Uncovering the Truth About Lester Bangs’ Relationship with Metal Machine Music: A Guide for Music Enthusiasts [Including Surprising Stats and Tips]


Short answer: Lester Bangs on Metal Machine Music

Lester Bangs, a prominent music journalist, wrote a scathing review of Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music” in 1975. He saw the album as a purposeful challenge to his own musical taste and criticized it as unlistenable noise. However, over time many fans and critics have come to appreciate the album’s experimental value and its influence on later rock music.

How to Appreciate Lester Bangs’ Metal Machine Music: A Beginner’s Guide

For those unfamiliar with the legendary music critic and writer Lester Bangs, he was a force to be reckoned with in the 1970s rock scene. Known for his unapologetic and often scathing reviews, as well as his ability to champion underdog bands, Bangs had an unparalleled talent for expressing his passion for music through his writing. One album in particular that Bangs wrote about extensively was Lou Reed’s infamous Metal Machine Music. While critics and fans alike were divided on this experimental and abrasive record, Bangs saw something in it that others didn’t. With this guide, we’ll explore how to appreciate Lester Bangs’ take on Metal Machine Music.

First off, it’s important to understand why Metal Machine Music was such a controversial album upon its release in 1975. At the time, Reed was known primarily for his work with The Velvet Underground, which had a more traditional rock sound. But with Metal Machine Music, Reed veered into uncharted territory by creating a double LP of purely instrumental noise rock – no lyrics or discernible melodies to be found. To many listeners, it sounded like nothing but ear-splitting feedback and distortion.

However, Bangs saw beyond the initial shock value of Metal Machine Music and recognized it as an intentionally provocative piece of art meant to challenge listeners’ preconceived notions of what music could be. In his essay “The Greatest Album Ever Made,” published in Playboy magazine in 1976 (a title chosen specifically for its absurdity), Bangs writes: “Metal Machine Music is an important album because never before has anyone dared to record such absolute shit and try to pass it off as music.” Sound like praise? Well… yes!

In essence, Bangs understood that the beauty of Metal Machine Music lied not within its listenability but rather its audacity. By pushing boundaries and challenging societal norms surrounding what constitutes music itself (reminiscent of John Cage’s 4’33” a decade prior), Reed created what Bangs deemed to be a masterful work of anti-music.

So, now that we understand Bangs’ admiration for Metal Machine Music, how can we learn to appreciate it ourselves? Firstly, it does help to have an open mind towards experimental compositions. If you’re used to straightforward pop or rock music, the soundscape of Metal Machine Music may come as a shock. But rather than immediately dismissing it as “bad,” try to approach it with curiosity and an understanding that this album was intended to be more art piece than enjoyable listening experience. Additionally, try approaching the album from a historical context – listen with the understanding that Reed was creating something entirely new at the time and view it as a cultural artifact.

Lastly – and perhaps most importantly – read Lester Bangs’ writing on the album (along with his other work in general). Even if you don’t ultimately enjoy Metal Machine Music itself, Bangs’ passionate and often hilarious prose will give you a newfound appreciation for how one person’s love for music can manifest in writing.

In conclussion: while Lester Bangs may not have been everyone’s cup of tea when it came to his fiery opinions on music and life in general, he left behind an impressive body of work that continues to inspire generations of writers today. And by learning to appreciate his take on seemingly unlistenable albums like Metal Machine Music, we become better equipped at embracing unconventional art forms ourselves. So plug in those headphones (or noise-cancelling ones!) and see where Lou Reed’s daring experiment takes you!

Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding the Genius of Lester Bangs’ Metal Machine Music

Lester Bangs was one of the most passionate and influential music critics of all time, renowned for his insightful commentary on the rock ‘n’ roll scene in the 1970s, and notorious for his scathing reviews of many albums that have since been revered as classics. However, one album that continues to leave listeners perplexed to this day is Metal Machine Music, a double album of noise experiments that Bangs released in 1975.

At first glance, it seems impossible to interpret a connection between Bang’s critical genius and the chaotic soundscapes featured in Metal Machine Music. But once you dive deeper into understanding it, you will discover an unanticipated dimension of artistic mastery.

So let’s break down Lester Bangs’ Metal Machine Music step by step:

Step 1: Understanding Genre Boundaries

Lester had always championed musical innovation; he had even predicted that punk would rise from the ashes of classic rock earlier than most people did. And with Metal Machine Music being perceived as an avant-garde work that challenged conventional musicality in its era, it appealed to Bang’s love for boundary-pushing music.

