Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Lou Reed: The Raven [Sire/Reprise, 2003]
Only a Lou-lou could love this concept album with a hole in the middle, by which I mean the theater piece that supposedly held all the new songs, old songs, new instrumentals, poetry readings, and cameo turns together. But though it's less than the sum of its parts, the parts are pretty arresting--Antony's castrato version of "Perfect Day," for instance, is a terrible idea in theory that ends up beating the original. Gee, maybe Poe actually was the progenitor of Selby and Burroughs and, more importantly, Reed himself, who delivers the theme-setting "Edgar Allan Poe" with a rhythmic intensity that is, let's be frank, a rare thing in literary criticism. Best Performance in a Supporting Role: Steve Buscemi as a somewhat younger Lou Reed doing a lounge act the older Reed wrote. B+