'Lulu': Metallica, Lou Reed Collaboration, Reviewed

By WAYNE PARRY, The Associated Press

I'm still not sure if this is the worst piece of junk to be produced in album form in the last 20 years, or genius at a level so brilliant it's beyond my mere mortal capacity to appreciate it. But I'm still leaning toward the former.

This is a concept album (Warning! Warning!) based on two century-old works by German playwright Frank Wedekind, "Earth Spirit" and "Pandora's Box," which tell the story of a young abused dancer's life and relationships. It is disturbing, annoying, grating and sometimes downright unlistenable. It's also powerful, brutal, and more than an hour and a half long.

Reed, he of the venerable Velvet Underground and best known for the counterculture anthem "Walk On The Wild Side," dishes out spoken poetry for most of the record, which, believe it or not, is a good thing: as a vocalist, Reed makes Bob Dylan sound like Freddie Mercury. On the few instances where he actually does sing, it's completely bereft of melody, tone or timing.

Reed channels rage, lust, fear, jealousy, insecurity and a host of other emotions, layering them over pounding, riff-laden Metallica music for about half the disc. The other half is set to backward guitar parts, strings, or just general dissonance. The closing track, "Junior Dad," clocks in at more than 19 minutes.

Suffice it to say there's no "Enter Sandman," "Master Of Puppets" or even "Fuel" here. This is 1960s coffee-shot beat poetry set to skull-crushing riffs or psychedelic haze. If you must listen to this, it probably makes sense only if you're extremely high.

Listen to "The View," a track off the collaborative album out today on Vertigo: