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Old 07-21-2009, 10:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Lou Reed - Transformer (1972)

Lou Reed - Transformer


1 Vicious 2:55
2 Andy's Chest 3:17
3 Perfect Day 3:43
4 Hangin' 'Round 3:39
5 Walk on the Wild Side 4:12
6 Make Up 2:58
7 Satellite of Love 3:40
8 Wagon Wheel 3:19
9 New York Telephone Conversation 1:31
10 I'm So Free 3:07
11 Goodnight Ladies 4:19

Lewis Reed was born in New York in 1942, of course now you know him as Lou Reed, co-founder of the absolutely tremendous Velvet Underground. Reed left the Velvets in 1970 after recording Loaded, a cracking album which left him with mixed feelings about his career with the band. It was not until 1972 that Reed finally launched a solo career, starting with his steady self titled debut, not an ideal start. But later that year Lou Reed at last made the waves his talents deserved with his second outing, an album which would go on to be one of the finest of all time.

Transformer was released on RCA in December 1972, and finally saw Reed climb the heights of his previous years artistically, but not only that, it also saw Reed make new ground commercially, something he never really did with The Velvet Underground in their heyday. Transformer was produced by the Godfathers of Glam Rock, Mick Ronson and David Bowie, both of whom idolised the man immensely. With Reeds ability alongside Bowie and Ronson’s passion for the man, it was obviously going to be one cracking album from the outset, particular as both Bowie and Ronson were at their artistic peak together during 72.

This well crafted and fabulous album begins with Vicious, straight away you can hear that Reed and Ronson have hit it off marvellously, it has all the individual traits of both men, cracking Reedesque vocals and lyrics combined with some typical hard edged guitar stylings from Ronson. They also combine stunningly on Track 4 too, with the pulsating and brilliant Hanging Round.

But the song which has captured many people’s imaginations over the years happens on track 3, joining a family of Lou Reed songs which mean a lot more than they initially let on; Perfect Day is a clever and beautiful song yet has a feeling of heavy dark clouds lurking in the background, a glorious achievement for all concerned be it lyrics, arrangements and production, it really is a flawless song for the ages. Preceeding this legendary song is an old unreleased Velvet Underground song entitled Andy’s Chest, but reborn for the Glam era, and you know what? It’s certainly not out of place for 1972

The highlight for many a listener must surely go to track number 5; Walk on The Wild Side, despite all my ravings about Perfect Day, is probably the signature tune for the entire album, and perhaps for Reed’s entire solo career. And despite the song’s content regarding transsexuals, recreational drug use, prostitution and oral sex, the song was a commercial hit, to this day receiving daytime airplay, brilliant! There’s more under the radar cross dressing subtlety with the song Make Up too, its like The Factory never left Reed.

The second half of the album certainly lives up to the brilliance of the first half, but if the first half was about Reed and Ronson, the second is surely about Reed and Bowie. Songs like the gorgeous Satellite of Love and Wagon Wheel only goes to show the might of this album, it really does have all the hallmarks of a classic release this. And don’t even get me started on I’m So Free, a song which is guaranteed to be played more than once on your first listen of this album.

Transformer in many ways is Reed’s rebirth, helped by men who idolised him; Reed has created perhaps an album which overshadows anything the three men primarily involved had done before or since. That undoubtedly is a controversial thing to say especially as one of these men is David Bowie, but this album is absolutely staggering and literally has no flaws whatsoever, a moment in time where three of the greatest musical minds of the 1970’s combined to create an album of perfection.

Last edited by TheCellarTapes; 07-21-2009 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 07-21-2009, 01:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've said before that I prefer Berlin, but that's not to write Transformer off at all. A bunch of very strong songs, wonderfully produced and it packs some killer singles too (as you said). I guess I'm just a bit over-familiar with it all by now.

Sharp review as well.
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Old 07-21-2009, 02:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Good review, as expected from what I've seen of your member Journal. Like Bulldog, I also prefer Berlin to Transformer, and of Reed's catalog I wouldn't rate it his best album. I didn't realize before how different the two sides of Transformer really were. I knew David Bowie produced it and I picked up that some of his style was in there, but what I didn't know was all the jazz about Mick Ronson, who I haven't heard of until now. Glad to read and learn as always, maybe I'll give this album another spin.
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Old 07-21-2009, 10:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Great review of a great album. Although I only have two of his albums, this one is definitely the stronger of the two and one of the more played albums in the last month or so. I think that their are a few songs that let the album down but then again their are some hits which are amazing, such as "Satellite of Love.''

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Old 07-22-2009, 09:12 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Completely amazing album, I have about 500 plays for Lou Reed on my last fm and most of them come from this album.
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Old 07-22-2009, 09:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Love Lou. All his sh*t. This one is up there. My favorites though are Coney Island Baby and The Blue Mask.
I've wanted to get my hands on the Street Hassle LP for a long time now but I believe it's out of print even via download. I gotta check again.
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Old 07-30-2009, 08:12 PM   #7 (permalink)
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This is a shizztastic review for a shizztastic album. I really gotta get more by him as a solo artist.
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Old 07-30-2009, 08:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Whilst I think it is highly overrated, it's still a decent album with some great tracks on, some even beautiful. I wouldn't rate it as a classic like a lot of people would but I do enjoy listening to it all the way through quite regularly.
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Old 08-19-2009, 12:59 PM   #9 (permalink)
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the only thing lacking on Transformer is Lou's own guitar playing, which was a major feature of the Velvet Underground and doesn't show up in Lou's solo work until the late 70s ... not that it's required that he play guitar to make a great album, but I'm a guitar player and a fan of Lou's playing in particular ... his tones on his last clutch of records (Set The Twilight Reeling, Ecstasy) have been unbelievably, and the sound on even his (so-so) live acoustic record Perfect Night is incredible

That said, I also greatly enjoy Metal Machine Music in both its original (studio) and more recent (live) incarnations, and the improv / ambient stuff Lou is doing right now is wonderful as well
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