Thursday, September 14, 2006

Do you want to hear the most annoying noise in the world?

Lou Reed - Metal Machine Music

This is a record that is far more talked about than listened to. There are really two schools of thought on this one.

1) This is a big fuck you from Lou to his label to close out his contract. It is awful, and Lou knew it was awful, and we're left holding the bag for a $5.98 double album.

2) This record is a great laugh -at rather than laugh-with comedy piece. Rock stars do the strangest things!

I'd like to propose a third interpretation. This is the logical culmination of the "take lots of speed and make lots of noise" path of art that Lou went down from time to time. Like White Light / White Heat, without the songs. Anyone who has heard the music from the early hour film the VU made for Andy (shall I post this?) will recognize this approach. In fact, you can pretty well draw a straight line connecting the early boots > the first couple albums > MMM. It's Sally Can't Dance that's the weird one.

Lou obviously worked really hard on this. There are lots of edits, back maskings, harmonic juxtapositions, etc. It isn't easy to listen to, but if it weren't by LOU REED, it would be one of those obscure NWW records we all go potty over.

Of course, Lou had some help working hard. I can't believe that none of the reviews of this record that I've ever read make any mention of the fact that he subtitled the album with the chemical structure of amphetamine. Can you imagine an artist doing that today?

1) Thanks for this! Best Lou Reed Album Ever! If I hadn't already bought the cd reissue, I wouldn't know how good this is. Others should be told!!

2) VU film music? Yes, very!!

Thanks again for having one of the most well written music blogs out there. Keep the hits coming!
"Anyone who has heard the music from the early hour film the VU made for Andy (shall I post this?) will recognize this approach."

please post this!
thank you and keep up the good work.
My theory has long been that if you could remove all the music from the Velvets' early records - the guitars, the drums, the viola - then 'Metal Machine Music' is what you'd wind up with.


I've thought about purchasing this before. Sort of digging it although I really wish the "sides" were hear 1/4 of that and you've pretty much heard it all, right?

Still blows away almost everything else Lou has done without the Velvets in his career. Thanks for the post! You're awesome.
The curious should definitely check out Lester Bangs's various pieces about Lou and this album in particular... thanks for posting it, I'll try now to finally listen to it all the way through...
"it sounds better on Romilar (?) than any other record i ever heard" LB said.../ thanks for your great work!
Romilar was a narcotic based cough syrup. A nasty ride, from what I hear. I wouldn't recommend it.
I have this on original vinyl and the shop dealer wouldn't sell it to me unless I was fully aware of the contents! I guess he'd had a few refunds.

Got the cd too, want it played at my funeral! ;)

Neil Young must have listened to this before "Arc". Lots of Zappa like timbres in there also.
Keep up the good work.
Wonderful stuff.

I used to have a record player/8 track player, and I connected my first CD player through it.

I discovered that I could simultaneously play an 8 track and a CD, so my favorite trick was to play Metal Machine Music and something like Ascension for the most amazing noise fest I could imagine!
My recollection of the LP's is that all four sides were listed as being the same length (16:01?), so I wondered about the fact that these files come out all different. Then, I realized they could print whatever they wanted on the label, nobody was ever going to play them all and remember to hit the stopwatch at the right time to verify it. Duh.

Also, it was pointed out to me, once upon a time, that the fourth side had a locked groove of continuing program material (like Sgt. Pepper), so if you had a manual turntable it would keep playing forever. So, hit that "Repeat" button on your CD or MP3 Player for the Authentic Experience (assuming you don't have the 8-track to put on Continuous Loop), and test your mettle (and the patience of your friends, family and neighbors)!
"It's Sally Can't Dance that's the weird one." Sally Can't Dance is my favorite LR album - definately his sickest lyrics (ride sally ride, cuz if you don't you'll get a contusion). I read an interview where he said he couldn't remember making it, and another piece that claimed each lyric line had to be fed to him by the engineer and punched in on the track. as for MMM, the last line on the liner notes is the best kiss-off ever: "My week beats your year". I'd rather listen to No Pussyfooting (and often do)
Best album. I am at level 3 now, and proceeding.
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