Lou Reed will release his new album, The Raven, on January 28th, on Sire/Reprise. The ambitious collection features Reed's musical interpretations of the poetry of Edgar Allen Poe (including actor Willem Dafoe's reading of the classic poem which serves as the title track) in addition to his own original Poe-inspired lyrics.
The Raven -- which will be released in a full two-CD format, as well as a shorter, more music-centric version -- is the singer-songwriter's latest investigation into the work of the nineteenth century poet. Reed and avant garde theater director Robert Wilson hatched POEtry, a piece of musical theater that debuted in Hamburg, Germany, in 2000. And more recently, Reed took part in producer Hal Willner's annual Poe Invitational Halloween performance at the University of California Los Angeles.
In addition to Dafoe, Reed enlisted actors Steve Buscemi and Amanda Plummer, and musicians David Bowie, Laurie Anderson, Ornette Coleman, the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, and Anna and Kate McGarrigle to bring the project to life. Reed's regular band -- guitarist Mike Rathke, bassist Fernando Saunders and drummer Tony "Thunder" Smith -- are also featured on the record. Willner, who produced Reed's last album, 2000's Ecstasy, also recorded The Raven.
"For sure Edgar Allen Poe is that most classical of American writers -- a writer more peculiarly attuned to our new century's heartbeat then he ever was to his own," Reed wrote on his Web site. "Obsessions, paranoia, willful acts of self destruction surround us constantly . . . When given the opportunity to bring him to life through words and music -- text and dance -- why I leapt at it -- I surged towards it like a Rottweiler chasing a bloody bone."
Dafoe and Reed's "The Raven" is available for download at www.loureed.org.