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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ambient for Rock Fans
You'll read many reviews here dismissing MMM as an elaborate joke Lou pulled on pretentious posers salivating over the implicate 'art' value of the atonal noise that encompasses the recording's 60+ minutes. Hell, if it's 'difficult', it's gotta be 'art', right? Haw haw haw... what a character, that Lou. Kudos for ripping off a bunch of morons by releasing the first coffee...
Published on Sept. 9 2003 by owlberg

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Everybody who has had their say here is right well sorta
This album is going to attract many people as it will repel. You're not going to find anything that will have people praising highly or those spitting venomous bile.
Whether or not you can call this art, I don't know but at least and those who call it a joke are not too far off the mark. It's Lou Reed's idea of fun. And fun it may be for him but it takes a masochist...
Published on May 15 2004 by filterite


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ambient for Rock Fans, Sept. 9 2003
By 
owlberg (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Metal Machine Music (Audio CD)
You'll read many reviews here dismissing MMM as an elaborate joke Lou pulled on pretentious posers salivating over the implicate 'art' value of the atonal noise that encompasses the recording's 60+ minutes. Hell, if it's 'difficult', it's gotta be 'art', right? Haw haw haw... what a character, that Lou. Kudos for ripping off a bunch of morons by releasing the first coffee table record: an unlistenable conversation piece for decadent trendies. Right? RIGHT?
Um... WRONG.
If it were only that simple, to live in such a simpleton world. But anyone with a clue can easily figure out why MMM matters. If your aesthetic already included things such as Hendrix, the Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Black Sabbath, King Crimson, and so on, this made perfect sense in context, as ambient music for people with noise-attuned ears (much like Eno's ambient does the same for those with pop-attuned ears). Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't. Sometimes you want to hear something inspired by a malfunctioning record player set at a near-inaudible level in a hospital room (Eno) and sometimes you need a sound inspired by something a bit more substantial (Reed).
Of course, to those who don't share the above aesthetic, MMM simply means that you paid X amount of dollars to own and listen to what sounds like a bunch of guitars and amps being thrown down a very long flight of stairs, or (as someone said back when this was first issued), 'the soundtrack of someone being administered electro-shock therapy for an hour'. Perhaps... but those reviewers mincing and squealing about how this is such a 'rip-off' probably don't see much in Pollock but a bunch of splattered paint, or get a headache from trying to read "Finnegan's Wake". Try to be charitable to them, even if they ARE clue-impaired to the point that they are obviously resentful of what they just can't understand.
Truth is, we still ended up with Throbbing Gristle (who toned down the foreground treble and added somewhat of a beat and 'lyrical content' to the concept), Einsturzende Neubauten and Test Department (who added everyday appliances to the mix, amped up the rhythmic aspects considerably, and re-incorporated a semblance of song structure) and Boyd Rice/Frank Tovey's EASY LISTENING FOR THE HARD OF HEARING (which dispenses with anything involving traditional instruments, and employs record player cartridges, tape snippets, and found sounds to create what are truly metal machine instrumental pop songs), just to name a few that emerged thereafter MMM hit the fans.
Would these things have happened without MMM being released? Is MMM truly valid as a retail item from an established singer/songwriter recording for the fine RCA label, or could any speed freak with enough time and equipment put this together? Does the fact that Lou already did it make that last point somewhat irrelevant? Is MMM the 'root' of 'industrial' music? Does Lou owe props to Ussachevsky and Luening, who were making similar noises in the early 50's? If so, is MMM Lou's 'musique concrete' album?
Whatever. Opinions are like the nether aperture: everyone's got one, and they all stink if you get right down to it. So I'll take MMM as Lou's attempt at noise-friendly ambient music, ideal shifting audio wallpaper that hangs around while I do everyday chores around the house. It's useful, it's utilitarian. It serves a purpose. And I, for one, am glad that it happened.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Everybody who has had their say here is right well sorta, May 15 2004
This review is from: Metal Machine Music (Audio CD)
This album is going to attract many people as it will repel. You're not going to find anything that will have people praising highly or those spitting venomous bile.
