Lou Reed And Metallica – Lulu

Not the worst album ever recorded...

Mash-ups – whereby two unlikely artists are remixed together – have become something of a cultural phenomenon in recent years, especially after the (largely underserved) critical acclaimed ‘The Grey Album’, which combined an a cappella version of Jay-Z’s ‘The Black Album’ with the self-titled Beatles record known fondly as ‘The White Album’. It might appear that the same merry prankster responsible for that is behind this odd pairing of New York City’s foremost street poet and heavy metal’s biggest behemoth, but no. In fact, this union dates back to a physical encounter in Cleveland in 2009, when both parties were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The result is an extravagant, expansive ten songs spread over two discs and which have a running time of almost an hour and a half. Some kind of monster? Absolutely.

Some people have already dismissed this as one of the worst albums ever recorded. It’s not that bad. But neither is it a patch on the best art that Reed and Metallica have produced as individual entities – legends, even. There is nothing legendary about ‘Lulu’, but, behind these occasionally impenetrable and more-often-than-not self-indulgent compositions, fascinating moments.

The most complete of these is ‘Junior Dad’ the almost twenty-minute-long album finale, which sets Lou Reed’s spoken words over a lilting, gently circuitous riff that then turns into nine or so minutes of hypnotic, swelling organ. Similarly, Reed’s deadpan drawl in ‘Iced Honey’ complements the sinister, threatening riff that lies beneath it. But then, there’s the dull tedium of ‘Cheat On Me’, on which Reed sounds as atonal as he ever has while repeating variations of the question: “Why do I cheat on me?”, the atrocious ‘Pumping Blood’ and the culture clash of ‘Brandenburg Gate’, which – rather than Reed and Metallica working together – pits band against man in a relentless experiment of anti-synergy.

A bit of quality control and self-editing, and ‘Lulu’ might have been more successful. It’s not truly terrible, but it does feel akin to a musical version of King Kong Vs. Godzilla, two monsters decimating everything in their path until there’s nothing left, except the back catalogues. There will always be the back catalogues.



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