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Lou Reed: The Sire Years: Complete Albums Box

The Gift? Lou’s Sire albums in their biggest incarnation yet.

Starting with 1989’s New York, Reed’s stretch on Sire Records saw a robust return to form after years of weak albums, in a period that also saw him pick up his guitar again and finally find personal happiness with partner Laurie Anderson.

Reed reunited with John Cale for the poignantly Warhol-homaging Songs For Drella, created the towering life-and-death epic Magic And Loss, humped the new millennium by trawling the deepest gutters with 2000’s underrated Ecstasy, rocked out on Set The Twilight Reeling and turned Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven into a massively ambitious opera.

The first five releases already appeared in the bargain Original Albums Series, then again in March 2015 (joined by The Raven) for The Sire Years: The Solo Collection. Now this Complete Albums Box sees those six joined by Perfect Night In London, recorded at 1997’s Meltdown festival, and Animal Serenade, recorded live at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theatre in 2003.

Obviously this nice-looking box, which comes without annotation, will be perfect for curious first-timers, but could pose a dilemma for diehards who have already bought the previous sets and are also faced with the recent Velvet Underground extravaganzas. But as a chronicle of Reed’s unpredictable genius as he entered his later years, it still makes a fine monument.