Lou Reed left us on this day seven years ago so today is as good a day as any to celebrate one of the man’s finest works. Reed’s influence as a solo artist and leader of the now canonised Velvet Underground touched countless rock fans and artists alike, and his prolific and eclectic solo career yielded some of the most seminal releases in rock. None more so than this colossal 1978 track: Street Hassle.
The quintessential New York street track; this 11-minute, three-part narrative tour de force oozes personal and very disturbing portraits of the city’s darkened alleys. It opens with a repetitive cello motif picked up by the guitar and continued on electric bass until the phrase becomes a near-hypnotic rhythmic spell. Reed turns graffiti into poetry, tying in themes of loneliness, sexual anguish and death, including erotic images, cynicism and strangely moving lyrical passages (plus a Bruce Springsteen cameo) until the final catharsis. The title track off his best ever solo album is also the greatest love song in his entire catalog.