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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 March 2017
..and if we’re talking icons, another highly memorable one is Mick Rock’s legendary photo (taken in The Dorchester Hotel, no less!) of Lou, David Bowie and Iggy Pop, arms around shoulders, basking in the reflected glory of early 70s glam-rock (though to 'belittle’ these three by reference to a transient fashion would be a mega-injustice). In (or around) 1972 we were blessed with Ziggy, Aladdin Sane, Berlin and Raw Power, and extending to cover Messrs. Bolan and Cooper, Electric Warrior, The Slider, Killer and School’s Out, as well as Lou’s gender-bending classic, Transformer – for me personally, one of the most formative, fertile, creative periods in ‘rock’ ever (evidenced by the fact that these albums, pound for pound, probably still receive more airtime than any others in my household).

What is interesting, and not to say a little surprising, about Transformer is the mixed reception it initially received (and still receives) in some quarters, but I would argue that its post-Warhol tales of low-life, taboo-breaking eccentricity mix dark themes and ironic humour (not to mention great tunes!) to form an enthralling (dare I say it?) concept album. Reed owes a significant debt of gratitude to both Bowie and Hull’s finest, Mick Ronson, for the superb arrangements here. And not just the arrangements, that’s none other than Ronson himself playing the sublime Wakeman Hunky Dory era-like piano (plus recorder!) on Satellite Of Love. Of course, Walk On The Wild Side is, well, Walk On The Wild Side, simply one of the most inspired, original songs ever – simple, evocative, timeless, perfect. And talking of perfect, evoking the melodic qualities of the Velvets’ finest (Sunday Morning, Femme Fatale, Candy Says, etc) is the lush, beautiful Perfect Day. Elsewhere, each of Vicious, Andy’s Chest, Hangin’ Round, Wagon Wheel and I’m So Free evoke the album’s post-Velvets aura, rocking along to good effect with the Ronson-influenced guitar playing to the fore, whilst New York Telephone Conversation and the quirky Herbie Flowers tuba-beat on closer Goodnight Ladies add the ironic, finishing touch to Reed’s distinctive and original concept.

Indeed, Reed’s penchant for the tongue-in-cheek extends to the album’s iconic (sorry that word again!) sleeve design, again featuring Rock’s photography. As Michael Hill’s sleeve notes (to the 2002 CD) suggest, the (apparent) 'gay hustler’s’ lunch-box seems to provide a particularly unforgettable throw-back to Warhol’s cover design for the Velvets’ debut album!
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on 15 November 2013
I really like the energy and musical mania along with Nico's breathy tone--The Velvet Underground and Nico--White light White Heat is a pretty cool album once you get your head around the production values, there aren't any.

Transformer in conparison is like a very weak tepid cup of own brand tea that has rightly been consigned to the buy one get two free bucket a ghastly album that may as well have been recorded by Cliff Richards
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With both David Bowie and Lou Reed having passed so recently - re-listening to 1972's utterly brilliant "Transformer" is a bittersweet experience. But more than the pain of their loss - you're also struck by just how 'fully-formed' the record is, how lyrically kick-ass it was (and still is) and that it’s not just some dismissible showy glam rock period piece either. This sucker has more attitude (and mascara) than the angst-ridden gay spawn of Mary Whitehouse and Eddie Izzard. If anything "Transformer" seems shockingly rad in 2016 - contemporary and emotionally brave (a bit like its creator really).

Produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson (Ronson on Guitars, Bowie on Backing Vocals also) - the whole of Lou Reed's "Transformer" works - and Vic Anesini's wonderful 2002 CD remaster brings the album to life like never before – each track clean yet muscular without ever being over trebled for the sake of it. The audio of the monster smash "Walk On The Wild Side" alone is enough to make the hairs on the back on neck stand up (that Bass line, the Baritone Sax solo). Here are the plucked eyebrows...and shaved legs...

