Lou Reed is not someone who suffers fools gladly but, despite this, he is a kind of spokesman for the underdog; a poet laureate for the lost or confused.
In the lyrics to the title track of his solo album Street Hassle (1978) he wrote/sang:
“Some people got no choice
and they can never find a voice
to talk with, that they can ever call their own,
so the first thing they see
that allows them the right to be,
why, they follow it – y’know, it’s called bad luck”.
He’ll be 70 next year and these days he’s mellowed a little but not a lot. He still looks like someone I’d hate to be the wrong side of. On BBC2’s Later his appearance was of one who has lived more than one hard life.
His status as rock legend is secure, not least for writing the definitive songs about hard drugs and sado-masochism when part of Velvet Underground; Heroine and Venus In Furs respectively.
He could be forgiven for resting on his laurels and writing his memoirs or slim volumes of poetry. Instead, he can be found rocking out with Metallica for an album called Lulu, a partnership which came about when they had fun jamming together at the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th anniversary concert in 2009.
The collection of ten songs were ready to record, having been commissioned by director-choreographer Robert Wilson. They are inspired by the femme fatale of German expressionist Frank Wedekind’s plays : Earth Spirit (1895) and Pandora’s Box (1904). Wild side themes of desire, prostitution, death and abuse are right up Lou’s street and sound great with a heavy metal backing.
Darren (Black Swan) Aronofsky is to shoot a video for the song Iced Honey, one of two tracks Reed and Metallica performed on BBC2’s Later; the other being The View. This was the first time songs from the album have been played in public.
They also added a version of VU’s White Light, White Heat recognisable only because the words of the title, otherwise it bore little relation to the original. They rocked so hard, they can be forgiven for taking such liberties with this classic.
Above all, the partnership works really well as it takes Metallica out of Spinal Tap territory and gives a spiky edge to Lou’s words. It’s all about keeping the passion alive which it does, in spades.
Listen to Lulu (Streaming at loureedmetallica.com/)