The Blue Mask has stood the test of time very well in Lou Reed's oeuvre and is amongst my top 5 Reed albums. The varied material takes us from domestic bliss in My House ("I've really got a lucky life/My writing, my motorcycle and my wife") to extreme emotion and paranoia ("I cringe at my terror/I hate my own smell/I know where I must be/I must be in hell") which is a near perfect description of a panic attack. In a way, this album returns to many of the themes that had inspired Reed from the start of his career with the Velvets: His mentor, poet Delmore Schwarz is invoked in the opening track, reminding the listener of the Velvets's European Son (to Delmore), while Underneath The Bottle, an account of his struggle with alcohol, brings to mind an earlier song The Power Of Positive Drinking from the album Growing Up In Public, and the beautiful Heavenly Arms with its gorgeous fading choruses is not too far removed from Satellite Of Love on Transformer. But the approach is different: gone is the decadent narrator of the demi-monde, and instead Reed turns into an essayist or reporter writing and singing with great maturity but still passionately about subjects as diverse as women, gun violence and the day John Kennedy died. The guitars of Reed and Quine, the bass and the drums work perfectly together, whether on the slow numbers or on the more intense rockers like Waves of Fear or the title track. Best of all, the melodies are strong and memorable and the arrangements are innovative. The Blue Mask is excellent in every way!