Crossing the wrong side of the tracks, as most of Lou Reed's albums do, 1978's Street Hassle is the angrier, younger sibling to Reed's eloquent, mature 'New York', released over a decade later. The centerpiece of Street Hassle, the handsome, hypnotic and brutal title track evolves in three 'symphonic' movements, and is a powerful, theatrical precursor to Reed's work with John Cale on Songs For Drella. Bruce Springsteen makes an uncredited spoken-word appearance in the last movement of the piece, Slipaway, and there's even a touch of E-Street-type brassy groove on Wait.
An album teeming with the lyrical hell of drug addicts and desperate misfits, Street Hassle does possess elements of Reed's pitch-black humor. Gimme Some Good Times playfully samples Sweet Jane, and Reed sings the strangely sunny words of Real Good Time Together against a morbid wash of distorted guitar effects and vocals. A mix of New York studio recordings and fine live performances recorded in West Germany, Street Hassle is a curious and compelling coda to reed's tumultuous and ever-changing '70s word.