My Metal Machine Music collection: top - the original gatefold RCA double album
bottom left - 2000 Buddha remastered CD edition, bottom right - 1991 Great Expectations CD edition
In the years of writing about Metal Machine Music, it's become a well worn cliche to award the listener some sort of citation for making it to the end of the album. Reed himself who famously blew hot and cold about his creation once remarked "Anyone who gets to side four is dumber than I am". I began this post after listening to the complete album and in the time it's taken me to marshal my thoughts to get to this point, I'm well into my second pass of the album. The music is so staggeringly pyschedelic I find my mind straying from the task at hand to ride in Metal Machine Music's whirlwind of sound, its mad chorus of voices, each one trying to get its spoke in before being shouted down by another. And in that sense I think the music is closer to the volcanic free jazz of Coltrane's Ascension and Peter Brötzmann's Machine Gun than the electronic soundscapes of Stockhausen or Xenakis. Unfortunately I no longer own a record player so nowadays my weapon of choice is the Buddha CD from 2000, and despite it sounding less spikier, less grainier than the vinyl edition, it's still the best CD version of the album and contains about 30secs of the famous locked groove at the climax of Side 4 which resulted in the last few seconds of the album looping ad infinitum until the listener manually lifts the needle off the groove.