Sunday, September 09, 2007

On my turntable: Lou Reed - Transformer

For years I was reluctant to like this album. I bought it in 1996 in a flury of used records, based on a MOJO magazine Top 100 list. Some of those records have since been sold back to the record store, and at one point I was tempted to sell this one as well, but I'm glad I kept it.

I'm not sure why I had such an attitude towards Lou Reed. It might have been his singing. It might have been all the little pseudo punk emo kids who worshiped Velvet Underground - I just didn't get it. So why is it that now I like this record? Dunno. Over the past few years I've developed a finer appreciation for early Glam records, like T-Rex's Electric Warrior, and the first New York Dolls LP. While I don't consider Transformer (1972) to be straight ahead glam, it does have Bowie's Hunky Dory-era stamp on it. The music is bare bones rock, with the occasional horns or strings thrown in for sweetening. It might have taken ten years, but I can now declare that I am officiallly a fan of this album.


Jay said...

Yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk yuk YUK!

I 'spose your next post will that KQ is your favorite station, and that you are a born again Lynard Skynard, Rush and Steely Dan fan.

Jeff said...

Yes, that's my next post.

Lou Reed and VU are not the same as Skynard, Rush & SD. Totally different.

Also, I'm not saying (yet) that I'm a Lou Reed fan, but I AM a fan of this album. It's good.

Mark said...

Be a Lou Reed fan. Be an early period/late period Lou Reed fan. The middle gets a little mucky.

I bought this album the week it came out, when I was about to turn 18. I made a special trip to Times Square because something told me it needed to be purchased in that milieu.

I played it so much back then, to the point where even my Mom liked it, and would sing along to the chorus of Wagon Wheel, or take the lead while I sang the Bowie part of Satelite of Love.

For a little while, I thought I worshipped Lou, but sitting next to him at a local gay bar cured me of that for good.

Jeff said...

Mark - are there particular early/late period albums that you would recommend? I read somewhere that his first solo album is not unlike a VU album.

Mark said...

All four VU studio albums are basically and drastically different from the others. There's a rather twisted cabaret album, a raw, down and dirty rock and roll album, a beautiful album of ballads and sad songs, and a rather upbeat and rockin' swan song.

I highly recommend at least the first three Lou solo albums. The first has members of Yes and Elton John's band backing him, and if it's redolent of VU, it's mostly Loaded it refers to, and that high praise. It sounds a bit underdone/overdone, as if Lou doesn't quite know how to get his point across. He solves this with Transformer. Berlin is definitely one of the most depressing albums ever made, but it's incredibly rewarding, melodically, if you hang on for the ride. Rock n Roll Animal pairs him with Alice Cooper's producer (again) and band mates as well. It's grandious, but it has special moments. It Lou with a Big Band!

I'm particularly fond of Songs for 'Drella, the album he did with John Cale in tribute to Andy Warhol. Also, his New York album, which is an elegy to a lost city and civilization.

Don't get me started on John Cale!