It has now been over a decade since Metallica and the late Lou Reed teamed up for their maligned 2011 collaborative album Lulu.
Upon its release, the record was almost universally panned by critics and Metallica fans. Many felt that Reed’s deadpan spoken-word delivery and Metallica’s heavy riffs simply didn’t play well together. On the other hand, the late David Bowie deemed it Reed’s “greatest work.”
In a passage from Reed’s new posthumous book, The Art of the Straight Line: My Tai Chi, Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich reflected positively on Lulu and blamed its harsh reception on “ignorance.”
“What the fuck is it about Lulu that it got that kind of reaction?” began Ulrich’s remarks (via Loudwire). “I can’t quite figure it out, but years later, it’s aged extremely well. It sounds like a motherfucker still. So I can only put the reaction down to ignorance … It took our fans to a place I wish they would go more often. Maybe it would be a better time to release it now with what’s going on outside in the world, the chaos.”
He continued: “I don’t know, but I am very proud of this record … James [Hetfield] and I would be figuring out ways through a piece of music and then Lou would look over and go, ‘That’s it. I’m not doing another fucking take of that.’ That’s not the way we usually worked, but it was so beautiful and great, the whole thing.”
Lulu certainly wasn’t the first time Reed took an artistic risk. His infamous instrumental album Metal Machine Music was also lambasted when it was released back in 1975. It’s now considered an influential masterwork that paved the way for drone and noise music.
Reed passed away in 2013 at the age of 71, and Lulu stands as his final studio recording. Metallica have released one album since then, 2016’s Hardwired…to Self-Destruct, and are prepping the release of its follow-up, 72 Seasons, arriving next month. A 2023-2024 world tour is set to follow, with tickets available here.
Pick up a copy of Reed’s new posthumous book The Art of the Straight Line: My Tai Chi here, and revisit “The View” from Lulu below.