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Metal Machine Music Original recording remastered, Import


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Amazon's Lou Reed Store

Music

Image of album by Lou Reed

Photos

Image of Lou Reed

Biography

by Richie Unterberger

The career of Lou Reed defies capsule summarization. Like David Bowie (whom Reed directly inspired in many ways), he has made over his image many times, mutating from theatrical glam rocker to scary-looking junkie to avant-garde noiseman to straight rock & roller to your average guy. A firmer grasp of rock's earthier qualities has ensured a more consistent ... Read more in Amazon's Lou Reed Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (12 May 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered, Import
  • Label: Buddha Records
  • ASIN: B00004VXF2
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,411 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Samples
Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Metal Machine Music, Part I16:02Album Only
Listen  2. Metal Machine Music, Part II15:50Album Only
Listen  3. Metal Machine Music, Part III16:06Album Only
Listen  4. Metal Machine Music, Part IV15:55Album Only

Product Description

BBC Review

Thirty years after its (limited) release, Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music still presents most of his fans with a conundrum. Originally a double album with four unremitting sides of squalling feedback and fizzing electronics, it was regarded at the time as a cheeky contractual-obligation filler dashed off as a f***you to RCA. Only a very few voices at the time disagreed, and they tended to be the Lester Bangs type - wilfully swimming against the critical tide. It wasn't helped by Lou's refusal to be drawn on the subject. It was deleted after two weeks.

Now everyone is more comfortable with the idea of noise - rock's ability to move into abstract expressionism has been validated a zillion times over, not least by Neil Young whose Arc album stitched together an album's worth of feedback. And Lou's opus seems to have now crept comfortably into critical favour. The Wire-reading generation now hail it as a proto-noise masterpiece. If any more proof were needed here comes Zeitkratzer's live rendition of the album using an 11-member orchestra and old Uncle Lou himself on axe.

Of course music this confrontational will never reside in the Kronos Quartet-end of classical reinterpretation, but it still adds a respectability that seems incongruous. Frankly the task of scoring a mess like this for strings and horns (done by saxophonist Ulrich Krieger) beggars belief. Its obsessiveness reminds one of the youthful Stevie Vai who gained entry to Frank Zappa's inner circle by transcribing the master's guitar solos. Even Lou Reed thought it impossible until he heard the results.

And the results ARE intriguing. What, on initial listening is impenetrable does begin to reveal subtle shifts in both texture and attack. Part 2 is quite shocking in its aggression while Lou's contribution to Part 3 adds a throbbing undertow that introduces a rhythmic element echoing the titular theme.

The accompanying DVD is probably the best way to really appreciate the work involved here. Watching the players so intently producing what seems like chaos is slightly less punishing than just subjecting yourself to the buzz saw of 50 minutes of industrial grade atonality.

In the end it's still hard to completely disregard previous accusations of avant-garde dilettantism. In orchestral form the piece lacks a certain post-classical purity that the original at least had in its electric genesis. But this is brave music that shouldn't be dismissed as merely a joke on the chin-stroking elite. --Chris Jones

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C22man on 9 Dec 2012
Format: Audio CD
This is the type of 'music' that robots will listen to once they've taken over the world in a few hundred years. The creation is simple. Reed turned his recorder on full, turned his amp on full and slammed his guitar on the floor and basically left it to reverb for as it took him to make his Sunday roast. He then used the results from that to make an album. My ears still feel the effects, every now and then i feel like i'm picking up a radio message from a jet fighter over Hong Kong.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S. J. Webbon on 20 April 2010
Format: Audio CD
I'll expand on the technical side, since information is scarce (and only available on the disc menu rather than the packaging). I have the Blu-ray version and the 24bit / 96khz resolution has been used for the Stereo and Quadraphonic mixes. You need a modern AVR to play these with the right HDMI connections. A third option is available which offers the surround in Dolby AC3 4.0 but that doesn't specify whether the sound files are 24/96 - I assume (and hope) they are. It's a standard video Blu-ray Disc so you need a screen to navigate the disc - the menu image remains static throughout each track. I'd guess the DVD (which is DVD video and NOT DVD-A) has the same specs (though it may be 48khz) and this is just offering alternative formats. It's region free, so no compatibility problems.

I compared the new version to the original stereo vinyl. Which was interesting. Oh... and both benefit from playing loud. The 1975 vinyl is actually way louder (which makes comparisons difficult when you have to adjust the volume constantly) - it's a fierce beast more visceral, less cerebral, which is my fancy way of saying more balls, less head. That original stereo vinyl mix is less cluttered and has more attack. However, that makes it harder to listen to - it's almost too simple and intense. The surround (and 4 channel 'stereo') is subtler and more akin to a sonic bath than a shower.

The music? For convenience, let's just stick with sonics. In all the reviews I've read no-one has referenced Neil young's 'Arc', yet I'd say that was the album closest in spirit to this (though much later). Guitar players can really fall in love with that random element called feedback! I never subscribed to the notion that this was an attempt to piss off the record company. There are other ways to do that.
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61 of 76 people found the following review helpful By mackay_kenny@hotmail.com on 19 Jan 2001
Format: Audio CD
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.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By rhos on 11 May 2012
Format: Vinyl
Most certainly not the worst record ever, no matter what the other review says (at least the only other one as I write). BUT it is a noise record and if that genre is not for you then caveat emptor if you're tempted to try it. There were noise records before this and there have been far better since this (Merzbow probably being one possible pinnacle) but it was definitely one of the first to be brought into the mainstream by a popular artist. I think Lester bangs described it somewhat tongue-in cheek as the "greatest album ever made in the history of the human eardrum" - wouldn't go that far but if you have an open (musical) mind I'd recommend this album highly.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Numinous Ugo on 20 May 2008
Format: Audio CD
Okay so some reviewers hate this album and others love it, what's going on here. Well let me explain. This is Lou Reed trying to break out of a corner her had found himself in on a rapidly accelerating treadmill of fame and success. He had just released Lou Reed Live, his 5th album in two years, from the perspective of today when two albums in five years would be considered prolific you can see how much pressure he was under. He was just messing around with the idea of recording using only feedback "...just for fun..", it was never intended as an album session. So if people as it sounds completely self indulgent then it probably is, but it was not recorded with the intention of release.

Faced with this wall of noise when listeners might be expecting Perfect day one can understand people who were a bit to thick to take the cues from the cover, or indeed read the reviews, were a bit shocked by what they heard. This is not music in the traditional western sense of the word and many people hated it.

Those who let themselves become immersed in the noise, which is a strangely relaxing and nurturing feeling, then start to hear the subtle internal variations in the sound. This is where the true genius of Metal Machine Music lies. Part I has a lot in common with Robert Fripp and Brian Eno's Index of Metals on the Evening Star album. This is like some of those white noise womb sound tapes that some of my friends used to play to get their infant children off to sleep but for adults. It can actually work for this purpose too!
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