Whether or not you can call this art, I don't know but at least and those who call it a joke are not too far off the mark. It's Lou Reed's idea of fun. And fun it may be for him but it takes a masochist to enjoy this. Listen to whatever side you want or even the full album if needs must.
But surprisingly this album actually has proved an inspiration for a generation of artists. You listen to Throbbing Gristle, SPK, Einsturzende Neubauten in their early years and you'll find pieces of MMM in their music ( or noise if you prefer to call it that way ). If you listen to Sonic Youth's Bad Moon Rising there's a part in the album where they play a 5 second snippet forwards and backwards. And of course there is the prima Japanese artists such as Merzbow who is much more harsher than this. If you Metal Machine Music is noise, just listen to Merzbow - THAT'S NOISE. I can only stomach one CD of Merzbow and that's similar in style to this one
Oh and by the way - if you've listened to the samples on Amazon it's pretty much like that all the way. Like it and want the album? Go ahead and buy it if you want. Feel the urge to kill Lou after hearing those samples? Try Coney Island Girl, that'll be more normal I reckon
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Record Of All Time!, April 28 2004
By 
Brendan Diamond "raven2017" (Niles, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Metal Machine Music (Audio CD)
I don't know if the entire music-listening world is completely uneducated, utterly oblivious, or simply that much dumber than me, but how can anyone give this record less than a perfect score? For those fans of Brian Wilson and the lost (and now found) Beach Boys' masterpiece "SMiLE," you should be salivating over "MMM Part 2," which has harmonies obviously rivaling the Brian/Carl ones, as well as a bass line that could kick Mike Love's behind any day.
For fans of jam-based rock outfits like the Grateful Dead, Phish, or the String Cheese Incident, check out "MMM Part 4." For all the noodling Trey Anastasio does, he never quite gets to the point like Uncle Lou does, and the crescendo is phenomenal. Besides that, "MMMP4" makes Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber from the Dave Matthews Band sound like a Barbara Streisand/Kathy Lee Gifford duet.
Anyone who digs punk rock a la the Ramones or the Sex Pistols (or possibly even the Damned) should check out "MMM Part 3." It's got that catchy riff, one that Iggy Pop would've died for back in the early '70s, and even throws a bit of Bowie-esque glam in for good measure.
Finally, "MMM Part 1," perhaps the most ambitious piece on the whole record, is also quite easily the best. Uncle Lou draws on some of the great soul singers of the '60s and '70s--Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin--but creates a sound all his own. Pete Townshend would've given his little whirlybird thing that he does up just to be able to put this much soul into ANY of his songs (remember, Pete's the one who coined the phrase "Maximum R&B."
What's the matter? Can't hear the stuff I'm talking about? Oh, I understand. See, you need to turn the volume up. Louder. Louder! Now sit back and enjoy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Get a clue, people, Dec 1 2003
By 
Travis Miller (Shepherdstown, WV United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Metal Machine Music (Audio CD)
I find it incredible that, in the year 2003, people still don't understand that some art cannot be appreciated passively. If there is one overarching trend in the history of 20th century art, it is a movement from an art of passive, one-way communication, toward an art that requires the audience to take part in the synthesis of meaning, and asks us to learn about ourselves.
Some art hands its meaning to you on a silver platter, predigested. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; I've got books and CDs full of this kind of art.
But there are certain artworks which will give you nothing if you don't actively engage them. These artworks throw the question of meaning back into the audience's lap. If you find no meaning in them, it doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on the artwork - it might reflect poorly on your own lack of imagination and intellect. Or maybe you're just not trying.
Sorry to sound like a snob here, but come on, people. This album's detractors admit that they don't understand what it's all about; why, then, do they feel qualified to pass judgement on it? Do they also feel qualified to be wine critics and financial advisors?
Believe it or not, just because you don't understand or appreciate something, doesn't mean that people who *do* are being pretentious. In fact, slinging around accusations like that just makes you sound like the sort of redneck who thinks it's "fancified" to drink imported beer instead of Coors Light. If you don't get it, fine, but don't be a jerk about it.
