|Lou Reed - Transformer|
|Release: 1972 / Label: RCA / Collection: T!P / AMG Rating:|
|1||Vicious||7||Satellite Of Love|
|2||Andy's Chest||8||Wagon Wheel|
|3||Perfect Day||9||New York Telephone Conversation|
|4||Hangin' 'Round||10||I'm So Free|
|5||Walk On The Wild Side||11||Goodnight Ladies|
Rob Bowmanan, All Music Guide
Produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, Transformer has a lushness and beauty to its production and arrangements that Reed's material had never before received. The hit single "Walk on the Wild Side" was a fluke brought about by the actions of one fill-in disc jockey at the BBC. The song chronicles several personages from Andy Warhol's Factory retinue, including speed-freaks and transvestites giving head; it is boggling to this day that it got by AM radio programmers. Other Reed classics such as "Vicious" and "Satellite of Love" get similar treatment.
Mark Deming, All Music Guide
David Bowie has never been shy about acknowledging his influences, and since the boho decadence and sexual ambiguity of the Velvet Underground's music had a major impact on Bowie's work, it was only fitting that as Ziggy Stardust-mania was reaching its peak, Bowie would offer Lou Reed some much needed help with his career, which was stuck in neutral after his first solo album came and went. Musically, Reed's work didn't have too much in common with the sonic bombast of the glam scene, but at least it was a place where his eccentricities could find a comfortable home, and on Transformer Bowie and his right-hand man, Mick Ronson, crafted a new sound for Reed that was better fitting (and more commercially astute) than the ambivalent tone of his first solo album. Ronson adds some guitar raunch to "Vicious" and "Hangin' Round" that's a lot flashier than what Reed cranked out with the Velvets, but still honors Lou's strengths in guitar-driven hard rock, while the imaginative arrangements Ronson cooked up for "Perfect Day," "Walk on the Wild Side," and "Goodnight Ladies" blend pop polish with musical thinking just as distinctive as Reed's lyrical conceits. And while Reed occasionally overplays his hand in writing stuff he figured the glam kids wanted ("Make Up" and "I'm So Free" being the most obvious examples), "Perfect Day," "Walk on the Wild Side," and "New York Telephone Conversation" proved he could still write about the demimonde with both perception and respect. The sound and style of Transformer would in many ways define Lou Reed's career in the 1970s, and while it led him into a style that proved to be a dead end, you can't deny that Bowie and Ronson gave their hero a new lease on life — and a solid album in the bargain.
Jerry McCulley, Amazon.com
This sophomore release by the Velvet Underground cofounder has long been hailed as one of the key touchstones of the punk and alternative eras that followed it. Reinforcing the literary adage to "write what you know," Reed paints an alternately detached/debauched portrait of the drag-and-drugs-infused underground of Warhol's New York, a place, time, and mindset so compelling it has largely overshadowed the rest of the singer-songwriter's mercurial career. That the album would also give Reed an unlikely Top 20 pop hit via the teasing, twisted sexuality of "Walk on the Wild Side" is but one of its deep, rewarding ironies. Indeed, as produced by David Bowie and guitarist and cohort Mick Ronson at the height of their own Ziggy Stardust fame, Reed's songs are cast in a seductive cabaret setting that's more Jacques Brel than Lower East Side. This 30th-anniversary edition features two unreleased acoustic demos ("Hangin' 'Round," "Perfect Day"), a vintage radio spot by announcer and word-jazz cult fave Ken Nordine, and a new illustrated booklet and perceptive essay by Michael Hill.
Dan Leone, Amazon.co.uk
Transformer, Lou Reed's second post- Velvet Underground album, was produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson (Bowie's guitarist) in 1972. It features such classics as "Vicious" and "Walk On The Wild Side", as well as a bopping, subdued version of "Andy's Chest", which the Velvet Underground had already recorded. The album's consistently goofy and great back-up vocals are courtesy of Bowie and Ronson. Lou's usual cast of characters are present throughout: transvestites, junkies, weirdoes, Holly, Candy, Little Joe, Sugar, Jacki--even Harry, Mark and John, who stop by to say hi in the middle of "Satellite Of Love". "Goodnight Ladies" features a rocking tuba downbeat and a baritone sax that will wail you away to la-la land. Other than that, it is packed with Reed's raw guitar and rah-rah lyrics, like, "The tinsel light of starbreak/Is all that's left to applaud my heartbreak/And at 11 o'clock I watch the network news".
Matthew Stephens, Pitchfork Media, March 12, 2003
Being Lou Reed in 1972 was a raw deal: two years
after walking away from one of the greatest and most influential bands in
rock history, he found himself a penniless, strung-out wreck, with a
career suddenly and seriously on the wane. To make matters worse, his
self-titled solo debut, released earlier that year, was a monumental flop,
a hastily thrown together collection of second rate re-recordings of
Velvet Underground outtakes that lacked the intensity and focus of his
earlier music. Reed was at a crossroads, unsure of which direction to take
his newfound independence.
Andy Gill, Q Magazine, October 2000, )
Like some old glam queen plastering make-up on to try and stay young, Transformer (1972) has aged badly. The Bowie/Ronson production, which sounded bright and sassy at the time, now seems brittle, and apart from Walk On The Wild Side, Satellite Of Love, Vicious and Perfect Day, the rest is forgettably mediocre.
Nick Tosches, Rolling Stone, January 4, 1973
A real cockteaser, this album. That great cover: Lou
and those burned-out eyes staring out in grim black and white beneath a
haze of gold spray paint, and on the back, ace berdache Ernie Thormahlen
posing in archetypal butch, complete with cartoon erectile bulge, short
hair, motorcycle cap, and pack of Luckies up his T-shirt sleeve, and then
again resplendent in high heels, panty hose, rouge, mascara, and long
ebony locks; the title with all its connotations of finality and
electro-magnetic perversity. Your preternatural instincts tell you it's
all there, but all you're given is glint, flash and frottage.
Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, issue 892, March 28, 2002
There's good fake Bowie (you remember Al
Stewart's "Year of the Cat"), and there's bad fake Bowie (you don't
remember Spacehog), and, of course, there's transcendent fake Bowie (you
could probably hum "Rocket Man" right now). But Lou Reed's Transformer is
one of the all-time great fake-Bowie albums, partly because David Bowie
himself produced it (with longtime guitar pal Mick Ronson), and partly
because Bowie copped so much of his steez from Reed in the first place.
Reed's 1972 solo debut, Lou Reed, had been a folksy beauty, with ballads
such as "Going Down," "I Love You" and "Love Makes You Feel." But
Transformer turns up the guitar flash for a glam manifesto every bit as
outrageous as Lou Reed himself. If a sexy New York sociopath in lipstick
and a motorcycle jacket sneering, "You hit me with a flower" isn't glam,
Pat Blashill, Rolling Stone, issue 908, October 31, 2002
Lou Reed's second solo album could have
been called Transgressor: His focus was all on deranging the senses,
dressing up as the opposite sex and, most decadent of all, locking up your
heart behind a wall of anger and spite. Released in 1972, on the heels of
Reed's days of ferocious experimentalism with the Velvet Underground,
Transformer was the moment when the Seventies poster boy for shock-rock
therapy found a balance between unbelievably catchy tunes and protopunk
reportage from the gutters of Manhattan. The conventional gossip about
Transformer is that producers David Bowie and Mick Ronson did almost
everything and Reed was barely conscious for the sessions. What is more
certainly true is that it was payback time: In return for everything he
had learned from the Velvet Underground, Bowie brought an element of
theatricality to Reed's sound.