Metal Machine Music: Unappreciated or justly ignored?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by greenoort, Jul 28, 2017.

  1. greenoort

    greenoort Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Michigan
    I love Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed. It's often regarded as one of the worst albums of all time, thought to be done as a joke or a record contract breaker with his label. I think it's one of the boldest thing i've ever seen a mainstream artist do. Lou was at the first height of his career at this point, riding off the success of "Transformer". In the midst of all this press, praise and hype, bam. Leaves us this album in a nice little package. Its loud beyond all belief, its unforgiving, its distorted and high pitched, growly, pure unadulterated feedback. This in a way is the ultimate "guitar" album. Where else can you go from here? Pure guitar noise. The end of the line. Nothing more, nothing less. This is the end of the guitar universe where there is nothing more than white noise. This album was originally taken off all shelves within three weeks of its original release date.

    I think this is a genuinely impressive and well done avant-garde record that was very ahead of its time in the rock sense. It's more than just 'noise', the tones and frequencies change in pitch, speed, rate, volume. There was an honest effort to make this record sound how it sounds. This album inspired noise rockers (Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth has cited this as an influence) and industrial artists later in the 80s and 90s and even today, and even helped the insurgence of the genre "No Wave". I mean, according to a CD reissue of this album, it's sold 100,000 copies in the US. I'm not sure of that true, but I think this album comes down to what your definition of music is. To some it really is just noise, but to me this is music that predicted music years down the line. Albums like metal machine music come out on sites like soundcloud and bandcamp every day now for anyone to hear. This is yet another example of Lou Reed being a rock and roll groundbreaking trailblazer, creating sounds way out of his time.

    What do you think? Is this a prime example of "you get it or you dont" ? What do you think about this very divisive album?
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2017
  2. arthurprecarious

    arthurprecarious Forum Resident

    Location:
    North East England
    Maybe just Lou's unlistenable joke?
     
  3. greenoort

    greenoort Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Michigan
    Not sure. He was inspired by John Cale's avant garde work primarily for this album. The Velvets are famous for their use of feedback and noise in their album like banana and white light white heat, lou has a real strong more cutting edge experimental side of him thats open to this kind of stuff. I think the step towards an album like this makes lots of sense, also the amount of effort put into the production of this is crazy. I think if it was a joke, it would have way less layers and effects and detailed soundscapes.
     
  4. I appreciate it for what it is. I do consider the album to be a challenge to listen through all the way.

    The one thing I do wish for would be that it had been recorded just a little bit better. Recorded better in a way that it would have more room sound, more depth and layering in the sound, more soundstage and imaging that would better allow the various sounds to roll over each other and have the soundstage depth and layering necessary for that to happen.
     
  5. vonseux

    vonseux Re-channeled Stereo

    Location:
    Portugal
    Everybody knows the actual worst album of all time is Lou Reed's Lulu.

    But based on your post there's really tastes for anything
     
  6. GreenFuz

    GreenFuz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    It was art, which Rock 'n' Roll Animal and Sally Can't Dance hadn't been, definitely not a joke.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2017
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  7. Jimmy B.

    Jimmy B. Forum Resident

    It's trash. It's completely, totally worthless garbage.
     
  8. DTK

    DTK Forum Resident

    Location:
    Europe
    Lulu is a pretty great album. Of course metalheads do not get it.
     
  9. DTK

    DTK Forum Resident

    Location:
    Europe
    I think it's a cross between affront and innovation. Lou wanted to get his old manager and other leaches off his back; so it was partly a f--- you, but at the same time he was serious about it and probably in love with his creation. It's a valid musical statement and incredibly brave.
     
  10. GreenFuz

    GreenFuz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Gee... I like it.
     
  11. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident

    I own three copies of this by Lou Reed, along with two different versions by Zeitkratzer. How do I rate it? Need you ask?

    I think the issue with this album isn't the music, it's the artist. Musically it wasn't completely out of left field for the time - check out some of John Cale's work in the late 60's and early 70's in collaboration with Tony Conrad et. al. Tony Conrad himself recorded a lot of comparable works around the same time. In modern day, it's a clear influence on the likes of Merzbow - but no-one bats an eye these days to what is known, genre wise, as "Noise".

