Lou Reed’s new CD, “The Raven,” features Willem Dafoe reading the Edgar Allen Poe poem “The Raven.” Not many CDs can say that.Unfortunately, a lot of CDs can say that they feature a confused collection of mutually jarring fragments of ideas. Not even Poe’s perfectly smooth meter and rhyme can pull together a CD that’s as all over the place as this one is.

The CD seems to be trying to tell some sort of story, although it’s hard to figure out exactly what the narrative plan is. Maybe that’s because I listened to the single CD version — there’s also a double CD version of

“The Raven” that contains more material.

Still, it was hard to figure out the intention of the CD. Rocking guitars mingle with lyrics that seem to be disappointingly sub-par for Reed, offset by tracks that feature readings of Poe’s material underscored by electronic music.

A few of the tracks seem to have no place on the CD, like the mock-cocktail lounge act “Broadway Song.” He tries to tie that song in with an offhanded reference to Poe — “I wanna bring a tear to your eye / Oh good old Poe don’t he make you cry / Ain’t it great the way he writes about the mysteries of life” — but it doesn’t make sense in the context of the song, and the song doesn’t make sense in the context of the CD.

Basically, the CD feels like it’s strung together out of songs that Reed had kicking around in his head. It feels like he got on a Poe kick one day and decided to piece together a CD centered on Poe’s work. An interesting concept — there’s never been a CD that fuses popular music and poetry as determinedly as “The Raven.”

But for all its determination and innovation, “The Raven” really needed some stronger music and lyrics to back it up. This CD had the potential to be an interesting unification of the work of two dark geniuses — instead, it’s confusing and unimpressive.

Smith can be reached at ksmith@campustimes.org.



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