When Lou Reed and Metallica announced earlier this year that they were to release an album together, the internet and music press alike raised a collective eyebrow in a strange mix of apprehension, confusion and anticipation. To call it one of the most talked about projects of recent years would be an understatement, as fans waited to see what these two polar opposites would create when given the chance.
The result? Lulu. A collection of ten songs based around a German expressionist play of the same name which clocks in at just under 90 minutes and its opening line is ‘I would cut my legs and tits off’.
And trust me, by the end of its gruelling running time, you will want to cut your legs and tits off (replace limbs and gender specific organs as necessary). Phrases such as ‘avant-garde’ and ‘music as art’ have been thrown around by elitists who believe listening to music that was recorded upside down on instruments that don’t even exist yet makes them better than everyone else, but these should be completely ignored. The only label this album needs is ‘awful’.
Before I continue ranting, I should say that the album isn’t completely terrible. The chorus of lead single The View sounds like it would actually fit onto a Load/Reload era Metallica album and Iced Honey isn’t a bad track when put into the context of the rest of the album. However, even these brief moments are let down by the same problem that ruins the entire project – the whole thing is just really boring. Also, James Hetfield shouts I AM THE TABLE at least five times in The View which is simply hilarious.
For example, in the 11 minute epic(?) Cheat On Me, there is an atmospheric build up which lasts for over three minutes, before Lou and The Het repeatedly ask ‘why do I cheat on me?’ with a dull, slightly out of time drumbeat from Mr Lars Ulrich and an even duller keyboard melody as their only backing. This continues for the remaining eight minutes of the song, with the only real variation being the replacement of the word ‘I’ with ‘you’ occasionally and the increasing sense that Lars has completely forgotten how to play drums. Mistress Dread is another ridiculously repetitive track, although it begins with a fairly cool thrash riff which wouldn’t have been out of place as an outro riff to an early Metallica album, it just keeps going, and going, and going, eventually becoming so skull-numbingly boring that I would put it within my least favourite songs ever recorded.
I found myself regularly asking where Kirk Hammett was during these recording sessions. In my imagination, he’s sitting in a studio soloing happily to himself as Lou Reed sometimes pops his head in to say ‘don’t worry Kirk, of course your parts will make it onto the album!’ before flicking the recording switch off and continuing to write down whatever rubbish came into his head and deciding they were lyrics. Then there’s poor Rob Trujillo, who’s gone from playing awesome funk bass in Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Grooves to not really playing anything on this poor excuse for music.
That’s no exaggeration; it really is hard to call this project music. The majority of the riffs are barely riffs, the production could have been handled by a child, it’s all out of time and Lou Reed sounds like he needs a nice long nap with slippers and a newspaper. Lou Reed should have never approached Metallica. It’s as simple as that. Any potentially strong parts of the album, such as the aforementioned two, along with the main riff of Dragon and the ending to Frustration are ruined by Lou Reed’s horrible delivery and hilariously poor lyrics, including ‘spermless like a girl’ and ‘waggle my ass like a prostitute’. These are lyrics which shouldn’t be sung by anyone, let alone an almost 70 year old man who is supposedly a rock legend.
It is the status of these two artists that really makes Lulu such a bad move. They are both icons of their own genre, but Lou Reed fans are not Metallica fans, and Metallica fans are not Lou Reed fans. It therefore begs the question, who is meant to buy this album? I’m all for artists making music that they enjoy, but there has to be a potential fan base for that music, otherwise it risks tarnishing their reputations. Please let me know if you enjoyed the album or you disagree with me, I’d be fascinated to hear your opinions. However, as far as I’m concerned, this is not art, this is not expressionism, it’s a really bad idea, and simply a bad sounding album.
And as a final note directly to Metallica, if you ever want to collaborate with another artist again, can it be something along the lines of this instead?
Lulu by Lou Reed & Metallica is available now.
This article was first posted on November 3, 2011