Sunday, November 20, 2011


Didn't they know they'd stain the carpet?
A friend of mine recently came uptown to visit me and my kids and gave me a burned copy of Lulu, the collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica. I'm pretty sure there are hundreds of burned Lulu CDs in fireplaces and incinerators across the country, but this one was actually meant to be listened to. It was also the only way in hell that I was going to devote any measure of time whatsoever to this ill-conceived, God-forsaken hunk of baloney.

This morning I boarded an M5 bus with about four passengers on it (no, this is not a math problem) and headed down RSD to go see the new Herzog documentary. Seeing as I was in a rather morbid mood, I decided to give Lulu a try at full volume. Turns out that the opening track "Brandenburg Gate" is really fucking good. In fact, I think it's a masterpiece. I've only listened to it twice, but you can quote me on this one.

Surely Lee's putting us on here, or setting us up for some kind of cruel joke... Right?

Nope, it really is brilliant. The rest of the record is absolute horseshit, which I'll get into a bit later. But "Brandenburg Gate" is seriously as good a track as this cursed partnership could conceivably produce. Let's pretend (wish?) we've never heard the record before, and list all the possible ways Lulu could have turned out:
1) Straight up Metallica riffs with Lou jive-talking semi-randomly on top. In other words, they each do their normal thing. [this is pretty much what the record is]
2) Atmospheric, highbrow artsy shit with occasional Reed-prose and metal/feedback bursts. Or, Metallica gets outside their box and Lou does his thing. [they do this on the record a bit as well]
3) Metallica Machine Music: Lou talks the Four Horsemen into an instrumental noise record, and immediately disowns and trashes the project upon its release, resulting in lengthy lawsuits by Metallica and Reed moving to Indonesia. [unfortunately not the case]
4) The five dudes just plug in and plow through a Ragged Glory-style sludge-cycle, bringing their individual strengths to the table but smashing their own tried & tired templates in the process. ["Brandenburg Gate"]

I have absolutely no idea what Lulu is supposed to be about (sounds like it has something to do with a girl, who might be a slut or possibly a masochist), so I don't really care about the lyrics a whole lot. I will say that Lou, in classic form, manages to outdo any parody/imitation of himself that anyone might throw at him. Ever think you're hilariously clever by pretending to be Lou Reed singing songs by other artists? Give it up, homeboy. Leatherface himself tops all with his "You are my Goliath... you are my Goliath" mantra on "Mistress Dread."

I'm not going to waste anyone's time ripping apart tracks 2 through 10 on Lulu, because any idiot with two ear canals can do it themselves. I'm just overjoyed that at the very least, if only for 4 minutes and 19 seconds, these numbskulls came up with something really exciting. Hey, maybe Lulu will spawn more absurd "mash-downs" in the near future? How about Randy Newman and King Crimson with their new release, Hollywood Serpent? Have you heard the new Al Jarreau & Yo La Tengo collaboration on Matador Records? I think it's called There Is A Street And Its Name Is Bop.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

N is for Nas

Tough to talk about the N section of my music collection without Nas coming up.  He's easily got the most pieces, although Naughty By Nature's pretty damn close (how the hell did that happen?).  No, I don't own the Nirvana box set.

Illmatic put Nas in the hip-hop pantheon for life, and rightfully so.  There were plenty of great rap records in the 90s that were more daring, more groundbreaking, or just more plain old fun, but Illmatic's the critical purist's dream.  Smart, street, lean, and great fucking beats.

Max Schreck puttin' heads to bed.
No surprise that "Dr. Knockboots" never made another perfect record again.  One could make a great mix of highlights from the rest of his career (and more than one of these exist), but that's about it. Maybe he'll be the Dallas Braden of rap... well, probably not.

Much more interesting to imagine the future Nas nicknames.  Ever since Nastradamus dropped (I think I dropped mine in the garbage once), me and my boy Grit (keep ya head up, kid!) have been passing moniker-morphs back'n forth:

Nasferatu - Vampires are still trending, right?  This could be dope!  My long fingernails scratching in the night... I ain't a snitch but yo my bitches I might bite...  Some creepy Gravediggaz-style beats and this thing's on, although we just missed Halloween.

NasDAQ  "Toolz Of Tha Trade" - Might be a little tricky, but maybe some sort of anti-OccupyWallStreet angle?

Da Planet UraNas - A trip through the solar system, perhaps a different producer for each planet?

Goin' BanaNas - Full-on rap comedy album; could probably resurrect a few careers with this one, but likely to end his own.

Entre Nas - All French production team, maybe a lounge-electronica kind of vibe?  Guest spot by Wyclef?  Anybody still reading?

I always considered myself a fan of Napalm Death, but I can't find a single one of their recordings in my home.  I think this officially makes me a poser.

I could write for hours about N*E*R*D, but I have nowhere near the amount of drugs this would require.  Same goes for Neu!, Neurosis, and New Order.

Oh yeah, Nirvana.  Am I the only one that listens to Nevermind and wishes it sounded like In Utero, and then listens to In Utero and wishes the songs were as good as Nevermind?

The Nuggets box rules.  Those who say, "Yeah, but I'm just not into that kind of stuff..." should stand facing a mirror with their entire record collection behind them and say, "I guess I'm just not into rock and roll."