5 November 2013

Lou Reed - Metal Machine Music

Before I start, I would just like to pass condolences to the family and friends of Lou Reed, who sadly died on October 27th 2013. He may not have been everyone's cup of tea but you can guarantee his legacy will last longer than the current bunch of twerking, self-proclaimed geniuses... Lou Reed, we salute you.

This is possibly one of the most controversial, opinion dividing releases Lou Reed ever made - before 'Lulu', at any rate. The reason why is that this, his fifth solo album, doesn't actually contain anything that resembles proper, conventional music. Instead, it's largely comprised of various guitar feedback noise, played back at different speeds. The whole thing lasts just over the hour mark. When it first came out, the reviews were particularly scathing. And although it initially sold 100,000 copies within it's release (This is rumoured to have been mostly because of the controversy of the reviews), the original copy was allegedly withdrawn within three weeks of release.

The story (according to Wiki) is that Mr Reed recorded this in his NYC apartment on a four-track recorder using various guitars in varying states of tuneage and different amplifiers with varying levels of reverb. The idea is, he'd play the guitars then set them in front of the amps, thus the feedback would further rattle the guitar strings. In effect, the guitars were playing themselves. The four-tracks were then mixed into stereo. On vinyl, each track would occupy one side, hence the release as a double-vinyl. The fourth side finished on a locked groove which essentially meant it would play that bit over and over and over again until it stopped. That would've been cool to hear!

As mentioned, the critics were harsh and even speculated on why on Earth would someone record such a nightmare, was it a joke? An excuse to fill a contract obligation? Or was it really one of the earliest examples of modern electronic music? Or maybe he just recorded it for the craic, I dunno. We're never going to find out now so maybe we should just stop over-analyzing things and just enjoy them. Besides, it's not the first experiment involving soundscapes - look at The Beatles and their 'song' Revolution #9. As a conventional song, it's utter fucking dogshit but as an experiment in recording, looping and overall sound manipulation, it's tremendous! To me, MMM is merely another variant of that, albeit a more extreme form.

Listening to it, I expected to hate it from the off. But nope - I loved it! I loved it so much I listened to it twice in a row! I'll be honest, my first instinct was to laugh - to laugh that someone had the balls and the sheer fucking gall to release something as non-commercial as this into the public consciousness and expect to be taken seriously. But hey! If music stayed the same then it wouldn't be any fun.

Would I recommend this? Tough question. This is NOT going to be everyone's cup of tea. All I can say is "give it a go". You might like it, you might not. What rating do I give it?

I can't. This is an unratable album. But an interesting journey.

Chris J.

You can buy this album on iTunes.

For buying on Amazon, click here.
For listening on Spotify, click here.

No music video, folks.

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