The late Velvet Underground leader was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the weekend, but Bowie is quoted as saying that one of his most poorly-received albums might actually be Reed's "greatest work".
Never one to back away from a controversial opinion, David Bowie has pretty much a unique opinion on Lou Reed’s career. Believe it or not, he reckons that the late singer’s greatest musical work was his recent collaboration project with Metallica.
Lulu, released in 2011 with the metal legends, was one of the former Velvet Underground singer’s final projects before his death in 2013. It was almost universally panned by critics and listeners who were baffled by its complexity and lyrical themes. While not as challenging as Reed’s notorious 1975 album Metal Machine Music (seriously, don’t even bother with that one), it was instantly overlooked.
Lou Reed's best work was his Metallica collaboration Lulu', according to David Bowie
But according to the late singer’s widow Laurie Anderson, who gave a speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony last weekend as part of Reed’s induction, said that the consensus around Lulu was changing.
“One of [his] last projects was his album with Metallica,” Anderson said in her speech. “And this was really challenging, and I have a hard time with it. There are many struggles and so much radiance. And after Lou's death, David Bowie made a big point of saying to me, 'Listen, this is Lou's greatest work. This is his masterpiece. Just wait, it will be like Berlin. It will take everyone a while to catch up.'”
Berlin was Reed’s long-awaited follow-up to his commercial peak Transformer – when it was released in 1973, people expecting another radio-friendly album were turned off by its avant-garde nature. Eventually, though, it became rediscovered and re-appraised as one of his very best works.
Anderson continued by saying: “I've been reading the lyrics and it is so fierce. It’s written by a man who understood fear and rage and venom and terror and revenge and love. And it is raging.”
Well, if anybody can be relied upon to lead a critical rediscovery, it’s Bowie. Even in his sixth decade as a recording artist, he’s still one of the most influential people in the industry.
Also during Saturday night’s induction ceremony, the likes of Beck, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Nate Ruess performed cover versions of Reed’s songs, and fellow musician Patti Smith also delivered a touching speech describing her relationship with Reed as “sometimes antagonistic and sometimes sweet”.
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