Picks and Pans Review: Growing Up in Public
The self-professed "rock 'n' roll animal" and organizer (in 1965) of the proto-punk band the Velvet Underground is 38 and not trying to hide it. Indeed, his composed, prideful expression in the jacket photo seems to proclaim every line on his weathered face a badge of courage. The music is the same way, charged with the rugged candor and humor of an artist who's accepted himself, scars and all. Reed's voice quavers, but it makes up in conviction what it lacks in tonality. Spewing forth surprising bits of what sound like autobiography about a troubled adolescence, Reed transcends his old guttersnipe pose. The brilliant Keep Away, for instance, flies by a few times before one realizes that it is about the effort to live up to a vow—of monogamy no less. In the land of the punk, that's counterrevolutionary stuff.