The fascinating saga of record producer Joe Meek is described by Jan Reetze on her Joe Meek Page, as, “a short life somewhere on the fine line between vision and lunacy . . . oversped, funny, sad, euphoric, depressed; a rollercoaster trip with a dramatic showdown.”
Joe Meek made some of the most spooky-sounding records of the 1960s, and they soundtracked a life that included murder, suicide, inventing Goth, communicating with cats, and holding black magic séances. He’s been called “the Ed Wood of lo-fi”.
In 1973, as a follow up to his highly successful “Transformer” album, Lou Reed released the album “Berlin”. The ten-song concept album tells of the disintegration of a couple living in Germany. The couple, Caroline and Jim, follows a dark path that starts with drug addiction and descends into infidelity, spousal abuse, loss of children due to unfit parenting, and, ultimately, suicide. The album was a commercial flop upon release. Rock critic Lester Bangs, up until this point a huge Lou Reed supporter, called the record “a gargantuan slab of maggoty rancor that may well be the most depressed album ever made.” Reaction to the album was so negative that Reed did not perform the complete song cycle in concert for over thirty years.
And yet even when the album first came out, some critics called it a masterpiece. The record developed a cult following, and decades later Reed finally decided to perform the piece live.