Better yet, find a good history of modern art. Study it well. Understand that art since 1900 has evolved myriad new modes of creation, perception, and cognition, and that you may not have learned about all of these through pop culture. If you still don't like it, more power to you, but at least then you'll know what you're talking about.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Clearing the air, Sept. 12 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Metal Machine Music (Audio CD)
I've listened to parts of this record a number of times and have always felt something different each time. However I believe like most "art", it was meant to affect different people in different ways. And it might never affect you the same way twice. Think Nine Inch Nails meets John Cage meets MC5 meets LaMont Young. And I don't mean just bits of those artists separately and the influences thereof, but rather all of them playing simultaneously at extreme ear shattering volume. The affect of listening to this on headphones is enough to inflict psychotic reaction. It is NOT music to do housework to. Unless that housework involves demolition.
Having said that, I also believe that MMM was recorded for 1 specific reason. Lou was trying to "clear the air" of all the quote, unquote "sally can't dance, your rock 'n'roll animal". Which I think means all the fans of those records and others like them. He was casting those fans aside much the same way that Little Richard threw his jewels in the river or Brian Wilson stopped recording and writing music at the height of his popularity. All probably felt a certain amount of pressure, both from record companies as well as the fans to keep churning out the same product over and over with new and different wrapping.
Many times that gets to be the disillusionment of pop, rock music stars. The need to sell "product" as opposed to creating music that means something and has relevance to the writer and their fans. The pop-rock music world rises, falls and changes much too quickly for most stars to retain their shine and fans become impatient for their favorite star to produce the next music masterpiece that resembles and continues the original greatness that they achieved early in their career.
Most groups or even solo artists don't make it past 2 or 3 records because the fanbase moves on to newer, shinier versions. So what Lou did was to circumvent the eventual fanbase collapse and took an axe to his own career by releasing quite possibly the most unlistenable record ever produced. And just to make sure the destruction was complete he recorded 4 sides of it and put a cover on that made it seem like this might be a live recording to entice those leftover Rock'n'roll Animal fans. Lou knew that the shine on his star was quickly becoming faded and felt he still had much more creativity to sell, so he destroyed himself publicly, and then quickly re-invented himself with a new record label and new, self-controlled image. At the same time he was recording and releasing MMM he was planning a major career move to take control of the production and release of his music, instead of leaving it to the whims of the record company and the producers that were assigned to him, as happened early in his career.
I, for one, preferred Lou Reed music with a capable producer such as Bob Ezrin or David Bowie that knew what Lou Reed music should sound like, better than Lou knew himself. But alas, Lou thought he knew better so we have a dozen or so records of Lou's music post-MMM that sounds and feels like someone that can write great songs but doesn't necessarily comprehend how they should sound.
Be that as it may, I would recommend this record only to those brave souls who enjoy the sound of the death and subsequent re-birth of a rock star. It is most assuredly not a pretty sound, and more than likely harkens to Lou Reed's personal recollections of horrors of eletro-shock thereapy which he, himself endured as a young man at the insistence of his parents, mixed in with drug abuse, alcoholism and all the "friends" and nightmares he formed throughout his life at that time.
Clearing the air sometimes requires total annihilation and Lou Reed certainly achieved that with this record. You have now been forewarned. Proceed at your own risk, because there's a wasteland here with no happy ending.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Of course it's not a joke., Aug. 7 2003
This review is from: Metal Machine Music (Audio CD)
Lou Reed will never get the credit he deserves as a visionary simply because he couldn't keep away from straight rock n' roll. All his credentials, his degrees and his encyclopedic knowledge of the avant-garde just don't stand up to "Vicious." And so you can't blame anyone for not taking his artistic prentensions seriously. Lou Reed has said often that his biggest influences at the time were John Cale and La Monte Young's early work in the Theatre of Eternal Music, and he wanted to create music like their "drone" experiments. What he comes up with is sixty-four minutes of feedback, at any time containing a thousand or more individual melodies. Whether or not you think the album is a joke, and whether or not you believe his claims that he programmed passages from Bach and Beethoven into the noise, you have to at least acknowledge his vision in creating MMM. It's a legitimate attempt by a serious artist to delve into the avant-garde, and tragically ignored or reviled by most of his fans.
