Clanging acoustic guitars, pitched somewhere between Led Zeppelin's ballads and John Fahey's American Primitivism, and then, a voice, singular and unmistakable. It is the voice of Lou Reed: "I would cut my legs and tits off when I think of Boris Karloff and Kinski / In the dark of the moon / You made me dream of Nosferatu / Trapped on the isle of Dr. Moreau / Oh, wouldn't it be lovely?"
Then: monster distortion, warehouse drums, and a wailing, Skynyrd-like lead. James Hetfield howls: "Small-town girl!"
I just reread all that, and I've got to say, if I wasn't listening to it while typing, I'd be psyched. It sounds awesome, right? The poetic weight of Lou Reed backed by the populist (at this point, anyway) hard rock of Metallica? I'm tickled by the idea of KUPD spinning a Lou Reed track. Can they ignore this album?
Let's hope so. "Brandenberg Gate," the song I described, isn't the worst thing on Lulu, the collaboration between Metallica and 69-year-old Reed, but like the rest of the record, it's puzzling and off-putting. I thought "The View," our first taste of the album was kind of funny, but after listening to "Mistress Dead," "Iced Honey," and "Little Dog," I'm ready to file this one in the "Well, I guess that totally happened" bin and move on.
Not that Chuck Klosterman, who just released the awesome sci-fi/pop culture exploration The Visible Man thinks I should. In an essay for Grantland, he argues that the record must be remembered.
We have to accept the real-life consequences of a culture in which recorded music no longer has monetary value, and one of those consequences is Lulu.
But even better, Klosterman points out that we here in Phoenix need to get used to it, because we're going to be hearing it in QT parking lots on beer runs, apparently.
A confident, unvarnished attempt at taking arcane high art (Lulu is based on theatrical German expressionism from the early 20th century) and repackaging it for denim-clad teenagers huffing gas in Arizona parking lots.
On second thought -- I don't know if this describes QT lot-rats. I feel like Klosterman is talking more about 7-Eleven, here. Or Circle K.
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I laughed out loud reading that line. Maybe that's who Metallica and Reed are reaching out to, but I don't think the huffers are picking this up. Nope. Music writers are listening, and everyone else is just shaking their heads.
At least that's the impression I get. Next time I spot some heshers slamming Slurpees, I'll ask for their thoughts.