For someone who’s been knocking around the music business for nearly half a century, Lou Reed has a pretty slim résumé of guest appearances. Although he is a staple of multi-artist projects, turning in stalwart work with producer/curator Hal Willner, he is almost always a feature attraction, rather than a sideman.
Perhaps it’s because Downtown Lou — to put it diplomatically — lacks the generosity of spirit that marks the habitual collaborator. Or maybe it’s just that his talent is so singular: If all you want is a backing vocal or a guitar solo to spice up your track, is Lou Reed really the first guy who springs to mind? His idiosyncratic style so effortlessly dominates its surroundings that he’s probably better off being the name above the title.
That being said, Reed has accumulated a lot of friends and admirers in his long career, and has done a number of favors over the years. His production and arranging stints in the 1970s and 80s for his old Syracuse cronies Nelson Slater and Garland Jeffreys are now lost to the mists of time — until someone decides to reissue them, at least — and he’s been linked both romantically and creatively with Laurie Anderson for two decades now. Here’s a smattering of Lou’s finest moments doing what only Lou can do — when Lou do that Lou-voodoo that Lou do so well.