Plus, Lester Bangs said it was the greatest album in the history of the human eardrum. Are you gonna argue with Lester Bangs?
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2.0 out of 5 stars This wasn't a joke..., July 14 2003
By 
Richard Garcia (Ventura, California US) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Metal Machine Music (Audio CD)
People often say that this album was Reed's middle finger to his record lable and the public who worshipped him as the "Rock N Roll Animal", but that wasn't the case. I had a chance to meet Lou Reed in person at a UCLA book festival while he was promoting "The Raven". He had a Q&A session, so I knew it was my one and only chance to ask him about "Metal Machine Music". The first question I asked him was "what inspired it, and what was it's purpose". He told me that at the time he was listening to alot of 70's Krautrock and Avant Grade music and he wanted to do something similair. Perhaps this is his parody of it, but whatever his intentions were, it wasn't a joke.
Reed clearly loves noise. Every album he has released has had some form of noise in it, it's just in a different disguise each time. "Ocean" from "Lou Reed", "New York Conversation" from "Transformer", the opening intro from "Berlin" (don't forget the crying Kids as well). I can name one song from each album, there's just no escape from Reed's obsession with the bizarre. If you think "Metal Machine Music" was a joke, you clearly don't understand Mr. Reed. You might as well go out and burn every Velvets album while you're at it, because you don't make sense.
Now, I'm not going to praise "Metal Machine Music" as an artform or statement. In fact, I find it do be downright unlistenable, but I enjoy it. No, it isn't music, and yes, it's an hour of pure noise. You can't really love it and you can't really hate it. It's just there. When I listen to it, I put it on as background noise, or I use it to drown out those annoying birds in the morning.
Reed told me that he didn't make this album with serious or artistic intentions. He loves noise and this is his tribute to it. Consider this his break from being the "Rock N Roll Animal". After "Sally Can't Dance", he wasn't sure which direction he should take, so this was a break from the pressures of stardom and a chance to have some fun. However, most people don't understand Reed's idea of "fun", so this album will forever be hated or praised as art. I even had a chance to ask him about "Fire Music" from "The Raven". He told me that he witnessed the 911 disaster in New York from his apartment window. "Fire Music" was a result of that. With "Fire Music", he used the same way he did with "Metal Machine Music". It was something he created to take his mind off reality and have some fun with.
Well, I better wrap this up now. Yes, I only gave "Metal Machine Music" two stars. The reason for that is simple, it is noise that only a few people can handle. While Reed may have had fun creating it, listening to it is not the same. But I have found ways to use it, mostly to torture people and drown out other unwanted noise, so it deserves some recognition.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Metal Machine Music", The Perfect Medicine for Depression., June 13 2003
By 
This review is from: Metal Machine Music (Audio CD)
"Metal Machine Music" is probably Lou Reed's most talked-about and legendary album. It's legendary because of the story behind it. This is Lou Reed giving his musical middle finger to his record label, his management and the entire music business in general. It's absolutely hilarious, annoying and entertaining all at the same time.
The album consists of nothing but endless drones and shreiks of guitar feedback piled on top of each other. AND it goes on for 64-minutes straight. The music doesn't get any quieter or louder as it goes on. It slams you in the face right at the beginning and stays there for its entire duration. Believe it or not, this album can serve as some excellent background music when played at a lower volume. When played at a higher volume, it's an excellent tool for getting that certain person you can't stand to leave the room instantly. It also serves as THE perfect substitute for alcohol and drugs when you're depressed. I know this from experience. I played my original LP of "Metal Machine Music" daily in the months that followed my Mom's passing. Trust me, it works!!
The newly remastered version of this album includes the original artwork and liner notes plus an excellent historical essay which gives the full details on how this album came to be. Even if you don't like the music, it's worth buying for the essay.
"Metal Machine Music" has also gained noteriety for being possibly the first 'industrial music' album. Many artists in the industrial and harder-techno field have cited this album as an influence. Like it or not, "Metal Machine Music" was ahead of its time and despite the effort behind it, has turned into a major work-of-art.
