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First listen: Lou Reed & Metallica: Lulu

November 1, 2011

Lou Reed and Metallica – together at last!  Really is this that an odd a pairing?  I typically like to digest a new recording, but I have been anticipating this release for several months and so I want to share my first impressions based on my first listen.

First this is a Lou Reed album.  If you are a Lou Reed fan there is plenty to like.  Heavy lyrics and one very heavy backing band.  If you are a Metallica fan – I am not sure what you will think.  I am both and I love hearing Metallica in a support role.

This is a dark album – but not a depressing album.  It has a very serious sound to it.  It is also the most artsy setting I have ever heard Metallica.  Metallica has always been thinking man’s metal without being soulless so at first blush this seems like a perfect pairing.

I will give it a few days and hopefully I will post again once I have fully digested this.

For the backstory here is an excerpt by Chris Hall from the Electric Fetus Weekly Newsletter that tells it well:

This week sees the release of the highly anticipated, much talked about, seemingly oddball collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica, Lulu. The album began as a cycle of songs Lou Reed had written based on the plays of Frank Wedekind and had intended as a Robert Wilson collaboration meant for the stage. After Reed played with Metallica at 2009’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame concert, however, he decided to use the songs as the basis for a record with the metal titans.

This might be the most controversial, divisive record of the year. Whatever it is, Lulu is never boring and one of the more interesting projects either has been involved with in a while. This is a departure for both artists, and a record that will challenge both of their fanbases. First and foremost this is a Lou Reed record which Metallica plays on. Lulu is a concept album on which Reed explores the broken psyche of a woman damaged by her past relationships. The lyrics are bitter, violent and graphic – it’s easy to see why Reed reached out to Metallica to provide the requisite musical ballast to equal the heaviness of his words. At 87 minutes, this is a two-disc, almost film-like piece of work.

Like most musical experiments, some of this works better for me than other parts of it, but the album closer “Junior Dad” is a major Lou Reed song, akin to any of his majestic epics: “Heroin,” “Street Hassle,” or “Like A Possum.” Reportedly, both Kirk Hammet and James Hetfield had to leave the control room when Reed cut his vocals for the song, moved to tears. Neither of these artists has anything to prove to anyone; their legacies are cemented. It’s nice to see someone of their stature taking these kinds of risks. No matter what you think of either artist’s work or this record, it’s definitely worth hearing – there’s nothing else like it out there.

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From → Music Reviews

One Comment
  1. Mike permalink

    Not quite as awkwardly bad as that Chris Cornell/Timbaland “Scream” record, but still didn’t need to happen.

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