Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Metal Machine Music gets a classical contemporary makeover courtesy of Zeitkratzer

Just when you thought you'd never hear about Lou Reed's phenomenal noisefest album of feedback and distortion, along comes the news hat Metal Machine Music is back in the saddle with a transcribed classical contemporary chamber music ensemble score verging on the avant-garde and industrial rock.

The CD/DVD is a 2002 concert in Berlin that Reed performed with the 11-piece German chamber music ensemble Zeitkratzer. The album "Lou Reed Metal Machine Music performed by Zeitkratzer is released by Asphodel Records on September 4th. The results are frenzied, full-frontal; a relentless physically exhausting whirlwind of sound that leaves you gasping for air.

It's noise, but not as we know it.

You can't disco dance to it in a nightclub. Indie rockers will have a tough time trying to decide which shirt to wear. If you are a Sonic Youth fan, watch out, this one's for you.

Berlin-based avant-garde sax player, Ulrich Krieger, whose projects include collaborations with Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo, is the brainchild behind the current rendition of Metal Machine Music. Krieger (no relation to Robbie Krieger of The Doors), transcribed Reed's 1975 MMM album and converted it into a classical contemporary piece of avant-garde chamber music, making is a surprisingly impressive and believable acoustic score.

The results are phenomenal and brings Reed full circle, around to his vintage roots with the Velvet Underground via the cello and viola backing. The similarities are evident, but somehow you can't help thinking that John Cale is missing from the fanfare.

Metal Machine Music is a moment in time, March 17th, 2002, to be precise. Don't dare miss it.

Further information about this extraordinary release can be found here -

Lou Reed's been a busy little bee throughout 2007. First he tours his Berlin album in Europe, then releases the meditation album Hudson River Wind Meditations, and now he brings us Metal Machine Music Live.

What's next, a kabuki version of Rock'n'Roll Heart?

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Lou Reed knocks 'em dead at the London Hammersmith Apollo

Lou Reed performed to a sold out London audience at London Hammersmith Apollo last night. Reed performed the entirety of his 1973 classic album 'Berlin' to a thunderous 10-minute standing ovation.

Highlights included the haunting "The Kids" featuring the London Children's Youth Choir on backing vocals, "The Bed" the song where the main character, Caroline, commits suicide, and the victorious and tearful "Sad Song" which ended the show. Hats off went to original Berlin album guitarist, Steve Hunter, who nailed it on every single song - the same cat who played guitar on Reed's live album "Rock'n'Roll Animal".

The Bob Ezrin produced album was given an imaginative new arrangement, augumented by a string section, horn section, a new backing vocalist calle Katy, and Reed's core rock band featuring bassist and backing vocalist Fernando Saunders, drummy Tony Thunder Smith and stand up bassist Rob Wasserman. Even Hal Willner, 'Berlin's musical director, walked out on stage to hug Reed for performing a fantastic show.

After the rapturous standing ovation, Reed and his 26-piece orchestra returned to the stage for stunning new-arranged live versions of "Sweet Jane", "Satellite of Love" and "Walk on the Wildside". It was Satellite of Love that triumphed with a refreshing news musical arrangement which showed off Fernando Saunder's falsetto vocal range, backing vocalist Katy's soulful vocals (look out Annie Lennox!) and some wild guitar playing by Reed and Hunter.

I'd been to the Apollo several times but never experienced this kind of electric audience reaction to a rock concert before. It was as if everyone had a lightening rod wedged up their ass and the power was turned on at 10. If you missed this show, you definitely missed out on a piece of rock history.

'Berlin' live is Lou Reed's swansong.