x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Lou Reed and Metallica: Lulu

This collaboration held promise for some genuine musical exploration, but that's not exactly how it turned out.

Lou Reed and Metallica


(Warner Bros)


Lou Reed has always been fond of taking listeners to the wild side, the result of which is one of rock's most uncompromising bodies of work.

But with this latest effort, the musical shock-art that is Lulu, Reed gleefully outdoes himself. To describe the near 90-minute collaboration with Metallica as gruelling is an understatement. Based on the plays by German expressionist Frank Wedekind, Reed and co paint a story of the promiscuous Lulu who falls into a spiral of despair and madness.

None of the artists is interested in complementing each other; the aim of the game here is to see how far they can push the boundaries. Reed's paper-thin vocals are no match for Metallica's pummeling riffs, while Metallica's lead singer James Hetfield's contributions range from bizarre to unintentionally hilarious. In The View, he repeatedly snarls "I am the view / I am the table".

The album's centrepiece, the pitch-black Mistress Dread, has Reed croaking his way-over vintage thrash- metal riffs. All of which would have been bearable if those involved had capitalised on their musical strengths. But this feels more like an attention-getting scheme rather than a genuine attempt at musical exploration.

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