Underworld, London, UK - 21/5
Lou Reed & Metallica
Written by: PP on 30/11/2011 06:04:30
There are projects that sound like the best idea ever over a couple of beers on a night out. Then there are projects that look like a disaster on paper.
And then there's "Lulu". Is the review finished yet?
No but seriously, record companies must have some kind of mechanism preventing this sort of idiocy, right? When a band comes up with an idea that makes very little sense to start out with, somewhere along the road, one would expect it to be canned by someone with authority to do so, whether it's during the initial brainstorming stage by a lower level employee or when the first demo recordings are sent out for approval to the CEO of the company. Either Warner has some serious issues with their corporate culture, where employees are afraid to voice their (sensible) opinions to their superiors, or nobody actually bothered to listen to the record before millions of copies had been printed, dismissing the project with a simple "it's Metallica, they know what they are doing". Really? "St. Anger" anyone?
So here we are with "Lulu", a collaboration album between Lou Reed, a seminal rock songwriter and Metallica, the biggest thrash metal band on the planet. And if you were wondering how the two could possibly fit together, you're on the right track, because they don't. They really, really don't. Disc one of the album, which lasts for nearly 100 minutes in total, almost sounds like as if Metallica wrote some experimental metal music at Lars Ulrich's mansion in Los Angeles, and Lou Reed became senile and wrote some awful poetry in New York at the same time, with neither party aware of each other. The results were then just glued on top of each other and referred to as 'songs'.
There's an awkward disconnect between Reed and Metallica, where both sides sound like they're not comfortable at all with this arrangement. Where they are playing goalie when they should be playing offense.
We know that Metallica are great at writing mainstream ballads and killer arena-sized thrash metal, and that Lou Reed is great at writing whatever the fuck it is you classify the material that he has written over the decades. So why is it necessary to try to combine the two? It's the same thing if someone suggested to take Foo Fighters and have them write a collaboration album with Lady Gaga. It's stupid, and it just doesn't work. Especially when Metallica is reduced to a backing band role, providing a backdrop for Lou Reeds hallucinations.
Let met put it this way. There are multiple instances of songs on "Lulu" where it sounds like Lou Reed took some LSD and popped some pills, went on a crazy psychedelic experience in the vein of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, and recorded whatever spoken word ramblings came out of his mouth in the process. Yes, the material is loosely based on two plays by Frank Wedekind, but Lou Reed sounds like a lunatic most of the time. And not in a good way.
As the icing on top of the cake, disc two features almost 40 minutes worth of avant-garde ambiance and acoustic takes, with virtually no evidence suggesting Metallica were anywhere near the recording studio when these cuts were played in.
"Lulu" is just so pointless that it's difficult to know where to start criticizing it. So I'll just leave you with this: if you went in this review thinking "Lou Reed and Metallica are good in their own way, how bad could it be?", "Lulu" is out to prove exactly how bad it can be.