    So it's not the music. It's the man. Reed was known for his rock music, his songs. Hell, he would revert to rock after this. So when LOU REED put out Metal Machine Music, it created a real stir. It defied convention for him, it was totally not what people expected. Those who bought and returned it at the time where mostly dissatisfied that their expectations weren't even nearly met. As such, it was a brave move.

    In later years it was clear Reed very much stood behind MMM. He loved Zeitkratzer's version, and even performed it with them. And hey, he also played as "Metal Machine Trio" on at least one recording - albeit that's nowhere near as harsh.

    MMM is a violent, abrasive, difficult, uncompromising, drastic, and even frightening record. It's the Cannibal Holocaust of rock. As a fan of avant garde music across all genres, it would certainly be in my list of "essential" recordings.
     
  12. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident

    I confess, I've never been able to make it through Lulu.
     
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  13. DTK

    DTK Forum Resident

    Location:
    Europe
    It"s certainly not easy to digest at first. I find the story fascinating; it's like an 19th century Berlin. It's incredibly angry and graphic. Musically, hooks aplenty. Guess I like that kind of music :).
     
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  14. arthurprecarious

    arthurprecarious Forum Resident

    Location:
    North East England
    I don't think Lou liked it. Here's some stuff from Wiki...

    Robert Christgau referred to Metal Machine Music as Reed's "answer to Environments" and said it had "certainly raised consciousness in both the journalistic and business communities" and was not "totally unlistenable", though he admitted for white noise he would rather listen to "Sister Ray".[9] Writing in MusicHound Rock (1999), Greg Kot gave the album a "woof!" rating (signifying "dog-food"), and opined: "The spin cycle of a washing machine has more melodic variation than the electronic drone that was Metal Machine Music."[11] In 2005, Q magazine included the album in a list of "Ten Terrible Records by Great Artists", and it ranked number four in Q's fifty worst albums of all-time list. It was again featured in Q in December 2010, on the magazine's "Top Ten Career Suicides" list, where it came eighth overall. The Trouser Press Record Guidereferred to it as "four sides of unlistenable oscillator noise", parenthetically calling that assessment "a description, not a value judgment".[16]
     
  15. Zack

    Zack Forum Resident

    Location:
    Easton, MD
    I vote joke. Lou said he never listened all the way through himself.
     
  16. Vaughan

    Vaughan Forum Resident

    When I read this I see a bunch of jumped up music critics whose opinions I could not possibly care less about, spouting off nonsense. I wonder how they'd rate Kontakte by Stockhausen? Honestly, these people's opinion is irrelevant.

    Not sure of when he said this - but it was patently false. He performed it live in the later part of his career, and is on record as saying he was happy with it (the liner notes of Zeitkratzer's 2014 release of the piece states that both Laurie Anderson and Lou attended a full performance, and Lou was moved to tears after hearing it.)

    As with Bowie at times, I think Lou said whatever he felt like at times, whatever created a stir. We shouldn't take a single comment and act as though it's lore.
     
  17. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    It's neither unappreciated or ignored, and hasn't been for a long time. Sometimes I wonder what decade people are living in.
     
  18. Made loud to be played loud, just let the harmonics/overtones soak in, in some ways a very Hendrixian album,
    whilst a nod to Terry Riley and LaMonte Young and the power of the drone.
     
  19. mikaal

    mikaal Sociopathic Nice Guy

    Make that...century...:evil:
     
  20. Hey Vinyl Man

    Hey Vinyl Man Forum Resident

    From the man himself: “I was serious about it. I was also really, really stoned"
     
  21. lennonfan1

    lennonfan1 Forum Resident

    Location:
    baltimore maryland
    George Harrison's Electronic Sound is a similar noisy nonsense album and was done 6 years earlier:)
     
  22. Vangro

    Vangro Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    What's your point?
     
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  23. elaterium

    elaterium Forum Resident

    I'm well versed in avant garde music but I've never been able to get through it.
     
  24. jawaka1000

    jawaka1000 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
  25. jawaka1000

    jawaka1000 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    I like it lp, blu-ray or cd.
     
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