Lou Reed Songs Ranked

Lewis Allan Reed (March 2, 1942 – October 27, 2013) was an American musician, singer, songwriter, and poet. He was the rhythm and lead guitarist, singer, and principal songwriter for the rock band the Velvet Underground and had a solo career that spanned five decades. The Velvet Underground was not a commercial success during its existence but became regarded as one of the most influential bands in the history of underground and alternative rock music.
After leaving the band in 1970, Reed released twenty solo studio albums. His second, Transformer (1972), was produced by David Bowie and arranged by Mick Ronson, and brought him mainstream recognition. The album is considered an influential landmark of the glam rock genre, anchored by Reed’s most successful single, “Walk on the Wild Side”. After Transformer, the less commercial but critically acclaimed Berlin peaked at No. 7 on the UK Albums Chart. Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal (a live album released in 1974) sold strongly, and Sally Can’t Dance (1974) peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard 200; but for a long period after, Reed’s work did not translate into sales, leading him deeper into drug addiction and alcoholism. Reed cleaned up in the early 1980s, and gradually returned to prominence with New Sensations (1984), reaching a critical and commercial career peak with his 1989 album New York.
He contributed music to two theatrical interpretations of 19th-century writers, one of which he developed into an album titled The Raven. He married his third wife Laurie Anderson in 2008 and recorded the collaboration album, Lulu, with Metallica. He died in 2013 of liver disease. Reed’s distinctive deadpan voice, poetic lyrics, and experimental guitar playing were trademarks throughout his long career. Reed has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice; as a member of the Velvet Underground in 1996 and as a solo act in 2015. Here are all of Lou Reed’s songs ranked.

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20. I Believe in Love (Rock and Roll Heart, 1976)

“I Believe In Love” is one of those great rare songs where Lou is intentionally trying to be funny and succeeds. For the supposed godfather of punk this ode to “good time music” is cleverly dishonest, with a bouncy mid-tempo, horn driven beat.”

19. Coney Island Baby (Coney Island Baby, 1976)

“Coney Island Baby” is one lou’s best sounding records , the guitars and drums sound warm and everything has a clear space of its own in the mix . Lou himself’s vocals are absolutely brilliant making the opening two tracks cool if slightly cheesy pop sound fantastic.”

18. I’m So Free (Transformer, 1972)

“This is somewhat forgettable, but still enjoyable and it’s a decent addition to the album, even if it’s worse than all the other tracks except “Wagon Wheel”. It’s certainly the worst straightforward rocker here, but hell, it has to compete with Vicious, and Hangin Round. What the hell; I like it.”

17. Ecstasy (Ecstasy, 2000)

“This album has some of the best flow and cohesion from track to track that I’ve ever heard in a rock album, almost giving it the feel of a single extended piece. Lou can do nearly no wrong in my eyes, but this is one of his best methinks. His music plays with equal darkness, desperation, passion and love.”

See more: Lou Reed Albums Ranked

16. Oh Jim (Berlin, 1973)

“A beautiful sounding album, both instrumentally and lyrically. It is a bit depressing, but that is why i like it. It is an amazing story and an adventure to listen to. It may not be for everyone, but i enjoy it.”

15. Sally Can’t Dance (Sally Can’t Dance, 1974)

“The title song has a really good chorus. I love this track quite a bit. It reminds me of something from David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane album.”

14. I Love You, Suzanne (New Sensations, 1984)

“Upbeat fun Lou song. His lyrics don’t make you ponder deep thoughts, but you may want to dance!! Plus, my best friend’s name is Suzanne.”

13. Sword of Damocles (Magic and Loss, 1992)

“The music is very subtle, with mostly skeletal arrangements (exception made for the choral atmosphere of Sword of Damocles which, too, is built with fewer elements than one could think) and diluted, simple but hypnotic melodies.”

12. The Blue Mask (The Blue Mask, 1982)

“”The Blue Mask” is often hailed by critics and fans alike as one of Lou Reed’s greatest achievements, and it is deserving of the considerable praise. The disc contains some of Reed’s most brutally honest writing in a concise set of songs exploring all aspects of human frailty – good, bad and ugly.”

