Songs for Drella

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Songs for Drella
Songs for Drella.jpg
Studio album by Lou Reed and John Cale
Released April 11, 1990
Recorded December 1989 and January 1990, at Sigma Sound, New York City
Genre Art rock
Length 52:54
Label Sire
Producer Lou Reed and John Cale
Lou Reed chronology
New York
(1989)
Songs for Drella
(1990)
Magic and Loss
(1992)
John Cale chronology
Words for the Dying
(1989)
Songs for Drella
(1990)
Wrong Way Up
(1990)

Songs for Drella is a concept album by Lou Reed and John Cale, both formerly of the Velvet Underground, and is dedicated to the memory of Andy Warhol, their mentor, who had died unexpectedly in 1987. Drella was a nickname for Warhol coined by Warhol superstar Ondine, a contraction of Dracula and Cinderella, used by Warhol's crowd but never liked by Warhol himself. The song cycle focuses on Warhol's interpersonal relations and experiences, with songs falling roughly into three categories: Warhol's first-person perspective (which makes up the vast majority of the album), third-person narratives chronicling events and affairs, and first-person commentaries on Warhol by Reed and Cale themselves. The songs on the album are, to some extent, in chronological order.

Recording[edit]

Lou Reed and John Cale spoke to one another for the first time in years at Warhol's memorial service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York on April 1, 1987. The painter Julian Schnabel suggested they write a memorial piece for Andy. On January 7 and 8, 1989, Cale and Reed performed an almost completed Songs for Drella at The Church of St. Anne's in Brooklyn.[1] Still, as Cale was wrapping up Words for the Dying, and Reed had finished and was touring with his New York album, the project took another year to complete. The first full version (notably with the inclusion of "A Dream" in one performance) was played on November 29–30, and December 2–3 at the Next Wave Festival at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.[2] On December 4–5, 1989, a live performance—without an audience—was filmed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, directed by Ed Lachman, and released on VHS and laserdisc formats.[3][4] Over the following two months, Reed and Cale proceeded to record the material for the album, which was released in 1990 by Sire Records.

The album was the pair's first full collaborative record since 1968's White Light/White Heat, and by the end of recording Cale vowed never to work with Reed again due to personal differences, hence plans to support the album with a tour were shelved. Nevertheless, Songs for Drella would prove to be the prelude to a Velvet Underground reunion: after playing a Drella selection on June 15, 1990, at a Warhol/Velvet Underground exhibition at the Cartier Foundation in Jouy-en-Josas, Reed and Cale were joined onstage by Sterling Morrison and Maureen Tucker for a rendition of the Velvet Underground song "Heroin",[5] which eventually led to the first and last Velvet Underground reunion, which took place in 1993 (after which Cale and Reed, again, vowed never to work with one another again).

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[6]
Chicago Tribune 3.5/4 stars[7]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[8]
Entertainment Weekly B–[9]
Los Angeles Times 3/5 stars[10]
NME 8/10[11]
Q 4/5 stars[12]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[13]
The Village Voice A–[14]

Songs for Drella received positive reviews and critical praise upon release. In a four-star review, Rolling Stone writer Paul Evans stated "Both nearing fifty, Reed and Cale are the survivors Warhol wasn't fated to become. In popular music, only bluesmen and country greats have managed the maturity these two display."[15] Spin described Songs for Drella as "a moving testament to one of the '60s most important icons" and named it one of the Top 20 albums of 1990.[16]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Lou Reed and John Cale. All vocals by Reed except songs marked with † by Cale.

Side A

  1. "Smalltown" – 2:04
  2. "Open House" – 4:18
  3. "Style It Takes" – 2:54 †
  4. "Work" – 2:38
  5. "Trouble with Classicists" – 3:42 †
  6. "Starlight" – 3:28
  7. "Faces and Names" – 4:12 †

Side B

  1. "Images" – 3:31
  2. "Slip Away (A Warning)" – 3:05
  3. "It Wasn't Me" – 3:30
  4. "I Believe" – 3:18
  5. "Nobody But You" – 3:46
  6. "A Dream" – 6:33 †
  7. "Forever Changed" – 4:52 †
  8. "Hello It's Me" – 3:13

Singles[edit]

"Nobody But You" b/w "Style It Takes"—7" Germany 1990.

"Nobody But You"; "Style It Takes" b/w "A Dream"—12" & CD-single Germany 1990.

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Fear Is A Man's Best Friend fansite - John Cale setlists 1989: New York 1989-01-08
  2. ^ Fear Is A Man's Best Friend fansite - John Cale setlists 1989: New York 1989-11-30
  3. ^ Fear Is A Man's Best Friend fansite - John Cale on screen: Songs for Drella video (includes link to full video online)
  4. ^ Songs for Drella video at Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ Fear Is A Man's Best Friend fansite - John Cale setlists 1990: Jouy-En-Josas 1990-06-15
  6. ^ Deming, Mark. "Songs for Drella – John Cale / Lou Reed". AllMusic. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  7. ^ Kot, Greg (January 12, 1992). "Lou Reed's Recordings: 25 Years Of Path-breaking Music". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  8. ^ Larkin, Colin (2007). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-857-12595-8. 
  9. ^ "Notable music for the week of May 11, 1990". Entertainment Weekly. May 11, 1990. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  10. ^ Hochman, Steve (April 24, 1990). "Album Review: A Moving Remembrance of Andy Warhol". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  11. ^ Martin, Gavin. "Lou Reed/John Cale – Songs For Drella". NME. Archived from the original on June 22, 2000. Retrieved January 25, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Lou Reed and John Cale: Songs for Drella". Q (127): 150. April 1997. 
  13. ^ Evans, Paul (May 17, 1990). "Songs for Drella". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (September 25, 1990). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved November 14, 2015. 
  15. ^ http://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/songs-for-drella-19900517
  16. ^ http://www.spin.com/2014/02/best-albums-1990/140212_lou-reed-john-cale-songs-for-drella-web/