44541-2 Transformer
Produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson
Released on November 1972
US CHART POSITION #29 . . . UK CHART POSITION #13 . . . UK CHART POSITION #91 (1982)
Find it at GEMM
44541-2 cover  

With David Bowie as the young impresario, Lou Reed was re-modeled into a glam punk star for Transformer. It’s arguably Reed’s best solo record, tapping into the VU vibe to showcase the singer’s bored, angry observations from the strung-out sexual culture of Andy Warhol’s Factory. Transformer contains Reed’s biggest hit, “Walk on the Wild Side,” as well as lesser known but equally loved tracks like “Vicious” (a cousin to “Sweet Jane”) and “Satellite of Love” (the best Bowie song that Ziggy never wrote). Though the references to bisexuality belong to a bygone era, the impact of Reed’s lapses of clarity are still powerful today. “Andy’s Chest,” “Perfect Day” and “Wagon Wheel” hover in a hazy understanding punctuated by moments of piercing lucidity; only Reed can make the rhyming of “lazy” and “crazy” seem profound. The backing musicians, led by Mick Ronson, provide arrangements that are spare but inventive. The music doesn’t always work; Reed’s Muswell Hillbillies impression on “Make Up” and “Goodnight Ladies” sounds out of it, but re-casting the vocalist in a variety of lights does give the material a lot of character. Song for song, Transformer is as good an album as Reed has made. Calling this glam is a stretch, since Reed lacks the requisite feyness crucial to glam, yet it is spacey at times. The artwork is also in, er, questionable taste, but as its title suggests, Transformer at least partly sought to celebrate the transvestite/bisexual culture. Reed’s status as a self-standing star was established with this record, and it remains a must-own for his fans.

44541-2 picture disc
44541-2 picture disc

TRACK LISTING

  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

    All songs written by Lou Reed
    Song arrangements: Lou Reed, David Bowie & Mick Ronson. String and Brass arrangements: Mick Ronson.

CREDITS

LOU REED -- vocals, guitars, mixing
DAVID BOWIE -- vocal backings, mixing
BARRY DESOUZA -- drums
RITCHIE DHARMA -- drums
HERBIE FLOWERS -- bass guitar, string bass, arrangement (11), tuba
JOHN HALZEY -- drums
MICK RONSON -- guitars, vocal backings, piano, recorders, mixing
RONNIE ROSS -- baritone sax
THE THUNDER THIGHS -- vocal backings
KLAUS VOORMAN -- bass guitar
Ken Scott -- mixing

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US November 1972 RCA LP/CS    
UK November 1972 RCA LP/CS AYL1/AYK1-3806  
CAN   RCA LP LSP 4807  
GRC   RCA LP 20122  
UK June 1982   LP/CS    
    RCA CD PCD1-4807  
  1996 BMG CD   repackaged w. BERLIN
US 1997 BMG Special Products CD 44541  

 

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