Odd Couples: Elvis Presley’s Having Fun Onstage vs. Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music

Over the years, more than a few legends have grown up around these two mid-1970s albums. We do know this, however, for certain: When mashed, they can cause hearing loss, insanity and/or death. Don’t say you weren’t warned …

HAVING FUN ONSTAGE (1974): Legend says Colonel Tom Parker got sick and tired of having to pay royalties and fees to songwriters, publishers and the record company, so he simply issued an Elvis record with no songs on it. That’s right: Just Elvis and his audience exchanging “banter” between numbers. Often it sounds like he’s going to sing something that begins with “Well …” but he never gets around to it. There’s little continuity or sense to the overall structure of the “narrative,” and after a while you just get tired of listening to it.

METAL MACHINE MUSIC (1975): Legend says Lou Reed got sick and tired of his record company, so he simply issued a Lou Reed record with no songs on it. That’s right: Just Lou and his guitars exchanging “feedback” in the studio. Often, it sounds like — well, if guitars could exchange laughter over the concept of contractual obligation, they would probably sound like this. There’s little continuity or sense to the overall structure of the “music,” and after a while you just get tired of listening to it.

So, besides the lack of music, what’s the common denominator here? At this period of time, both artists were under contract to RCA Records. Invoke your antitrust and conflict of interest laws! The battle for the worst record of all time is a fix! And how do you make money off of records that don’t sell? Volume, volume, VOLUME!

JC Mosquito

JC Mosquito spends most of his day keeping the wolves from the door. When he's not occupied with this pastime, he's interested in all things rock and roll -- which may or may not have died back in the late 1950s, the late 1970s, or the early '90s, depending on who you believe. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.