Q - 5/92, p.1035 Stars
- Indispensable - "...a melancholy masterpiece...places Reed's dry narrative in sophisticated settings..."
The Wire - 6/00, p.37
"...Fascinating....Detailing a couple's breakup, a woman's breakdown and her eventual suicide.....succeeding despite itself..."
NME (Magazine) - 9/18/93, p.19Ranked #33
among The Greatest Albums Of The '70s.
NME (Magazine) - 8/12/00, p.29Ranked #28
in The NME "Top 30 Heartbreak Albums" - "...Heartbreak. Heroin. Dubonnet on ice. Reed poured all this badness into this bitter and twisted masterpiece..."
After the success of his glam-rockish TRANSFORMER, the expectation was that Lou Reed would plow deeper into commercial territory. As usual, Reed delighted in confounding expectations. BERLIN is a song cycle that uses the decadence of its namesake and some Brecht/Weill-esque orchestrations to tell a story of two psychically damaged people and their doomed relationship. (Aided by Berlin producer Bob Ezrin, Pink Floyd would attempt a similar feat several years later on THE WALL).
Far from the rock-star poses of TRANSFORMER, BERLIN is lyrically and musically frank and blunt. The arrangements move from sophisticated, arch orchestration to naked-sounding acoustic sparseness, but the words are uniformly unflinching in their depiction of violence, addiction, and desperation. Not for the faint of heart, BERLIN is a harrowing journey through the aforementioned tribulations, and one of Reed's most unusual, demanding, but ultimately rewarding albums.