Tuesday, November 08, 2011

METALLICA MACHINE MUSIC


The pairing of two rock legends, Lou Reed and Metallica, seemed to hold such great promise. I have always been a fan of Reed, and I have always admired Metallica and loved their sound.

But what might have been a coherent, incisive hard-rocking record is instead a muddled, largely spoken-word affair in which Reed's usual anger is present but comes off as the partially-sane ramblings of a cranky old man. And the content of some of his ranting is just downright scary.

A sign of what might have been is the first ten minutes of the final track, the 19-minute-plus "Junior Dad", but that one has an unnecessary extra eight or nine minutes of quiet ambient music tacked on at the end. And the first-time listener will probably suffer all the way through the other SEVENTY-or-so absolutely brutal minutes of "Lulu" to get to that track.

If you are a Metallica fan, this is still your band... but it is not your band's next great album. This is Metallica but relegated to a generator of heavy mood music as a background for Reed's rambling and ranting.

If you're a Lou Reed fan who likes to think Lou's last great album was "New York" (as I do), maybe you have held out hope that he still has one great album in him, yet to come (as I have). Well... this is not that album.

"Spermless like a girl", Reed repeats incessantly in "Frustration". I have to say Metallica shows that it still has plenty of sperm, but nowadays, Lou is far from seminal. I love him, but I think it's time for him to hang it up.

I found myself liking "Lulu" at times, because it does have its moments. But for the most part, I hate it. It is heavy, abrasive, and more than a bit heavy-handed more often than not. Metallica's contribution is majestic and powerful, and I give them 3 to 3.5 stars for their effort. If there was just a mix available without Lou's wails and warbles... Lou's part gets 1 star, so the average makes it a 2-star album for me.

It could have been so beautiful...

Look online for Chuck Klosterman's review. He says it all best.

I submitted the previous review to Amazon.com, and I did not read Klosterman's review before writing mine. Check out what Chuck says here:

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7146312/lou-reed-metallica-album

This review is pretty spot on, too. A bit harsh, maybe... but that's o.k.:

http://thatshowkidsdie.com/2011/11/02/spermless-like-a-girl-on-lou-reed-metallicas-lulu-and-my-fascination-with-suckiness/

My first thought after suffering all the way through this album was "This one is headed straight for the CD store as a trade-in!" But then I thought, that as a connoisseur of "bad art"and "outsider music", maybe I will just keep it... get it out every once in a while and listen to a few minutes of it, just to remind me of how good the rest of the CDs in my collection really are.

And maybe, just maybe, guys who are 69 years old (like Lou) shouldn't try to play rock and roll. I'm in a band, and I'm 54... but sometimes I wonder how much longer I should do it. There are limits. And Lou Reed, like The Who at halftime a couple of Super Bowls ago, is a perfect illustration.

6 Comments:

Blogger J. Marquis said...

Maybe Lou just felt like he wanted to produce another "Metal Machine Music" before he left this mortal coil.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Dave Splash said...

I was afraid to listen to it for fear it would permanently alter my perceptions of both artists. I love Velvet Underground and early Lou, and love Metallica up to about 1989. The idea of a collaboration between the two is so off the wall, that it had to be either really good or really bad. I'm afraid it is the latter.

These guys should take it as a sign that, perhaps, they should just retire.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

I figure I'm giving myself a few more years of being the lead singer in a band. I have been doing it for nine years now, and my voice hit its peak one or two years ago. Now reality is starting to set in, as I'm starting to have some allergies, which affects my voice. Our band also rarely practices any more due to all our differing schedules, so without practicing as much, I don't tend to keep my voice in good shape... so when it comes time for a gig, I don't have as much vocal stamina.

Solutions? Manage the allergies better. Have more practices, or get into a band that practices more often or in which I don't have to do all the lead vocals.

Or, retire. 8-)

I think Metallica still has some chops, but I think Lou's time is done. And if it is, I think it's a shame he is leaving on such a sour note...

4:03 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Thanks for the warning. Too often these collaborations sound good in theory but not in reality.

The last Metallica album I bought was in 2003. I forget the name of it; I gave it away. It was their first CD after a long drying-out period. Apparently they need their drugs. Everything on that CD sounded like it had one chord, the same plodding beat and no guitar solos. It was the equivalent of a brilliant piano player sitting down and playing Chopsticks all night.

1:56 PM  
Blogger MRMacrum said...

I'm with Dave Splash. Early Reed and Metallica maybe into the early 90s.

5:14 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

Jim said "Maybe Lou just felt like he wanted to produce another "Metal Machine Music" before he left this mortal coil."

Well... I think with "Lulu" he has left an immortal steaming coil.

5:17 PM  

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