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4.5 stars (flawed Classic),
This review is from: Transformer (Audio CD)
There's an old saying that media exec's have been trotting around for decades, something along the lines of "any publicity's good publicity". I mention this following all of the negative responses 2011's Lulu the now infamous collabaration between Lou Reed and Thrash Metal demigods Metallica recieved last year. It's tempting to think the backlash was exactly what Lou had in mind, considering he's not enjoyed attention this widespread since the release of his 1989 opus "New York".
If my theory is correct, it's interesting to remember there was once a time back in the early 70's, where Lou didn't have to resort to absurd gimmicks to get people listening (Metal Machine Music aside). He just hooked up with the most popular rock musician at the time David bowie (you might of heard of him ) who opted to produce "Transformer" purely on the strength of his groundbreaking work with the Velvet Underground. Lou took the oppurtunity to release a great record that rightfully earned him a new audience for his tales of NYC debauchery.
The Albums two obvious highlights "Perfect Day" seen by some to be Reed's romantacization of his own heroin addiction and "Walk on the Wild Side" a more overt tale of gender bending prostitution hardly need any elaboration. These two songs are probably known by everybody with only a passing interest in rock music never mind Lou Reed and thats not because they've been arbitrarily over played since their release 40 years ago, they have effortlessly stood the test of time quite simply because they're brilliant songs. If they were the only higlights on Transformer than it would probably still be worth owning, fortunately there's also "Vicious" a rollicking opener, with an engaging pulse and sassy attitude that bears a passing resemblance to the VU classic "Sweet Jane". "Satelelite of Love" is another glam rock gem and still a popular favourite with it's alluringly unique melody and memorable coda of backing vocals courtesy of Mr Bowie.
The album slightly falls short of masterpiece status for me though, mainly because of the more insouciant moments throughout it's 37 minutes. Like "Make Up" which is delightfully understated yet a touch too whimsical and "Goodnight Ladies" suffers from a similar problem despite it's charmingly vaudevillian New orleans instrumentation. It's pedantic to focus on some of the minor pitfalls on here though, as everything else sounds great including the two bonus tracks that come with this particular release of the album. If you don't yet have this in your collection you really should not only because it's massively influentual it's also one of the best collections of rock and roll songs you're likely to listen to.