Lou Reed and Metallica
Lulu


1.5
very poor

Review

by Joseph Viney STAFF
October 21st, 2011 | 971 replies | 100,097 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Shite Light/Shite Heat

Metallica have made an admirable effort in alienating their huge fan base since the release of 1996’s Load. In the interim, people have sighed and groaned through Reload (nothing more than a glorified b-sides album to some), the fun but hey-we’ve-still-got-it feel of Garage, Inc., the faux-classical mores of S&M and last but…well, yes, least of all, the under-cooked insanity that was St. Anger. Even 2008’s Death Magnetic was a vapid and transparent attempt at recapturing something from their past.

The news that Lou Reed and Metallica were to collaborate was met with no small dose of trepidation. The combination of Metallica’s aforementioned troubles mixed with the fact that Reed is a mere blip on the Relevance Radar was a stark early warning to many. The release of the album’s second track “The View” as a preview of things to come was met with howls of derision and accusations of the whole project being some kind of elaborate prank.

Lulu presents a set of songs inspired by German expressionist Frank Wedekind's early 20th century plays “Earth Spirit” and “Pandora's Box”. The plays, originally published in 1904 and set in Germany, Paris and London in the 1890s, whirl between the points of view of Lulu, a prostitute locked in a vicious cycle of desire and abuse, and the people who fall desperately in love with her. The narrative concludes as Lulu meets the one and only Jack The Ripper.

The biggest question Lulu asks of us is this: during the writing, rehearsal, recording and production of the LP, was there a point where any of those involved thought that what they were creating was not 100% acceptable? When Reed presented Metallica with lyric sheets replete with lines about gobbling down on “coloured man’s dicks” and “I’m a woman who likes men” did nobody think to say “Hey, Lou…cut it out.” When a group like Metallica with years of expertise and a number of classic records to their name recorded little more than incomplete jams and jarringly repetitious riffs where were those involved with quality control? Why was Lars Ulrich allowed to run free with drum patterns that make AC/DC sound like Dream Theater?

It’s not as if drugs or alcohol can be blamed anymore. Perhaps if this album was released in the late 80s or early 90s…but it wasn’t. It’s 2011 and this is now the acceptable face of Lou Reed and Metallica’s efforts. Despite people’s wariness there was a sense, at least in this reviewer’s opinion, that the majority of those in the know actually wanted this to work.

If you haven’t guessed already, it does anything but “work.” Opener “Brandenburg Gate” has Hetfield howling about a “small-town girl” like some insane Billy Joel karaoke bonanza over a sloppy riff. The beginning of the song finds Reed name-checking a number of horror icons, although in a very odd way; “I would cut my legs and tits off/when I think of Boris Karloff.” Metallica’s arrival on this LP is announced in typical clattering fashion, but their playing is repetitive and out of tune. “Pumping Blood” is memorable only for Reed muttering the title over and over as if he was rudely woken up and shoved in front of a live microphone. Ulrich’s drumming is intrusive and bad throughout the track. “Pumping Blood” contains the only evidence of acknowledgement between the collaborators. “Come on, James!” orders Reed…but nothing is forthcoming. “Mistress Dread” hints at something better; a fast, frantic riff. Four minutes later, it’s the same riff with absolutely no deviation. It’s also hampered by the fact that Reed’s vocals are so slow and out of time he might be issuing his pleas and demands from another time zone altogether. “Cheat On Me” takes five and a half minutes for anything of note to occur. “Little Dog” is a cure for insomnia and “Junior Dad”, at a soul-destroying 20 minutes long, is perhaps one of the most pointless songs committed to record in a long, long time.

The average song length on Lulu is a whopping eight minutes 42 seconds. Although we can immediately discount the idea of this record appealing to the casual fan, when it proves testing to dedicated followers of either act it becomes a worry. In a war between art and endurance, Lulu ensures a resounding first round knockout victory for endurance.

