Street Hassle

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Street Hassle
Studio album by Lou Reed
Released February 1978
Recorded The Record Plant, New York City and live in Munich, Wiesbaden, Ludwigshafen, Germany
Genre Rock
Length 36:15
Label Arista
Producer Lou Reed, Richard Robinson
Lou Reed chronology
Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed
(1977)
Street Hassle
(1978)
Live: Take No Prisoners
(1978)

Street Hassle is the eighth solo album by Lou Reed, originally released by Arista Records. The album is notable as the first commercially released pop album to employ binaural recording technology.[1] Street Hassle combines live concert tapes (with overdubs) and studio recordings.

All of the songs on Street Hassle were written by Reed, including "Real Good Time Together", a track that dates back to his days as a member of The Velvet Underground.

The album was met with mostly positive reviews, with AllMusic's Mark Deming writing, "Raw, wounded, and unapologetically difficult, Street Hassle isn't the masterpiece Reed was shooting for, but it's still among the most powerful and compelling albums he released during the 1970s, and too personal and affecting to ignore."[2]

Production[edit]

The studio tracks on Street Hassle were recorded in New York City, while the live recordings were made in Munich and Ludwigshafen, West Germany. Unlike most live albums, the audience is completely muted from the mix during the concert recordings.

Bruce Springsteen contributed spoken vocals during the "Slipaway" section of "Street Hassle", alluding to his own Born to Run album in the final line. At the time, the singer was enduring a three-year forced hiatus from releasing any of his own work due to legal disputes with his former manager, although he was in the process of writing and recording music for his forthcoming album Darkness on the Edge of Town, to be released in June 1978. Springsteen was not credited for his performance in the liner notes to Street Hassle, possibly due to his ongoing legal battles.

Binaural recording[edit]

The recording of Street Hassle was notable in that Reed and his co-producer chose to employ an experimental microphone placement technique called binaural recording.[1] In binaural recording, two microphones are placed in the studio in an attempt to mimic the stereo sound of actually being in the room with the performers/instruments. In the case of the recording sessions and concerts that composed Street Hassle, engineers used a mannequin head with a microphone implanted in each ear. Binaural recordings are generally only effective when the user listens to the album through headphones, and do not generally translate correctly through stereo speakers.

Dummy head being used for binaural recording, similar to the setup used for Street Hassle

Reed's particular binaural recording system was developed by Manfred Schunke of the German company Delta Acoustics; Schunke is credited as an engineer on Street Hassle. Lou Reed would continue to use the binaural recording style on two more releases: the 1978 concert album Live: Take No Prisoners and the 1979 studio album The Bells.

Songs and composition[edit]

As was common on early Reed solo albums, Street Hassle contained a song originally written during Reed's days in the Velvet Underground—in this case, "Real Good Time Together", which had been previously released in 1974 on 1969: The Velvet Underground Live.

AllMusic has written that "the title cut, a three-movement poetic tone poem about life on the New York streets, is one of the most audacious and deeply moving moments of Reed's solo career."[2]

Reviews[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[2]
Chicago Tribune 4/4 stars[3]
Robert Christgau B+[4]
Rolling Stone (positive)[5]
The Rolling Stone Record Guide 5/5 stars[6]

Street Hassle was met with some positive reviews such as from Rolling Stone.[5] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice, however, was lukewarm calling the album "self-serving" with muddled production.[4] AllMusic's later review was more positive.[2]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Lou Reed.

Side One:

  1. "Gimmie Some Good Times" – 3:15
  2. "Dirt" – 4:43
  3. "Street Hassle" – 10:53
A. "Waltzing Matilda" - 3:20
B. "Street Hassle" - 3:31
C. "Slipaway" - 4:02

Side Two:

  1. "I Wanna Be Black" – 2:55
  2. "Real Good Time Together" – 3:21
  3. "Shooting Star" – 3:11
  4. "Leave Me Alone" – 4:44
  5. "Wait" – 3:13

Personnel[edit]

  • Lou Reed - guitar, bass, piano, vocals
  • Stuart Heinrich - guitar on "Street Hassle", background vocal on "Leave Me Alone"
  • Michael Fonfara - piano on "I Wanna Be Black" and "Shooting Star"
  • Marty Fogel - amplified saxophone
  • Steve Friedman - lead bass and background vocals on "Leave Me Alone"
  • Jeffrey Ross - lead guitar, vocals on live recorded tracks
  • Michael Suchorsky - drums
  • Aram Schefrin - string arrangement
  • Jo'Anna Kameron, Angela Howard, Christine Wiltshire & Genya Ravan - background vocals
  • Bruce Springsteen - spoken word on "Street Hassle: Slipaway" (uncredited in liner notes)

Produced by Lou Reed and Richard Robinson Engineered by Manfred Schunke and Heiner Friesz

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Nusser, Dick (14 January 1978). "Arista Has 1st Stereo/Binaural Disk". Billboard. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d AllMusic review: "[1]
  3. ^ Kot, Greg (January 12, 1992). "Lou Reed's Recordings: 25 Years Of Path-breaking Music". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (May 29, 1978). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (New York). Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Rolling Stone review
  6. ^ Marsh, Dave; Swenson, John (Editors). The Rolling Stone Record Guide, 1st edition, Random House/Rolling Stone Press, 1979, p. 318.