USA released 22 October 2002 (28 October 2002 in the UK) – "Transformer" by LOU REED on BMG/RCA 07863 65132 2 (Barcode 078636513225) is an expanded 'Original Masters' CD Remaster and plays out as follows (45:23 minutes):

1. Vicious
2. Andy's Chest
3. Perfect Day
4. Hangin' 'Round
5. Walk On The Wild Side
6. Make Up [Side 2]
7. Satellite Of Love
8. Wagon Wheel
9. New York Telephone Conversation
10. I'm So Free
11. Goodnight Ladies
Tracks 1 to 11 are his 2nd solo LP "Transformer" – released 8 November 1972 in the USA and UK on RCA Victor LSP-4807 (didn't chart until April 1973 in the UK). All songs by LOU REED – Produced by DAVID BOWIE and MICK RONSON – it peaked at 13 on the UK charts and 29 in the USA. Other guest Musicians included Herbie Flowers on Bass and Tuba, Klaus Voorman on Bass with Barry Desousza, John Halzey and Richie Dharma on Drums

12. Hangin' 'Round (Previously Unreleased Acoustic Demo)
13. Perfect Day (Previously Unreleased Acoustic Demo)

The 16-page booklet is a pleasingly chubby and substantive affair – rare foreign picture sleeves for "Walk On The Wild Side" (most countries had "Perfect Day" as the B-side but some had "Vicious"), sheet music, RCA Master Tape Boxes, a music press advert for the album and even a picture of the 8-track cartridge on Page 3. The CD is a picture disc (Reed live) and there's even a "Transformer" period photo beneath the see-through tray.

MICHAEL HILL provides the excellent and informative liner notes that go into song-by-song analysis and general ruminations on drag queens, Nelson Algren novels (where he got the title "Walk On The Wide Side") and how clueless BBC Radio 1 controllers simply didn't get the reference 'giving head' as being frightfully naughty and so played the song on English radio with gusto because it was 'one of those hit things' (much to the delight of the listening British public). But the big news is the truly superb VIC ANESINI Remaster. Anesini is a name I've raved about many times before when it comes to Audio Engineers - a man who seem to lift proceedings without drowning them out. He's worked on the prestigious Elvis Presley catalogue, Simon and Garfunkel. Carole King, Santana, The Jayhawks, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Byrds, Nilsson, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Denis Wilson (of The Beach Boys), Hall & Oates, Cab Calloway, Big Maybelle...to name but a few (see reviews for all). His work here is typically on the ball – the album is muscular without being showy and those formerly too-distant bottom-end rhythm pieces now full of subtle punch. A top job done...

The words alone on this record should elicit classrooms full of study – witty, street savvy, butch and snarling – characters are looking for Soul food and a place to eat. Holly from Miami FLA has shaved his/her legs and we’re all taking a walk on the wide side (baby). Any album that opens with a song that counter-culture's with "...You hit me with a flower...oh baby you're so vicious..." is probably not going to be a demo for the Euro Vision Song Contest. Even the soundscape of "Vicious” with that manic treated guitar in the background and the rhythm amplified into the right speaker like some voodoo man tapping out a New York mantra on an empty tin of beans – it has such a 'Lou Reed sound' (helped of course by David Bowie and Mick Ronson understanding what Reed wants). "Andy's Chest" talks of "venom snipers" and "hairy-minded pink bare bear" and "...yesterday Daisy May and Biff were grooving on the street..." So much of the album is about clothing, make up, lipstick traces, torn tights, sex and generally coming out in New York regardless of the consequences.

You have to say that "Andy's Chest" sounds amazing – especially those drums and backing vocals that used to kind of get lost on my vinyl issue. The beauty and ever so slightly lonely/desolate vibe that permeates the whole of "Perfect Day" was picked up by filmmakers (the druggy sequence in "Trainspotting") and even charity groups (1997 saw it reach No. 1 in the UK for three weeks after the BBC gathered together an all-star cast and used it (with permission) for their Children In Need Appeal). It was of course originally the B-side of "Walk On The Wild Side” when RCA issued that stunning song as a 45 7" single back in November 1972 in the USA (went to No. 10 in the UK in May 1973 after the "Transformer" album charted in April 1973).

