For an audience, artists reinterpreting their own catalog, in a live setting, can be both exciting, and at times, an exercise in frustration. This trend of course also lends itself to the companion “live” album as well. One of the first instances of this I consciously remember was picking up Bob Dylan’s 1974 live album with the Band, Before The Flood. A student of Dylan’s studio jams I was immediately bummed and confused as to why the bard would purposely reinvent some of his best work. I wasn’t feeling it. Not surprisingly this turned out to be an initial knee-jerk reaction as I later came to love Dylan’s ever-changing reinterpretations of his old “standards.”
To a lesser extent Lou Reed’s 1973 live document, Rock ‘N Roll Animal, had a similar effect when I first encountered it. In essence, “what were these bastardized versions of VU classics?” Similar to the above Dyaln instance, I soon came to appreciate the ’73 reinterpretations. They swung with attitude, glitter and swagger — glammed up for the, then, new decade(nce) of the ’70s.
In the years since I have read that, upon its release, both critics and fans alike were wondering the same thing about these Velvets redux. Now hailed in many circles as a “classic” live album, Rock ‘N Roll Animal is, if anything, a signifier of revisionist history. But really, Lou is — if not always great — at least interesting in any incarnation. Turn these up loud.
In the comments: In a live setting do you prefer an artist perform their material straight up, or reinterpret it, changing the lyrics, the tempo, the key the song is in, etc?
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Lou Reed – Interview, Australian Television – 1974