Lou Reed’s LuLu Calms The Savage Corgi

The First Essential Scary Truth

I’ve said it many times and it bears repeating here: if it weren’t for Lou Reed I would have gone to the University of Michigan and would at this moment be a Detroit lawyer with an ulcer negotiating over the ruins of a once great city instead of your occasionally intrepid blogger.  I buy (and sometimes sell immediately after listening to) all of Lou’s records upon release.  As far as I am concerned he is ‘the man.’

Who cares if he’s become a 69-year old Yenta who demands his Diet Coke’s one minute after ordering?  He’s still Lou fucking Reed, the same man who helped invent art rock, punk rock, and the no wave.  He gave and odd dignity to the demimonde, she-males, junkies and my beloved dog shit laden streets of New York; not to mention being the inventor of the rhyme vial with vile scheme.

Even my dog is named after a Lou Reed song: her name is Vicious.  She is a rescue – a Welsh Cardigan Corgi/Beagle mix.  When we yanked her off of Maricopa County’s canine death row, we were told she was vicious.  When I met her, all 14 pounds of her was shaking.  The poor dog was terrified.  She was vicious like opening lyric to Lou’s open track to Transformer ‘Vicious.’ (Vicious/you hit me with a flower/you do it every hour/you’re so vicious.)  And of course, the dog loves the tune.

In 2009, Lou Reed and Metallica joined forces at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th Anniversary Concert the results weren’t as bad as I thought they would have been.  To the contrary, the set which included a fresh readings of ‘Sweet Jane’ and ‘Walk On The Wild Side’ didn’t burn down the house but it add the harsh rock and roll edge Lou has been missing since he parted ways with Bob Quine in the mid 1980’s.  And Metallica looked like they were actually having fun on stage for the first time in over 15 years.  So when the two rock and roll icons decided to record an album together, I was ecstatic.

In my dreams, Metallica would finally give the appropriate sneer and noise that Lou needed to write another soundtrack to the formerly mean New York streets a la the Velvet Underground’s White Light/White Heat.  At best the strength’s of both parties would rise to the top.  At worst we’d have a serviceable hard rock/heavy metal album like Rock And Roll Animal to listen to as the winter of 2011/12 came upon the scene.

The final product delivered on November 2, 2011, entitled LuLu was neither.  In fact, it might be the worst album Lou Reed ever committed vinyl/CD/MP3.

Once again, I bought the album the first day it was available for download on iTunes – not quite running down to Tower Records on Broadway and 4th Street but the music industry, like interest rates and hairstyles, has changed.  However, the constant in the universe is Reed’s pretention to write the ‘Great American Novel’ using the rock and roll form.  Whether fronting the Velvets in the late 1960’s, releasing Berlin in 1973 or the oddly engaging Magic and Loss in 1992, Reed has managed to use the pop-rock song format as his weapon of choice to hit his artistic goals.  There were times when he over-reached but was still brilliant – 1983’s The Blue Mask – and then there were times when he utterly missed – everything after 1992 save the song “Egg Cream’ – but the song structure or something to prove that Lou was still a rock and roll animal was still there.

The only thing remotely rock and roll about LuLu is the hard droning guitars of Reed, Hetfield and Hammett.  The back beat?  Gone.  The lyrics, always the integral part of any Reed album for those who have been following his artistic pretentions since 1966, indecipherable, devoid of rhyme, meter or any sort of playfulness.  However, when rock and roll heavyweights like Reed and Metallica want to create an album based on the plays of German playwright Frank Wedekind, serious music fans such as yours truly want to meet them halfway.

I listened to LuLu three times in one day.  After my last trip through the grooves, I went looking for the first bar I could find.  The need to bash my brain to figure out why I should like this album at all was pressing.  At best it’s difficult listening.  At worst, it’s Metal Machine Music without the humor.

Unfortunately, I woke the next morning with no hangover so my fourth time through the record was going to hurt.  I waited until nightfall so as not to alarm the neighbors over the horrible noise soon to emanate from my iPod.  The neighbors it turned out didn’t care.  They simply turned up their Hip Hop soundtrack to drown out Lou and the boys.

Vicious, however, drew her line in the carpet.  Three times through LuLu was enough for the Corgi from Hell.  By the third song ‘Pumping Blood’ she was barking at the speakers.  After ‘Little Dog’ (song #8) I found her whimpering under the bed.

LuLu may very well be the worst EVER Reed/Metallica product to come down the collective pike.  However the album does have a use outside of annoyance and the creation of ear bleeds: it sends the savage Corgi into hiding.  After for that, I grant LuLu the mantle of a success.  Just never buy it.


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