Lou Reed and Kris Kristofferson
‘The Bottom Line Archive Series: In Their Own Words: With Vin Scelsa’
The Bottom Line
Warts n All Interview and Performances from 1994.
When I first heard about a Lou Reed-Kris Kristofferson release I was half expecting some bizarre unearthed collaboration recorded in some back-alley New York recording studio. Alas – but perhaps fortunately, going on Mr Reed’s past patchy record of collaborative work, that is not the case here – it’s a radio show recorded at the Bottom Line in NY with both Lou and Kris chatting with Vin Scelsa, who of course doesn’t skirt around the awkward questions. In doing so, he gets some lovely dry humour from both the interviewees, but most hilariously from Lou Reed who could have easily had an alternative career as a straight man in stand-up comedy.
Musically, this is recorded warts and all in the interview situation. Neither performer is renowned for the mellifluous beauty of their voices but here they’re both in tune and in good spirits, resulting in several spirited performances.
It’s lovely to hear the obvious respect they have for each other too – Kristofferson enthusing about “Strawman” and Reed jokingly admonishing Kristofferson for his harmonica playing. Musically there’s a lot in common too, both in the narrative delivery of both artists and simple arrangements that frame the songs.
To these ears, the most fascinating performances are at the end – Kristofferson’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” which suits his voice and delivery perfectly and Reed’s take on “Tracks of my Tears” which is pretty much exactly as you’d expect it to sound if someone asked you to do an impression of Lou Reed doing Motown – glorious!
All in all, this release is one for the completists – it’s the kind of recording that has probably been circulating in bootleg circles for years, but its sonic quality and historical interest means that the committed musical fan should at least give it one listen, even though all but the most hardcore fans might not return to it too often.
Courtesy our favourite Rock Photographer, Nick Barber
Released December 13th 2019