Yesterday we mourned the loss of a true original, the prototypical New York rockstar, the godfather of punk: Mr. Lou Reed. The man may be gone, but his music lives on, both in his records -and other people’s, too!
Artists from across the musical spectrum of sampled Reed’s work in their own tracks, borrowing (but never bettering) his swag, style and groove. Read on to check out the ten best ways that folks have paid audio tribute to one of rock’s great ones. Crank up your volume and read on! And don’t forget to catch an airing of Berlin, the live concert film featuring a performance of Lou’s infamous 1973 rock-opera. That’s coming at ’cha this Friday at 8 PM on VH1 Classic!
10. “Wildside” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch (1991)
The first on this list, and the first in a long line of tracks to bite the laid back harmonic bass-line to Reed’s most famous solo song, 1972’s “Walk On The Wild Side.” We have to say, Mark Wahlberg does an admirable approximation of Lou’s sleepy pre-rap style, and the updated lyrics emulate his tales urban struggle. In essence, it’s the Boston-style sequel to Lou Reed’s ode to NYC’s gritty underbelly. And like most sequels, it doesn’t live up to the original.
9. “Ballantains” by Violadores Del Verso (2001)
Hailing from Spain, these “verse rapers” (as their name translates) use the Reed sample sparingly, dropping the iconic bass-line from “Walk On The Wild Side” for just a few beats on the bridge. It’s a nice little cherry on top of this aggressive cut, which also seems to heavily sample a man belching. Or is it vomiting? Either way, we feel like ol’ Lou would approve.
8. “Walk On The Wild Side” by DJ Disse (2007)
Lou Reed as a trance song? It’s just crazy enough to work! Mad props to DJ Disse for re-purposing Reed’s most famous track as a wordless techno jam. Aside from the pulsating beat and some phasing effects, he subtracts rather than adds to the original, creating a throbbing atmospheric piece. It’s not terribly original (check the title), but we could listen to that sax solo all day.
7. “Intro-Inspection” by Osymyso (2002)
Full-scale mashup sound collages (in the Girltalk vein) can be divisive, but we happen to be huge fans of these electronic symphonies. This album opener from the criminally underrated Osymyso weaves together some of our favorite classic tracks into something totally and unique. Snatches of “Walk On The Wild Side” float in and our of our headphones like a fever dream, before being overtaken by the likes of the Beach Boys and Barry White and a host of others.
6. “Fantastic Voyage” by Takako Minekawa (1999)
Reed’s influence was felt far and wide, as evidenced by this techno pop piece coming to us all the way from Japan! Composer Minekawa used the hook-filled “do-do-do”s of the backing singers referred to (in a very non-PC way) on “Walk On The Wild Side,” putting his unique spin on one of the most New Yorky of tunes. Close your eyes, relax and float down-steam…
5. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by Luther Allison (1997)
Paying tribute to two legends at once, the great Luther Allison slips the familiar “do-do-do” backing vocals of “Walk On The Wild Side” into the breakdown of this Rolling Stones cover. Because we’re so firmly entrenched in Stones-Land, the Reed shout-out catches us totally off guard. And yet, it fits so perfectly!
4. “A Fantastic Moment” by Kahimi Karie (1995)
File this one under “C'” for “Catchy As Hell.” Here’s another “fantastic” piece of glorious dreamy Japanese pop that borrows its bones from “Walk On The Wild Side.” Like the best samples, it isn’t obvious- but if you listen closely you’ll notice a loving nod to Lou’s slide bass part as the tune takes off for the chorus. Nicely done.
3. “Can I Kick It” by A Tribe Called Quest (1991)
We had to include this modern classic from the The Tribe, who were just as influential and trailblazing in hip-hop as the iconoclastic Reed was in rock. Rapping over “Walk On The Wild Side”’s bass a full year before Marky Mark did it, these guys get points for originality. The bass provides the heartbeat, but the MC had a few extra tricks up their sleeves to keep our ears on their toes. Considering Lou (claims to have) invented rap, it’s only appropriate that he gets a fitting tribute.
2. “Theme From The Deerstalker” by Beats International (1990)
That’s a young Norman Cook (better known as DJ extraordinaire Fatboy Slim) manning the turntables on this funktastic cut. Just like his later works, Cook makes it catchy, dance-y and filled with groove. Bonus points for working in the bell sounds from “Sunday Morning” by Lou’s old band, The Velvet Underground.
1. “Clean Getaway” by Caviar (2004)
A track from this little known Chicago alt-rock band deserves the top spot for the sole reason that they’re the only folks who sampled a song other than “Walk On The Wild Side”! That’s the sign of a true fan, right there. Even though it was featured in a TV ad for Safeway supermarkets, this song that samples 1978’s “Street Hassle” is still pretty great. Hey, Lou did a Honda commercial in the ’80s, so it’s all good. You can listen to this track, as well as the rest of the ones on our list, in the Spotify playlist below!
[Photo: Getty Images]