Music review: ‘Lulu’ by Lou Reed and Metallica

October 31, 2011
Lou Reed and Metallica
Lulu

It’s already been called the worst album of all time, this unholy union of Lou Reed and Metallica, the multi-headed hydra of unpleasantness known colloquially, though not fondly, as Loutallica.

They’ve united to present an 85-minute misery delivery system called “Lulu,” loosely based on a series of German expressionist plays that chronicled the adventures of a prostitute-turned-slave murdered by Jack the Ripper.

It may not be rock history’s worst album, but it’s almost certainly the most ridiculous; a somber, self-satisfied, misogynistic mess that is the aural equivalent of having a rock dropped on your head, an experience that might actually be preferable.

“Lulu” brings out the worst in everybody involved. Reed, once the unruffleable king of downtown, huffs and rants his way through these mostly spoken-word tracks like an old man telling those darn kids to get off his lawn. Metallica are as uncharacteristically subdued as Reed is animated, noodling their way through a series of tracks that flirt with metal, country and even blues but all somehow sound the same.

“Lulu” is an exercise in degradation. It’s degrading for Reed, whose riffs on bodily fluids, Kotex jukeboxes and eating waste are as self-serious as they are awful. It’s degrading for Metallica, who sound reduced somehow, like a Metallica cover band playing the lounge at an airport Marriott. It’s degrading for poor Lulu, who peers mournfully out from the album’s cover with both of her arms hacked off, looking as if she wishes she was missing her ears instead. You’ll know just how she feels.

— Allison Stewart

Recommended Tracks

None. Seriously, run for your life.

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