Our Music Year No. 59: Lou Reed, ‘Metal Machine Music’

By From page A5 | February 28, 2013

Artist: Lou Reed
Title: “Metal Machine Music”
Year: 1975
Format: Spotify
Grade: B

Spoiled milk has a better reputation than Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music.” Much to my surprise, I don’t hate it.

A full 64 minutes of wordless walls of feedback layered on top of each other seems a bit excessive and unnecessary. I can see why the first vinyl listeners tried to return their copies, believing them to be defective.

“Metal Machine Music” has an unsettling beauty, the way the shrieks of noise clatter, loop, echo and fade out. There is nothing here to hold onto and it is most certainly the godfather of modern drone and noise albums, but why do some of those get respect while this is treated like a disaster-piece?

It’s because of the who and the when. Reed was coming off of unexpected success for his solo material and the label begged him for new work. To pacify them, he concocted “Metal Machine Music,” which lacks for having anything as basic as song structure.

“Metal Machine Music” is dystopian yet strangely soothing. If a robot had thoughts, they might sound like this.

I’d have to be in a certain mood to play it, but “Metal Machine Music” is much better than its reputation.

Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.

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