The Bells Import
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The Bells is one of the forgotten titles in Lou Reed's extensive oeuvre, though it's a mystery why. Perhaps because it was sandwiched (along with the less intriguing Growing Up in Public) between two triumphs--1978's fired-by-punk Street Hassle and 1982's revelatory The Blue Mask. But The Bells, despite its obscurity, ranks with Reed's best works. Arguably his jazziest outing, the nine-song collection is marked by woozy brass (some supplied by free-jazz icon Don Cherry), a unique ambience (Reed was experimenting with binaural production in the late '70s), and characteristically incisive wordplay. "With You" targets those who live on the edge ("Don't you think you could be less capricious / Unlike you I don't have no death wish"), while "All Through the Night" is empathetic toward the same precarious souls ("With a daytime of sin and a nighttime of hell / Everybody's gonna look for a bell to ring / All through the night"). An uncommonly cohesive set, The Bells wraps up with the lengthy title track--a stunning amalgamation of brooding synthesizer, barbed brass, and extemporaneous poetics. --Steven Stolder --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Families is autobiographical and moving, with a line or two imploring his dad to let his sister manage the family business. The sound is dominated by electric guitars and guitar- and bass guitar synthesizers and the mood is mournful. The Bells itself is a breathtaking, majestic experience, something Reed has never done before or since. Hard to describe, perhaps it is his exploration of what Bowie did on Low in those atmospheric tracks like Warszawa, Art Decade, Weeping Wall, etc. but with more vocals. Dissonant, atmospheric and jazzy, the sound consists of a barely audible monologue under the wails and drones of the saxophones and gong sounds to create an eerie mood. The instrumenation builds up slowly while the vocals become audible and at its height, Reed repeats the line Here Come The Bells in a dramatic conclusion.
The others are short songs - Disco Mystic is an amusing comment on the disco fever of the late 70s, whilst I Want To Boogie With You is more somber and serious. These fall in the disco commentary genre like Frank Zappa's Dancing Fool and Cristina Monet's Blame It On Disco on her Doll in the Box album, and as such are good, not great.
The Bells is an uneven work, but the aforementioned three exceptional songs merit the four stars.Read more ›
Unlike those albums, here Reed really lets loose and tries on several different musical personas ranging from progressive jazz to dixieland. His band, with which he co-wrote almost all of the songs, is supplemented by the appearance of noted jazz trumpeter Don Cherry. Cherry and sax player Marty Fogel -- who arranged all of the elaborately layered horn parts -- are particularly outstanding.
Curiously, three tracks ("Stupid Man", "With You", and "City Lights") were co-written with guitarist Nils Lofgren. This association was made possible by Bob Ezrin (producer of Reed's "Berlin" album), who gets a thank you in the album credits. [Three other Reed/Lofgren collaborations made it onto Lofgren's 1979 album entitled "Nils".]
The connecting threads that hold the whole thing together are the lyrics, Reed's most personal, before or since; never has he sounded so vulnerable. On "Stupid Man" and "Families", Reed sings about separation from loved ones by distances both physical and emotional. "Looking for Love" and "I Want to Boogie With You" are naked, yearning declarations, but sadly, the singer is all-too-convinced of his own inability to grasp that which he desires.
The epic title track -- featuring Reed's own favorite lyric -- continues to impress to this day. Sounding like a horrific collision between a 16th century baroque brass ensemble and Ornette Coleman's Prime Time outfit (with a touch of Gothic nightmarishness thrown in for good measure), it defies categorization.
Most recent customer reviews
This is really a huge mess of an album. The cover bodes ill; Lou wearing more makeup than he has since "Transformer" days, apparently distracted from gazing into a mirror, and... Read morePublished on May 10 2002 by happydogpotatohead
Uau !! People keep seeing a "depth", a "great meaning", a "message" in all of Lou Reed's records. He's a great songwriter, of course. Read morePublished on May 29 2001 by Botnik Roller
The Bells is lou reed's next to last recording with his 1976 to 1980 line up. It is know as his forgotten record and has been unavailable till now. Read morePublished on Feb. 24 2001 by David Grossman
Not a bad album, really, particularly if you never spin the first side. (Sorry, I know, that's the language of another time). Read morePublished on Oct. 24 2000 by Allan MacInnis
As with most Lou Reed records from this era, you're better off just buying "Live: Take No Prisoners. Read morePublished on July 18 2000 by Jonathan J. Casey
I love the three stunning songs All Through The Night, Families and The Bells. The first is a description of an all-night drunken party or pub crawl which contains some of Reed's... Read morePublished on July 5 2000 by Peter Uys
It's great to have The Bells on CD - even if the original master has been lost for years and the CD was made from a vinyl source. Read morePublished on July 2 2000 by H.R. Sauertieg