Street Hassle

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Street Hassle
Lou Reed - Street Hassle front cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 1978
RecordedThe Record Plant, New York City and live in Munich, Wiesbaden, Ludwigshafen, Germany
GenreRock, punk rock
ProducerLou Reed, Richard Robinson
Lou Reed chronology
Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed
Street Hassle
Live: Take No Prisoners

Street Hassle is the eighth solo studio album by American musician Lou Reed, released in February 1978 by Arista Records. Richard Robinson and Reed produced the album. It is 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 studio tracks 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. 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. "Dirt" is allegedly about his ex-manager, Dennis Katz.

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] Biographer Anthony DeCurtis describes the album as being largely motivated by and representative of the end of Reed's three-year relationship with Rachel Humphreys, a trans woman whose ultimate fate after Reed remains unknown. DeCurtis summarizes the title track as “something of a requiem for Reed and Rachel’s relationship.”.[3] In a 1979 article for Rolling Stone, Mikal Gilmore refers to Rachel as the "raison d'être" for the album as a whole.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[2]
Chicago Tribune4/4 stars[5]
Christgau's Record GuideB+[6]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[7]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[8]
Spin3.5/5 stars[9]
Spin Alternative Record Guide7/10[10]
The Village VoiceB[11]

Street Hassle was met with mostly positive reviews, such as from Rolling Stone, which called the album "brilliant" and "a confession of failure that becomes a stunning, incandescent triumph—the best solo album Lou Reed has ever done."[12] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice, however, gave the album a lukewarm reception, observing that "despite the strength of much of the material," he found the album's "production muddled, its cynicism uninteresting, [and] its self-reference self-serving."[11] In a retrospective review, AllMusic noted that while "time has magnified its flaws," Street Hassle was "still among the most powerful and compelling albums [Reed] released during the 1970s, and too personal and affecting to ignore."[2]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks 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


Adapted from the Street Hassle liner notes.[13]

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


  • Lou Reed – producer; mixing
  • Richard Robinson – producer
  • Rod O'Brien – engineer; mixing
  • Manfred Schunke – engineer of live recordings
  • Heiner Friesz – engineer of live recordings
  • Gray Russell – assistant engineer
  • Gregg Caruso – assistant engineer
  • Ted Jensen – mastering at Sterling Sound

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart Peak
US Billboard 200[14] 89
French Albums Chart 20

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Nusser, Dick (14 January 1978). "Arista Has 1st Stereo/Binaural Disk". Billboard. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Deming, Mark. "Street Hassle – Lou Reed". AllMusic. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  3. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony. Lou Reed: A Life. Little Brown, 2017.
  4. ^ Gilmore, Mikal. “Lou Reed’s Heart of Darkness,” Rolling Stone, March 22, 1979. 20.
  5. ^ Kot, Greg (January 12, 1992). "Lou Reed's Recordings: 25 Years Of Path-breaking Music". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  8. ^ Hull, Tom (2004). "Lou Reed". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 684–85. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  9. ^ Marchese, David (November 2009). "Discography: Lou Reed". Spin. New York. 24 (11): 67. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  10. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.
  11. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (May 29, 1978). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  12. ^ Carson, Tom (April 6, 1978). "Street Hassle". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  13. ^ Street Hassle (CD booklet). Lou Reed. Arista Records. 1978.CS1 maint: others (link)
  14. ^ "Lou Reed > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 2010-09-02.