Thursday, November 8, 2012


Lou Reed took a walk on the wild side to find his inner beauty, a new sound, and a new lease on life with the androgynous glam of this campy classic.  'Transformer' was recorded in London at Trident Studios with David Bowie and Mick Ronson co-producing.  Bowie had been a big fan of Reed's work with the Velvet Underground and with the huge success of 'Ziggy Stardust', he was in the position to help him record his new album.  The sessions featured Reed on guitar, keyboards, and vocals; Ronson on lead guitar, piano, recorder, backing vocals, and string arrangements; and Bowie on background vocals.  Since Reed did not have a band anymore, they brought in studio musicians:  Herbie Flowers on bass guitar, double-bass, and tuba; and John Halsey on drums; as well as Klaus Voormann on bass; Barry DeSouza and Ritchie Dharma on drums; Ronnie Ross on baritone saxophone; and the Thunder Thighs on backing vocals.  

'Transformer' went to number twenty-nine in the US and number thirteen in the UK.  Reed adopted the sexually ambiguous style of glam and combined it with the subversive decadence of his work with the Velvets to produce a new sound that portrays the underground characters with sensitivity and humor:  "The makeup thing is just a style thing now, like platform shoes. If people have homosexuality in them, it won't necessarily involve makeup in the first place. You can't fake being gay, because being gay means you're going to have to suck cock, or get fucked. I think there's a very basic thing in a guy if he's straight where he's just going to say no: 'I'll act gay, I'll do this and I'll do that, but I can't do that.' Just like a gay person if they wanted to act straight and everything, but if you said, 'Okay, go ahead, go to bed with a girl,' they're going to have to get an erection first, and they can't do that.  The notion that everybody's bisexual is a very popular line right now, but I think its validity is limited. I could say something like if in any way my album helps people decide who or what they are, then I will feel I have accomplished something in my life. But I don't feel that way at all. I don't think an album's gonna do anything. You can't listen to a record and say, 'Oh that really turned me onto gay life, I'm gonna be gay.' A lot of people will have one or two experiences, and that'll be it. Things may not change one iota. It's beyond the control of a straight person to turn gay at the age he'll probably be listening to any of his stuff or reading about it; he'll already be determined psychologically. It's like Franco said: 'Give me a child until he's seven and he's mine.' By the time a kid reaches puberty they've been determined. Guys walking around in makeup is just fun. Why shouldn't men be able to put on makeup and have fun like women have?"

The adult themed 'Walk on the Wild Side' became an unlikely hit for Reed, going to number sixteen in the US and number ten in the UK.


full album:

Lou Reed - Transformer from Juan Pedro Soriano on Vimeo.

All songs written by Lou Reed.

Side one
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
Side two
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

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