Upon its release in 1973, Berlin was described by Rolling Stone's Stephen Davis as akin to "taking the listener into a distorted and degenerate demimonde of paranoia, schizophrenia, degradation, pill-induced violence and suicide." If that's not a ringing endorsement, then I'll be a battered tranny hooker's bandage. I love, love, LOVE this record, as much for the way it continuously inspires me to keep writing as for the raw beauty of its unforgiving vision of domestic discord. It's everything good art should be: terrifying, honest, and occasionally so ugly that it's actually beautiful.
I've listened to Berlin almost every day for the last week, and I hear new things every time, both in terms of lyrical grace and musical structures. It pretty much kills me that I didn't get to see Reed perform it in its entirely in New York in 2006 (with Sharon Jones, no less!). A live CD version of that show is available now, as is filmmaker Julian Schnabel's (Basquiat, When Night Falls, The Diving Bell & The Butterfly) documentary of that performance. Video clip of my current favorite track, "Caroline Says, Pt. II", is after the jump.