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New York (album)

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New York
Studio album by
ReleasedJanuary 10, 1989 (1989-01-10)
RecordedMay–October 1988
StudioMediasound Studio B, New York City
Lou Reed chronology
New York
Songs for Drella
Singles from New York
  1. "Romeo Had Juliette"
    Released: 1989
  2. "Dirty Blvd."
    Released: 1989
  3. "Busload of Faith"
    Released: 1989

New York is the fifteenth solo studio album by American musician Lou Reed, released in January 1989 by Sire Records.[1]

The album received universal critical acclaim upon release, and is widely considered to be among Reed's strongest solo efforts. It is highly regarded for the strength and force of its lyrical content; Reed stated that he required simple music so that it would not distract from his frank lyrics. The single "Dirty Blvd." was a number-one hit on the newly created Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart for four weeks.

Reed's former band, the Velvet Underground, were at the peak of their cult popularity in the late 1980s, but his solo career had hit several lows during the 1980s. The widespread popularity of New York reignited his career to the extent the Velvet Underground were revived for a world tour.

Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker played percussion on two tracks.

Background and lyrics

Reed's straightforward rock and roll sound on this album was unusual for the time and along with other releases such as Graham Parker's The Mona Lisa's Sister presaged a back-to-basics turn in mainstream rock music. Conversely, the lyrics through the 14 songs are profuse and carefully woven, making New York Reed's most overtly conceptual album since the early 1970s. His polemical liner notes direct the listener to hear the 57-minute album in one sitting, "as though it were a book or a movie." The lyrics vent anger at many public figures in the news at the time. Reed mentions by name the Virgin Mary, the NRA, Rudy Giuliani, "the President", "the mayor", the "Statue of Bigotry", Buddha, Mike Tyson, Bernard Goetz, Donald Trump, "Mr. Waldheim", "the Pontiff", Jesse Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Swaggart, Louis Farrakhan, Oliver North, Richard Secord (misidentified as "William Secord"), and Morton Downey.

Reed also drew inspiration from some of his friends and fellow artists. For instance, in the song "Last Great American Whale", Reed quotes John Mellencamp, referring to him as "my painter friend Donald."[2] Upon hearing the album, Mellencamp himself said, "Yeah, it sounds like it was produced by an eighth-grader, but I like it."[3]


The cover art is a photograph with five different shots of Reed superimposed on the same street scene. The photo is a blue monochrome apart from the shoes/boots which are brown, the colors do seem to vary across different pressings/issues.[original research?] The rear photo is the same street scene without Reed. The street is lit from the right hand side, while the photos of Reed are all lit from the left. Photography is credited to Waring Abbott. The album design was done by Spencer Drate, Judith Salavetz, and Sylvia Reed.[4]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[5]
Chicago Tribune4/4 stars[6]
Mojo4/5 stars[7]
Q5/5 stars[9]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[11]
Spin4.5/5 stars[12]
The Village VoiceA−[14]

New York was voted the third best album of the year in The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics' poll for 1989.[15] "Whether or not you buy Reed's line about New York being a single integrated experience 'like a book or a movie'," remarked Q in its end-of-year round-up, "this is indisputably one of the landmark albums of an inconsistently brilliant career."[16]

In a 1995 reappraisal, Q's Bill Prince noted that New York "signalled the beginning of the defrosting of Reed's Velvet Underground past that has so far marked out his '90s."[17] Mark Deming wrote in his review for AllMusic that "New York is a masterpiece of literate, adult rock & roll, and the finest album of Reed's solo career."[5] In a retrospective overview of Reed's discography for Spin, David Marchese stated that the album had a "mix of sharp detail, righteous anger, and razor-wire rock" and "was Reed's best of the decade."[12]

In 1989, Rolling Stone ranked New York the 19th best album of the 1980s.[18] In 2006, Q listed it as the decade's 26th best album.[19] In 2012, Slant Magazine placed the record at No. 70 on its list of the 100 best albums of the 1980s.[20]

Other releases

Reed performed all the tracks on New York in order on August 13, 1989 at Théâtre Saint-Denis in Montreal, Canada, and this performance was recorded and released as a DVD entitled The New York Album.[21] The DVD also contains an audio-only interview with Lou Reed ("A Conversation with Lou Reed").

In September 2020, a deluxe box set version of New York was released, containing the remastered album on both CD and a two-record set, plus a second CD of previously unreleased live versions from Reed's 1989 tour, a third CD of song demos, alternate mixes, one unreleased song from the album sessions, and two live encore recordings, and a DVD of the Montreal performance.[22]

Track listing

All tracks are written by Lou Reed, except as indicated.

