When news of a Lou Reed/Metallica collaboration leaked earlier this year, it was received with a knowing wink. Pretty much nobody in the music world, no matter how forgiving, could conceive of the album being anything more than an absolute dumpster fire, but Lou and the Metallica boys started promoting it like it was the greatest thing to happen to rock music since, well, The Velvet Underground. The album, "Lulu", will be officially released on October 31st, but if you're interested, all 10 tracks are now streaming from the official website, the appropriately (if not creatively) named LouReedMetallica.com. Don't ever say you weren't warned.
According to the site's press release, the unlikely collaboration contains:
"a set of extended songs inspired by German expressionist Frank Wedekind's early 20th century plays Earth Spirit and Pandora's Box (much admired by Freud). The plays, originally published in 1904 and set in Germany, Paris and London in the 1890s, whirl between the points of view of Lulu, an inverted-Eve-like cipher-mirror of desire and abuse, and the people who fall desperately in love with her. Then she meets Jack The Ripper…"
If it sounds a little too ambitious for a man who has been coasting for 40 years on songs he wrote in his teens, that's because it is. While there is something to be said for trying to break new musical ground well into your 60's, Reed has always had a tendency to half-ass everything. He hasn't bothered to sing on-key since 1980, and "Lulu" doesn't attempt to correct that. Metallica, for their part, sound exactly like Metallica circa 2011, which is to say they sound like millionaires with expensive guitars in an expensive studio, trying desperately to sound angry and sincere. Drummer Lars Ulrich, no stranger to pretension, had this to say:
"We were psyched to be thrown into a situation with no specific structure. We were reinventing the wheel! We've tried over the years in certain instrumental pieces to get as far out there as possible, but nothing we'd ever done prepared us for where this went. We spent four weeks in our studio, and Lou showed up on the first Monday – by lunchtime we were deep in it, faster than anyone could keep track of. It's been an authentic, intuitive and impulsive journey. We weren't always sure where it was going, but it sure as fuck was an exciting ride to be on."