11. Satellite of Love (Transformer, 1972)

“Man is every track on here brilliant or what? Obviously, this one is also a masterpiece. That makes 7/7 of not just good, but great songs. This song’s got a great melody, great lyrics, great production, and one of my favorite bridges of all time.”

10. Waves of Fear (The Blue Mask, 1982)

“Great song from what I think was his finest post VU band. Lou, Robert Quine, Fernando Sanders & Doane Perry. A raw and personal song, it can take you to a very dark place but the experience is absolutely worth it.”

9. Hangin’ Round (Transformer, 1972)

“This gets my vote for most underrated song on the album, and maybe the most underrated Reed song ever. As much as I like Vicious, this is definitely the rocker that defines this album for me. It’s so much fun and has probably the best lyrics on the album. This is great song-writing folks. This is great rock n roll. It’s hilarious and weirdly uplifting”

8. What’s Good (Magic And Loss, 1992)

“It’s nowhere near his best work but this album nevertheless shows Lou Reed as a rarity, an artist who embraces maturity that doesn’t wind up sounding washed up and boring.”

7. Sweet Jane (Legendary, 2002)

“This was a great musical piece since it was written Now with Lou’s passing it becomes extra immortal in my mind. I did not ever buy his albums, but many times selected his songs on the Juke boxes. I especially like the catchy phrase about the colored girls. That is was uniquely funny.”

See more: Hatebreed Albums Ranked

6. Sick of You (New York, 1989)

“Sick of You” is pleasant. Just pleasant. There’s one great line delivery, though: ‘The ozone layer has no ozone anymore, and you’re gonna leave me for the guy next door? I’m sick of you!'”

5. Ride Into the Sun (Lou Reed, 1972)

“Ride Into the Sun has a strong riff and starts of in an almost Old West way, the solo and drums and all coming together before softly leading to the verse. The opening is quite stunning, and the chorus is a headstrong and welcome addition to the whole thing. The arpeggiating guitar is fun, Lous vocals reserved but present, and still powerful in a way. The rhymes in the second verse is a tongue and cheek but visual experience, the solo strong right after playing quick and almost angrily. The chorus after with the backing vocalists making a return is a nice release, “It’s Hard to live in the city!” They exclaim as drums pound on, before leading to an outro solo that is nearly ruthless.”

4. Vicious (Transformer, 1972)

“Great album opener. It’s not my favorite song on the album, or even my favorite rocker here, though it seems to be many peoples favorite. It is a great song and I could see how it could be someone’s favorite. Andy Warhol told Reed to write this song. He said “why don’t you write a song called ‘Vicious'” and Reed said “Vicious how?” to which Warhol replied “Vicious like ‘you hit me with a flower'”. There some real tasty lead guitar sounds all over this one, and I dig that hollow stick sounding metronomic beat.”

3. Dirty Blvd. (New York, 1989)

“Dirty Blvd.” was the big (not really) single, and in a way it sums-up the album’s general approach: a few chords, an eye for gritty detail, and the over-arching idea that an entire community can be engaged in one collective experience (or struggle). The song itself is pretty simple: just three chords and a climbing guitar line that sounds like all the nightclubs on a Saturday evening starting to flicker up with life. But once again, Reed’s able to frame the nightlife energy between some grotesque details of an immigrant kid living in poverty”

2. Walk on the Wild Side (Transformer, 1972)

“This is the one that everyone knows, even people who’ve never heard of Lou Reed. I love this song. It’s not even my favorite song on here, but it deserved to be a hit (then again so did all of these songs). This song is just charming as hell, even (especially) when it gets just a little obscene and just a little bit racist. There’s that bass riff, those dirty, funny lyrics, the whole “and the colored girls say” part, and that sax that comes in at the end. Great song.”

1. Perfect Day (Moonlight Cinema, 1972)

“The song is so catchy that I just had to go back and find the mp3. It’s been a long time since I listened to Lou Reed and I am so glad the commercial is reviving his music a bit. I had forgotten about this artist and how much I enjoyed this song.”