With four of the five coming from his previous group The Velvet Underground, Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal is an immediately striking almost operatic stance from the mired backdrop of New York City. Reed who recruits Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner on the guitars here are cut directly from rock standouts. Prakash John on the bass and Pentti Glan on the percussion cover the rhythm sections. Finally, there is Ray Colcord on the keyboards which is less subdued and acts more as a rhythmic frontman alongside the ripping guitars to illustrate harmony.
Much of Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal has this orchestral emotional draw behind it, opening with “Intro / Sweet Jane.” The rattling cymbal rolls and sudden crashes are maestro’d along to Reed’s both angelic and still deprived anarchy that continues to become the main stage attraction. The solo work of both Hunter and Wagner are collective pieces of beauty that pull back the spotlight on Reed who does not even take the stage until nearly the fourth minute of the recording.
Favorites like “Heroin” and “White Light / White Heat” Are featured here and the almost “new” renditions create a deeper pull to the difference that occurs from the original recording. Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal is entirely based on being louder, more vibrant, and ultimately more gritted in the carnivorous side. Especially in “White Light / White Heat” which might be the best recording or release of the track coming from Reed, his vocal performance is conquering and animalistic. Fitting for a record based on Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal, but the guitar work is almost like an extension of Reed’s tendrils of noise that both distort and shake the ground he walks on.
With aviators pitch black and lit cigarettes in both hands, Reed here rips through “White Light / White Heat” without taking much time to rest. He is under the influence of sound and channels through the speakers as a visionary of performance. The way he shouts “White light goin’ messin’ up my brain, don’t you know it’s gonna make me insane. White heat goin’ down to my toes, Lord have mercy, white light had it, goodness knows.” Even 46 years after the initial release of Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal, the sentiment and sensational warmth from Reed and his band is like a lightning bolt to the ears.
It wakes the audience up, and while no new material is presented at this time; Reed is interesting to see on the stage once again. Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal is best suited as a pile of dynamite that when put under immense pressure, produces cold steel into the sensory-motor function. A perfect live record to exist as a revisioning of the real thing.