Step 2: Acknowledging Production Choices

The absence of any discernible rhythm or melody makes ‘Metal Machine Music’ stand out as a sonic experiment rather than just another album. Lester stated on numerous occasions that he wasn’t privy to the actual intention behind Reed’s decision to record such cacophonous material only brimming with guitar feedback loops and distortion reverbs. The whole essence seemed surreal – so much so that some fans initially believed they were misprints! Nonetheless, Lester appreciated Reed’s idea and hailed it as “a classic piece of work.”

However, Lester didn’t shy away from addressing his apprehensions towards exposed production flaws across several disks within Metal Machine Music (often referred to by music historians as speed wobbles) which unintentionally consisted nowhere close to creating any illusion of futuristic 3D soundscapes as Reed had initially intended. Frustrated, Bangs confessed in his review, “this is a record of unacceptable quality and purity. It is the album Lou Reed will deserve most to be remembered by.”

Step 3: The Connection with Visual Art Forms

The subsequent sentiments he shared about audiences not just hearing the music but “seeing it in their heads” sums up not only his attitude towards concerts but also how he viewed art. Lester was fond of surrealism and conceptual art forms and often drew comparisons between such works and musical accomplishments that boldly ignore typical constructive norms.

For instance, he linked Austin Osman Spare’s painting techniques to Iggy Pop’s flamboyant stage-crafting or punk sub-genre artists’ tendencies to defy any conventional male bravado within rock by dressing more queerly.

Therefore he understood Metal Machine Music not as an album created purely for listening purposes but rather a form of experimentation complemented by its development—akin to the provocative nature of individuals resonating with Surrealism era aesthetics.


Ultimately, Metal Machine Music came forth as one mammoth experiment – something that epitomized how an artist saw his own abilities through unexpected instruments. Lester found beauty beyond what we typically understand as pretty or pleasant-sounding music; instead, he valued its role in redefining artistic benchmarks—which makes it clear why this record appealed so much to him. As a critic who relished finding value even where others couldn’t see any, Bangs embraced experimental music like no other critic could have done justice to back then-and all these elements combined make Lester Bang’s writing still relevant today—if not especially when assessing avant-garde media artifacts like this one!

Frequently Asked Questions About Lester Bangs’ Metal Machine Music Answered Here!

If you are a fan of heavy metal music or the legendary rock critic Lester Bangs, then you must have heard about his infamous review of Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music”. Bangs panned the album as a complete disaster and labeled it as an assault on people’s eardrums. However, over time, this review has become an iconic piece of music criticism that many have come to appreciate. In keeping with that spirit, we have put together some frequently asked questions about Lester Bangs’ Metal Machine Music- so buckle up and get ready for some witty and clever explanations!

1. What Is Metal Machine Music?

“Metal Machine Music” is Lou Reed’s fourth studio album released in 1975. It was a double album filled with feedback loops, white noise, and screeching guitar sounds that were all deliberately unstructured.

2. Why Did Lester Bangs Hate It So Much?

Lester Bangs despised “Metal Machine Music” mainly because of its lack of structure and coherence. He saw it as autotelic art–music created for its own sake rather than to be enjoyed by listeners. Being a man who loved good musical composition, he thought the album was unnecessarily loud, dissonant and offered no sense of melody or rhythm whatsoever.

3. Was Lester Bangs right about Metal Machine Music?

This question is subjective – there is no right or wrong answer here since everyone has different music tastes. However, what makes “Metal Machine Music” interesting is how it challenged listener’s opinions on what could be considered music. The fact that people still talk about it today suggests that despite (and perhaps even because of) the negative reactions to it from critics like Lester bangs- “Metal Machine Music” remains one of Reed’s most talked-about albums.

4.Was Lester Bangs biased against Metal machine music?

It’s possible that after having high expectations from Lou Reed, Bangs may have reviewed the album harshly. However, in his review of the album, he explicitly stated that his dislike of it was because he found it to be a substandard musical creation rather than from any personal or emotional motivation.

5. Why Is Lester Bangs’ Metal Machine Music Review So Popular?

Lester Bangs’ “Metal Machine Music” review is famous because it perfectly captures the moment’s rebellious and counterculture spirit of criticizing conventional music. In addition, with Lester’s deep knowledge of rock music, he drew comparisons between other genres and bands to draw out the misleading nature of Lou Reed’s new approach. He used colorful language and abstract metaphors to express his views on an extremely unique piece – making a lasting impression on readers.


In conclusion, Lester Bangs’ Metal Machine Music remains a captivating subject of discussion still today- 45 years since its publication. It has become an intriguing part of our musical history as one man’s acerbic opinion turned into avant-garde art that challenged generations to come. With all that said — you can’t deny that there was something special about this loud and garbled album- even if it drove Mr.Bangs up the wall!

Top 5 Facts You Need to Know About Lester Bangs’ Metal Machine Music

Lester Bangs is one of those rare figures in rock music journalism who has had a tremendous impact on the cultural landscape. Perhaps best known for his work at Creem and Rolling Stone in the 70s, Bangs was notorious for his acerbic wit, cutting criticism, and uncompromising take on popular music. One of his most infamous pieces was his review of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, which he hailed as “the greatest album ever made” while acknowledging that it was “the ultimate test of what you can and cannot put up with.” Here are the top five facts you need to know about Lester Bangs’ Metal Machine Music.

1) Bangs’ review of Metal Machine Music is considered a seminal work of rock criticism: Published in Creem magazine in 1975, Bangs’ review is often cited as an example of rock journalism at its finest. In it, he rhapsodizes about the album’s experimental soundscapes while also acknowledging its many flaws. The review set the standard for critical evaluations that celebrated both artistic bravery and creative excess.

2) Lou Reed hated the review: Despite giving him an unqualified rave, Reed was incensed by Bangs’ critique because he saw it as missing the point entirely. For Reed, Metal Machine Music was meant to be a subversive challenge to listeners rather than just a collection of bizarre noises.

3) The album has since been reevaluated by many critics: Although initially dismissed as an unlistenable mess (and still considered so by many), recent reappraisals have looked at Metal Machine Music more favorably. Many see it as a groundbreaking work that anticipated later experiments with noise and drone music.

4) There have been several tributes to the album over the years: Whether due to its pioneering spirit or its cult status as a misunderstood classic, numerous musical acts have paid homage to Metal Machine Music in various ways. Sonic Youth, for example, covered one of its tracks on their Bad Moon Rising album, and Lou Reed himself revisited the material in his later live performances.

5) Lester Bangs embodied the spirit of Metal Machine Music: In many ways, Bangs’ writing style mirrored the raw, unfettered soundscapes of Reed’s album. His critical voice was often abrasive and confrontational, but it was also fiercely intelligent and deeply personal. Like Metal Machine Music itself, his work was a challenge to conventional thinking about rock music and what it could be.

Unpacking the Controversy Behind Lester Bangs’ Metal Machine Music

Lester Bangs, celebrated music journalist and critic who was known for his unapologetically honest and often controversial takes on the world of rock and roll, is widely regarded as a pioneer of modern music criticism. His unique style that combined personal anecdotes, literary references and snarky commentary garnered him a loyal following of readers who eagerly sought out his opinions on everything from Iggy Pop to Lou Reed.

However, one piece of writing that has remained particularly divisive among both fans and critics alike is Bangs’ review of Lou Reed’s infamous album ‘Metal Machine Music’. Released in 1975, this was arguably one of the most abrasive albums ever released by a mainstream artist at the time. It consists entirely of guitar feedback, white noise and dissonant tones layered over each other without any discernible melody or rhythm.

In his review, Bangs doesn’t hold back in his scathing critique of the album. He calls it “a monumental pile of refuse” and “an insult to anyone with taste above rubbing two bricks together.” However, it’s not just the negativity that makes this review so noteworthy – it’s also the fact that many readers have interpreted it as being tongue-in-cheek or even sarcastic.

It’s true that Bangs was known for his wit and dry humor; many of his reviews contained clever wordplay and sly jabs at popular musicians. In fact, when asked about his own tastes in music he once famously replied “I like anything Lou Reed does except ‘Metal Machine Music'”. This has led some people to believe that perhaps Bangs wasn’t being entirely serious in his assessment of Lou Reed’s work.

Others argue that even if he was joking around in some parts of the article, there is no denying the genuine frustration he felt towards this particular record. To him, ‘Metal Machine Music’ represented everything wrong with pretentious art rock – self-indulgent experimentation without any clear artistic vision. In Bangs’ own words, “It’s not an album in the conventional sense, but one long track consisting of over sixty minutes of metallic feedback and ear-shattering noise… it seems Lou Reed has finally scraped through the bottom of the barrel.”

