ROCK & ROLL HEART
review by J.C. Hartley
Time was everyone pretty much liked Lou Reed, he successfully reinvented himself for glam, and again for punk, but without really trying; the fanbase reinvented him for themselves. Of course Reed was punk before there was punk, in an engagement with the original street meaning of the term, and this little film captures all that attitude and ballsyness.
Taking Reed from his origins via his early influences like poet Delmore Schwartz, bringing him to New York, and introducing him into the orbit of Andy Warhol and the Factory with the Velvet Underground, this film shows how much Reed was responsible for his whole destiny.
It should be compulsory for indie guitar bands to watch this film, and perhaps a few would be honest and get out of the business, but most I suspect believe their own hype and even faced with the fountainhead of originality would continue to peddle their evian of inadequacy.
Time was most people had Transformer in their record collections, and watching Rock & Roll Heartone realises what a jolly incongruity it was in the Lou Reed back catalogue, with its camp and its vaudeville; we too when hearing Walk On The Wild Side given radio airplay wondered, like the people in this film, if the networks realised what it was about, maybe it was the coloured girls going "doo-de-doo doo-doo-de-doo doo-de-doo" that fooled them. Although hagiographic in places, Lou Reed is here warts and all, with an impressive array of interviewees to sing his praises; I even fell a little bit in love with Patti Smith.
The extras are simply bits of the original film separated out and re-presented, so you get the interviewees 'screen tests', one minute of into the camera footage in a tribute to Warhol's original Factory screen tests, plus some concert footage of the Velvets doing Venus In Furs with some whip dancers, no kidding.