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3.0 out of 5 stars buy this, invite some friends over, play it, give it away, March 28 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Metal Machine Music (Audio CD)
I thought I would put up my thoughts on this mid-70's experimental recording. This is Metal Machine Music- the noisy feedback album of the Velvet Underground's famous front man Lou Reed. This album has become so notorious through word of mouth now that people tend to seek it out out of curiosity. Everybody wants to hear it at least once. And everybody should. Do we really know why it was released? Well, no, not really. Lou's not the first artist to release a noise album and he certainly won't be the last. My only gripe about this recording is that he should have pushed it a little further. I realize he probably had some sort of objective with this album and that it wasn't ever meant to be good. But had he taken it a step or two further, such as recording some spoken word over it, or a strange vocal line or two, it would have sparkled with in a brighter dimension. Nobody that I know has actually played this thing from start to finish, and the reason for that is it doesn't change. It's just pure loud jarring feedback and nothing more. Those who do listen to it and analyze it say that there is stuff going on deep inside the wall of feedback. I agree, this isn't a 68 minute tape loop repeating infinitely. The sound shifts, noises and oddities can be heard thick inside the barrier of tones. However, there is not enough going on to really justify pulling this album out once a month and playing it from start to finish. I wish it had something more going on so that I COULD pull it out once a month. But it's not for me to say how Lou SHOULD have recorded this album. He did it the way he wanted to and it's available quite easily for all the world to hear. Will you enjoy this album? Well, as many have said before, it's not music. It's not songs. It has no lyrics. No chord changes. No tempos. No various instruments. It's a full-on wall of noise. Two albums worth. It's a curio. It's spit in the face. It's a statement. Would you be better off going out and spending your hard earned money on two Clash CD's instead? Yes. But if you're a fan of avant garde, and you admit to owning (and maybe even spending big bucks on) strange little odd LP's like John and Yoko's Life With The Lions, then this is the album for you. If you're a fan of avant garde that actually tries to make some kind of sense, you might want to skip this one and seek out an odd Thurston Moore release. In the old days of records there used to be something called the cut-out bin where you could find albums like this lurking for around the price of a pack of bubble gum. Nowadays you have to do a little research on an album to find out if it truly is "the one for me." The reviews posted here so far are great for helping out the cautious buyer. He or she is provided with enough information and reviews to make the decision whether or not to slap down the cash for this baby. I'm glad I bought it. I've enjoyed it, though I've probably never played more than five minutes of it at a time. But I've had fun playing around with it, comparing the four "songs," looking for little clues that may one day be used in some good coctail party conversation. This is the type of album that generates talk at a coctail party. Nobody's going to sit around for an hour discussing a 1976 Boston album, but start talking about Metal Machine Music and there's no telling where the conversation will lead. Everybody has a different point of view, a different angle to this monster. Just don't end up being the one that says "never heard of that one." You wouldn't want to be left out, now would you?!?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Reed's answer to Young's Poem for Tables, Chairs & Benches, July 7 2002
This review is from: Metal Machine Music (Audio CD)
This album is Lou's answer to La Monte Young's brilliant 1960 work, "Poem for Tables, Chairs and Benches, etc.". The irony of "Metal Machine Music" is that any four minutes of the album is (enjoyably) more listenable than 90% of current Top 40 radio dreck. It is truly a rare occurrence when modern mainstream music possesses an element that is both affecting and artistic.
Industrial cacophony and unrelenting, yet impossibly beautiful, feedback is not everyone's cup of tea; therefore, it's understandable that "Metal Machine Music" is one of the most misunderstood records of the past 30 years.
Without "Metal Machine Music", there would be no Sonic Youth, no Nirvana. Sonic Youth's "Sister" LP is clearly influenced by "Metal Machine Music".
If you find "Metal Machine Music" pleasurable and wish to pursue similar avenues of profoundly attractive white noise, most releases by Skullflower and Total (especially their albums on the Seattle-based label Majora) are uniquely gorgeous.
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Metal Machine Music
Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed (Audio CD - 2000)
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