Lou Reed and Genya Ravan performing ‘Aye Co’lorado’ at the Bottom Line
In 1978, Lou Reed and Genya Ravan appeared on one another’s solo albums. Ravan contributed backing vocals to Reed’s Street Hassle, and Reed sang on “Aye Co’lorado,” Ravan’s song about a Puerto Rican boyfriend/dealer on the first side of her Urban Desire. (Which also had a John Cale song on side two: “Darling I Need You,” from Cale’s great Slow Dazzle.)
In her memoir Lollipop Lounge, Ravan writes that when guitarist Ritchie Fliegler introduced the New York rockers at the Urban Desire session, Lou made a characteristically charming allusion to Ravan’s history with Goldie and the Gingerbreads:
The first thing Lou said to me after we’d been introduced was: “My grandmother bought your records years ago.”
There was a deathly silence in the studio.
I looked him in the eye and said, “Yeah, well at least someone in your family had good taste in music. What happened to you?”
He laughed, the tension eased, and we quickly became friends. He immediately accepted that I was the one in charge here, that I called all the shots.
I gave him the handwritten lyric of “Aye, Co’Lorado” and we went into Studio A. The mikes were already on, ready to go, and we stood facing each other. We ran the song down to the track. It was great!
“Okay,” said Lou. “I think I got it now.” I grinned. I’d let him believe we were just rehearsing, but in fact I’d signaled to the engineer to get the tape rolling. It was a deliberate deception on my part, one I often practiced with singers when I wanted to get a “live” feel . . .
I let Lou do three more takes of the song with me, out of respect for his wishes, but as I’d thought they would they all sounded a bit cold after that, lacking in the real feel. That first take was the one we used. Lou agreed with me after hearing all the takes he’d done.
Genya’s ruse worked. I wish Lou had done more duets like this one, and fewer (i.e., zero) like his remake of “Soul Man” with Sam Moore.
Ravan and the ‘Urban Desire’ band in the studio in a ‘77 local news segment: