Lou Reed/Metallica Collaboration Tells Tale of Lulu

Lou Reed says that "Lulu is the best thing that I've ever done."

By , Columnist

Months ago, when Lou Reed and Metallica announced that they would join forces to create an album, fans of both sides collectively moaned. After all, what could be more musically farther apart than the thrash of Metallica and the unique splash of styles that Lou Reed has pursued over the decades?

But it's the fact that Lou Reed has dabbled in various styles that make this marriage an interesting one. It's not Metallica that anyone is actively worried too much about. Metallica will sound like Metallica. But Lou Reed has never delivered his music in thrash metal style and concern is rampant amongst fans that it might be...well, not a good mix.


The new album is called Lulu and centers conceptually around the writings of a German expressionist playwright. Frank Wedekind, who wrote Earth Spirit and Pandora's Box in the late 1800s/early 1900s, crafted stories that paint a depraved picture of a young abused dancer (Lulu) and her relationships.

Not long ago, these stories, and the plays, opera, and a 1929 film (Pandora's Box) inspired by them, came to Lou Reed's creative attention. He had planned to develop a musical project in Berlin surrounding these stories. Soon after, Lou Reed encountered Metallica and a musical collaboration was born. 'Loutallica' now becomes the engine that will tell these stories with a likely possibility of a much wider audience.

Back in the '70s, Lou Reed recorded a series of songs not too far removed from the conceptual idea found on Lulu. Berlin (1973) told the story of a couple with disastrous results. Their stories revolved around drugs, prostitution, and abuse while probing the depression that they underwent. It wasn't pretty. Critics at the time were usually appalled at the depth of degradation Berlin all too willingly uncovered. Lulu will explore depravity in a different setting, perhaps even more disturbing.

A preview of a song from Lulu was released in late September. “The View” delivers music in the familiar Metallica style but begins with Lou Reed singing lyrics that are shocking for their content. There has been mixed fan reaction to the song. From my personal viewpoint, and as one who let out one of those groans at the beginning, I find the song to be good. Interestingly, as a Lou Reed fan, what I hear on “The View” is exactly how I think Lou Reed would be at this stage in his recording career. I'm quite anxious to hear the rest.

Lulu will be released on October 31 in the UK and the rest of the world and November 1 in the US.  The 2-CD Edition will come with a 24-page booklet.

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Matt Rowe began his life with an AM radio, listening to anything that was considered music. Since, he has labored intently to build a collection of music, paring it down, rebuilding, and refining as he sees fit. His decided goal is to keep up with new music by panning for the nuggets among literal mountains…

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