Seven disturbing album covers

Street Style - New York Fashion Week February 2018 - Day 4
Street Style - New York Fashion Week February 2018 - Day 4 / Matthew Sperzel/GettyImages
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Ecstasy - Lou Reed

Lou Reed and Metallicca’s infamous collaborative Lulu is possibly the most quintessentially Lou Reed project Lou Reed had ever made. A heavy metal concept album based on German dramatist Frank Wedekind’s 1895 play Erdgeist, where each song has an average length of almost nine minutes and opens with the line “I’d cut my legs and tits off when I think of Boris Karloff,” Is all you need to know about Lou Reed’s late-period output. It would seem that after the one-two punch of critical drubbings received by Reed’s 70s concept albums Berlin and Metal Machine Music, Reed had grown immune to being told that anything he did was a bad idea.  

Like Metallica, however, Lou Reed had attained such a level of cultural admiration that what would kill lesser careers were minor setbacks at most. 

Lou Reed and Metallica perhaps also bonded over appreciating semen-based transgressive art. In 2000 Lou Reed released his last solo rock album, Ecstasy. Talking about Lulu is more than just a segue here, as Ecstasy portended Lulu, with its clunking heavy metal sound and 18-minute poetic miserabilist rants. Typographer Stefan Sagmeister designed the cover and only showed Reed from the neck up. That’s because he is masturbating. Yup. When that photograph was taken, Lou Reed was masturbating. Someone took the title a little more literally than you'd hope. I guess it’s ironic, though. Ecstasy is an album about anything but ecstasy unless you count the sight of the 20th century’s coolest person in a chicken costume as ecstasy.