Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 12 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 12
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 12
  3. Negative: 0 out of 12
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  1. Sep 19, 2022
    100
    Previously unheard on any other archival release, these versions genuinely add to his already considerable myth.
  2. Aug 26, 2022
    100
    The contents, which comprise the first volume of the Lou Reed Archival Series, are of enormous cultural significance – fascinating, extraordinary, at times revelatory.
  3. 90
    A fascinating and entirely listenable record of an imminently great talent. [Sep 2022, p.80]
  4. Sep 16, 2022
    88
    To be clear, these are not professional recordings; they’re loose versions of the songs sung into a cheap recorder, and consist of Reed on lead vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica while Cale sings harmony (lead on one song) and occasionally bangs on things; there are bum notes, laughter and mistakes. But in the Velvets canon, their historical significance is vast.
  5. Sep 21, 2022
    80
    Words & Music, May 1965 slots in somewhere between “for completists only” and “for more serious listeners” of Reed’s works. Having a chance to listen to early renditions of Velvet’s classics and getting a taste for Reed’s knack for writing a compelling lyric are well worth experiencing.
  6. Sep 13, 2022
    80
    Words & Music improves the sound on Reed’s original tape (available to hear, with many others, at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, home to the Reed Archives), and evidently takes some liberty with song order.
  7. Aug 31, 2022
    80
    Overall, the album does a fantastic job of showing us where Lou Reed was in 1965.
  8. Aug 26, 2022
    80
    They capture Reed’s early processes, fragments of ideas that would morph into his definitive work. ... We sense that all that remained for Reed to do was to become Lou.
  9. Aug 26, 2022
    80
    These sketches give a sense of how Reed’s songs would be finessed. The less familiar tunes reverse the telescope, throwing the focus on the way Reed bullworked his writing muscles, toying with novelty and genre. ... What these early sketches show is that by combining novelty and song craft with the soul of a poet, Reed could reach higher. [Sep 2022, p.42]
  10. Sep 16, 2022
    75
    The clarity of Reed’s voice as a songwriter contrasts with the tentative musicality in kinetic ways, making Words & Music a rare thing: a historic document that is also compelling listening.
  11. Sep 19, 2022
    73
    Nothing on Words and Music redefines or amplifies Reed’s legend. Instead, what we get is a photograph, stark and charming. For an artist known for cool and cruel observations, for cutting remarks and misdirections, these recordings show him completely free from guile. Lewis Reed, unguarded.
  12. Aug 26, 2022
    70
    If you're a historically minded Lou Reed completist, Words & Music, May 1965 is a must. Others are advised to approach with caution and keep their expectations in check.

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