Sally Can't Dance

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Sally Can't Dance
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 1974
Recorded18 March – 26 April 1974
StudioElectric Lady Studios, Greenwich Village, New York City
Lou Reed chronology
Rock 'n' Roll Animal
Sally Can't Dance
Lou Reed Live
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2/5 stars[1]
Chicago Tribune1/4 stars[2]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[3]
Tom HullC+[4]

Sally Can't Dance is the fourth solo studio album by American musician Lou Reed, released in August 1974 by RCA Records. Steve Katz and Reed produced the album. It remains Reed's highest-charting album in the United States, having peaked at #10 during a 14-week stay on the Billboard 200 album chart in October 1974.[5] It is also the first solo Lou Reed album not to feature any songs originally recorded by Reed's earlier band, the Velvet Underground, as well as the first of Reed's solo studio albums to be recorded in the United States (Reed's previous three albums were all recorded in the United Kingdom).


Aside from the title song, Sally Can't Dance includes "N.Y. Stars" (in which Reed pokes fun at "fourth-rate imitators" who tried to impress him by copying his style), "Kill Your Sons" (a reflection of his stay in a psychiatric hospital at his parents' insistence, during his teen years), and "Billy," about the fate of a schoolmate with more "normal" ambitions than he'd had. The latter track reunited Reed with erstwhile Velvet Underground bandmate Doug Yule, playing bass guitar. According to an interview with Yule, the call from Reed was "out of the blue", because Reed thought Yule's bass playing style would work well on the song "Billy", and Yule agreed to play on the song saying he "liked it" and that he had enjoyed the session.[6] More tracks featuring Yule have emerged on a CD re-issue. The album's tour featured Danny Weis, on guitar; Michael Fonfara, on keyboards; Prakash John, on bass and Pentti "Whitey" Glan, on drums on the European leg. Eric "Mouse" Johnson played drums on the Australian and U.S. sections. The sound engineer for all the live shows was Robin Mayhew, who had previously worked with David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust period. The following year, Reed contacted Doug Yule again to play guitar on his 1975 world tour.[7]

While the record was a hit and elevated Reed's status as a star, he reportedly was disappointed in its production (in which he took a largely passive role) and the treatment of the songs. Reed remarked, "It seems like the less I'm involved with a record, the bigger a hit it becomes. If I weren't on the record at all next time around, it might go to Number One."

Following the relative critical successes of Transformer, Berlin and Rock 'n' Roll Animal, Sally Can't Dance was dismissed by critics and despite its commercial strength was deleted by the end of the Seventies.

In 1974, however, RCA insisted on a rapid follow-up album while Reed's career appeared to be peaking. Tiring of the pressure put on him, and with his contract requiring RCA to release whatever record he gave them, Reed handed over the master tape of Metal Machine Music—an hour of feedback and noise, with no hope of becoming a hit.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Lou Reed.

Side one
  1. "Ride Sally Ride" – 4:06
  2. "Animal Language" – 3:05
  3. "Baby Face" – 5:06
  4. "N.Y. Stars" – 4:02
Side two
  1. "Kill Your Sons" – 3:40
  2. "Ennui" – 3:43
  3. "Sally Can't Dance" – 4:12
  4. "Billy" – 5:10
Bonus tracks
  1. "Good Taste" – 3:30
  2. "Sally Can't Dance" (single version) – 2:56


Credits are adapted from the Sally Can't Dance liner notes.[8]


  • Steve Katz – producer
  • Lou Reed – producer
  • Mike Stone – recording engineer
  • Ralph Moss – remix engineer
  • Dennis Katz – cover concept
  • Acy Lehman – art direction
  • David Byrd – artwork
  • Mick Rock – front cover illustration


Chart(1973/74) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[9] 14
US Billboard 200[10] 10

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Deming, Mark. Sally Can't Dance at AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-09-02.
  2. ^ Kot, Greg (January 12, 1992). "Lou Reed's Recordings: 25 Years Of Path-breaking Music". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert (1981). "Consumer Guide '70s: R". Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies. Ticknor & Fields. ISBN 089919026X. Retrieved March 10, 2019 – via
  4. ^ Hull, Tom (April 1975). "The Rekord Report: Second Card". Overdose. Retrieved June 26, 2020 – via
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Sally Can't Dance (CD booklet). Lou Reed. RCA Records. 1974.CS1 maint: others (link)
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 249. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  10. ^ "Lou Reed > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 2010-09-02.

External links[edit]