Mixed bag--often feels tossed off, but is also often a blast
Dave | United States | 03/17/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Lou Reed's 1986 album "Mistrial" tends to be considered a dud in his discography. Although that's being harsh, it's understandable in the sense that "Mistrial" does often sound tossed off, plus some of the lyrics are really weak--it seems Lou was either going through a bit of writer's block, and/ or feeling a little lazy. It's unfortunate because Reed's in excellent form vocally here, and the best stuff suggests that with some more craft & fine-tuning, this could have been a really kickass record. As it is, there are a bunch of really cool tracks--there's the stomping rocker title track; the catchy, drum-machine driven, somewhat Chuck Berry-esque uptempo tune "No Money Down"; the toe-tapping, looping funk-rocker "Video Violence" with its hilarious wordless hook; the punchy, edgy rocker "Spit It Out" with great, crunchy guitar chords from Reed (though his ultra-primitive & hesistant lead work leaves quite a bit to be desired); and the irresistibly funky & energetic rap-flavored tune "The Original Wrapper" which is a bit lyrically rote, but amusing. On the down side, "Don't Hurt A Woman" is a sluggish, tedious ballad; the repetitive "Outside" is kind of bland; "I Remember You" is an incredibly listless piece of filler with lyrics that are slight beyond all belief; & "Tell It To Your Heart" is, surprisingly for Reed, a pretty sappy ballad that's additionally marred by the annoying background vocals. Obviously "Mistrial" is no masterpiece, but still, it is pretty good, and I can't see any serious Reed fanatic finding this album to be THAT big of a disappointment, & if you see it cheap, it's worth getting."
Timothy P. Young | Rawlins, WY, USA | 02/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This isn't Lou's best record. Obviously. Lots of folks call it his worst. Well, that's their business, I guess. Personally, I think it's a damn good record.
First, let's examine it from a musical standpoint. The only live instruments here are guitar and bass. There's a metronomic drum machine to deal with, but it's a distraction at most. The bass pins things down nicely and the lead guitar sears through the songs like a knife through butter. Sharp and clear.
Second, let's look at the way Lou was probably thinking about this record: lyrically, it's more focused than New Sensations, and musically, well, we're already done.
THIS IS AN ARTLESS ALBUM.
Seriously. When Lou hits his solo on "Video Violence," it's raw and dirty and nasty as it should be. The drum programming (!) on "No Money Down" merits the same respect, as do the mild moments that mark "Don't Hurt a Woman."
Don't get me wrong, there's lots to care about here: from the news (Video Violence) to the condemnation of the art scene (Mama's Got A Lover), this record rocks. It examines the impact of these things on society, in Reed's deadpan (and biting) tone.
If anything, this should be looked at as a precursor to "New York." "Mistrial" marks Reed's first real incursion into topical songwriting ("Video Violence," "The Original Wrapper") and should be treated as such. A valuable artifact."
One Of Lou Reed's Best Pop Albums
Ronald J Cashwell | Greensboro, NC | 02/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I really like this album. It's one of Lou's best efforts at making pure pop music that is melodic and catchy. It's filled with guitar-driven hooks. Some of the lyrics are a bit weak, but on the whole they're not bad. It still has Reed's trademark attitude. (It'll be a sad day if Lou ever loses his attitude.) I especially like "I Remember You", "Don't Hurt A Woman", "No Money Down", and "Tell It To Your Heart."
If you like Lou Reed, don't dismiss this album without at least listening to some of the samples."