Harry becomes a priest and digs up his recently deceased father in the wicked groove of "Hangin' 'Round" as the guitar-shadow of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and the following year's Aladdin Sane anchors the acidic lyrics. Then we get 'the' tune that defines the LP and for my money easily in the top 5 greatest 45 RPMs ever released bar none – the sensational "Walk On The Wlld Side". Even now it brings a smile to me face and flips a beat in my heart. The liner notes wittily explain that the song's truly iconic and hooky bass line by Herbie Flowers was more of a fluke than a stroke of musical genius. He did it first on an upright bass then added the more subtle electric bass line to underpin it - that way he got paid for two sessions instead of one. Flowers got his £12, RCA got their hit, Reed got to be a lippy Global superstar and we got musical history that literally oozes cool and sex. RCA issued it in the USA as a 3:57 minute edit without the 'oral' reference (to you know what) and it's a shame this CD reissue didn't include that version here as a third bonus track (plenty of room boys – as Candy would say on the streets of New York). By the way it's RONNIE ROSS who plays that brilliant Baritone Saxophone as the song fades out.

Side 2 opens with "Make Up" where Lou tells us of a 'slick little girl' and people coming out of their closets. It's followed by another gorgeous "Perfect Day" moment – the very Bowie/Mott The Hoople "Satellite Of Love". Originating from his Velvet days in 1969 – Reed updated the song for "Transformer". A simple piano refrains play as he sings of cars parked on Mars while someone on Earth has been bold with Harry, Mark and John (and that's just on Monday). "Wagon Wheel" slides in like a slick T. Rex knock off – that cleverly treated guitar sound while Lou sings of 'flirting with danger' – Anesini's remaster brings out the clarity of those quite 'heavenly father' passages. Vaudeville rhythm fills "New York Telephone Conversation" with a street gossip bitchiness and you're not really sure he means it when he sings "...I'm glad to hear from you all..." The chugging guitars and backing vocals of the utterly brilliant "I'm So Free" could easily have been another single – and the remaster here gives it incredible clarity and power (you can Bowie's voice just above those harmonies more now – and that Ronson guitar soloing as it fades out). It ends on a Tuba where Herbie Flowers puffs away as Reed gets all Leon Redbone on "Goodnight Ladies" telling us that she's sucked her lemon peel dry...nice.

I had thought the two demos would be throwaway – but their unplugged acoustic strum (beautifully produced) allows you to focus on the words that feature verses he didn't use in the finished song. Jeannie and her mentholated cigarettes are still in there as is "...you're still hung up on things I gave up years ago..." - but then there's Raymond who had no hair on his head so he didn't use a comb. The bittersweet "Perfect Day" feels even bleaker somehow in Acoustic Demo form as he sings "...it's just a perfect day...I'm glad I spent it with you..." Both are excellent finds.

What mercurial talents Lou Reed, David Bowie and Mick Ronson were between 1971 and 1973 – everything they touched seemed to have a kind of fairy dust magic about it. Some records grow in stature - get rediscovered and rightly so - Lou Reed's second solo LP "Transformer" is one of those albums. It's still fresh, effortlessly cool and lyrically as snotty as The Sex Pistols - and 44 years after the event – just as relevant.

All together now – "...And the colour girls go...do...de...do...de...do...de...do..."
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on 2 November 2011
Let me be clear - I love the original Transformer album. And right up to the start of the two 'bonus' tracks I was very pleased that I'd finally got the CD version for my collection. But the bonus tracks are AWFUL, ABYSMAL! Reed hams his way through acoustic versions of Hangin Round and Perfect Day, and they really are the pits. So now I've got a nice shiny CD that I have to rush to switch off once the final strains of Goodnight Ladies fade into the distance. Why ruin a classic by adding dross? Hubris my friends, pure hubris...
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on 15 June 2012
There's an old saying that media exec's have been trotting around for decades, something along the lines of "any publicity's good publicity". I mention this following all of the negative responses 2011's Lulu the now infamous collabaration between Lou Reed and Thrash Metal demigods Metallica recieved last year. It's tempting to think the backlash was exactly what Lou had in mind, considering he's not enjoyed attention this widespread since the release of his 1989 opus "New York".

If my theory is correct, it's interesting to remember there was once a time back in the early 70's, where Lou didn't have to resort to absurd gimmicks to get people listening (Metal Machine Music aside). He just hooked up with the most popular rock musician at the time David bowie (you might of heard of him ) who opted to produce "Transformer" purely on the strength of his groundbreaking work with the Velvet Underground. Lou took the oppurtunity to release a great record that rightfully earned him a new audience for his tales of NYC debauchery.

