Lou Reed & Metallica
posted on 10/2011 By:
To say that I don’t “get” Lou Reed would be an understatement. (To say that I don’t like Lou Reed would be a similar understatement, as would saying that I don’t ever want to hear Lou Reed “sing” again in all of my days.) So I admit some journalistic bias up front.
But let’s face it: no matter what Rolling Stone and the Rock’n’Roll Hall Of Fame would have you believe, Lou Reed sucks. I say this knowing that the man has been deemed a legend (largely due the achievements of the Velvet Underground, almost a half-century ago), and I say this knowing that I’ll get comments from irate Pitchfork readers crying foul at my blatant dismissal of all things Lou. But the thing is: I’ve tried to like Lou Reed, and failing that, to understand even the slightest bit of the appeal of Lou Reed. I own probably six Lou Reed records – from best-of’s to alleged classics to his godawful interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven – and that doesn’t include my one Velvet Underground disc. I even watched a concert DVD because a friend of mine told me he wasn’t a fan either but saw Lou live and enjoyed it. (Admittedly, a DVD isn’t a concert, but it was my only option – it’s not like I’m going to pay Lou to come to my house and play for me.)
So, of course, when it was announced that Metallica would be collaborating with Lou, to say that I was skeptical would yet again be an understatement. (“Confused” or “horrified” would be a more apt descriptor, and especially so after it was announced that the result would be an eighty-seven-minute-long album based on a series of German plays from the early 20th century.)
And the funny thing is: Even as much as I knew that Loutallica was going to suck, Lulu caught me by surprise. I expected it to be awful, a disaster, but I figured it would have some redeeming quality somewhere within it.
Well, I was half-right.
Put quite simply: Lulu is terrible. But it’s not just terrible – that would be an understatement. It’s unlistenable, unsalvageable, irredeemable; it offers no enjoyment, no sliver of quality, no silver-lining snatch of decency that isn’t immediately squandered by endlessly repeated madman mutterings, by a running time as bloated as later-day Brando, by a lack of remotely interesting arrangements.
Lulu’s biggest problem is that it’s mostly a Lou Reed record – more recent Metallica press releases have effectively confirmed as much. (It’s interesting to note that, while the earliest word from the Metallica camp was enthusiastic about the pairing of these two Hall Of Fame acts, more recent releases have made certain to mention that Lulu is not intended as a new Metallica album.) So the collaboration is lopsided, and Metallica is effectively the backing band here – they plod along beneath Lou’s ranting, with very little to do that adds up to anything that a Metallica fan would want to hear. There are no riffs, really – they only cut loose for a minute or so in “Frustration” (which is a fitting title for anything associated with the Lulu listening experience) and during “Dragon,” which, at eleven minutes in length, would be more accurately spelled “draggin’.” By the time the drifting twenty-minute “Junior Dad” closes the album, assuming you made it that far, any of the scant few melodies that stand out in its chiming chords are too little, too late.
Aside from playing the occasional chug amidst the eighty-seven-minute sea of non-riffs, Hetfield’s involvement consists largely of echoing Lou’s laughable lyrics in his patent snarl – Lou talk-shouts a ridiculous line, and then Hetfield growls it again, behind him. It’s like James has developed some kind of brain-damaged echolalia, just saying what Lou said, but louder, and when the two of them just repeat the same line, back and forth, for minutes on end, to say that it’s tedious would be… well, you know… an understatement.
But for all the mind-numbing droning overlong arrangements and the acceptable-at-best production values, Lulu dies nine hundred of its thousand deaths at the hands of Lou’s alleged poetry. In all of human history, no stick-thin, Patti Smith-worshiping, black-haired and broken-hearted teenager with too many Dylan records and Bukowski books and Fellini films has ever written poetry this terrible. Perhaps these lyrics make more sense given some familiarity with the plays – one would hope so, and I concede that I have not read or seen the Lulu plays – but there’s nothing in Lou’s lyrics that makes me want to change that, that gives any sense of coherent narrative or character development or exposition. It’s all just crazy-homeless-person shouting and muttering, an unending litany of unexplained and unlinked disturbing phrases. Hearing Lou intone “spermless… like a girl…” will haunt me forever. And of course, he says it about thirty times, but at least James has the good sense not to repeat that line – thank God for the little things. Further Lou-musings about being a dog prostitute, about lifting “that little doggie face to a cold-hearted pussy” to “taste what the big dog got,” about cutting off “[his] tits and arms” will provide hours of quotable fun and the potential for endless parodying, and honestly, that’s about the best thing that can come of Lulu. These lines can replace “my lifestyle determines my deathstyle” as the go-to quote for the sound of a once-great metal band disappearing up its own ass.
As it collapses into dust beneath the weight of its own pretentious bullshit, unsupported by anything remotely approaching a decent song, Lulu is a thousand times the disaster that St. Anger was. Lulu is, if not the worst album in the history of metal, easily within the top five. It’s a failure of proportions so epic that it’s almost unfathomable – there are those who will tell you it’s brilliant, fearless, ground-breaking, the result of two legends who’ve earned the right to make art without thought of commercial reception. And I’m here to tell you what you already know: The emperor is naked. Lulu is a worthless piece of shit.
posted on 10/2011 By:
Fuck this shit.
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