Metal Machine Music is the greatest album ever made. It’s a stunning, epic, multi-layered work that’s retains its shock value 32 years after its initial release. You know what else is stunning? How Lou Reed described it to me when I asked him about it: “It’s just kind of, ya know, a guitar solo.”
Have you ever thought about re-releasing it in Digital Surround so people could get that experience again?
I have no idea where the original quad version is. It was very, very difficult. Years ago, someone wanted to do an installation of Metal Machine Music, and we tried to get the original tape from RCA ... as though they cared. They wouldn’t even let us. It’s complicated, but they wouldn’t let the original tape out of their warehouse, which is interesting ... the fact they even have it ...
Well that’s RCA for ya.
That was the version of Metal Machine that was re-mastered by Bob Ludwig, who did the original.
And also invented the locked groove at the end of the fourth movement.
That was, ya know, actually a Warhol idea ‘cos he had said, “Why does the music have to end?”
“Why can’t it go on forever?”
Yeah, so we raised the groove.
Does MMM stand more as a musical triumph or a philosophical one ... or both?
Well, I mean, I really like it. I really love it. Not just the idea—the actual thing. I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t love it.
I’m amazed by the context that it appears out of, sandwiched between the joyous pop albums Sally Can’t Dance and Coney Island Baby. Did you feel like you were “stepping up” or “stepping down” between releases?
It’s like a different color.
Like a different palette almost?
Yeah. It’s just kind of, ya know, a guitar solo.
Any regrets about it?
It’s like one of my songs—I love it.
People tell me all the time that the Advanced Theory can't be possible. But the resurgence of MMM is pretty good evidence that Britt and I were on to something. In fact, in a few years, maybe MMM will be on the Pizza Hut jukebox.