metallica and lou reed: lulu (vertigo)

a convergence of masquerading annoyances this week: dead copy/filler as journalism, cut ‘n’ paste press releases as reviews, composite thinking as discussion, prewritten reviews as criticism… feel like i’m trapped in the belly of metacritic and the aggregator is bleeding to death… criticism by consensus? meh. mashing a buncha stuff together into one amorphous nonopinion. it serves only to level out and smooth over. and this constant search for the centre (left/right) where’s it got us? politically, economically, culturally, dizzy. musically, the nineties and noughties. somewhere/something between debord’s spectacle and landfill indie… a hideous groupthink.

and the dim-witted response to lou reed and metallica’s new record. what’s being made explicit in all the syllables of silly bile and lame-o lester bangs-isms is the preordained nature of our response to art. opinions formed in advance. hasty scribbled unfactoids. no hint of analysis never mind honest to god thought. just a spiteful rush to get metadata listed on google. argument predetermined; two ailing giants continue their artistic slide with mediocre mash-up. sigh…

ugly hypocrisy / trolling. i hear a lotta griping ‘bout the lack of experiment in mainstream music. yet two major label names (and they are names) spunk out a two disc beast beyond the usual comfort zone and fanbase, and the autoreaction is at best accusation of pretension (which is now apparently a pejorative…), at worse hysterical lambast. but crucially no attempt to engage. offering no sense of history, past works, what is being (or at least trying to be) presented. just a grim relentless descent into page click hyperbole purely for bragging rights, ad rankings and nothing beyond this.

not just internet bores but proper paid up journo’s happily boasting of not making it through a track never mind the whole record, merrily stating “i have listened to the whole album all the way through (only the once, mind you), so you don’t have to.” and then knocking out a thousand words on it… editorial / managerial pressure plays a part i realise but if yr getting paid and still stiltedly shitting out rehashed turdwords it’s no wonder you lose readers to passionate amateurs.

and the tone, lazy, oddly hateful, like it’s a personal goddam insult the record was ever dreamt into being, recorded and released. see also: the reactive outspew following their uk tv appearance. well, fuck yr velvet underground sacred cows. it slays me to hear the gasps of sacrilege as hetfield, ulrich and reed blunder through white light / white heat. good! pissing on bibles. snogging mohammed. these things should, no must, be fucked with. reed wrote the damned thing. remember: they’re not YOUR songs, you just get to listen to them.

nah. this conservatism will not wash with me.

to put it another way: i may not like it but by god i’ll defend yr right to fuck it all up.

to retweet: imagine how boring your favourite artists would be if they took your advice.

to quote ol’ bob christgau on sally can’t dance:

lou sure is adept at figuring out new ways to shit on people. i mean, what else are we to make of this grotesque hodgepodge of soul horns, flash guitar, deadpan songspeech, and indifferent rhymes? i don’t know, and lou probably doesn’t either–even as he shits on us he can’t staunch his own cleverness. so the hodgepodge produces juxtapositions that are funny and interesting, the title tune is as deadly accurate as it is mean-spirited, and “billy” is simply moving, indifferent rhymes and all.

puts me in mind of a review of a new(ish) wire record (in the wire probably) that suggested the album was so mediocre perhaps a re-evaluation of their previous work was in order. christ…

but it’s consumers (i use the word deliberately) too. for a record so frequently dismissed as lazy or boring it’s inspired a dichotomous amount of ire, provoked so many non-cognisant snobs, debased everyone’s sensibilities. whether you think lulu’s garbage or not (it’s not) the kneejerk reaction to it is a problem. even if it is garbage (it’s not), hell i’d rather have a spectacularly failed crop once in a while than the same old yield year in year out. not being afraid to misfire, fuck up, get it wrong that’s what i want from my artists. i want bob dylan’s middle finger in your face. every fucking christmas.

it used to be buying a record meant investing money and time. forcing yrself to play it even if you didn’t much like it. a strangely masochistic act but one that built character, put hairs on yr chest, that sometimes led to satori. now it’s too damn easy to not pay (financially or attentionally), to dismiss instantly and switch off. music often now doesn’t occupy any space, physically or emotionally, in yr life.

lulu has at least invoked some kind of reflex twitch.

from bangs on metal machine music:

any record that sends listeners fleeing the room screaming for surcease of aural flagellation or, alternately, getting physical and disturbing your medications to the point of breaking the damn thing, can hardly be accused, at least in results if not original creative man-hours, of lacking emotional content.

sure say it’s ugly, gaudy vulgar. say you find it trashy, low art, high art, tuneless, repetitive. it’s all of these things, deliberately and gloriously so. love it. hate it. it is a lou reed record after all. to quote mattin:

lulu is more lou reed than lou reed and that surely means that this is the best thing ever done by anybody.


but at least listen to it first. respond to it, not yr prejudices.

hate lulu for what it is, not for what you think you ought to think it is.

it’s no master of puppets. it’s no blue mask. that’s for sure. but then i’m not looking for endlessly rehashed formulae. that anyone out there should applaud the ever-decreasing-circles ludditity of dave mustaine as some kind of victory over metallica in the decades old thrash-wars indicates to me everyone involved in this wonderful mess has done something right.

since everyone’s riffing on lester bangs…

almost all music today is anti-emotional and made by machines too. it’s computerized formula production line shit into which the human heart enters very rarely if at all.

i s’pose writers get the music they deserve…


it probably wasn’t the best environment to enjoy the new rihanna album, huddled into a west london studio with an atmosphere so sterile an offer of cherry cola is enough to make someone yelp in delight. but talk that talk – her sixth since 2005 and the follow-up to 2010’s multi-million selling loud – is a big deal and the danger of it leaking is not one a major label wants to risk. so, we hand in our phones and the album is played from an ipod in the next room.


lou reed / metallica / lulu

One thought on “metallica and lou reed: lulu (vertigo)

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