Metal Machine Music

[Intro] [Details] [Samples]

What is it?

In the words of Andy Whitman of net.fame...

For those of you wavering on the question of Miles' sanity, this clinches it. Metal Machine Music is an hour's worth of the equivalent of a dentist's drill drilling into an infected tooth, a jack hammer riveting into your skull. Except it's perhaps less melodic than that. Miles has officially gone over the edge. You know the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard? This is worse -- a lot worse.

I, on the other hand, simply note that this is the original ``Industrial'' rock, way ahead of its time - back when dinosaurs roamed the rock charts.

So What?

This is one of only two Reed albums I ever really cared for (this and `Rock and Roll Animal' - the only real rock album of his I've ever heard). A Lou Reed fanatic friend [0] copped Metal Machine Music (MMM) at the campus radio station ("WREK, 40 million milliwatts of pure distortion" [1]). When she listened to it, she was almost catatonic. [2] We brought it out at quite a few parties. This album was responsible for more near-brawls than you can imagine. [5] It can have an extremely unsettling effect on most people [3] (especially if their state is altered). I knew people in college who tried to listen to it on acid, and none of them, no matter how macho their ears and heads, could handle it. [6]

Years later, I tracked it down on CD and bought it as a joke to take to a party some coworkers were having. I ended up not making it, but that was probably just as well. Meanwhile I have loaned it to a number of people, most of whom have returned it with the proverbial 10 foot pole. I occasionally use it on my stereo at work (a) on the speakers to discourage interruptions or (b) on the headphones when I really need to concentrate.

So far as I know, I am one of only two [b] people I have ever known who has intentionally listened to it straight through more than once (and only 4 or 5 [c] who survived the once).

It's wonderful, and I'm not ashamed of the fact that I think so. But I quite understand that it's not for everybody.

Hurt Yourself

There are theoretically four tracks, but this is because there were originally four sides on vinyl. I have arbitrarily picked the "first" 20 seconds of each "track" as samples.

``Large'' samples are 16 bit, 22 Kb/Sec and ``small'' samples are 8 bit, 11 Kb/Sec. All samples are stereo, currently only in .wav format.

    Track 1 : large (1.8 MB) or small (441 KB) sample
    Track 2 : large (1.8 MB) or small (441 KB) sample
    Track 3 : large (1.8 MB) or small (441 KB) sample
    Track 4 : large (1.8 MB) or small (441 KB) sample

The last track on the vinyl side intentionally looped back on itself, like a scratched record, except that there was no scratch, and the merge was flawless. It was always fun to see how long the record could go on repeating that last second or so of music (with this deep, bell-like "boooong" fadeout) before people noticed. On more than one occasion it went for at least a half hour. Sadly, this is only available on the vinyl version, neither tape nor CD formats allow this sort of looping.


[0] Well, Helen was a Lou Reed freak, but now I don't
    recall if she got that one, or if I did.  We were always vying for
    the best stuff at the radio station.  Fortunately we were good
    friends, and hung out together a lot, so we got to hear it all,
[1] perhaps my favorite radio promo of all time
[2] the music alone can have this effect, but her brain
    was catching on fire trying to accept that her idol had created this
[3] like, all but a couple of hundred, worldwide, and many
    of them are probably in rubber rooms
[5] unless you've heard the album
[6] not that i am suggesting anyone try this, but it
    would be quite interesting, if Nancy Reagan were offered the choice,
    to see whether she would take drugs or listen to MMM all the way
    through [7]
[7] my wife isn't sure there's a lot of difference [8]
[8] but she's never taken drugs [9]
[9] she's hardly taken aspirin [a]
[a] not that this is a bad thing, of course
[b] The other was Helen Fairbrother.  Helen, where are
    you? [I have heard from several people on the net who really enjoy
    this album too.]
[c] David Throop & Liz Throop made it through once,
    intentionally, if I remember correctly.  Various other times they were
    subjected to it, and on more than one occasion they left before it was
    over, or changed the music.  Kenneth Riviere or Richard Sachleben may
    have also survived it once intentionally.  I have heard from a
    handful of people on the net who claim to have done this as well.

Go back to my music faves or my home.
Last updated: 16 October 2001

Copyright 1995, 1996 Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved.

Miles O'Neal <> [remove the "XYZZY." to make things work!] c/o RNN / 1705 Oak Forest Dr / Round Rock, TX / 78681-1514