Spermless Like a Girl: On Lou Reed & Metallica’s Lulu and my fascination with suckiness

I have no interest in reviewing Lou Reed and Metallica’s Lulu.  As far as I’m concerned, the definitive takes on it have already been written by Chuck Klosterman and Alee Karim, so there’s no need for me to try and analyze it further or attempt to offer any clever insight.  However, I do have a few things I’d like to get off my chest now that this turd record has been officially committed to plastic and unleashed upon the masses.

Lulu is so bad that I can’t believe it’s real.  It fascinates me that something this bad actually exists.  If I went to my local Best Buy and plunked down the $9.99 or whatever it is they’re asking for it, I could hold this piece of shit in my hand.  It isn’t a nightmare, a bullshit rumor, or an April Fool’s prank.  It actually exists.

If you went back in time to when I discovered Metallica and told young me that the guys who wrote “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “Harvester of Sorrow” would go on to make Lulu, chances are I would have laughed in your face.  Back then, Metallica seemed like unfuckwithable black-clad badasses who could do no wrong.  They were gods who’s long-haired visages I plastered a good chunk of my bedroom walls with.  Even the sonic abortions known as Reload and St. Anger (yes, I actually like Load and the black album, so suck it) didn’t prepare me for this, and in all honesty, the signs of life Metallica showed on Death Magnetic, plus the Big 4 hoopla, lead me to believe that maybe Hetfield and the gang were on something resembling an upward swing.  Lulu has completely and decisively destroyed that illusion.  It has smashed it into millions of microscopic pieces with unbelievable authority.

My knowledge of Lou Reed only extends to “Walk on the Wild Side” and a handful of Velvet Underground tracks, so I have no idea how Lulu stacks up in comparison to the bulk of his career.  Reed always struck me as one of those artists who will get his dick sucked by the music press (see Rolling Stone) no matter what he puts out, with descriptors like “iconoclast” and “maverick” getting tossed about.  If most of his recorded performances are as bad as the tuneless, pervy rambling he favors on Lulu, and I had been exposed to them prior, I probably wouldn’t be nearly as shocked/fascinated by Lulu‘s complete and utter shittiness.  Reed sounds like Oscar the Grouch after a month-long booze and porn bender, which isn’t helped by the fact that he’s also starting to visually resemble a haggard muppet.

I mentioned in my comments on Mr. Karim’s piece on Lulu that I would’ve loved to have been a fly on the wall while Reed and Metallica were listening back to the finished album.  I made a similar comment regarding Morbid Angel’s recent shitfest Illud Divinum Insanus, which has officially been demoted to second worst album of 2011.  Hank Schteamer’s GQ interview w/ Reed and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, gives some pretty good insight into the egomaniacal circle jerk that took place.  The interrogation reveals what might be the most fascinating aspect of the whole Lulu debacle; these guys actually believe in what they’re doing and think that the album is a bold artistic statement.

Ultimately, what Lulu does for me is prove once and for all that Metallica are human beings, not gods.  Metallica are fallible.  This should have dawned on me a long time ago (as I’m sure it did for most of you); call me naive, but there was some little part of me that always held out hope through the Reloads and St. Angers and Some Kind of Monsters and all the other bullshit that Metallica has put us through over the years.  A sliver of hope that the bad motherfuckers that gave us Ride the Lightning were still lurking somewhere inside these out-of-touch, middle-aged doofuses, waiting to violently claw their way out like hungry lions and bring the goddamn thunder down from thrash metal Olympus.  Lulu makes me realize once and for all that those hopes were utterly false.


9 thoughts on “Spermless Like a Girl: On Lou Reed & Metallica’s Lulu and my fascination with suckiness

  1. I’m going to take everyone’s word on this and not listen to it. I’ve heard a snippet or two, and that’s enough.

    But what I want to draw out of your post isn’t really the main topic: I always find it interesting/amusing/incomprehensible how someone could like Load but not Reload. They are more alike than any other two albums by the band, they were written and recorded at the same time, and they are of relatively equal quality (about a 3.5 out of 5 if I were to write a review of my own–yes, I kind of like both of them). I once heard someone say they thought Metallica “sold out” between Load and Reload, and I involuntarily laughed in his face. I surmised that he had already told other people he liked Load before he found out it was unfashionable, so had to stick to his guns while jumping on the bandwagon at a later date. I’m not suggesting that’s what you did, as I think that would be out of character for you. Perhaps you had just enough space in your heart for one album like this, as I do for Holy Grail’s album even though I generally dislike what they represent.

  2. I’m mad at Hank (not really) for conning me into listening to this phenomenal hemorrhoid of an album. Lou Reed has never been my thing, but this was far beyond what I could have imagined. FMA, you should give it a try and see how far you get. I got about 3 tracks in before I couldn’t really take it anymore.
    This might be one of those special cases where everyone involved in the production made the wrong decision at every point in time (if anyone has seen the bonus commentary in the box set of Showgirls they’ll know what I’m talking about)

  3. I’m almost convinced at this point that the guys in Metallica consider their “career stability” to be the last barrier worth breaking through. If you’re gonna fail, fail EXTREME!

    Eh, but really…this is just “music” made by boring, bored, talentless, rich assholes. Maybe MORE bored, boring and talentless than anyone else before them. So in that sense it IS “groundbreaking.”

  4. @Full Metal Attorney – I don’t understand what is so incomprehensible about liking Load but not Reload. I think anyone with ears (who doesn’t dismiss both albums outright) can tell that Reload is a very weak album when compared to Load and is clearly comprised of the castoffs/lesser tracks to come out of those sessions, regardless of how similar they may be sonically. Although to be fair, I no longer own a copy of Reload and haven’t heard any of the tracks aside from “The Memory Remains” and “Fuel” in many, many years. Metallica actually played “The Memory Remains” when I saw them back in 2008.

    @Alex C – I listened to the album all the way through twice… don’t ask me how I did it. That said, I definitely think people should at least give it a shot so they can really grasp how awful it is.

    @UA – I really can’t argue w/ anything you said there… but the strange thing is that Metallica were talented at one time, I don’t think anyone can argue with that. But where did that talent go? Does old age + success = shit?

  5. @Full Metal Attorney

    Load and Reload were the first Metallica albums I got – I got them at the same time, it was back in 1998, I never heard anything (either good or bad) about these 2 particular albums before (it was before the internet era, it wasn’t easy to find any album review back then, plus none of my friends listened to Metallica), so I was not biased at all. And I can honestly say that I liked Load much more than I did Reload – on Load I liked everything except for 2 songs, and on Reload I liked only 5 or 6 songs. So here you go.

    But still, 6 good songs for an album is not bad at all, so I consider Reload decent. I wish I can get 6 good songs from Lulu… I never had a chance to listen to it, so we will see🙂

    @Josh Haun – thanks for the review

  6. On Load/Reload: Interesting. I always found them to be relatively equal in quality. I never did like “Better Than You” (I can’t believe that won a Grammy for vocal performance in a hard rock song), but I never liked “Ain’t My Bitch” or “2×4” either. Let me look at the track lists . . . Load has 4 good ones and 5 pretty good ones, plus 5 throwaways. Reload has 4 good ones and, well, I guess only 2 pretty good ones and 7 throwaways. I guess I never examined them that closely before. The same number of hits, but not as many worthwhile deep cuts. I stand corrected.

  7. @Josh: I don’t think talent stays resident in any one person for long…it’s like a little leprechaun that pops up and then disappears…😉

    I defy old, fat and rich rock star assholes to write vital, hungry, vicious music…or even have the ambition to do so…why would they?

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