Page last updated at 14:30 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 15:30 UK

Lou Reed to re-release Metal Machine Music

by Elizabeth Alker
BBC 6 Music reporter

Lou Reed. Photo courtesy of Amy-Beth McNeely
Reed has been performing the album live

Lou Reed is to re-release what some critics have called the "worst album of all time".

His 1975 album Metal Machine Music is 64 minutes of white noise, feedback and distortion but the former Velvet Underground man has decided to re-master the original and it will be available on vinyl in the UK from 10 May.

To coincide, Reed has been touring with his Metal Machine Trio - who play music inspired by the album - and they performed at the Royal Festival Hall on Monday before heading to Europe.

A recent review in the Observer described the album as an "insight into the turbulent spirit of the age".

But prior to the show, Reed told BBC 6 Music he didn't entirely agree: "I'm not a critic but you could say the opposite of that.

"You could say that Metal Machine Music is dedicated to the proposition of the guitar as the single greatest instrument known to man and it can't get too loud and you don't need a vocalist or a drummer.

"A reflection of the glory of rock."

Profound music

Following the initial release of Metal Machine Music, Rolling Stone magazine called it the "tubular groaning of a galactic refrigerator."

Reed countered that he had invented heavy metal.

Subsequent critics have not only agreed with him but they have also said the album was crucial to the birth of punk, grunge and later, trance and techno.

Experimenting with controlled feedback is something Reed started with the Velvet Underground: "I could just do it all day and I can listen to it all day and if someone else is doing it with me, it's even more fun," he explained.

"I think it's such a really profound music, I have been in love with it for a very long time. I did this album for me. I am trying to make something that I want to listen to."

Metal Machine Music is regarded as Reed's attempt to shun his fan base after the release of his fifth solo album, Sally Can't Dance.

Thousands of copies were returned and his label RCA was forced to withdraw the record within months of its release.

The experience had a lasting impact on the label, as Reed pointed out: "The Metal Machine contracts meant that if a group was signed there was a thing in their contract saying, 'I will not do anything like Metal Machine Music'."

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