sat 20/07/2024

CD: Lou Reed & Metallica - Lulu | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Lou Reed & Metallica - Lulu

CD: Lou Reed & Metallica - Lulu

Metal juggernaut meets jaundiced old goat and outstays welcome

What lies within: hideous sleeve rings alarm bells

This might not have been a bad album if Lou Reed wasn't on it, but its 95 minutes would still have been 50 per cent too long. Not being privy to the inner workings of the Metallica universe, I have no idea why the speaker-bursting veterans thought that working with Reed might be to their advantage, unless they'd fallen for Lou's own propaganda about Metal Machine Music being a masterpiece.

In the end, the band gathered in the studio to whip up a batch of piledriver riffs and broody instrumental backdrops, over which Reed has been permitted to intone lyrics (said to be inspired by Expressionist playwright Frank Wedekind) that veer between self-parody and the apparent ravings of a sick mind. 

Reed's opening salvo on track one, "Brandenburg Gate", is "I would cut my legs and tits off when I think of Boris Karloff", and it only gets worse as the old goat sinks deeper into a swamp of death, misogyny and nihilism. "I want to see your suicide, I want to see you give it up", he drones in "The View", adding that "pain and evil have their place". "I want so much to hurt you/ Marry me/ I want you as a wife", he croaks in "Frustration". He sounds old, spent, crushed.

At least some of Metallica's playing sometimes allows you to forget Lou's bitter, dessicated declarations for a few moments. The band pound and grind satisfyingly in "Brandenburg Gate", lock into a crisp armour-piercing groove in "Iced Honey", and defy Reed's drivellings in "Frustration" by working up a thunderous churning motion that hurtles along like a huge turbine. For a closer, there's a 20-minute odyssey called "Junior Dad", where Reed's nearly tuneful narrative faintly recalls some of his more likeable historical moments, like "Coney Island Baby" for instance. The band are at their best here, displaying a welcome lightness of touch as they ring the changes over a simple chord sequence, then shaping a long and haunting coda from suspended electronic drones and overtones. But did they know what they were letting themselves in for on the Lulu project, or did they just turn it up to 11 and tune out Reed's emetic rantings? I guess that sleeve tells its own story.

Watch a video of Reed and Metallica discussing Lulu


Did Metallica know what they were letting themselves in for, or did they just turn it up to 11 and tune out Reed's emetic rantings?


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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