Lou Reed & Metallica - Album Review
The thing about a legacy is that it is nearly always pissed on by the legend that creates it. From Elvis' descent into ill health, Garrincha and George Best's problems with alcohol right through to Ric Flair's desperate search for that last dollar it's a definite rarity for a record to remain unblemished, and whether a fan or not it's hard to argue against the fact that Metallica and Lou Reed are legends, whether in their housing genre or just music in general.
Fortunately both have long before now urinated, from a great height and certainly more than once, over the gems of their back catalogue. Which on its own is a positive sign; both artists are ones for whom judgement and critical appraisal mean next to nothing, and care little for alienating their fan base with a curve-ball or two. The problem however, is reigning things in.
For the result of the little-expected collaboration between thrash dinosaurs Metallica and the even older Lou Reed, who at 69 years young has pretty much seen and done it all in music, is at the same time bewildering, audacious, laughable and even defining. It is much more a 10/10 album and a 1/10 one at the same time than a mid-ranger, with unforgettable moments for the right reasons at points but the wrong reasons much more often. The now infamous 'The View' has to go down as the worst moment in both artists repertoire; lyrical nonsense (key line; "I AM THE TABLE") blared out over a dull riff that would be throwaway to a semi-improv metal band that will never play to more than 20 people (speaking as the member of a semi-improv metal band that has never played to more than 20 people).
Persevere though and there are moments worth elaborating on. The closer, 'Junior Dad', in particular is a ebbing slow-burner that is part Metal Music and part majesty, resting on drones and building into the albums' most lucid story, carried by the most interesting guitar parts Kirk and co have written in the best part of two decades. 'Pumping Blood' is of a similar weight, its dusty string-led intro erupting into particularly fierce percussion. It's ruined by Lou Reeds' apparent shouts of "PUFFIN BLOOD", but it's an indicator of the seriousness of the project to both artists.
For all its brainless riffs and corpse like delivery it is at times a more preferable experience to analyse the lyrical content of 'Lulu' outside of the recording. "I would cut my legs and tits off when I think of Boris Karloff and Kinski in the dark of the moon" is possibly the greatest opening line to a song since Silver Jews' "In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection." or the shout of "can i scream?" that opens Refused's 'New Noise', and it is a sign of things to come, an introduction to a tale that is either wrought with dark humour or succinctly just humourous.
The entirety of 'Lulu' is difficult to summarise. Imagine The Mars Volta if they had been formed by two members of Raging Speedhorn instead of At The Drive In. It's still a far way off, but as close as you can come to adding a tag-line to one of the most talked about and, in its own ways, important releases of 2011.