There's no two ways about it. Lou Reed did this to annoy people. And if the stories are to be believed he succeeded mightily. He took the concept of LaMonte Young's drone pieces, which in comparison sound like pop music, and took it to an illogical extreme. No instruments. Just a bunch of guitar amps cranked up to eleven so that the feedback created some of the nastiest harmonics known to man. And yet if you sit back and let it wash over you these potentially nasty harmonics become almost musical. Not a million miles away from Velvet Underground classics Sister Ray and European Son, or even Like A Possum from Reed's last album Ecstacy (go back and read the reviews). There's an almost operatic quality to it that is shared by all great improvised music - periods of apparently not much going on suddenly enlivened by moments of pure glory.
Now I accept it's not for everyone. I first heard it in about 1982, and was pretty much convinced it was a joke. In fact I was almost certain that all four sides of the original LP were exactly the same. And it was undoubtedly the worst thing I'd ever heard in my life. The stories of people buying the latest Lou Reed album (remember that it was released in 1975 while Lou was pretty much at his peak) getting home, putting it on the turntable for thirty seconds and then taking it back to the shop were legendary, and didn't seem entirely unreasonable. Who'd want to listen to listen to 64 minutes and 4 seconds of noise? Nineteen years later I certainly do. I accept thats it's not for everyone. But if you have any musically adventurous bones in your body you must hear Metal Machine Music at least once. You might regret it. But you'll never forget it.
Just make sure there are no dogs in the room.