And part of what I like about it is that it is intentionally designed to be difficult.
I can’t even post one of the tracks here as an example of what this album sounds like because each of the four tracks are 15 minutes in length.
Lou Reed was mad in the first part of 1975. His previous album, Sally Can’t Dance, was a hit but he was unhappy with how it sounded. How much control did he have over the production may be up for debate, but ultimately his role in the production of that album was, either through his own design or dictated by outside forces, lessened to a greater degree than on previous albums. It was not the success of the album that upset Lou Reed, it was the actual album itself.
Since Sally Can’t Dance was a hit, his record label pressured Lou Reed to quickly make a follow-up for release.
Ask and ye shall receive.
The record label was unhappy with what Lou Reed submitted, but the contract was such they had to release whatever album was submitted, even it if would be a double album of noise and feedback.
Lou Reed took a much more active role in the production of each subsequent album throughout the rest of his career. Some he would produce himself, other he would co-produce. But that’s not the story here.
Metal Machine Music is many things. To critics it was a message that he wasn’t going to be forced into any particular category. To his record label it was a signal that he would do things his own way. To fans it was a warning to expect the unexpected.
Original copies of the album are difficult to find as it was pulled shortly after it was released. His record label was so mad it dropped Lou Reed after the contract was fulfilled as the next album was released.
Do I like Metal Machine Music? Is it enjoyable to listen to? Is it a good album?
Is Metal Machine Music merely a novelty?
I have no answers to any of those questions. I will say this – I have played the album a few times recently as background “music” for when I am doing something which requires more of my attention than song lyrics.