Street Hassle: One of My Favourite Lou Reed Tracks.
Above Photo: An advertising mural on an old brick wall in Crosby Street, New York.
The Velvet Underground was a band that drew me into ‘Alternative’ music back in the mid-1970s. By then the British charts were awash with the likes of Mud, the Bay City Rollers and Lieutenant Pigeon.
As mentioned in my Punk and New Wave memoir, Bombed Out! when I should have been at school around this time, I was more likely to be found skiving at a friend’s house, listening to his older sister’s definitely non-mainstream music, including Velvet Underground albums.
What I loved back then was the impression conveyed by much of the band’s output of a fascinating Bohemian sub-culture and a very tough life on the gritty streets of faraway New York City.
A couple of years later, in 1978 (long after Lou Reed had left the Velvet Underground in 1970) I was firmly into the Punk scene, when Reed brought out his Street Hassle album.
I was immediately struck by the superb title track (You Tube Link below), which is another great example of his ability to accurately capture this seamy New York street life in music.
The song is broken into three parts. The first records a woman picking up and paying for a male prostitute, the second records the death of a young woman in a drug dealer’s apartment and the third part, “Slipaway” also contains a short and uncredited spoken piece by Bruce Springsteen of all people.