative landscape that we survey in 2008 — including much of this label’s back catalog — is very difficult to imagine without his contributions. More material related to Reed’s career can be found at http://www.loureed.com