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Rare Lou Reed demos released as part of bizarre "copyright dump"

Whether he was fronting The Velvet Underground or spearheading a solo career, Lou Reed was never anything less than unpredictable. And even in death, he continues to be wickedly unpredictable.

Take this latest snafu: RCA/Sony Music uploaded no fewer than 17 tracks to iTunes in Europe on December 23rd in what has been described as a “copyright dump”. Laced under the snappier title ‘I’m So Free: The 1971 RCA Demos’, the album (as it is an album) was withdrawn only days later.

Far Out readers may notice that the selection includes a version of ‘New York Conversation’, a jaunty piece David Bowie co-produced for Transformer. Commonly regarded as the songwriter’s zenith, Transformer helped shape the lexicon of 1970s rock.

‘Perfect Day’ also features in the tracklisting, as does ‘I’m So Free’ and ‘Hangin’ Round’. What the selection offers isn’t closure, but context, demonstrating how these ideas formulated before they were committed to tape.

Needles And Plastic: Flying Nun Records, 1981–1988 author, Matthew Goody, pointed out that the album had been released, sharing a link that previewed the album’s artwork. “Apparently Lou Reed’s RCA demos from 1971 were dumped on Apple Music in Europe on Xmas Eve,” he tweeted. “No sign they’ll be available anywhere else”.

Most likely this “copyright dump” owes to a contractual dispute over ownership, but one thing is certain: 50 years on from his solo debut, and eight years after his untimely death, Reed is still nabbing headlines. See the full tracklisting, below.

I’m So Free: The 1971 RCA Demos’ tracklist:

  • ‘Perfect Day (Demo – Takes 1 & 2)’
  • ‘I’m So Free (Demo)’
  • ‘Wild Child (Demo)’
  • ‘I’m Sticking with You (Demo – Take 2)’
  • ‘Lisa Says (Demo)’
  • ‘Going Down (Demo – Take 2)’
  • ‘I Love You (Demo)’
  • ‘New York Telephone Conversation (Demo)’
  • ‘She’s My Best Friend (Demo)’
  • ‘Kill Your Sons (Demo)’
  • ‘Berlin (Demo)’
  • ‘Ocean (Demo – Takes 1 & 2)’
  • ‘Ride Into the Sun (Demo – Take 2)’
  • ‘Hangin’ Around (Demo – Take 2)’
  • ‘Love Makes You Feel (Demo – Take 2)’
  • ‘I Can’t Stand It (Demo)’
  • ‘Walk It And Talk It (Demo)’