RIP: Lou Reed - Warhol, Bangs, and Metal Machine Music

RIP: Lou Reed - Warhol, Bangs, and Metal Machine Music

Your writer of this article was not a fan of Lou Reed's music.  Terrible voice.  Not too melodic.  And what the hell was Metal Machine Music?  Admittedly, most of my interaction with Lou Reed came from two places, my brother, who liked Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, and the writings of former (meaning dead) Rock writer Lester Bangs, who wrote voluminously about his often cantankorous meetings with Lou Reed.  Lou Reed is now dead too.  In his wake, half a century of most bad Rock N Roll music.

RIP: Lou Reed - Warhol, Bangs, and Metal Machine Music

When Glam was Glam, that was Lou Reed.  When Andy Warhol was just getting recognition, there was Lou Reed and his band, The Velvet Underground, putting one of Warhol's prints on their album cover.  When Rock was about drugs and sex and drinking and androgyny, Lou Reed was there in the front.  When Rock was about growth and experimentation, there was the aforementioned Metal Machine Music.

No matter what you read - if you care to read anything at all - in the coming days about Lou Reed, probably the best you'll find is already 40 years old.  Back in 1976, Lester Bangs was writing for Creem Magazine.  Before the web and the ease of desktop publishing, there were very few outlets for national Rock Music reporting.  Creem, at the time, was one of the most respected (along with, for example, Rolling Stone Magazine).  Rather than have me, an admitted non-fan of Lou Reed's music, go on and on about a guy I didn't like and knew only enough about as to write this far, I'll leave the rest up to Mr. Bangs.  

Before that, here's the biggest Lou Reed hit since 1983.  It came out in 1983 and was helped by a decent amount of play on MTV.  The song: "I Love You Suzanne."  Here.  Watch it.

One more thing before Lester takes over.  Here's Metal Machine Music in its entirety.  The damn thing is over an hour and a half long.  I dare you to try to last five minutes.

Okay.  Now, you need to read about Metal Machine Music.  Click HERE and read Lester Bang's criticism.  The best line of the review is the last line: "It is the greatest record in the history of the human eardrum.  Number Two: Kiss Alive!"

If your eardrums survive Metal Machine Music, then you should continue and listen to all of Lou Reed's solo and Velvets catalog.  But if you're like me, just read what Bangs wrote, take a few seconds to listen to Metal Machine (really, you need no more than 3-4 seconds to get it), and be glad you didn't waste any more of your time on the music of Lou Reed.

One more bit of Lester Bangs on Lou Reed is HERE.  Enjoy!

Dave Philp is Assistant Professor of Music Management at William Paterson University and Chief Organizer Guy of YouChoose, a live events music fundraising and social media company that has raised many, many thousands of dollars for non-profit causes. Join the good fight and help change your corner of the world by visiting YouChoose now: To sign up for our email newsletter, click HERE. Mmkay?


Like John Lennon and Bob Dylan, Lou Reed made some of the most inscrutably awful records ever made. Like John Lennon and Bob Dylan, Lou Reed advanced rock & roll into a true art form. Space precludes me from praising every perfect song Lou wrote, but suffice to say that the guy who created "Perfect Day," "All Tomorrow's Parties," "New Age," "Kill Your Sons," "Jesus," "Pale Blue Eyes," "Coney Island Baby," "The Bells" belongs on Mount Rushmore. I mean, the same guy came up with "Sister Ray" and "Sunday Morning?"
Influential? Hard to say how influential he was, because he was so unique. Certainly "The Wall" would have been completely impossible without the flawless "Berlin" album (dig "Sad Song.") But who else has had their songs covered by both REM and Susan Boyle?
Popular? Hardly; Lou only troubled the Top Twenty once. The mass audience is better served with utter mediocrity. (Yes, I mean you, Adam Levine.) True talent can be threatening.
Funny? Have you ever heard the "Live---Take No Prisoners" album?
Genius? Fifty years from now, Lou will be mentioned in the same breath with Mr. L and Zim. And nobody will remember Aerosmith or Counting Crows or Jay-Z. I won't be around then. I'll be somewhere in the New Jerusalem, listening to the "Rock n Roll Album" and playing serious air guitar.
God Bless Lou Reed! Rest in Peace, if such a thing as possible.
Disclaimer: I own "Metal Machine Music" on vinyl, cassette, 8-track, and CD.
I am Wayne Olsen, and I approve this message.

Not very melodic. Not much of a voice. Well, iron my trousers!

Listening to this out of context, it's still pretty great.
Listening to this as the finale to "Berlin", it's magnificent.
Listening to it now.... Devastating