Directed by Toben Seymour. Single out now on Chrysalis.
Woo hoo new Liz Phair! Other than a couple of silly little twitter voice tweets last summer, this is her first new song since 2019’s “Good Side” single.
And it’s been over a decade since she released Funstyle, her last full-length album. I remember I was at an Independence Day party on a rooftop in the West Loop of Chicago, and during a quiet moment alone I happened to check my twitter (I know, I know) to see that Maura Johnston had retweeted something from somebody saying that Liz Phair had surprise-released a new album. I downloaded it the next day and quickly realized that she must be smoking assloads of weed again. Aloha, Ms. Phair!
That was a long time ago, a lifetime really. Lou Reed was still alive back then and as prickly as ever.
No one knows what to think
When you’re acting like an asshole
Her new song is sung from the point of view of Reed’s wife, the great artist Laurie Anderson. According to Phair, the song “imagines a day in the life of two music legends, whose union was an inspiration for rock fans.”
She adds, “I was a huge Lou Reed/VU fan, huge Laurie Anderson fan. Both had a big early influence on me musically. When I discovered later that they fell in love & married I was captivated by two icons, two strong personalities, balanced. But was curious, too. Just loved thinking about it.”
Think it’s disrespectful to treat a revered dead hero so cavalierly? Tough shit. Lou Reed was an asshole; that’s irrefutable. “Hey Lou” is irreverent and ridiculous but it sounds great. Liz Phair is playing her own guitar again, and nobody plays like that.
In a stunning announcement today, rock legend Lou Reed is confirming reports that he will be collaborating with controversial rap artists Insane Clown Posse on what is being identified as a sequel to the divisive Reed/Metallica album Lulu.
While an announcement concerning this year’s Gathering Of The Juggalos is still weeks away, there are hints that the collaboration between the aging icon and the clown-painted rap duo will culminate in a performance of the entire album during I.C.P.’s annual festival scheduled for August 8 – 13 at Cave-in-Rock, Illinois.
Rumors began two weeks ago with a cryptic post from I.C.P.’s Violent J, who tweeted of a new record in the works that would “blow the fuckin’ minds of anyone whose (sic) down with the clown and with 70’s fag rock.”
Within days, Insane Clown Posse message boards lit up with news of J’s tweet, including several posts from fans-known in the community as ‘Juggalos’–who seemed critical of the new direction. Many of the posts appeared to be very homophobic in nature.
Fearing that such hateful comments would draw additional negative attention, Shaggy 2 Dope released a statement on the Insane Clown Posse website to diffuse the homophobic rants and to identify the mysterious collaborator they’d been working with.
“I’m motherfucking excited as fuck to announce that we just fucking finished recording an album with Lou motherfucking Reed!” he wrote in an expletive filled announcement. “A lot of family members have been postin’ shit about gays ‘n shit, and that shit ain’t cool.” he continued.
“Besides, Lou Reed ain’t gay,” Shaggy added, “He’s just married to some chick that looks like a dude.”
While I.C.P. fans–or “family” as they are referred to–struggled to make sense the announcement and to try to figure out if they even knew of any songs by the long-standing underground icon.
Meanwhile, music bloggers from around the planet sent a tidal wave of emails to management companies around the music industry to try to confirm the collaboration rumors.
In today’s rare, Sunday announcement, Reed’s management company posted a message on the artist’s website, confirming the collaboration and issuing a statement from Lou himself.
“I’m excited about this new project, even more than I was with Metallica.” Reed confides in the statement. “Shaggy Dogg and Silent J are the true underground of today’s commercialized music industry that boasts profits over performance. I’m excited to be able to shake up the music scene once again by working with two artists that possess a rare gift: to create music without any concern for listenability.”
The former Velvet Underground frontman also expressed excitement at I.C.P.’s lack of musicianship. “With Metallica, I did need to accommodate their musical talents, and that made for a record where you could still identify it as Metallica.” He explained. “With Insane Clown Posse, they don’t play any instruments…They really don’t have a clue. The end result is that you get something that sounds less like Lou Reed or Insane Clown Posse and more like aural train wreck.”