Side one
1."Romeo Had Juliette" 3:09
2."Halloween Parade" 3:33
3."Dirty Blvd." 3:29
4."Endless Cycle" 4:01
5."There Is No Time" 3:45
6."Last Great American Whale" 3:42
7."Beginning of a Great Adventure"
Side two
8."Busload of Faith"4:50
9."Sick of You"3:25
10."Hold On"3:24
11."Good Evening Mr. Waldheim"4:35
12."Xmas in February"2:55
14."Dime Store Mystery"5:01
Total length:56:40
Deluxe box set CD 2
1."Romeo Had Juliette" (live at the Warner Theatre, Washington, DC, 3/14/1989)4:44
2."Halloween Parade" (live at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, MD, 3/16/1989)4:51
3."Dirty Blvd." (live at the Wembley Arena, London, UK, 7/14/1989)4:18
4."Endless Cycle" (live at the Warner Theatre, Washington, DC, 3/14/1989)4:38
5."There Is No Time" (live at the Mosque, Richmond, VA, 8/8/1989)5:35
6."Last Great American Whale" (live at the Mosque, Richmond, VA, 8/8/1989)6:05
7."Beginning of a Great Adventure" (live at the Wembley Arena, London, UK, 7/14/1989)7:23
8."Busload of Faith" (live at the Falconer Theatre, Copenhagen, Denmark, 6/8/1989)5:05
9."Sick of You" (live at the Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, PA, 3/17/1989)5:21
10."Hold On" (live at the Mosque, Richmond, VA, 8/8/1989)3:34
11."Good Evening Mr. Waldheim" (live at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, MD, 3/16/1989)4:01
12."Xmas in February" (live at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, MD, 3/16/1989)3:43
13."Strawman" (live at the Wembley Arena, London, UK, 7/14/1989)5:21
14."Dime Store Mystery" (live at the Mosque, Richmond, VA, 8/8/1989)6:22
Deluxe box set CD 3
1."Romeo Had Juliette" (single version)3:07
2."Dirty Blvd." (work tape)1:54
3."Dirty Blvd." (rough mix)3:35
4."Endless Cycle" (work tape)1:06
5."Last Great American Whale" (work tape)2:09
6."Beginning of a Great Adventure" (rough mix)5:02
7."Busload of Faith" (acoustic version)2:40
8."Sick of You" (work tape)1:26
9."Sick of You" (rough mix)3:40
10."Hold On" (rough mix)2:44
11."Strawman" (rough mix)5:59
12."The Room"3:37
13."Sweet Jane" (live encore at the Mosque, Richmond, VA, 8/8/1989)5:51
14."Walk on the Wild Side" (live at the Mosque, Richmond, VA, 8/8/1989)3:57


Adapted from the New York liner notes.[23]


Chart performance

Weekly charts

Chart (1989/1990) Peak
Australia (ARIA Charts)[24] 25
Austrian Albums Chart 8
German Album Charts 19
Swiss Albums Chart 1
US Billboard 200 40
UK Albums Chart 14
Dutch Album Chart 8
Chart (2021) Peak
Hungarian Albums Chart[25] 33

Sales and certifications

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[26] Platinum 70,000^
France (SNEP)[28] Gold 153,600[27]
Netherlands (NVPI)[29] Gold 50,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[30] Gold 50,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[31] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[32] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[33] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ Holden, Stephen (May 21, 1989). "Pop's Angry Voices Sound the Alarm". The New York Times. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Zak, Albin (2000). The Velvet Underground Companion: Four Decades of Commentary. Music Sales Group. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-8256-7242-2.
  3. ^ Forman, Bill (February 13, 2013). "James McMurtry on Lou Reed, gun control and why Leonard Cohen must die". Colorado Springs Independent. Archived from the original on February 20, 2013. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  4. ^ Roberts, Fred. "Interview with Spencer Drate". Ragazine. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Deming, Mark. "New York – Lou Reed". AllMusic. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  6. ^ Kot, Greg (January 12, 1992). "Lou Reed's Recordings: 25 Years Of Path-Breaking Music". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  7. ^ Savage, Jon (November 2020). "Mean streets". Mojo. No. 324. London. p. 92.
  8. ^ Felsenthal, Daniel (September 26, 2020). "Lou Reed: New York: Deluxe Edition". Pitchfork. Retrieved September 26, 2020.
  9. ^ "Lou Reed: New York". Q. No. 68. London. May 1992. p. 103.
  10. ^ DeCurtis, Anthony (February 23, 1989). "New York". Rolling Stone. New York. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ a b Marchese, David (November 2009). "Discography: Lou Reed". Spin. Vol. 24 no. 11. New York. p. 67. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  13. ^ Bonner, Michael (November 2020). "Lou Reed: New York". Uncut. No. 282. London. pp. 44–45.
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert (March 28, 1989). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  15. ^ "The 1989 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. New York. February 27, 1990. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  16. ^ "The 50 Best Albums of 1989". Q. No. 40. London. January 1990.
  17. ^ Prince, Bill (April 1995). "Lou Reed: New York". Q. No. 103. London.
  18. ^ "100 Best Albums of the Eighties". Rolling Stone. New York. November 16, 1989. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  19. ^ "40 Best Albums of the '80s". Q. No. 241. London. August 2006.
  20. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. March 5, 2012. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  21. ^ The New York Album (Media notes). Lou Reed. Sire Records. 1990. 7599 38164-3.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  22. ^ Martoccio, Angie (July 29, 2020). "Lou Reed's 1989 Album 'New York' Gets Massive Reissue". Rolling Stone. New York. Retrieved November 28, 2020.
  23. ^ New York (CD booklet). Lou Reed. Sire Records. 1989. 9 25829-2.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  24. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  25. ^ "2021/42 heti Album Top 40 slágerlista" (in Hungarian). MAHASZ. Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  26. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2004 Albums" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  27. ^ "Les Albums Or". SNEP. Archived from the original on 2011-10-18. Retrieved 2011-08-31.
  28. ^ "French album certifications – Lou Reed – New York" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  29. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Lou Reed – New York" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 24 November 2018. Enter New York in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  30. ^ "Sólo Éxitos 1959–2002 Año A Año: Certificados 1979–1990" (in Spanish). Iberautor Promociones Culturales. ISBN 8480486392.
  31. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Lou Reed; 'New York')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  32. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-02-06. Retrieved 2014-11-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  33. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA". Retrieved 18 January 2017.
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