Tuesday, July 7, 2015

40 Year Itch: Rock's Greatest F-U

Still from Criminally Insane ( 1975)


"As a statement it's great, as a giant FUCK YOU it shows integrity—a sick, twisted, dunced-out, malevolent, perverted, psychopathic integrity, but integrity nevertheless." 
                                   ~Lester Bangs

 Released in July of 1975, Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music consists of four sides of ear-splitting guitar feedback. Was it a joke? A fuck you to everyone? The result of some kind of record company dispute? Or Lou Reed's response to getting caught up in the "star maker machinery behind the popular song"?

I think we'll go with the "fuck you". 

Reed himself said: 

It was a giant fuck you. I put out Metal Machine Music out to clear the air and get rid of all the fucking assholes who show up at the gigs and yell for "Vicious" and "Walk on the Wild Side". 

Despite all the intellectual suggestions that the album anticipated industrial music, noise rock,  and the punk attitude ( Creem Magazine readers voted Lou "Punk of theYear" in 1975) MMM is unlistenable. Still, thanks probably to its awesome cover and curiosity, it sold 100,000 copies. Reed was unapologetic.

I don't care of they paid $59.98 or $75 for it, they should be grateful I put the fucking thing out and, if they don't like it, they should go eat rat-shit.

The album nearly ended Lou Reed's career. But a year later, Coney Island Baby was climbing the charts and Metal Machine Music was becoming a collector's item. A quadrophonic copy of the album is currently on EBay priced at $129.98.

In a 1976 interview with Rolling Stone, Reed said

I shouldn't be here, man, not after Metal Machine Music. Nobody is supposed to be able to do a thing like that and survive. 

1 comment:

  1. This is why Lou Reed should be Sainted. The guy unquestionably changed shit for the better. Even punk wasn't as revolutionary and anti-establishment as Metal Machine Music. He did it first. Hell, early Velvets was more punk than the Sex Pistols. Would they have dared to do something like Black Angel's Death Song?

    Metal Machine Music was the biggest 'fuck you' in music history, and it needed no words to get the message across. THAT's how big a deal it was.