These Are My Records: Lou Reed’s “New Sensations”

Released in 1984, this album would have been a lot better if it had been recorded four or five years earlier. Dreadful ’80s production techniques wash out most of the impact of a pretty solid, if not spectacular, collection of songs. It’s not just the synthesizers, though: it’s the backup singers, constantly inserting themselves where they don’t belong, who are the problem more than anything else. A more austere guitar / bass / drums / vocals approach would have done much to bring out the life of songs like “I Love You, Suzanne,” “My Friend George”—which still manages to bop along contentedly and stick in your head for a little while after the record’s over—or “Down at the Arcade,” a fun little closer. File this under “missed opportunities.”


Pink Floyd: “The Final Cut”

A deeply underrated album, The Final Cut had the twin misfortune of being Pink Floyd’s followup to The Wall (which is probably one of rock’s most overrated albums), and of allowing Floyd fans four long years to imagine what that followup would sound like; by then, just about anything was bound to disappoint. Musically, this album might have more in common with the version of the group that reunited in 1987, but lyrically, it continues The Wall’s exploration of unresolved (and perhaps unresolvable) emotional loss. Parts of it are so good, I can almost even forget that it also contains some of the most trite lyrics ever pressed on vinyl (“And no one kills the children anymore”? Seriously?).