Lou Reed's 15 greatest post-Velvet Underground songs

Lou Reed is most closely associated with his first band, the Velvet Underground, but he had an extraordinary body of solo work as well.
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No. 10 - "Wild Child," 1972

Lou’s self-titled debut album is usually overlooked because it wasn’t up to the standards of mature Velvet Underground albums, and it was about to be totally overshadowed by one of Lou’s two best albums. But in hindsight, Lou Reed is a pretty good album, filled with Velvet songs that the band had played live but had never recorded. This one, in which Lou bumps up against Dylan, but with a better sense of pop melody, is a great ‘60s number that happened to come out in the ‘70s. (The ‘60s extended into the mid-‘70s, though it was in the process of withering for much of that time.)

No. 9 - "Martial Law," 1983

This might be one of the guilty pleasures here. I don’t know that many people would choose this as one of Lou’s best, but I can’t resist it. It is another cheeky examination of family dynamics in which a couple of authority figures intervene in a troubled marriage to set everything straight. It has the driving guitar and bass typical of most of Lou’s rock songs, but knowing how much Lou despised the kind of authoritarianism he is personifying here gives this an irresistible edge.

No. 8 - "Vicious," 1972

Truth be told, for the first half of this list, I had about 25 songs that were virtually interchangeable. I chose the ones I did because they appealed to me most when I sat down to actually write. But the top eight are inviolate – beginning with the first track from Transformer.

Andy Warhol suggested the theme and the opening lines – “Vicious, you hit me with a flower” – as a dig at the San Francisco hippie movement that the New York-based VU hated so much. Reed brought his signature propulsive guitar, and announced his career as a soloist, with shades of the Underground, but with some new wrinkles.