Live Blogging With The Devil: Lulu – Lou Reed & Metallica

by Dakin Hardwick on November 1, 2011

My only friend for the next 90 minutes

Tonight is an experiment. A record by the odd pairing of Velvet Underground leader Lou Reed and bay area metal titans Metallica. I’ve tried hard to avoid any press or tracks from this record, so this will be as fresh as possible. I am not a fan of either act. I do consider the Velvet Underground to be one of the most important bands ever, and much of Reed’s solo work is fine. I even enjoyed some elements of elements of 2003’s The Raven. As for Metallica, I think that Master Of Puppets  and Ride The Lightning are great records, but I haven’t liked much after that. I will admit that I don’t consider St Anger to be absolute garbage. I love the drum sounds on that album, but the songwriting could use some editing.

Anyways, keep refreshing, because I will be updating this throughout my entire listening experience. I don’t know what to expect from this, but I hope you enjoy it:

Brandenburg Gate

Acoustic strumming. Folky. Unexpected intro. Sounds like the usual Lou Reed stream of conscious lyrics.

Wait. What now? James Hetfield is now howling “Small Town Girl” over some Skynyrd riffing? Reed is muttering something. He’s not singing, just doing the Lou Reed, beatnik sing speak. This isn’t what I expected at all. I don’t hate this song.

The View

This riff is familiar. It’s pretty Black Sabbathy. Reed sounds like a dirty old man trying to write dirty poetry. At least, I think this song is about sex. “I want to see your suicide. I want to see you give it up on the floor. Soul Shaking. The worship of someone that actively despises you.” Maybe it’s not. Maybe this song is about murder. I don’t know. Sexy murder? Only not sexy or murderous at all.

Hetfield sounds like he bought a book of fake Metallica lyrics and is howling them between tracks. The first song was half decent. This one just sounds phoned in.

Pumping Blood

Violin starts this song. It’s nice… It keeps coming as the band takes off. The production on this track is very full. The arrangement is interesting. Then Reed starts. His voice sounds so thin… They needed to add some reverb. He sticks out like a sore thumb.

Here’s a slow part. I can hear him better. “If I wiggled my ass like a dog prostitute?” Did he really say that? Then he says “C’mon James?” Wow. This song seems to be all about science, aside from this dog prostitute thing. The music on this song, however, is great. There are so many different sections, and they all are fascinating. It’s a dark, intense, brooding piece. Metallica haven’t composed like this in years. Lyrically, it sounds like Reed is trying to tell a story a la “Sister Ray.” He even tells the “Jack” character to call his name. And I think he just said “I am running from colored man’s dick.” I can’t tell if Jack is that man, or if Jack is saving him. Either way. I like the dissonant organ that leads into straight ferocious riffing. It sounds like they really are borrowing the structure of VU’s “Sister Ray” on this song. It speeds up, it slows down, as the characters are going through different emotions. Maybe this is a heroin song? It probably is. I like that we have some old school speed metal riffing. By the end of the track, either my ears adjust or Reed fits in better. The grizzled old man sound of his voice is a neat contrast with the riffage. I he’s obsessed with blood and gender, much like the aforementioned “Sister Ray.” I think he said that “I will insert my twisted arm between your sticky legs.”

I think the song changed, actually. this song is called Mistress Dread. I like that the previous song took you straight in. They work together well. This is speed metal.

Iced Honey

This song is pleasant. It’s a power pop song. Very catchy. Reed is singing about girls. Pretty straightforward. Is this really a straight forward power pop love song? I keep imagining what would happen if Weezer did this song, or maybe Cheap Trick. There is no “evil” here. Reed is singing. He still has no range whatsoever, but he sounds like the guy who sang “Rock N Roll.” Hetfield keeps piping in on all these tracks, but this one is where it’s the least weird. They are even kind of harmonizing. Neither of these guys can sing, but they are trying their best. This refrain “See if the ice will melt on you!” is super catchy, and almost romantic.

Cheat On Me

Well, it’s been 30 minutes since I started, and I’m still alive. This song is apparently 11 minutes long, however. It opens with some dark, dissonant orchestral work. A little bit of Phillip Glass minimalism is happening. So far, the only rock instrument is a bass. Swirls of feedback bleed in & out. Here comes Reed. He just keeps repeating the line “Why Do You Cheat On Me?”

