Sally Can't Dance is the fourth solo album by Lou Reed. It is Reed's highest-charting album, reaching the Top 10 in the United States. It is also the first solo Lou Reed album not to feature any songs originally recorded by Reed's earlier band, the Velvet Underground, as well as the first of Reed's solo studio albums to be recorded in the United States (Reed's previous three albums were all recorded in the United Kingdom).
Aside from the title song, Sally Can't Dance includes "NY Stars" (in which Reed pokes fun at "fourth-rate imitators" who tried to impress him by copying his style), "Kill Your Sons" (a reflection of his stay in a psychiatric hospital at his parents' insistence, during his teen years), and "Billy," about the fate of a schoolmate with more "normal" ambitions than he'd had. The latter track reunited Reed with erstwhile Velvet Underground bandmate Doug Yule, playing bass. More tracks featuring Yule have emerged on a CD re-issue. The album's tour featured Danny Weis, guitar; Michael Fonfara, keyboards; Prakash John, bass and Pentti "Whitey" Glan, drums on the European leg. Eric "Mouse" Johnson played drums on the Australian and US sections. The sound engineer for all the live shows was Robin Mayhew who had previously worked with David Bowie during his Ziggy Stardust period.
While the record was a hit and elevated Reed's status as a star, he reportedly was disappointed in its production (in which he took a largely passive role) and the treatment of the songs. Reed remarked, "It seems like the less I'm involved with a record, the bigger a hit it becomes. If I weren't on the record at all next time around, it might go to Number One."
His record company, RCA, insisted on a rapid follow-up album while his career appeared to be peaking. Tiring of the pressure put on him, and with his contract requiring RCA to release whatever record he gave them, Reed handed over the master tape of Metal Machine Music - an hour of feedback and noise, with no hope of becoming a hit.
All tracks composed by Lou Reed.
- "Ride Sally Ride" – 4:06
- "Animal Language" – 3:05
- "Baby Face" – 5:06
- "N.Y. Stars" – 4:02
- "Kill Your Sons" – 3:40
- "Ennui" – 3:43
- "Sally Can't Dance" – 4:12
- "Billy" – 5:10
- "Good Taste" – 3:30
- "Sally Can't Dance" (Single Version) – 2:56
- Lou Reed – vocals, guitar
- Danny Weis – guitar, tambourine, background vocals, horn arrangement
- Paul Fleisher – saxophone on "Billy"
- David Taylor, Lou Marini, Trevor Koehler, Jon Faddis, Alan Rubin, Alex Foster Lew Soloff – horns
- Steve Katz – harmonica, horn arrangement
- Michael Fonfara – keyboards, background vocals, horn arrangement
- Prakash John – bass, background vocals
- Doug Yule – bass on "Billy"
- Ritchie Dharma – drums on "Kill Your Sons" & "Ennui"
- Pentti "Whitey" Glan – drums
- Doug Bartenfeld - guitar
- Michael Wendroff – background vocals
- Joanne Vent – background vocals
Horn arrangements: Lew Soloff and Martin Sheller