But man is it inspiring some great writing. Aging, critically adored musical acts trampling all over their legacy are a dime a dozen, but two of them so fervently worshipped as Lou Reed and Metallica teaming up to trample not only all over their own legacies but on each others' is special, and ever since the team up was announced music critics have had their eyes basically rolling around in their heads in anticipation of writing about it. Gossip Wolf's J.R. Nelson has been talking about devoting an entire Reader issue to one epic review of the record, and although I haven't seen an e-mail from our editors turning down his pitch I'm going to assume that it's not happening.
I'm not going out on much of a limb thinking that the remainder of 2011 will bring us a lot of brilliant essays on Lulu, but the early contender for my favorite is by Chuck Klosterman, a writer I don't generally like very much. But his piece nails the whole Loutallica enterprise, and offers a compelling bit of nostalgia for the bygone days of major-label hegemony:
As a rule, we're always supposed to applaud the collapse of the record industry. We are supposed to feel good about the democratization of music and the limitless palette upon which artists can now operate. But that collapse is why Lulu exists. If we still lived in the radio prison of 1992, do you think Metallica would purposefully release an album that no one wants? No way. Cliff Burnstein from Q Prime Management would listen to their various ideas, stroke his white beard, and deliver the following 45-second pep talk: "OK, great. Love these concepts. Your allusion to Basquiat's middle period was very apt, Lars. Incisive! But here's our situation. If you guys spend two months writing superfast Diamond Head songs about nuclear winter and shape-shifting, we can earn $752 million in 18 months, plus merchandizing. That's option A. The alternative is that you can make a ponderous, quasi-ironic art record about 'the lexicon of hate' that will outrage the Village Voice and mildly impress Laurie Anderson. Your call." Ten minutes later, Bob Rock would be parking his Lexus at the studio.