I keep finding myself going on these artist catalog deep dives and finding things I’ve forgotten about. I love when that happens. Recently in the past few days, I wound up going on a Nirvana deep dive. I’m not quite sure how I wound up here but, while going through all sorts of their songs, albums, demos, etc, I remembered that they did a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Here She Comes Now.” When I listen back to the Nirvana version, it’s kind of interesting that at moments, Kurt really does sound like Lou Reed. The cover is a pretty solid and good version. As a huge fan of both The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed, I can get behind this version. Plus it gives me an excuse to take a break from my Nirvana deep dive and go listen to The Velvet Underground!
Nirvana (The Velvet Underground)- Here She Comes Now:
Nirvana- Here She Comes Now (Live 1991):
The Velvet Underground- Here She Comes Now (from the album White Light/White Heat):
The Velvet Underground is one of my Top 10 all time favorite bands. My mom got me into them when I was still a toddler. There’s something majestic about this band and what they create. Just when you think they are writing a “pop song” they flip the script and out comes something otherworldly. Lou Reed had one hell of a way of telling stories through songs. He was a profound writer and often doesn’t get the credit and respect he deserves. This song “White Light/White Heat” is also the title track of the same name. This song was released in January of 1968. Interestingly the song is about the sensations produced by intravenous injection of methamphetamines. “White Light/White Heat” was also a staple of the Velvet Underground’s live performances from 1967 on. The tune appears on numerous live bootleg albums, and the nearly nine-minute version included on the group’s posthumous 1969 Live double LP is one of the album’s centerpieces. This song holds such a candle with many artists, so much so that David Bowie even recorded a version of it. This track every time I hear it, I have to turn it up super loud and sing along! What a tremendous way to kickstart an album!
David Bowie was a huge fan of The Velvet Underground and Lou Reed. So much so that Bowie often tried to emulate Lou. The Lou Reed album TRANSFORMER, was also “produced” by David Bowie. The classic Velvet Underground song “White Light/White Heat” had been part of Bowie’s live repertoire since 1971. The Velvet Underground originally released the song in 1968 on their second album, White Light/White Heat. Bowie’s version wasn’t released officially until 1983, on the Ziggy Stardust – The Motion Picture soundtrack. Interestingly, Bowie’s version was supposed to be released on Pin Ups. Anyhow, enjoy David Bowie’s take on one of my all time favorite bands songs.
There is an album that came out back in 2011, that the world seemed to really take a rather negative turn on. You’ve all heard about the collaboration of the great Lou Reed and the mighty Metallica and their album Lulu. The majority of people that heard the album immediately called it atrocious and worthless. I’m probably, no, I am in the minority of people out there that actually like the album. Now before I tell you why I dig it, let me give you a little backstory on how all this came to be.
The inception of this collaboration began in 2009 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary Concert. Metallica was chosen to perform with a variety of different artists from the rock world. Lou Reed was one of the rock contemporaries that joined Metallica on stage for a renditions of The Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” and “White Light/White Heat.” After the show Lou suggested to the band that they should work together. It wouldn’t be until 2011 that this finally came to fruition. Metallica was originally brought in to re-record various unreleased songs Lou Reed had written. There were a batch of songs that Lou had from a piece of work called Lulu, based on the plays of German playwright Frank Wedekind. Metallica brought a slew of different arrangements to the table and the rest played out with the band and Lou working together to create the album. Lulu is a piece of art that is very misunderstood. The full story of where the material comes from is quite dark and horrific and comes from a place that most people wouldn’t dare tread. There are two pieces Earth Spirit and Pandora’s Box that sum up all the parts of what Lulu is all about.
The critics of the music world truly denounced the album calling it one of the worst albums of all time. This is where I come to the albums defense. First of all, if you are not a Lou Reed fan, you are one, not going to like this album, two, if you’ve never listened to Lou Reed, you won’t “get” this, and three Lou had picked Metallica to be his backing band on this project due to the intensity of the content that Lou had written based on these plays. As a Lou Reed fan since I was a very young child, when I first heard about this collaboration, I was overjoyed. I was going to get to hear two of my favorites working together. Lou has and always will be one of the best songwriters of all time. His influence since the late 60’s is astounding. Many bands wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground. Lou has always been an unorthodox artist. Anyone that has taken the time to delve into his catalog can attest to that. The choice of Metallica for this project is one that is pretty astounding. Having a band that has gone against the status quo for most of their career link up with a guy like Lou is like kismet. The 5 of these guys created an album that is an art piece through and through. It’s not a Metallica album. This is a Lou Reed album.
If you were Metallica and one of rocks biggest titans asked you to work with them on a project, you’d jump at the chance to do that. You know you would. To the guys in Metallica, this was one of those instances when doing this would be fulfilling artistically. Metallica has never been a band about quantity, thankfully. They spend time crafting their material. Some of their output hasn’t been what the “fans” wanted, i.e. Load, Reload and St. Anger but, they have always stuck to their guns and did what they felt was right.
Don’t be so quick to dismiss this album. It’s very involved and not for everyone that’s for sure. Lou Reed isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but if you give him a chance and take a deep look into the works of Lou, it will all make sense. Lou was an artist first and foremost. His lyrics told stories and hit on subjects many would find taboo. One day I will write up a whole thing about the greatness that was Lou Reed so you all can really delve into his works.
Lulu is like scotch, it’s acquired taste. As I’ve mentioned already, this is not an easy listen and you should not be expecting a Metallica album. If you really want to give this a chance, I highly recommend looking into what the plays are all about then go in knowing this is Lou Reed’s album with Metallica as his backing band.
Lou Reed & Metallica- Lulu:
Lou Reed and Metallica- Live:
Lou Reed and Metallica- Sweet Jane (Live):
Lou Reed and Metallica- White Light/White Heat (Live):