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The Blue Mask is the eleventh solo studio album by American musician Lou Reed. It was the first album released after Reed had left Arista Records and returned to RCA Records. The album was released around Reed's 40th birthday, and covers topics of marriage and settling down,[1] alongside themes of violence, paranoia, and alcoholism.

The Blue Mask
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 23, 1982 (1982-02-23)[1]
RecordedOctober 1981
StudioRCA Studios, New York City
LabelRCA Records
  • Lou Reed
  • Sean Fullan
Lou Reed chronology
Rock and Roll Diary: 1967-1980
The Blue Mask
Legendary Hearts
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[2]
Chicago Tribune4/4 stars[3]
Christgau's Record GuideA[4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[5]
Rolling Stone5/5 stars[6]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4.5/5 stars[7]
Spin4/5 stars[8]
Spin Alternative Record Guide9/10[9]


Production and recordingEdit

Reed and Robert Quine's guitars were mixed separately in the right and left stereo channels respectively. To differentiate his guitar's sound from Reed's, Quine used D tuning, playing each song as if it was one major second higher. For example, "Heavenly Arms" is in G major, so Quine used fingerings for A major to play the song.

Quine, who years earlier followed the Velvet Underground across the country and taped several of their early shows (they were later released as Bootleg Series Volume 1: The Quine Tapes), made for a suitable complement to Reed. Quine also toured in support of the album and can be seen on the recorded The Bottom Line show titled A Night with Lou Reed. The album contains no instrumental overdubs with the exception of Reed's guitar on "My House", but all vocals were overdubbed with the exception of "The Heroine".

Fernando Saunders, who subsequently became a longtime Reed collaborator, plays the bass and adds backing vocals (most noticeably, a falsetto refrain in the outro to "Heavenly Arms") to this album and can also be seen in A Night with Lou Reed. In 2000, a remastered version of The Blue Mask was released. Quine and Reed share the distinction of being named to Rolling Stone's Top 100 Guitarists of All-Time List. The drummer for the album was studio musician Doane Perry, who later joined Jethro Tull.

The album cover was designed by Reed's then wife, Sylvia, and features a blue version of a photograph by Mick Rock from the cover art of 1972's Transformer.

Track listingEdit

All songs written by Lou Reed

Side one
  1. "My House" - 5:25
  2. "Women" - 4:57
  3. "Underneath the Bottle" - 2:33
  4. "The Gun" - 3:41
  5. "The Blue Mask" - 5:06
Side two
  1. "Average Guy" - 3:12
  2. "The Heroine" - 3:06
  3. "Waves of Fear" - 4:11
  4. "The Day John Kennedy Died" - 4:08
  5. "Heavenly Arms" - 4:47


  • Sean Fullan – recording engineer, co-producer


  1. ^ a b Sheffield, Rob (1982-02-24). "Happy 30th Birthday to 'The Blue Mask,' Lou Reed's Solo Masterpiece | Rob Sheffield". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2013-08-16.
  2. ^ Deming, Mark. "The Blue Mask – Lou Reed". AllMusic. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  3. ^ Kot, Greg (January 12, 1992). "Lou Reed's Recordings: 25 Years Of Path-breaking Music". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert (1990). "Lou Reed: The Blue Mask". Christgau's Record Guide: The '80s. Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-679-73015-X. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  5. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  6. ^ Carson, Tom (April 15, 1982). "Lou Reed: The Blue Mask". Rolling Stone. New York. Archived from the original on February 18, 2009. Retrieved August 23, 2016.
  7. ^ Hull, Tom (2004). "Lou Reed". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 684–85. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  8. ^ Marchese, David (November 2009). "Discography: Lou Reed". Spin. New York. 24 (11): 67. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  9. ^ Weisbard, Eric; Marks, Craig, eds. (1995). Spin Alternative Record Guide. Vintage Books. ISBN 0-679-75574-8.