With Reed’s confirming statement, he described his collaboration with I.C.P. as “fun” and “dangerous,” repeating a similar comment he made when addressing critics of his work with Metallica.
“As I stated with Lulu, I’m essentially in this for the fun of it. I thought that all of my fans had fled after Metal Machine Music, but after I learned that 13,000 people bought Lulu during the first week it was released, I knew that I had some more fans to scare off.”
Reed mined German playwright Frank Wedekind again for inspiration, just as he did for Lulu. For that record, he used Wedekind’s Erdgeist and Die Buchse der Pandora as his muse. For the I.C.P. collaboration, he focused on Wedekind’s Franziska as source material.
“Originally, I had an inclination to use Wedekind’s one-act play Der Kammersanger, but when I met with Shaggy and J. during our initial meetings, they kept confusing it with Falco’s Der Kommissar, so I got frustrated and left.”
The collaboration nearly ended, until Reed found a possible connection between Wedekind’s Franziska and I.C.P.’s concept of The Dark Carnival series.
“I felt bad at giving up so quickly, so I bought the entire Insane Clown Posse discography and became enamored with their Riddle Box album.” Reed explained.
“It was there that I suddenly noticed a connection between their Dark Carnival mythology and the Faustian themes of Franziska. It was a perfect fit.”
Violent J agreed with the assessment, adding “Whoop! Whoop!” as the duo scheduled another meeting with the underground music legend to consider another attempt at collaborating.
“We never really dug Lou Reed that much, a lot of his shit is just unlistenable!” admitted Shaggy 2 Dope “But then someone told us about his S&M band the Lovin’ Spoonful from the 50’s and said how they all acted weird ‘n shit and that Lou was kinda like Mick Foley’s wrestling character, Mankind.”
“We ended up buying that banana record. Fuck!” Shaggy continued. “It’s still unlistenable, but it’s awesome having this crazy-assed old dude workin’ with us.”
Violent J concurred: “He was the first motherfucker to have a motherfucking piece of fruit on his album cover. That’s fucked up!”
“In a way, he’s like the third member of the posse,” offers Shaggy, who went on to suggest that Reed’s whiteface appearance on Transformer and Rock and Roll Animal is “almost like the prequel to our Devil’s Card concept albums.”
Reed confirmed that the duo has asked him to don the whiteface again for the Gathering of the Juggalos performance later this summer, but he’s considering another option based on what he’s heard about I.C.P.’s rowdy fans.
“I’ll probably need Kevlar and a football helmet to stay protected from all the shit they throw on stage,” he joked, “but I can handle Faygo cans, feces, and even an occasional D battery.”
It wouldn’t be the first time he’s been subjected to such audience danger, he admitted. “I once had a guy cut off both of his ears and mail them to my ex-manager Sylvia when Mistrial was released. In the package was a note telling me that he was going to hunt me down for making an album so awful that he had to end his ability to hear.”
While Reed’s on-stage collaboration with Insane Clown Posse is scheduled for August 13, there is no release date as of yet for the studio record. Fans and the curious can follow a website developed solely for the project. In the upcoming weeks, the site will offer free streaming audio and behind the scenes footage of this unusual collaboration.
For more information on the Insane Clown Posse/Lou Reed collaboration, please check in for regular updates at the exclusive website here.
Back in the halcyon, pre-PETA days, it was a sign—real or imagined–of being a part of the 1% for women to wrap themselves in fur. Think of it in the context of Mad Men. One fur company, Blackgama, ran a series of ads featuring actresses ensconced in mink, with the headline: “What Becomes a Legend Most?”
While that is largely a thing of the past*, that headline still has relevance and resonance.
“What Becomes a Legend Most?”
Lou Reed is a legend.
Arguably, of his post-Velvets work, Berlin stands as a masterpiece. He could have musically retired on that work alone. Of course, like regular people, Reed undoubtedly needs to make some money for the necessities of a non-rock-and-roll lifestyle, too, like food and dental checkups and whatnot. So he has continued to work.
