Lou Reed – Metal Machine Music

Just saw this article earlier.  Lou Reed is apparently releasing the infamous Metal Machine Music album.  Lou Reed is one of my musical heroes, but I could never wrap my head around Metal Machine Music. Metal Machine Music like “Revolution Number 9”, “Self Portrait”  and even Sandinista! is the sound of hubris taking over.  Each of these individuals involved have created some of the best music ever to be made – and these musical projects reveal they can indeed make shit.  The worst part is – they try to pass it off as art.

I like feedback and noise.  I wouldn’t be a fan of The Velvet Underground, The Stooges of Sonic Youth if I weren’t.  But I also like songs – not just meandering noise for no other reasons than shock value.  “Sister Ray” is known for it’s excessive use of feedback and noise (and some deem it almost unlistenable) but it is still a song.  It pushes the limits of what could be called music for sure – distortion pedals pushed to the max, and John Cale on organ.  And the lyrics are even darker and subversive for 1968.

Says Lou Reed about the song: “Sister Ray’ was done as a joke—no, not as a joke—but it has eight characters in it and this guy gets killed and nobody does anything. It was built around this story that I wrote about this scene of total debauchery and decay. I like to think of ‘Sister Ray’ as a transvestite dealer. The situation is a bunch of drag  taking some sailors home with them, shooting up on smack and having this orgy when the police appear.”

Even at its most extreme music is supposed to elicit an emotion out of the listener.  I’m not sure what a person benefits from listening to Metal Machine Music other than to write to Lou Reed and ask for some time of life back.  And now he’s planning on rereleasing this thing?

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One response to “Lou Reed – Metal Machine Music

  1. Think less about the album, and more about its influences. Sure, 40 minutes of screeching feedback is no one’s idea of a great record. But without it, where would we be? Vampire Can’t’s “Key Cutter” wouldn’t exist (one of my favorite records from 2008-ish?), and John Weise wouldn’t have a career (his “Soft Punk” is amazing).

    Even leaving the “noise” scene, how influential has “Metal Machine Music” been to the IDM scene? I can hear a lot of it in say, Kid 606’s “Down with the Scene.”

    I’ve read that Elvis once released an album of nothing but his live ad-libs. The Rolling Stones have a greatest hits package called “Sucked in the 70s” that openly admits that their songs were no good then! This is Reed’s version of that, done the Lou Reed way. It’s not like any of these three albums are listenable, even to fans.

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