Lou Reed ‎– The Bells

Buddha Records ‎– 74465 99659 2
CD, Album, Reissue, Remastered


Companies, etc.



New remastered edition, with original artwork, additional photographs and new liner notes.
Originally recorded and mixed 1979 at Delta Studio, Wilster, West Germany.
Originally released as Arista AB 4229, April 1979.
Made in the EU.
Durations not printed on release.

Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Barcode: 7 44659 96592 0
  • Matrix / Runout (Variant 1): SONOPRESS A-24337/4465996592 A
  • Matrix / Runout (Variant 2): SONOPRESS A-24337/4465996592 02
  • Label Code: LC 034484
  • Rights Society: BIEM/GEMA
  • Mastering SID Code (Variant 1): IFPI LB45
  • Mastering SID Code (Variant 2): IFPI LD38
  • Mould SID Code (Variant 1): IFPI 0769
  • Mould SID Code (Variant 2): IFPI 0790

Other Versions (5 of 37) View All

Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
AB 4229 Lou Reed The Bells(LP, Album, San) Arista AB 4229 US 1979 Sell This Version
AB 4229 Lou Reed The Bells(LP, Album) Arista AB 4229 New Zealand 1979 Sell This Version
2C 070 62630 Lou Reed The Bells(LP, Album) Arista 2C 070 62630 France 1979 Sell This Version
5C 062-62630 Lou Reed The Bells(LP, Album) Arista 5C 062-62630 Netherlands 1979 Sell This Version
1093 Lou Reed The Bells(LP, Album, TP) Arista 1093 Greece 1979 Sell This Version



Add Review



March 13, 2008

It’s funny how sometimes an album by someone that you’ve been following your whole life manages to fall through the cracks. That is to say - I’ve never heard this one before today, and I am one of those Lou Reed devotees that you will find lurking around bushes in minor literary events, grumbling at what they think is the moon but inevitably turns out to be security shining a flashlight in their face, and holding rabid, ranting conversations with spent cigarette butts that actually talk back at them. You know, what they call a ’fan’ in da biz.

This is one of those more experimental Reed albums, in which he tries to expand beyond the (more limiting than limited) straight-up Rock’n’roll approach he’s been forever set in stone for - which, in this case, manifests itself both in recording technique (the Binaural Sound Recording System invented by someone called Manfred Schunke, which says it all), and the incorporation of free / modern Jazz elements, most vividly exemplified by a frenzied horn section (including Don Cherry) - enveloping, elevating, and sometimes clashing with Reed’s unflexing and rigidly individualist compositions and (admittedly more wide-ranging than usual) delivery.

Meaning that musically, mixed result: undoubtedly the recording process was intense and interesting, and that passes trough; but Lou’s experimentations usually lack a truly imaginative approach, and when this is combined with his being a musical control freak of the highest order reluctant to really let his collaborators fly unatended, it all tends to end up as conceptually interesting yet somewhat suffocated stabs at innovation - no matter what suit he puts on, in other words - underneath it all he’s still the buck-naked Rock’n’roll animal, momentarily distracted by some shiny new cuff-links he’d found in a costume shop downtown.

Which sounds like a slam, but consider this: nobody is great at absolutely everything. And Lou Reed is the Wolverine of the Mutant Rock Academy: the best there is at what he does, excellent in a bare-knuckle bar-fight, a chain-smoking, claw-bearing, beer-bottle weaving electric troubadour; when you strip the temporary flights of fancy (the result of his also being an artist, which automatically means he’s - sometimes unnecessarily - interested in expanding his boundaries) all away, it’s always The Lou that coldly stares you square in the face, strums a chord and says ’Ooh, Sweet Baby’ with unequivocal determination.

Well then. While, in an over-all view, some of the tracks here have been made almost redundant in the Reedalog by better (earlier or later) efforts exploring similar themes (Stupid Man is basic Reed Pop-Rock bitter candy infused with horns; With You and Looking For Love feel like some weird Spiders From Mars channeling; City Lights is a culturo-political statement which, while reasonably good in itself, pales into invisibility when compared with Berlin or New York), the remaining songs have more than enough merit: Disco Mystic is a bizarre, droning, jam groove which, uncharacteristically for such a lyrical entity as Reed has no words other than "Disco, Disco Mystic"; All Through The Night paraphrases the Christmas carol and has Reed Ranting’N’Rolling in the background, juxtaposed with a light-hearted cocktail party - music as conceptual art with a jagged punchline; Families is a heart-breaking (in both lyrics and delivery) manifest about familial disconnect, which is so nerve-twitchingly raw the listener has to comfort himself by remembering that Reed is also an excellent story-teller, and so maybe – just maybe – this is not autobiographical after all; and The Bells… well, imagine the score to a Kubrick-directed urban remake of a Sergio Leone Western, using a chained-in-the-basement-and-whacked-out-on-Thorazine-and-Phencyclidine Ennio Morricone? That’s just about right.

So, basically, this album is only vital to the die-hard Reedologist; other, more casual fans, might want to fish elsewhere in the vast Lou Reed catalogue to sample the poetic avenger in a somewhat more digestible format. But me? I like me The Bells, and give it a happy 8/10.

In a sentence: Lou can ring my bell, but you might wanna look elsewhere while it happens, ooh sweet mama.