His most recent album, his collaboration with Metallica, is Lulu. He’s dark and gritty. They’re dark and gritty. He has a small but solid following. They have a larger and solid following. So the math seems to work.
But apparently, a record predicated on the work of Frank Wedekind, a late-19th, early 20th-century German playwright, just didn’t work out as well in the market as planned.
Maybe Lou was thinking back to his performance of “September Song” from Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill, and figured that working with long-dead Germans is a way to go (although even Sting realized that after that compilation he’d be better off doing madrigals and lute music).
Anyway, he would have probably been better off working with Lulu on an updated version of “To Sir With Love” than creating Lulu.
So “What Becomes a Legend Most?”
Klipsch is coming out with a limited-edition “Klipsch Signature Audio Edition Lou Reed X10i” headphones. These $399.99 headphones are not only for listening to music, but also for talking on an iPhone. Maybe you don’t want to listen to what you’re listening to, so the phone call would be more gratifying.
Said Reed of the purple finished headset with copper accents, “I have been a fan of Klipsch products for eons.” Perhaps not a good word choice, as that would mean pre-Wedekind. “I’ve always admired the unhyped bass, along with the clarity, depth of detail and extraordinary comfort of the company’s headphones. With Klipsch’s help, my dream headphone will soon be available to all my fans—a serious model for the serious listener.”
Take that, Dr. Dre. This is serious.
The Lou Reed headphones will become available on klipsch.com December 10. The first 50 people to buy them on the site will get. . . an autographed copy of Lulu.
Maybe you’d rather take a call.
*Blackgama brought back the campaign with Janet Jackson in 2010, and on November 21, 2011, announced that it was launching the Janet Jackson Blackgama collection of coats, vests, jackets, gloves, scarves, but no dysfunctional undergarments. Blackgama, incidentally, points out that its minks are farm-raised.
The pairing is so unusual that one is inclined to immediately react with “Wha?” followed by a gut-checked “It’s gonna suck.”
And after listening to Lulu, I would encourage everyone to listen to their impulse reaction.
I’m curious to hear the responses of people who are admitted fans of this record, true loyalists who find some redeeming value to this project, beyond the canned responses that I’ve been hearing all along. Sure, the making of Lulu may have indeed been a liberating experience for the members of Metallica, but how liberating is it for fans of either artist who already view each new release with a distrusting eye?
Because ultimately, Lulu will have to be defended by them and they should be prepared for a long, arduous journey.
The entire idea of matching Lou Reed with Metallica doesn’t make sense. The band is not known for rubbing shoulders with the avant-garde while Reed isn’t exactly known for running around in thrash circles.
To be polite, the two sound as uncomfortable together on tape as they do in your mind.
At one point during “Pumping Blood,” the band repeats a monotonous guitar figure while Reed barks out the song title, occasionally breaking out into what appear to be verses. One example during the song finds Lou spitting “Waggle my ass like a dog prostitute coagulating heart…Pumping blood…C’mon James!”
He’s encouraging Hetfield because the song–as does most of the album–plods along like a lazy rehearsal. No interesting riffs arrive and Lars Ulrich tentatively drums the whole mess into nothing. There’s huge holes in some of his parts suggesting that he could have been replaced by Mo Tucker and Lulu would have least sounded rhythmically appealing.
There are no solos for Kirk Hammett in Lulu and I could hear no evidence that he wanted to get his feet wet with any real weirdness to break up the endless parade of jug-jug-jugs and big chord bridges. At some points, and I don’t know if it’s James or Kirk playing, you can hear someone pick up an acoustic guitar and start playing like they have no idea what they’re supposed to be doing.
And if you turn the volume up as loud as you can on Lulu, you may be able to hear the voice of bassist Robert Trujillo muttering under his breath “What the fuck am I doing here? I wonder if I can get my gig with Suicidal Tendencies back?”
There’s something going on with Reed’s mouth too, and you can hear it throughout the record. I mean, if you’re intending for Lulu to be powerful, provocative, right?! He sounds like an old man with a lazy drawl. Hard consonants are a challenge for Lou and when he musters enough strength to scream, it sounds as though he’s merely shaking free a bunch of mucus in the back of his throat. “I want so much to hurtcha!” he threatens on “Frustration” with about as much menace as a grandpa trying to figure out how to work the remote.
