Of all the albums that are relatively “new” to me in this experience, I don’t think there are many I have enjoyed more from beginning to end than “Transformer” by Lou Reed. This isn’t a complete surprise to me, as I also loved the Velvet Underground album from 1967. This album is rated #109 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and I’m honestly surprised it wasn’t rated higher.
As with music that might be considered new-reaching or experimental, for me at least, there still has to be a hook, a musical appeal that makes me want to listen to it again. All different than the others, but I truly enjoy every song on this album, and I don’t say that often. Still fully immersed in the glam-rock scene of New York, surrounded by strong influences like Andy Warhol and David Bowie, who produced this album with his guitarist Mick Ronson, Lou Reed really created a great and eclectic collection of songs. Of course, anyone who remotely knows of Lou Reed recognizes “Walk On the Wild Side”, and like most, I do love that song, but it is the rest of this album that really stands out to me.
Opening with the guitar rocker “Vicious”, the album then tends to vary from up-tempo to slower, as we then get “Andy’s Chest” and the beautiful song “Perfect Day”. Next comes another rocker with a great melody, so very infectious, “Hangin’ ‘Round”, with “Walk on the Wild Side” closing out Side One.
Sexual exploration and experimentation are common themes with Lou Reed, and you get a sense of that with “Make Up”. “Satellite of Love” and “Wagon Wheel” are both great tunes, so easy to enjoy, and the eclectic ending that comes with “New York Telephone Conversation”, “I’m So Free”, and the perfect closing track, “Goodnight Ladies” conclude one of my favorite new albums during this journey.
This album likely represents the peak of Lou Reed’s influential career, and credit to Bowie & Ronson for helping him to make this masterpiece.