Metal Machine Music (1975)
The Ultimate Fuck You
Anyone who maintains they weren’t appalled upon first hearing this 4-sided series of squealing noise concoctions in 1975, would have to have been so knee-deep into the avant garde they’d have no reason for buying a Lou Reed album in the first place. Of course, since then, Metal Machine Music has been championed by the likes of Lester Bangs (who knew a good fuck you when he heard one) and noise merchants from Merzbow to Sonic Youth. Like most, I’ve never bothered to make it through all four sides at once, even on a self-dare. Though, I must admit, I’m finding these sonically recalibrated sheets of distorted, metallic, calliope-like guitar effects quite entertaining as I write this – even if, 15 minutes in, it’s causing a splitting headache. Funny enough, in the rock world, this concept had already been applied by Fripp & Eno for No Pussyfooting, two years earlier. The end result of F&E’s ambient series of tape manipulated guitar effects had the opposite effect of Reed’s teeth-gnasher, but the principle was the same. Whether Reed’s intention was to advance the science of noise, or simply to piss off his record company, you’ll have to ask Lou… when he’s feeling honest about it all. Personally? I’m all for it. Though, I seriously doubt I’ll listen to it ever again. So, then… can art even be art if it can’t be endured? You make the call. Either way, it’s a ballsy, obnoxious, thrilling, stupid, career-defying, funny and arrogant slap in the face to all who would analyze it, defend it, dissect it, believe it, trust it, like it or loathe it. That it’s out on Blue Ray, DVD and QUAD vinyl is, well… to be expected in this age of extremes.
Metal Machine Music, Part I (16:11)
Metal Machine Music, Part II (15:53)
Metal Machine Music, Part III (16:14)
Metal Machine Music, Part IV (15:56)