Lou Reed – Transformer (1972)

By: Matt Wilson

Transformer, produced by the power duo of David Bowie and Mick Ronson, is Lou Reed’s seminal post VU release . This record gave the world its first real glimpse of Lou turning full throttle toward his Bowie-glitz-glam-ambitions. From the first note, it’s clear that Reed was able to capture and project what Mick Jagger could not (which, I believe, is rooted in his hard-edged, gritty, NYC pedigree set ablaze by the white lights that cooked his adolescent brain). Where Jagger just wanted so badly to spend the night together to assuage his narcissistic-self-indulgence, Lou actually lived the “Satellite Love” life – in the gutter and the stratosphere. With Harry, Mark and John. Lou was a transformer. Too his core. I believe him.


Side A

Vicious calls to mind the driving, heroin-laced, rhythms of the Nico era, with a sightly odd, Neil Young meets Jim Carrol metered vox track.

Andy’s Chest. Bass lines. Storylines.

Perfect Day is one of those tunes that seemed destined to be the title track to a motion picture. Still, like most Lou tunes, I always look for the cynicism and darkness that lay in wait. I guess that I know that this a positive song, but I can’t help but look for the hidden evil.

Hanging Round is a classic rock ditty with slight rockabilly hints. A space filler if there is one on side A.

Walk on the Wild Side. No description needed. The colored girls go.

Side B

Make Up could have easily been penned by Syd Barrett from the inner sanctum of some from rubber room in Oxford. Tuba lines dancing around circus-themed melodies. “We’re coming out of our closets.” Indeed.

Satellite Love. The opus.

Wagon Wheel. A little bit mama’s got a squeeze box, a little bit Chuck Berry. Throw in some Beach Boy melodies and we have the album’s outlier, and yet a perfect late album track.

New York Telephone Conversation. Broadway show tunes fit for Tim Curry.

I’m so Free bleeds Mick Ronson guitar riffs sheltered and tamed within a feel-good Stoneramic shuffle. The track aptly leads us off the cliff as we close with the record’s final track.

Goodnight Ladies. More tuba coupled with a curious r-rated “Goodnight Irene” vibe.

Thanks team. See you next month.



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