The Albums two obvious highlights "Perfect Day" seen by some to be Reed's romantacization of his own heroin addiction and "Walk on the Wild Side" a more overt tale of gender bending prostitution hardly need any elaboration. These two songs are probably known by everybody with only a passing interest in rock music never mind Lou Reed and thats not because they've been arbitrarily over played since their release 40 years ago, they have effortlessly stood the test of time quite simply because they're brilliant songs. If they were the only higlights on Transformer than it would probably still be worth owning, fortunately there's also "Vicious" a rollicking opener, with an engaging pulse and sassy attitude that bears a passing resemblance to the VU classic "Sweet Jane". "Satelelite of Love" is another glam rock gem and still a popular favourite with it's alluringly unique melody and memorable coda of backing vocals courtesy of Mr Bowie.

The album slightly falls short of masterpiece status for me though, mainly because of the more insouciant moments throughout it's 37 minutes. Like "Make Up" which is delightfully understated yet a touch too whimsical and "Goodnight Ladies" suffers from a similar problem despite it's charmingly vaudevillian New orleans instrumentation. It's pedantic to focus on some of the minor pitfalls on here though, as everything else sounds great including the two bonus tracks that come with this particular release of the album. If you don't yet have this in your collection you really should not only because it's massively influentual it's also one of the best collections of rock and roll songs you're likely to listen to.
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on 30 November 2000
After the flop of his debut album, Lou Reed came together with rising star David Bowie and the producer Mick Ronson to make his most acclaimed album. Such moving music had not been heard from the mouth of Lou Reed since White Light/White Heat with the Velvet Underground and his karmic precision in bringing beautiful clarity of lyrics with strong melodies and rhythm has only been equalled in recent years by Radiohead's OK Computer.
His lyricism puts him up with Shakespeare: a modern bard for a modern time. By saying this, I am sure I am making it clear that Lou Reed's Transformer has and will stand the test of time and will continue to influence generations as it had influenced the punk scene in the late 70's. All hail Reed the revolutionary rhetorician.
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on 22 August 2010
this is the one and only best album lou did with david bowie the rest of his output along with john cale are woeful to say the least lou reed is the most overrated artist of all time and also the velvet underground are very overrated. im a rock fan with very eclectic tastes and just dont get the adulation this man gets his albums are very ordinary to say the least the most talented new york scene artist is the incredible iggy pop but lou reed is treated as some deity because he had an association with andy warhol who also is also so overrated as an artist (peter blake blows him out of the water in a subtle english way) anyway just thought id have my say on another overrated artist and john cale is crap as well ok thanks andy
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on 21 July 2009
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. Proceeding 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.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 24 November 2013
Lou Reed's evocative second album 'Transformer', produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson is one that I think every self-respecting rock music fan should own in their collection.

It might have been released in late 1972, but like most good music, still remains as fresh, meaningful and popular as it ever did. In the track list, we have the famous four: 'Vicious', 'Perfect Day' (which can be summed up in just one world - sublime), 'Walk on the Wild Side' and 'Satellite of Love', and here I do honestly believe the hype, regarding these perfectly-crafted gems as the album's best tracks, and consider them reason enough to buy 'Transformer'.

As a solo artist, he was something else, and the music on here should appeal to so many people, particularly fans of the then contemporary glam rock sound. Like many groundbreaking albums, 'Transformer' was actually quite simple, blending together fantastic vocals with beautifully produced music.

Following Lou Reed's sad and untimely death earlier this year, I decided to listened to the Sony CD reissue from 2003, which comes complete with added three bonus tracks, including the acoustic demo of 'Perfect Day', in it's entirety for the first time in around five years, and was amazed to hear how well it still holds up in the present day. The 'Transformer' album is just timeless music from a genuine musical talent, an absolute legend, and the kind of which we are very unlikely to ever see or hear again.
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on 31 December 2011
The order I made for "Lou Reed - Transformer" showed the tracks 1 to 13 essentially similar apart from the first few. Track 2 on the details shown and another track near the end showed as "Transformer: Radio Spot" This track does not appear anywhere on the copy I have received. Also I thought I was getting a new copy which this may not be as there is no cellophane wrapping. Not sure what action to take - I could have got a second hand copy for £1.10 + £1.26 del = £ 2.36 but opted for new at £3.99.

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