REVIEW: Lou Reed & Metallica – Lulu

Album: Lulu
Artist: Lou Reed and Metallica
Label: Warner Bros.
Genre: Experimental

Rarely do musical collaborations come along as perplexing and strange as Lou Reed and Metallica’s. Perhaps the Jonas Brothers and Common, or Nelly and Tim McGraw, perhaps Eminem and Elton John–no matter the collaboration you name, “Loutallica” ranks near the top in amount of head-scratchiness contained within. It’s pretty important to note that this is first and foremost a Lou Reed album featuring Metallica (meaning it’s not really a Metallica album). Lou Reed more or less asked Metallica to be his band for the project he’d written many years prior to and Metallica excitedly accepted.

Musically, the album is nearly unlistenable, especially for the first few tracks. The first nine minutes and twenty seconds might be the least pleasant of my entire life. Firstly, the production on this album is complete garbage. Lou Reed’s vocals do not match any of the other instruments on the track. Metallica’s horrendous snare sound rears its ugly head once again. The cymbals are consistently much too loud. The compression is so overbearing on many of the parts on the album it sounds like mud. Beyond just how the album sounds, Lou Reed’s vocals just aren’t good (he gets a pass here because he’s Lou Reed and he’s just shy of a billion years old). Much of Metallica’s musical contributions feel more like C-sides from the Death Magnetic sessions, many of which weren’t very interesting to begin with. Lyrically the album is quite interesting on occasion, when Lou Reed hasn’t spiraled out of control into “lost old man” mode.

While there are many things to criticize about this album that are totally warranted, it is not to say that the album is not without its merits. Lou’s shaky vocal performance aside, “Pumping Blood” is a legitimately great song, and the middle portion of “Mistress Dread” is spot-on. The real trouble is that the small gems of content on this album are piled under such drivel that it’s truly hard to appreciate them. Conceptually, the album is really fantastic as well. For those unaware, the story is based on (read: taken from?) Frank Wedekind’s plays Earth Spirit and Pandora’s Box that both featured the character “Lulu.”

Worse than the fact that much of the content on the album is a poorly put together hodgepodge of mediocre material with atrocious production is the fact that it’s a truly interesting concept with two formerly incredibly artists–a collaboration that if done 25 years ago, could have been one of the single coolest musical collaborations ever. Instead, we’re left with a group of washed up greats who are putting up a valiant effort at still releasing great music. It’s hard to say if they’ve just run out of creative gas, let their egos get the best of them, or what happened. In any case, I think most parties that have been exposed to it really wish otherwise. Alas, what has been heard cannot be unheard. Look on the bright side: albums like White Light/White Heat and Master of Puppets are as great as ever.

On a side note, hearing Lou Reed mumble “I’m a woman who likes men” never ceases to be hilarious.

Overall score: 2/10
Review written by: Jordan Munson

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