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Lou Reed and Metallica: Lulu (Warner Bros.) 

What do you say about an album that died on arrival? Before firing potshots, like an Internet cat-critic, it is worth giving credit to Lou Reed and Metallica for even attempting such an outré musical experiment, a musical mash-up based upon the work of German playwright Frank Wedekind (1864-1918)?Ultimately, for all its strange allure, it's not very good.

The hearty acoustic strums of opener "Brandenburg Gate" give way to Reed's bored line readings that, in delivery and content, set the tone: "I would cut my legs and tits off when I think of Boris Karloff and Kinski." The song then bursts open with Metallica's noodling guitars and crashing cymbals; consider it Metallica's Lynyrd Skynyrd impersonation. James Hetfield's grungy barks of "small town girl" over Reed's disinterested "singing" nearly dismantle an otherwise-admirable tune.

Unfortunately, it takes eight more songs, and one hour, before anything else comparable. The ethereal closer "Junior Dad" is a 20-minute anthem of haunting drones and instrumental subtlety that hints at what might have been. Metallica downplays its strengths, smartly constructing an expansive soundscape, while Reed (finally) sounds like he gives a shit.

Given the four names attached as producers, including the entity of Metallica, you would think the result would sound less like studio demos. If anything, blame Reed, who often delivers his questionable lines crankily, while the members of Metallica—ever devout—sweat their execution in attempts to please their hero.

For nearly 90 minutes of music by two legendary acts, spotty success is akin to failure.

More by Michael Petitti

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