Lou Reed Photographs
(Credit: Faber & Faber)

A 590-track playlist chronicling Lou Reed’s career

I don’t like nostalgia unless it’s mine” — Lou Reed

There are few artists as definitive as Lou Reed. As part of the Velvet Underground, he paved the way for countless musicians and artists to lend themselves to the city’s subversive sounds without fear of reproach, artistic or otherwise. When he went out on his own he proved to be a perennial agitator, never happy to stand still and always looking for a spot to stick the knife.

It was a chaotic and caustic career, and one which began at Pickwick Records traversed through the NYC streets and found a home bathed in international fame. When Reed sadly passed away, he did so as a legend of music and an alternative scene icon. Below we’ve pulled together a comprehensive playlist of Reed’s work which showcases what an unstoppable talent he was.

The mercurial creator and serial pop agitator, the late, great Lou Reed, is a man who deserves special praise. Praise not only for his unquestionable creative foresight nor his ability to make alternative pop songs that still ring out with a verve some six decades later. No, Reed deserves praise because through it all, he never truly questioned himself as an artist.

Whether it was creating the aforementioned subverted pop ditties alongside The Velvet Underground and Andy Warhol, or it was a pursuit of solo stardom with David Bowie on his seminal album Transformer or, of course, his mind-splitting record Metal Machine Music, Reed’s ability to create and craft was unparalleled.

There are few artists in music history as uncompromising as Lou Reed. A singer and songwriter who had genuinely lived the struggles and strife he put down in song, Reed was unstoppable when it came to making music that everybody could touch upon.

From the very start as a pop music maker with Pickwick Records, Reed had found he had an immovable talent for song-making, and he was keen to show it wherever he could. That first manifested as of his early band The Jades, a doo-wop group filled with promise, but first truly materialised with the song that formed the Velvet Underground.

That is where we start with this playlist as we dive into the alt-pop forefathers greatest works. From there we meander through Lou Reed’s impressive solo career and into the live album arena. In all three of these spaces, Reed’s talent for songwriting shines.

While we wouldn’t necessarily expect someone to listen to 48 hours of Lou Reed straight through, the fact that one could without being bored is a testament to his skill.

Below, find a comprehensive playlist chronicling Lou Reed’s incredible career.

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