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By Needles in Camel's Eye
February 18, 2001
Just about the finest time capsule in musical terms ever. Catches the moods, sentiments of the early 70s. Free sexuality, the next generation after flower children, the rise of homosexuality into pop culture ("Walk on the Wild Side", "Make-up"). Simply an fascinating period in which to live and the music...brilliant. With Ziggy Stardust and Here Comes The Warm Jets, This Year's Model, etc. But enough about the period let's get to the music!
The opening track "Viscious" is a staple of a Lou Reed, foot-tapping repitition, simple yet brilliant lyrics, and wild guitar solos. "Andy's Chest" could quite possibly be both the oddest song ever recorded, and one of his most important for establishing Lou apart from popular music (if his Velvet Underground years weren't enough!!!). Track 3 is the beautifully painful "Perfect Day" on mourning the past of a failed relationship. Track 4 "Hangin' Round" is brilliant, much of the same things that made "Viscious" genius exist here, the perfect combination of blues and rock. Track 5 is "Walk on The Wild Side", Lou's only top ten hit, the perfect portrayal of the underground the under-belly of alternative sexuality ("Shaved her legs, then he was a she"). Classic. Then we come to the only "off" track of the album (the reason for it's 8.5) "Make-up". I don't know, maybe cause I'm not gay, but I just can't connect emotionally with this song. Next number 7, "Satellite of Love" the best love song of the glam-rock era, brilliant back-up vocals and guitars by David Bowie and Mick Ronson, this track always leave me feeling good...
Next comes Lou Reed's song that truly had an influence on the southern blues movement of the mid-70s, "Wagon Wheel." The opening guitar sounds just like a Creedence song. I love it, hands down my favorite track on the record (even though it was written by Bowie). Next comes a quick little diddy "New York Telephone Conversation" which seems like a lyric lifted from a Broadway musical, since theater had a serious influence on the wild "performance" rock of the glam-rock era. Track 10 "I'm So Free" is a bold declaration that resounded through the music community. And finally track 11, my second favorite number, Lou's ode to human loneliness "Goodnight Ladies" played in the style of a jazz band in a lonely club long after closing time. Good Stuff.
All in all, I love this album. It's excellent for converting people to Lou and swaying a Velvet Underground fanatic (like I was) to respect his parting to pursue a solo career. Wonderful, quite possibly the greatest glam rock/jazzy/blues/gutsy bit of vinyl of all-time.
To listen to some sound clips from TRANSFORMER or to buy it, click on: Transformer (Bonus Tracks - Buy.com)or Transformer [Expanded Edition - CC Music]
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