Lou Reed & Metallica - Lulu
May 7, 2020 (updated May 7, 2020)
85
"Listen, this is Lou's greatest work. This is his masterpiece. Just wait, it will be like Berlin. It will take everyone a while to catch up." - David Bowie

Lou Reed's misunderstood masterpiece. Lulu hasn't even been out for a full decade yet, and already you can see this album on worst of all time lists. There hasn't been many albums released last decade that has been as panned, hated, and memed as Lulu. But does this album really deserve that?

There's obviously a multitude of reasons as to why this album is as despised as it is. For starters, the whole spoken word thrash metal thing is something that seems doomed from the start. Even before the first single was released, people were curious to see what these two polar opposites would batch up, expecting that Metallica would likely have to completely change up who they were just for this album. But no, you just get Lou Reed speaking over metal instrumentals, and that's something that people neither expected, nor did they think it worked well at all. To most people, it sounds awkward. Most people are Metallica fans and aren't coming to this album because of Lou Reed. If you are someone who has come to this album because you love Metallica so much but have heard very little of Lou Reed, then you aren't going to like this album. I can guarantee you that the vast majority of the people who have a burning hatred for this album are solely Metallica fans, and the most they've heard from Lou Reed is his stuff he made with The Velvet Underground and maybe Transformer. Projects that sound nothing like this. But if you are familiar with Lou Reed, you'd realize that this isn't even that out-there for him. Just his classic '70s releases alone has shown him doing stuff similar to this. The notorious Metal Machine Music aside (an album that should probably get even more hate than this but hasn't for some odd reason), if you just look at albums like Street Hassle and The Blue Mask, you'd realize that this isn't an entirely new sound for him. Maybe it was done much better in those albums, so well, in fact, that they are seen as some of his best efforts, but that shouldn't make an album as great as Lulu be pushed aside just because it isn't as good.

Another thing that people hate about this album is the quote-unquote "awful" lyrics. The weird lyrics. The shit that people clearly weren't expecting. The memeable "I am the table!" and the infinitely hilarious "I would cut my legs and tits off/When I think of Boris Karloff and Kinski/In the dark of the moon." Lyrics that have since become famous examples as to why this album deserves its endless battering. But the thing is, it's this weirdness in Lou's lyrics that made him such a fascinating lyricist in the first place. I'm sure that when they first came out songs like Venus In Furs and Sister Ray were seen as absolute failures, partly due to the lyrics that were shocking at the time. Nowadays these are seen as some of the best songs in The Velvet Underground's and Lou Reed's careers. And at the moment, songs like The View and Brandenburg Gate are seen as some of the worst he ever wrote and performed, but I'd say it's only a matter of time before the reception on that changes.

This album is genius. Lou Reed's whole career in general stemmed off of one fact: that there are no rules in music. He made albums like White Light/White Heat, albums like The Bells, albums like Metal Machine Music, albums of varying success that some write off as being awful and others praise as being amazing experimental pieces. But I don't think there's a better example of Lou's experimenting than Lulu. This is Lou Reed at his most boundary-pushing, blending his usual spoken word with metal. Something that really shouldn't work out but does. Maybe the first one or two or even three times you hear these songs you think it's far too weird, obnoxious, and awkward to give it your time, but time is exactly what this album needs. This isn't an album that is fully understood in just a handful of listens. Hell, I've just gotten off my sixth listen and I STILL don't feel like I understand this album, nor do I feel like I love it as much as I know I will eventually love it. But I'll tell you one thing, my sixth listen was a far greater experience than my first, and I liked it a lot on my first. This album is not an easily-digestible listen, it's a slow-burning journey that pays off for those who are patient, and that's part of the reason why so many have given it more and more chances over the years.

I started this review off with a quote from David Bowie. It was something he told Reed's widow, Laurie Anderson, sometime after he died in 2013. It really is amazing how much that quote held up after all these years. Berlin was an album that was critically panned just as much upon release, and a few years later people warmed up to it, and it's now seen by many as one of Lou's best ever efforts, with his greatest, most emotional lyrics, brilliant production and a phenomenal sound. And around the same amount of time has passed between Lulu's release and now than there was between Berlin's release and when people began revisiting it. It's not even been a full decade since the album was released, but you can already see people changing their mind. People on music rating sites like RYM and AOTY have changed their minds about this album, fans of Metallica are beginning to come around to this oddity in their discography,and you can even find critics revisiting this album years later and giving it better reviews. Lulu truly is the closest we're going to get to a Trout Mask Replica in the 21st Century. This will always be a highly divisive album due to its unconventional sound, but it's only a matter of time before this will be seen as one of the all-time greats. There's going to be the people who claim to have loved it on day one even though we all know that likely isn't true. There's also always going to be the people who won't understand it - hell, nobody will EVER understand this album, but one thing's for certain: it's an amazing piece of art, and I look forward to when the public perception of it changes fully.

Favourite Tracks: Iced Honey; Cheat On Me; Junior Dad; The View; Pumping Blood

Least Favourite Track: Little Dog
10 Comments
May 7, 2020
i am the table
May 7, 2020
I am! I am! I AM!
May 7, 2020
really good review !! 2011 seems like its so long ago but it is only now getting to a point that its getting familiar with people like u pointed out. hella underrated
Aug 4, 2020
no, but nice try
Aug 27, 2020
@BradTasteMusic ok now swallow my cum
6d ago
hey @JustSomeGuy this was a really interesting take, hardcore music fans like you tend to like something extraordinary & lil bit disorienting so this may be the best example…
6d ago
@Allofasudden Definitely. I've always seen this album as being very similar to Trout Mask Replica in that sense, where its weirdness is going to turn casual listeners away but intrigue hardcore fans who want something new and different.
3d ago
Hey JustSomeGuy I think you're my favorite reviewer here so far so I follow.I'm really liking a lot of your stuff keep up the good work man!.
3d ago
Thank you so much @Tomwhyachi6 ! It really means a lot that you would say that.
1d ago
well said. Bowie is known for his forward thinking ideas in music. Seems like he is ahead of his time again on this one.
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