There are moments where you can audibly hear Lou breathing through his nose, further suggesting the grandpa factor.
But the ground zero of shittyness is the lyrics that Reed attempts to spew out. He’s prominent in the mix, giving listeners a good glimpse of his parade of crap. There are moments when you’re jaw will drop in shock (“You’re more man than I/To be dead to have no feeling/To be dry and spermless/Like a girl/Like a girl!”). There are moments when your mouth will just be agape while your head shakes in disbelief (“The taste of your vulva…and everything on it!”). And there are moments where you’ll just blurt out in laughter (“The female dog don’t care what you got/As long as you can raise that little doggie face/To a cold-hearted pussy”).
It sounds like an improvisational affair, a project initiated on a whim while becoming a permanent artifact will be remembered as nothing more than a “What the fuck?!” moment. Generations will ponder it, and you may even find a few weirdoes in the corner that will defend this moment.
Lulu is something that may have indeed been something therapeutic for those involved, and it may even hold a special place in their heart. But that doesn’t mean it should have been offered a legitimate release date. It’s something that should have left to the vaults, a curio whose legend grows from its own silence.
Unfortunately, it’s here. It’s real. And it’s awful.
As influential as the Velvet Underground is, there is surprisingly little written material devoted to the N.Y.C. groundbreakers. For years, Victor Bockris and Gerard Malanga’s Uptight: The Velvet Underground Story was the best reference point available—a collection of interviews and retelling of the band’s history.
It remains as the go-to book for anyone wanting to learn more about the band and it presents the band in a warts-and-all fashion, particularly Lou Reed who is not spared from the harsh realities of truth, or at least his peer’s interpretation of it.
The Velvet Underground: New York Art takes a different approach in delivering the band’s story, as it focuses on telling it through visual methods instead of the traditional black and white prose.
This was my first trip back to Chicago since moving to Portland, Oregon in December 2008. As much as I love Portland, there is a large piece of my heart in that city by the lake. It’s where I was born, it’s where I formed my favorite band, and it’s where my son was born. It’s still my city.
So it was with great excitement and anticipation that I returned to see friends, drink a lot of beer and catch some live rock and fucking roll. I’d been planning and thinking of this trip since before we even moved so you’d think I’d have had all the details ironed out like the Arctic Monkeys‘ fitted shirts. You don’t know me well and the Monkeys no longer wear Fred Perry, but more on that later…
Lou Reed once again proves that he’s a bitchy old queen. (As if we needed any more evidence.) When an audience member at the Tribeca Film Festival asked Reed what he thought of Lester Bangs‘ claim that Berlin was “the most depressed album ever made,” the humorless has-been rudely dismissed the question (“What does that have to do with anything?”) and feigned ignorance (“Who is Lester Bangs?”). Bangs biographerJim DeRogatiscalls him out:
Hey, Lou: You know who Lester Bangs was. The last time I interviewed you, when you were hyping your rewriting of Poe for “The Raven,” you asked me to mail you a copy of his biography, and you spoke quite warmly of him. The Catskill comedian shtick really gets old sometimes.
You know, Lester Bangs hasn’t produced anything good for over 25 years, but, unlike Lou Reed, at least Bangs has a decent excuse: he’s dead. Fuck Lou Reed.
It’s been several months since we’ve done a Forkast update. There are two main reasons for this. The first is, you know, who cares anyway? You have plenty of stuff to listen to without this. The second reason is that the Fork has been posting a lot fewer actual mp3s lately. They’re posting lots of videos and iMeem streams, but the mp3s have been few and far between. Here are the good ones.
Remarkably, this single “generated enough interest to put together a band for a few live gigs. And amazingly enough, that touring version of The Primitives featured John Cale…”
The A-side featured an alternative guitar tuning with all the strings tuned to a D. This tuning became known, not coincidentally, as Ostrich tuning, and was later employed by Reed on several Velvet Underground songs.