Recorded live at the Hempstead Theatre, New York, New York in 1972. Includes liner notes by Carlton P. Sandercock.
Finally, this is an official release of the December 26, 1972, performance of Reed on a New York radio show, which had been floating around on numerous bootlegs for many years. The sound is at least as good as it's been on any of those bootlegs. As for the music, it's inarguably among the finest of Reed's solo work, released or unreleased. The set's split evenly between the Velvet Underground classics and highlights from Reed's early solo albums, with backing by the Tots, the group of unknown musicians who played with him in concert during the period. The fidelity is very good, Reed's singing is great, and the band plays in a raw and urgent manner that Reed should have employed on his solo albums, but didn't. The Velvet Underground songs are well-done and considerably different from the originals, and the versions of solo classics like "Vicious," "Walk on the Wild Side," "I'm So Free," "Berlin," and "Satellite of Love" slay the studio takes to shreds. If you're looking for one interesting bonus that doesn't seem to have made it onto many of the prior bootleg releases of this material, there's a brief interview with Reed in which the na?ve-sounding DJ asks him where Doug Yule is. "Dead, I hope," Reed deadpans, to sincere gasps of shock from the audience. For those who take their Reed seriously, that one moment might actually make this CD worthy of purchase, even if they already have the music on bootleg. This is essential for Reed fanatics, though it's unfortunate that the liner notes are poorly written and poorly proofread, with no details about the show itself, instead offering a general history of his activities in the early '70s. ~ Richie Unterberger