When Lou Reed (or Ol’ Leatherface, as the kids like to call him) is at his best, no one can top him. From his early days with the Velvet Underground through a solo career spanning 30-some years, Lou has put together a portfolio that anyone would be proud of. With the flawless, straight-forward rock of “Sweet Jane” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll” to the starkly beautiful “Walk on the Wild Side” and “Caroline Says II,” Lou reminds us why he deserves inclusion in the pantheon of great songwriters.

Unfortunately, like Lou’s career itself, NYC Man is a bit spotty. More than a few times after the breakup of the VU, Lou lost his way. Blame it on the heroin, blame it on Bowie envy, but for whatever reason, some of Lou’s songs just aren’t up to snuff. While NYC Man wisely sidesteps much of Lou’s less than stellar material, the occasional stinker (“The Blue Mask,” “The Bells”) slips through the cracks.

But that’s just a petty complaint. The fact is, Lou Reed is a rock legend and an American icon, and NYC Man, for its minor faults, is one hell of a collection.

Rating: 4 stars.

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