These lyrics are direct. I don’t necessarily think he has any connection to them, though. He’s contemplating monogamy, I think. Here comes Hetfield again. There is so little emotion in this song, it’s actually embarrassing. Also, the minimalist, repetitive intro was great. The minimalist, repetitive rock song is terrible. I want to start the song over and listen to the first 2 minutes again. This song actually reminds me of that Offspring song from the 90’s: “Gone Away” I think it was called?

Frustration

More borrowing from 20th century classical composers. There is some awesome tape looping at the beginning of this song. Then the Metallica kicks in. The first line “Frustration is my lexicon of hate.”  “To be dead is to have no feelings. To be dry & spermless like a girl.” I think I need to learn more about the source material. He keeps wanting to hurt this “woman” by marrying her.  This song might simply be about unrequited love. I wonder if somebody else, say, if Tom Waits did this song, it might actually be good. He will “puke his guts out at her feet” and she is “more man than I.” It’s a pretty fucked up song, but I’m pretty sure it’s just about being afraid to talk to a lady. Or maybe he’s just stringing together disturbing images just to mess with my head.

Little Dog

Another acoustic song. This song works. It doesn’t sound like Metallica. This song might be the best lyrics yet. He’s obsessed with the dog’s penis. Yup. This song is a graphic song about sex. And how rich people have better sex. Maybe this is a song is about economics. I don’t know. It’s so weird, but actually sounds good. There is this subtle line of feedback that keeps getting louder. This is my favorite song on the record.

Dragon

Opens with what sounds like “backwards” guitar. I’m pretty sure this has been reversed. More Reed poetry. More typical Metallica. This song really does mean nothing. He keeps throwing “shocking” lines that really mean nothing. If you keep saying words like “death” and “blood” and “whore” and “dick” and “nipples” and what the hell is a “kotex jukebox?” “Your heart on your sleeve is your red star of idiocy?” The best line in this song is “Waiting for you causes me to think of you.” Because I general don’t think about the person I am waiting for when waiting for them. I’m trying to be civil about this, but this song is truly terrible.

 

Don't jump! It's almost over...

Junior Dad

Soulful humming. Really. This song starts out nice enough. Warm, reverb heavy guitar and pleasant, deep humming. Reed is actually singing again. I don’t hate this, either. So far, this song could’ve been on Transformer. There is a touch of warmth. I actually think this could easily be a song by The Killers, and nobody would think twice about it. I actually snuck a peak at the plots of the two plays that this is based on, Frank Wedekind’s Erdgeist and Pandora’s Box. They tell the story of a young women that travels up through the ranks of society, only to end her life as a poverty stricken prostitute. I get it. This song makes sense in that context. It’s very slow, very somber, but very hopeful. It’s a tad heavy on the guitar noodling after a while, but it is a metal record, so I have to allow that.

Hmm… The guitar fades into organ and cello. Just a long, sustained note. I like it. Although it’s been going for almost 5 straight minutes now.

Now it’s just a dirge. Pretty. Long, though. Half the song is this funeral procession like orchestral piece. It makes sense, since I’m pretty sure Lulu is dead at this point.

And it’s over.

My final thoughts? Well, it was better than that Death Magnetic, Metallica’s last record. It wasn’t awful. There are some pretty good ideas on this record, stronger much of the material either of this acts have put out in a while. Will I ever listen to it again? That’s doubtful.

If you are interested in hearing an excellent rock n roll adaptation of a classic Frank Wedekind play, I highly recommend Duncan Sheik’s Spring Awakening. It eventually made it’s way to Broadway,  but it’s an excellent piece of work that both respects and modernizes the source material.

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This was an experiment in record reviews. If you like this, I might try it again… Just rattle my thoughts off while I do nothing but listen to an album without hearing anything on it prior. Feedback will be happily accepted!

Now shut off the racket! I'm trying to sleep!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Christopher Rogers November 4, 2011 at 10:46 am

I really like this idea for SP record reviews.

Needless to say, the cat commentary pictures were awesome.

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Alynn Aubury December 5, 2011 at 1:10 pm

Very insightful review and I agreed with a lot of the metaphor you derived from your experience. I enjoy it for the simple fact it is so different than anything Metallica has done. I can’t help but read into it my own story, symbolism and metaphor which includes some major serendipity among other things. I enjoy the risks Metallica is taking but also feel that many won’t see the forest through the trees with this one. Thanks for the review. For me, Metallica’s work has always been transforming, magikal and mysterious – a true sensory adventure!

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