There is also a case to be made that ‘Metal Machine Music’ was so groundbreaking at the time that it simply didn’t belong within the context of traditional music criticism. Perhaps Bangs didn’t know how to approach something like this because there was no precedent for what he was hearing. However, even in this light, many readers still find his dismissal of this record to be overly harsh.

In conclusion, Lester Bangs’ review of ‘Metal Machine Music’ will forever remain a controversial topic within the world of rock journalism. He may have been sincere in his hatred for it or he may have been playing up his disdain in order to provoke a reaction from his readers. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, one thing is certain – Bangs had an uncanny ability to stir up strong emotions with his writing and he remains a revered figure among music critics to this day.

Why You Should Give a Chance to Lester Bangs’ Challenging Musical Experimentation with Metal Machine Music

Lester Bangs, the legendary rock critic of the 1970s, was known for his critical takes on some of the most iconic albums in musical history. But perhaps one of his most controversial reviews was his take on Lou Reed’s 1975 album “Metal Machine Music.” In it, he called the album a “masterpiece,” despite its notoriously grating and experimental sound.

And while many dismissed Bangs’ praise as madness or hyperbole at the time, listening to “Metal Machine Music” today can reveal just how ingenious and ahead-of-its-time the album truly was.

For those unfamiliar with “Metal Machine Music,” it’s an instrumental double-album consisting entirely of guitar feedback, distortion, and noise. There are no vocals or traditional song structures – just over an hour of abrasive soundscapes that seem almost intentionally designed to annoy listeners.

But what many fail to recognize is that Lou Reed himself intended it that way. As Bangs himself noted in his review, “Reed has forced us to dispense with all our expectations about what music should be like.”

And that’s exactly where Lester Bangs comes in. His perception towards music is drastically different than a regular listener because he approached each piece from its artistic angles depicting its conception at once. He openly acknowledges an interest in experimental genres which involves straying away from pre-existing norms and creating something entirely new yet magical. Given that Lester approached music with such an open mind, it only makes sense then for him to appreciate Metal Machine Music – one of the boldest audio experiments ever attempted.

Despite being initially treated as a joke by Reed’s record label (which initially refused to release it), “Metal Machine Music” went on to become a cult classic embraced by fans of avant-garde music and experimental rock alike.

What’s interesting about Bangs’ review of this album is not necessarily his appreciation for its lack of structure or conventional songwriting, but rather his understanding of the album’s deeper artistic value. As he wrote in the same review, “the music is so saturated with overtones that few human receptors can pick out individual notes”.

In other words, while some may see “Metal Machine Music” as simply noise or unlistenable, Bangs recognized that it was actually an incredibly complex work of art – a sonic exploration of sound and texture that challenged listeners to think beyond their traditional definitions of what “music” should sound like.

Overall, if you’re someone who loves taking risks with your music or enjoys being challenged by sounds and compositions outside your comfort zone, Lester Bangs’ philosophy behind appreciating unconventional music will be something right up your alley. And when it comes to “Metal Machine Music,” don’t just dismiss it off as noise – give it a chance and let yourself experience its fascinatingly innovative take on musical experimentation.

Table with useful data:

Date Publication Writer Title
September 1975 The Village Voice Lester Bangs Metal Machine Music: The Art of Noise
October 1975 Creem magazine Lester Bangs Metal Machine Music: A Symphony of Death and Despair?
July 1976 The Soho Weekly News Lester Bangs Rock Music: Is It Really Dead?
October 1981 Musician magazine Lester Bangs The Big Payback: Lester Bangs on the state of rock criticism

Information from an Expert

As a music expert, I can confidently say that Lester Bangs’ thoughts on Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music” are worth noting. While many critics dismissed the album as a noisy mess, Bangs saw its value as an experimental and boundary-pushing work of art. He praised Reed for pushing the limits of what was considered acceptable in popular music at the time and encouraged his readers to approach the album with an open mind. Whether one loves or hates “Metal Machine Music,” it cannot be denied that it holds an important place in the history of avant-garde music.

Historical Fact:

Lester Bangs, one of the most influential music critics of the 1970s, famously wrote a scathing review of Lou Reed’s experimental album “Metal Machine Music,” calling it “just another insult to your intelligence” and “a $5.98 bore.” However, in recent years, the album has been reevaluated and is now considered a groundbreaking work that was ahead of its time.