Wednesday, November 8, 1972

Lou Reed Transformer released


Lou Reed

Released: November 8, 1972

Charted: December 16, 1972

Peak: 29 US, 13 UK, 12 CN, 12 AU, 14 DF

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.3 UK

Genre: proto punk/glam


Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to charts.

  1. Vicious [2:55] (4/73, --)
  2. Andy’s Chest [3:17]
  3. Perfect Day [3:43]
  4. Hangin’ ‘Round [3:39]
  5. Walk on the Wild Side [4:12] (11/72, 16 US, 10 UK)
  6. Make Up [2:58]
  7. Satellite of Love [3:40] (2/73, --)
  8. Wagon Wheel [3:19]
  9. New York Telephone Conversation [1:31]
  10. I’m So Free [3:07]
  11. Goodnight Ladies [4:19]

All songs written by Lou Reed.

Total Running Time: 36:40


4.350 out of 5.00 (average of 25 ratings)


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

After four albums with the hugely influential group the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed launched his solo career in 1972 with his self-titled debut album. Before year’s end, he was back with Transformer, an album celebrated as “an influential landmark of the glam rock genre.” WK

Part of the credit goes to David Bowie. Earlier in the year he released his own iconic album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Considering the impact the Velvet Underground had on Bowie’s work, it was fitting that he “would offer Lou Reed some much needed help with his career.” AMG As co-producers on Transformer, Bowie and Mick Ronson, the guitarist on Ziggy “crafted a new sound for Reed that was better fitting (and more commercially astute) than the ambivalent tone of his first solo album.” AMG The album’s “commercial success elevated him from cult status to become an international star.” WK

“Musically, Reed’s work didn't have too much in common with the sonic bombast of the glam scene, but at least it was a place where his eccentricities could find a comfortable home.” AMG Nowhere was that more apparent than on Walk on the Wild Side, Reed’s most successful single. The song “touched on controversial topics of sexual orientation, gender identity, prostitution and drug use,” WK not exactly the usual fare for a pop hit.

That song, along with Perfect Day and Goodnight Ladies, are examples of how Ronson’s “imaginative arrangements… blend pop polish with musical thinking just as distinctive as Reed’s lyrical conceits.” AMG Ronson also “adds some guitar raunch to Vicious and Hangin’ Round that’s a lot flashier than what Reed cranked out with the Velvets, but still honors Lou’s strengths in guitar-driven hard rock.” AMG

Four of the songs here originated with the Velvet Underground. Earilier versions of Andy’s Chest and Satellite of Love can be found on the Velvet Underground’s box set Peel Slowly and See while the band had played New York Telephone Converation and “Goodnight Ladies” during a 1970 summer residency at Max’s Kansas City.

“The sound and style of Transformer would in many ways define Reed’s career in the 1970s, and while it led him into a style that proved to be a dead end, you can't deny that Bowie and Ronson gave their hero a new lease on life — and a solid album in the bargain.” AMG

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First posted 11/16/2010; last updated 11/5/2023.

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