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Lou Reed & Metallica – Lulu

Back in June, the news that Lou Reed was collaborating with Metallica on a studio album of pre-war German show tunes garnered a reaction about which nothing original can now be said. The metal world shrugged, while more conventional musical authorities were lost for an opinion. However, those who saw potential in the (admittedly strange) pairing could be forgiven for expecting great things- if Green Day could pull off a bombastic rock opera, so could Loutallica.

But they didn’t.

It is obvious that Metallica’s willingness to work with Reed was born of delusions of grandeur more than anything else. Possibly thinking that they might finally be taken seriously in the high-society circles they now move in, Metallica allowed themselves to bend to the septuagenarian art-rocker’s direction-to ad-lib as Reed rambled about German prostitutes. Teaser single ‘The View’ received positive feedback from the Irish Times, partly out of spite to “meat-headed heavy metal fans” who had rubbished the track worldwide. But it is these same fans that know Metallica’s work and know exactly what they are capable of, and it is more than this.

The album opens strongly with a grandiose chord progression on ‘Brandenburg Gate’, but this is also its last hurrah. Third-rate plodders like “Iced Honey” serve only as a platform for a game of Where’s Kirk Hammett, while the album’s lowest ebb, the God-awful ‘Mistress Dread’, sees the band rattling away for seven minutes while Reed gibbers in the corner. His pleasant synths and string passages almost give the album a saving grace, but we can barely appreciate them before they are flattened by more leaden riffs; despite this irritating dynamic, orchestra conductor Hal Willner’s clueless production makes the whole album sound like wasps in a biscuit tin.
There will be posers who will claim to find something here to praise, be it Reed’s pseudo-poetic mumbling or the quaint, shouty music he chose to include. However, those who know anything about heavy metal (and that is, essentially, what
Lulu is) are the ones to trust on this subject. In the opinion of someone in the know, this is dog shit. Avoid and forget.

Graham Luby