Tiger Lillies debut new show and album today: “Lulu – A Murder Ballad”

tigerlillies-lulu

When the Tiger Lillies take the stage tonight at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, England, I really hope lead singer Martyn Jacques begins the show by declaring, “This is a play Lou Reed and Metallica stole from Frank Wedekind—we’re here to steal it back!”

Yes, the Tiger Lillies’ latest opus, a 19-song suite called Lulu – A Murder Ballad, is based on the same source material as the ill-fated “Loutallica” collaboration Lulu from a few years back. Both draw their inspiration from a pair of pitch-black plays by the German playwright Frank Wedekind, about a dancer-turned-prostitute named Lulu who endures a series of abusive sexual relationships in turn-of-the-century Berlin, Paris and London on her way to an untimely demise. With all due respect to the late, legendary Lou Reed—truly one of the greatest artists ever to wield a black leather jacket and an electric guitar—I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Tiger Lillies’ version will be the better of the two. At the very least, it will almost certainly not feature any songs in which Jacques declares himself to be a table.

The Lillies have already been performing Lulu – A Murder Ballad elsewhere around Europe, but tonight marks the show’s premiere performance in their native Blighty. It also marks the first release of the show in album form.

For now, the only places you’ll be able to see Lulu are Leeds, Coventry and Manchester—for full dates, visit the Tiger Lillies’ website. But Martyn and the boys tour more or less non-stop, so I’m sure they’ll be mounting further presentations of it (complete with visuals by Mark Holthusen) elsewhere around the demimonde in the months ahead.

We’ll leave you with the first official video from from Lulu: “Jack,” an eerie meditation on the mind of Jack the Ripper. Not only was Jack a character in Pandora’s Box, the second of the two Lulu plays; he was played in the original production by the playwright Wedekind himself. No wonder the Tiger Lillies were drawn to this guy’s work.

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Loutallica (Lou Reed & Metallica)

We’re not usually big bandwagon-jumpers around here. Show us a bandwagon and we tend to run the other way as fast our wobbly legs can carry us. But with this whole “Loutallica” thing, we cannot sit idly by while the rest of Ye Olde Blogosphere whips up a good-old fashioned shitstorm over how unbelievably, monumentally terrible it is. We gotta get on in there and start freaking the fuck out with the rest of them.

So in case you weren’t sure: Yes, we share the near-universal opinion that Lou Reed and Metallica’s much hyped Lulu–in addition to being quite possibly the weirdest album of the year–is a trainwreck of epic, biblical proportions. If this album was a movie, it would be Howard the Duck. If it was a car, it would a lime-green Pinto with vinyl seats. If it was a rapper, it would be Vanilla Ice, only if he had never done “Ice Ice Baby.” If it was a football team, it would be the 2008 Detroit Lions. If it was something you could buy out of a vending machine, it would be New Coke. No wait…it would be Diet New Coke. Did they even make Diet New Coke? If they did, it would have sucked only slightly more than Lulu.

To be fair, we should have seen this coming. These are the guys that gave us St. Anger and Metal Machine Music, after all. Lou Reed has a penchant for pretentious noise that dates all the way back to his Velvet Underground days–just try to listen to all nine minutes of “Murder Mystery” and feel anything other than proud of yourself for slogging all the way through it. And Metallica’s issues, both musical and emotional, have been well-documented. Put them together, and a perfect storm of bombastitude was probably the inevitable result.

But still…it could have been so sweet. “Sweet Jane” + “Enter Sandman”? Sign us up. But Reed and Hetfield and co. have pretty clearly lost all interest in making those kinds of records at this point in their respective careers…or they’ve forgotten how to. Either way, this whole project was a moonshot that came up well short.

The only good thing that’s come out of Lulu? An awesome new “I Am the Table” internet meme. People are getting more creative online with that shit than Lou and ‘Tallica got with their entire album. (If you have no idea what “I Am the Table” means…well, count yourself lucky, or listen to the track below if you want in on the joke.)

Anyway…if you’re one of the five people who still haven’t heard this shit, feast your ears. And if you’re one of the zero people who want to hear the whole thing (including a 19-minute track called “Junior Dad”…you’ve been warned), it’s all streaming over on the Loutallica site.

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