Animal Serenade

Animal Serenade kicks off with the familiar three chords of "Sweet Jane" — but instead of opening his ninth live album with his best-known song, Lou Reed pauses to explain that the intro actually includes four chords, then moves right to his 1990 John Cale collaboration "Small Town." At sixty-four, Reed can do whatever he pleases, and for the rest of the two-disc set he does, jumping from obscurities to up-tempo rockers to dull singer-songwriter-ish fare. On "How Do You Think It Feels," Reed's band works up a nice bar-band rumble; several quiet numbers have a hymn-like grace, with cello, piano and backup singers fleshing out his deep sing-speak. The second disc is uniformly strong, with a climactic "Set the Twilight Reeling" flanked by four well-played Velvet Underground songs, including a nine-minute version of "Heroin." Other live albums have shown that Reed knows how to blast through his impressive catalog, but Serenadeoffers nice glimpses of Reed's laid-back side.