SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK: Zeitkratzer — Metal Machine Music: Live (Asphodel) :: Right from the very beginning, when it first came out in 1975, decades before the advent of such caffeine-laced drugs as Jolt Cola and Tylenol Ultra, I habitually used Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music as industrial strength therapeutic headache medication. I’d crank side one up to maximum volume and the grinding high-pitched feedback would lock in at the exact same neural frequency as my headache and neutralize it without fail, usually within five minutes. So when I had lunch with Unca Lou a year later in 1976, we confided as one dedicated user to another.
MORGAN: That album performs a service, at certain times. When you need it, it’s there.
REED: Metal Machine? When I need to get it out of my system so I don’t kill somebody…it gets things out of my system. It’s cathartic.
Over time, my avowed advocacy of the album became well known. One day in the early ‘90s, during the brainstorming session when I came up with the title Between Thought And Expression for Lou’s RCA anthology — if you have a copy of the booklet, you could look it up — box set producer Rob Bowman asked me: "Be honest. When was the last time you listened to Metal Machine Music?" "Two weeks ago!" I replied and Rob laughed, knowing that I was telling him the truth.
And because I do have every sonic squeal and squelch of that album committed to memory, I can tell you with a fan addict’s unabashed authority that Zeitkratzer’s live version of Metal Machine Music is an astonishing absolute exact aural duplication of the original random-generated electronic studio recording, transcribed into sheet music and played on an unlikely array of instruments, ranging from accordion and tuba to violin and trumpet.
But the real payoff comes at the end, when Old Unca Lou himself takes the stage to pound out a solo guitar shriekfest that’s even more scabrous than his synapse-snapper on "I Heard Her Call My Name."
It’s been real!