The most ambitious project Lou Reed was involved with during his time at Pickwick International was a concept album called Soundsville! Its 11 songs are supposed to represent 11 different styles of music divided by geography (New York, Philadelphia, England, Nashville, Detroit, Chicago, and “the West Coast”) as well as lifestyle (Surfing, Hot Rod, Motorcycle, and Campus).

It’s a sham, though. All the songs were written by the Philips/Reed/Vance/Sims team and recorded by the label’s in-house musicians. Author Aidan Levy calls Soundsville! a “budget record par excellence,” a backhanded compliment if ever there was one. But it’s pretty successful on its own terms; if they don’t convincingly sound like 11 different bands, they at least manage to produce a thoroughly disorienting listening experience.

The first song is the “Nashville” one and is credited to the J Brothers, a frequent pseudonym for the revolving-door Pickwick crew. (Does the “J” stand for “joint”? It’d be cooler if it did.) A melancholy shuffle, it seems an odd choice for leadoff track; someone expecting a rock’n’roll record might have ripped it off the turntable and hurled it across the room. And I’m no country expert, but to my ear it sounds more Texas than Nashville.


It sounds a little unfinished, too; room was left for a guitar solo that never materializes. But what do you want for $1.98? That was the list price for the album, anyway; I paid 20 bucks for it, but we’ll get our money’s worth over the next few weeks.