Are there any positives? “The View” is perhaps best track on the record. Reed delivers his lines with some conviction and the instrumentation is halfway inventive, particularly in the latter part of the song. The work is immediately undone by Hetfield’s repeated insistence that he is indeed “the table” (coming to a meme near you very soon, no doubt). “Iced Honey” begins with a neat little “1, 2, 3, 4” count for Reed and a Metallica riff with enough swing to hark back to a demo of their Load/Reload efforts. That’s the problem though. It sounds like a demo. Following the trend prevalent throughout the LP, the music doesn’t deviate and Hetfield’s backing vocals veer from caterwaul to cacophony in off-putting fashion. In the same song Reed invites the listener to consider the idea of being jam “poured on a charbroiled piece of lamb.” “Frustration” contains the most powerful example of Metallica’s work on the record but Lars’ insistence on placing fragmented drum solos throughout the album reaches its unwelcome crescendo here. “Dragon” bears some form of promise, but the same riff is hammered out again and again and again. Reed spends the entirety of “Dragon” telling us how he’s “oblivious to caring.” Yeah, we know that feeling, Lou.

Lulu seems ready made to dispense the notion of repeated listens as the sense of disappointment it creates almost immediately eliminates any idea that it’s a “grower.” Maybe history will judge it less harshly, but as of this moment the project is a total failure. Prepare yourself for the inevitable comments from Ulrich about how we “don’t get it.” Perhaps he might have a point, but any message contained within Lulu is lost in the whirl of discordant guitar work, Reed’s mutterings and the complete sense of abject disappointment that surrounds the entire album.

The fallout from this could have dire consequences. A lot of people, already placing Metallica at the best seat in the house at the Last Chance Saloon, have now called last orders. Metallica aren’t young Turks, of course, but a band concerned with releasing new records semi-regularly and touring more often than their contemporaries must have one eye on their reputation and something to prove. It’s genuinely difficult to guess what their next move will be. As for Reed, his legacy, whatever that means in his case, is cemented and this will have no real effect on him. Was there an alternative, a better to way to do this? Yes, there was. Have Metallica record their own work and Lou Reed record his own too. In essence: as you were, gentlemen.



Recent reviews by this author
Pixies EP2Babyshambles Sequel To The Prequel
Mark Lanegan ImitationsArctic Monkeys AM
Beady Eye BEThe Fall Re-Mit
user ratings (921)
Chart.
1.4
very poor
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
JViney
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2011



313 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Not my greatest review I'm sure, but had to have my say on this thing.

DeadBeat
October 21st 2011



529 Comments


This album is so bad it's beyond words

JViney
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2011



313 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

The review or the record? Actually...don't answer that.

DeadBeat
October 21st 2011



529 Comments


Just edited my comment

dimsim3478
October 21st 2011



3995 Comments


Good to see Viney back on the wagon.

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
October 21st 2011



20230 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Review isn't a 1 neg'd

Digging: YG - My Krazy Life

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2011



9492 Comments


Very good review. In b4 butt-hurt Metallica / Lou Reed fanboys...

Digging: Koan Sound - Dynasty

CarlosChS
October 21st 2011



14 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Prepare yourself...

...For a Mind Explotion.

Pharoh
October 21st 2011



3326 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0 | Sound Off

You rated it .5 too high.

fish.
Contributing Reviewer
October 21st 2011



20230 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

"In b4 butt-hurt Metallica / Lou Reed fanboys..."
>Implying there are any

Ire
October 21st 2011



41460 Comments


Even 2009’s Death Magnetic...


2008


Nagrarok
October 21st 2011



7957 Comments


Why was Lars Ulrich allowed to run free with drum patterns that make AC/DC sound like Dream Theatre?


*Theater. Nice job though.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2011



3160 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

God this is horrible, I laughed all the way through the first listen because of how stupid Lou sounds. However, the review is great! I agree with everything you've said

Digging: Chevelle - La Gargola

Ikarus14
October 21st 2011



519 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

I've listened to the album in it's entierty three times already and I still fail to find its entertainment on any level. It's the Battlefield Earth of pop rock albums.

JViney
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2011



313 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Death Magnetic release date and 'correct' spelling of Theatre/Theater edited.

JViney
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2011



313 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Pharoh - The 'extra' .5 is thanks to The View, which is the only song with any real merit on the LP.

JWT155
October 21st 2011



9184 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Still can't believe how bad this is.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2011



30300 Comments


That's your summary?

Digging: L'Orange - The Orchid Days

JViney
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2011



313 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

It was that or "Shite Light/Shite Heat".

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 21st 2011



30300 Comments


Lesser of two evils I suppose

(coming to meme near you very soon, no doubt).


A meme, me thinks



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy