Lulu (Lou Reed and Metallica album)

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Lulu
Studio album by Lou Reed and Metallica
Released October 31, 2011 (2011-10-31)
Recorded April – June 2011 at HQ in San Rafael, CA
Genre Art rock, experimental metal, noise rock, spoken word
Length 87:04
Label Warner Bros., Vertigo
Producer Greg Fidelman, Metallica, Lou Reed, Hal Willner
Lou Reed chronology
Hudson River Wind Meditations
(2007)
Lulu
(2011)
Metallica chronology
Beyond Magnetic
(2011)
Lulu
(2011)
Metallica Through the Never
(2013)
Singles from Lulu
  1. "The View"
    Released: September 27, 2011

Lulu is a collaborative album between rock singer-songwriter Lou Reed, and heavy metal band Metallica, released on October 31, 2011 on Warner Bros. and Vertigo. The album is the final full-length studio recording project that Reed was involved in before his death in 2013.[1] The album was recorded in San Rafael, California, during April through June 2011, after Reed had played with Metallica at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 25th Anniversary Concert which led to them wanting to collaborate. The lead single from the album, titled "The View", was released on September 27, 2011.[2]

Conceptually, the album is based on Lulu - two plays originally written by the German playwright Frank Wedekind. The majority of the album's composition is centred around spoken word delivered by Reed over instrumentals composed by Metallica, with occasional backing vocals provided by Metallica lead vocalist James Hetfield. Reed wrote the majority of the lyrics. The album was released worldwide on October 31, 2011, and on November 1 in North America.[3] Upon its release, Lulu received mostly negative reviews from music critics.

Background[edit]

Reed and Metallica had both been on the bill in October 1997 for the eleventh of Neil Young's Bridge concerts.[4] The conception of the collaboration project began in 2009 when both Metallica and Lou Reed performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 25th Anniversary Concert.[3] After that performance, they began "kicking around the idea of making a record together,"[5] but did not start working together until two years later. In February 2011, Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett announced that in May 2011 the group would start working on something that's "not 100 percent a Metallica record. It's a recording project, let's put it that way."[6] The project was revealed to be a collaboration with Lou Reed once the recording of the album had been completed in June 2011.[3]

The collaboration was originally intended to be Metallica re-recording various previously unreleased tracks Reed had written over the years.[7] Among these unreleased demos was a collection of songs composed for a play called Lulu—a theatrical production of two plays originally written by the German playwright Frank Wedekind.[8] Reed shared the demos of these songs with the members of Metallica to help bring the "piece to the next level,"[9] and the group provided "significant arrangement contributions" to the material.[10] David Fricke of Rolling Stone heard at least two of the songs from the project in June 2011—"Pumping Blood" and "Mistress Dread"—and described their sound as a "raging union of [Reed's] 1973 noir classic, Berlin, and Metallica's '86 crusher, Master of Puppets."[10] All tracks were made available for listening on the official Lou Reed & Metallica website before its release.[11]

The recording of the album was problematic at times, with Lars Ulrich admitting at one point, Lou Reed challenged him to a "street fight".[12]

Singles[edit]

A 29 second sample to "The View" featuring Lou Reed's spoken word delivered over a repeated riff.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"The View" was released for streaming online in late September 2011. Examining reaction to the track and a previously released 30-second preview of the same, The New Zealand Herald reported that there was much negative reaction by fans online, and that the song had about twice as many "dislikes" as "likes" on YouTube.[13] Not all reaction to the song was negative; Rolling Stone gave "The View" a 4 out of 5 star rating[14] while the same song was rated 4.5 out of 5 by Artist Direct[15] and positively by One Thirty BPM.[16] The song's music video was directed by Darren Aronofsky, cinematographed by Matthew Libatique and produced by Scott Franklin through Protozoa Pictures, his and Aronofsky's production company.[17] Originally it was planned that Aronofsky should helm a performance video for the album's second single "Iced Honey"[18] but "when everyone got together, it became obvious "The View" was the way to go."[19]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 45/100[20]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[21]
Consequence of Sound 1.5/5 stars[22]
The Daily Telegraph 3/5 stars[23]
Entertainment Weekly D[24]
NME 7/10 stars[25]
Pitchfork Media (1.0/10)[26]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[27]
Q 2/5 stars[28]
Sputnikmusic 1.5/5 stars[29]

Upon its release, the album received mixed to negative reviews by music critics.[20] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 45, based on 31 reviews.[20] Staff reviewer Joseph Viney of Sputnikmusic rated the album one and a half out of five and commented "The fallout from this could have dire consequences. A lot of people, already placing Metallica at the best seat in the house at the Last Chance Saloon have now called last orders. It's genuinely difficult to guess what their next move will be. As for Reed, his legacy, whatever that means in his case, is cemented and this will have no real effect on him."[29]

Pitchfork Media critic Stuart Berma assigned the album a rare 1.0 rating, writing "for all the hilarity that ought to ensue here, Lulu is a frustratingly noble failure. Audacious to the extreme, but exhaustingly tedious as a result, its few interesting ideas are stretched out beyond the point of utility and pounded into submission."[26] Essayist and pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman, in his review of the album for the website Grantland, wrote, "If the Red Hot Chili Peppers acoustically covered the 12 worst Primus songs for Starbucks, it would still be (slightly) better than this."[30] Reviewer Julian Marszalek of The Quietus gave the album a very poor review. He commented that "the effect is that of Lou Reed ranting over some Metallica demos that were never intended for human consumption." Marszalek summarized the review by suggesting that time spent listening to Lulu could have been better spent watching grass grow, "or perhaps wanking into a sock."[31] Furthermore, longtime reviewer Don Kaye, who had previously defended Metallica's much-maligned 2003 album St. Anger, wrote on Blabbermouth.net that "Lulu is a catastrophic failure on almost every level, a project that could quite possibly do irreparable harm to Metallica's career."[32]

Uncut gave the record a positive review,[33] singling out the album closer "Junior Dad" for praise and calling it "breathtaking" and "astonishing", a "perfect ending to the most extraordinary, passionate and just plain brilliant record either participant has made for a long while." NME, scoring the record seven out of ten,[25] praised it as "a surprising triumph", and said that the offering's "breadth and ambition is to be applauded. Metallica have performed way beyond what many thought them capable; they improvise freely as Reed's musical bitch, while for him this marks his most outré offering since 'Metal Machine Music'". The Telegraph awarded Lulu three stars out of five,[34] stating that while the album was "grueling, even by latter Lou Reed standards," the sense of "unrestrained folly" and sheer lack of commercialism made the album feel "important". The German edition of Metal Hammer gave the album four out of seven stars. The reaction of the reviewer, Metallica biographer Joel McIver, to the album was mixed. According to McIver, Lou Reed and Metallica had created an "avant-garde theatrical" soundtrack which is "not easy to listen to" and recommendable for Lou Reed fans. However Metallica fans "will mostly ignore Lulu—and listen to Master of Puppets".

In contrast with other sources, The Wire, a British avant garde music magazine, considered Lulu the no. 9 record of the year.[35] Indeed, The Wire's Jennifer Lucy Allan comments about the bad reviews of the album: "ultimately, the reaction to it is a testament to Lou Reed’s ability to still get up the noses and under the skin of even the most open-minded listeners. He’s probably laughing his head off at it all this very minute".

Band's response to criticism[edit]

Lou Reed stated that Metallica fans threatened to shoot him due to the collaboration on Lulu. In response to this and the overall negative reaction to the album, Reed commented, "I don't have any fans left. After Metal Machine Music (1975), they all fled. Who cares? I'm essentially in this for the fun of it."[36] Lars Ulrich also noted the negative reaction to Lulu, and stated that he wasn't surprised by the criticism due in part because, "In 1984, when hard-core Metallica fans heard acoustic guitars on "Fade to Black", there was a nuclear meltdown in the heavy-metal community," and also noted that Reed's poetry is "not for everyone."[36] Talking about the negative reactions, James Hetfield expressed understanding of "fearful people", who are "typing from their mom’s basement that they still live in", stating that the band needed "to spread our wings" and try something new,[37] while Reed stated that the album is for "literate people".[38]

Chart performance[edit]

In the United States, the album debuted at number 36 on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 13,000 copies.[39] The album debuted in the top 20 of the charts in seven countries.[40] Worldwide sales have topped 100,000 copies in two weeks.[41]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Lou Reed, all music composed by Reed and Metallica.

Disc one
No. Title Length
1. "Brandenburg Gate"   4:19
2. "The View"   5:17
3. "Pumping Blood"   7:24
4. "Mistress Dread"   6:51
5. "Iced Honey"   4:36
6. "Cheat on Me"   11:26
Disc two
No. Title Length
7. "Frustration"   8:34
8. "Little Dog"   8:01
9. "Dragon"   11:08
10. "Junior Dad"   19:29
Total length:
87:05

Charts[edit]

Chart (2011) Peak
position
Australian Albums Chart[40] 33
Austrian Albums Chart[40] 11
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)[40] 17
Belgian Albums Chart (Wallonia)[40] 14
Canadian Albums Chart[42] 26
Croatian Albums Chart[43] 4
Czech Albums Chart[44] 4
Danish Albums Chart[45] 13
Dutch Albums Chart[40] 17
Finnish Albums Chart[40] 16
German Albums Chart[46] 6
Irish Albums Chart[47] 36
Italy Albums Chart[48] 9
Japanese Albums Chart[49] 14
New Zealand Albums Chart[40] 12
Norwegian Albums Chart[40] 11
Polish Albums Chart[50] 6
Portuguese Albums Chart[40] 8
Russian Albums Chart[51] 10
Spanish Albums Chart[52] 12
Swedish Albums Chart[40] 9
Swiss Albums Chart[40] 14
UK Albums Chart[53] 36
US Billboard 200[39] 36

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lou Reed, Velvet Underground Leader and Rock Pioneer, Dead at 71". Rolling Stone. October 27, 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  2. ^ "Metallica and Lou Reed post clip of new single 'The View' online — audio". NME. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
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  4. ^ "Bridge School Benefit history". Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
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External links[edit]