Great Rock Albums of 1986: Lou Reed- Mistrial


Before 1984, Lou Reed was one of those artists I always admired from a distance. Like the rest of the world, I knew his best known song, “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” and had some familiarity with some other of his songs but that’s where it ended. My interest in him grew when I met a couple of people at community college who were heavily into him but even then I never really listened to Lou until his 1986 “Mistrial” album.

Here’s a perfect example of my naivety in things Lou Reed. My initial reaction upon hearing the opening title track was, “Who’s playing guitar on the album?” Because that guitar solo on the song impressed me. Taking a look at the credits, I was amazed to discover that it was actually Lou himself on the lead guitar. My respect for him grew astronomically that very minute. My original image of his songs being him saying great lyrics backed up by some brilliant music was dead.

Thinking about it, what really sticks out about “Mistrial” was that it was so heavily guitar leaden during an era where everyone was encouraged to use synthesizers. Of course, it wasn’t the metal I was thirsting for so much in 1986 but it was rocking enough for me. True, his MTV single “No Money Down” only made it to 75 in the charts and that made some Duranies at the time use the fact to say that he wasn’t popular or his music wasn’t that good but those of us who knew Lou knew different. I do remember the single getting quite a bit of play on MTV and it was another motivator for me to get the album. The song is good and the video was quite clever.

Always being one to find a hidden gem on an album, “Mistrial” provides this in the form of “Video Violence.” This song speaks to me in a couple of ways. First, I like the music, especially the guitar solo. Second, in the mid 1980s, technological advances made video a more common thing and violence was included in the form of video games. “Commando” and “Crossbow” were two of my favourites but the fact that you could go and kill monsters, aliens and Russians on a video screen seemed to appeal to many.

What always made Lou Reed great was his lyrics and they continue to be so on this album. They are always spot on. On “The Original Wrapper” he pokes fun at the growing right wing fundamentalism that was sweeping the US at the time. Likewise, the lyrics in his ballad, “Don’t Hurt a Woman” are also poignant. Though I’m not sure what point he’s trying to make with “Mama’s Got a Lover” but the song is really cool with the guitar solo and the backing vocals. Maybe I should listen to it hundred times more.

Track Listing:

  1. Mistrial
  2. No Money Down
  3. Outside
  4. Don’t Hurt a Woman
  5. Video Violence
  6. Spit It Out
  7. The Original Wrapper
  8. Mama’s Got a Lover
  9. I Remember You
  10. Tell It to Your Heart


Lou Reed

Lou Reed- vocals, lead and rhythm guitar

Fernando Saunders- bass, synthesizer, backing vocals, rhythm guitar on tracks 4 & 10, piano on track 9, percussion on track 3

Eddie Martinez- rhythm guitar on track 2, 4 & 7

Rick Bell- tenor sax on track 2

J.T. Lewis- drums

Sammy Merendino- percussion on tracks 2, 5 & 7

Jim Carroll- backing vocals on track 5

Ruben Blades- backing vocals on track 9 & 10

Shall I keep on with the Steve Lukather comments?

I might not have been a Lou Reed fan before “Mistrial” but I certainly was after. This album is that good.

Next post: Big Country- The Seer













12 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1986: Lou Reed- Mistrial”

  1. Nice one. I don’t think I ever heard this one, but it sounds interesting. And I think it is really cool to have Reuben Blades on backing vocals for a couple songs. Has Steve lost his cache? It might be getting close to the end of its run…but not sure yet. The jury is still out on that one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Can’t imagine Lukather and Reed on the same record…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The only Lou I own is Lulu.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I really enjoyed Mama’s Got A Lover off this album.

    Liked by 1 person

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