“Lou Said, ‘I Found Lou Reed Again!’”
FRED MAHER remembers New York: “Lou was on his best behaviour…”
I’d drummed on Legendary Hearts and New Sensations and toured with Lou before joining Scritti Politti. Lou later asked if I’d play on what became
New York. He was also looking for producers, but nothing materialised and, full of myself, I offered to do it. Lou said, “What do you know about producing rock, after working on that synth crap?” I convinced him to record one song to see how it went. He was very into guitar sounds, so I suggested we start there and build the sound around guitar and Lou’s voice, noting how previous producers had directed him to sing out, as opposed to his spoken-word style. The result was Romeo Had Juliette, exactly as you hear it on the record. Lou called me after, and said, “I found Lou Reed again.”
The recording was shockingly smooth; Lou was on his best behaviour throughout. We recorded the guitars first, and I played drums after and for some crazy reason it worked, even on Dirty Blvd, which was very tight with subtle changes in tempo, but it just flowed easily.
A lot of the lyrics were angry but he wasn’t a method-actor type of person, he was a sardonic kind of guy and didn’t need to get worked up to get into the character of the song. Lou had Moe Tucker play on Last Great American Whale and Dime Store Mystery; he never said why. Lou also tried to get Cale involved, but when I told John that Moe was playing, he said, “What is this, some kind of fucking Velvet Underground reunion?” It never happened.
As told to Martin Aston