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Music / Transformer

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"Oh, it's such a perfect day / I'm glad I spent it with you..."

Transformer is the second studio album by Lou Reed, released in 1972. David Bowie assisted him as producer and providing vocal and instrumental aid to certain songs.

Transformer also contains Reed's best known hit songs, including "Walk on the Wild Side", "Satellite of Love", and "Perfect Day".

A documentary about the creative process behind the making of this album can be seen in the Classic Albums TV documentary series. The album was listed at nr. #194 in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time. It was followed by the frankly disquieting Berlin which is downbeat and pessimistic - to an extreme - and the complete opposite of this album.



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

  1. "Make Up" (2:58)
  2. "Satellite of Love" (3:40)
  3. "Wagon Wheel" (3:19)
  4. "New York Telephone Conversation" (1:31)
  5. "I'm So Free" (3:07)
  6. "Goodnight Ladies" (4:19)

Bonus Tracks (30th Anniversary Edition):

  1. "Hangin' 'Round (Acoustic Demo)" (3:58)
  2. "Perfect Day (Acoustic Demo)" (4:50)


Take A Walk On The Tropin' Side:

  • Album Closure: The record ends with "Goodnight Ladies," about leaving a bar late at night.
    Goodnight ladies, ladies goodnight
    It's time to say goodbye
  • Abnormal Ammo: "Vicious" has the protagonist hitting someone else with a flower.
  • Accent Upon The Wrong Syllable: One character in "Walk On The Wild Side" "went to the A-POL-lo".
  • The Bear: Referenced in Andy's Chest;
    You've got a hairy minded pink bear there!
  • Beautiful Dreamer: "Make Up":
    Your face when sleeping is sublime
  • Big Applesauce: "New York Telephone Conversation"
  • Broken Record: "Perfect Day"
    You're going to reap just what you sow
  • Compensating for Something: On the back cover Ernie Thormahlen has a banana stuffed into the front of his blue jeans.
  • Cover Version: "Satellite Of Love" was originally a Velvet Underground song. A recorded version from 1970 exists, but was forgotten until the release of the compilation Peel Slowly And See from 1995.
  • "Days of the Week" Song: "Satellite Of Love"
    Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to Thursday
    With Harry, Mark and John
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The album cover.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: The album cover was designed by Mick Rock and Klaus Voormann.
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Perfect Day" has been interpreted as being about heroin use. Reed himself has said that he didn't write it that way and that it is just a love song, but doesn't refute other people's interpretation.
    It's such a perfect day;
    You made me forget myself;
    I thought I was someone else, someone good....
  • Face on the Cover: Lou's face, shown full frontal and in close-up.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: His hit "Walk on the Wild Side" features the line "But she never lost her head/Even when she was giving head" (as well as multiple usages of the already outdated and offensive term "coloured" to refer to African-Americans) and got (and still gets) a lot of airplay.
  • Glam Rock: Released during this era and generally associated with it, though to what degree it actually IS glam rock is up for debate.
  • Guyliner: Lou Reed on the cover.
  • Homage: homages to this album include:
    • "Can I Kick It?" by A Tribe Called Quest which samples the bass-line from "Walk On The Wild Side."
    • The original name of Paul Kelly's backing band was The Coloured Girls, in direct reference to "Walk On The Wild Side." (The band was composed entirely of white men.) It was later changed to The Messengers to avoid racist overtones.
  • In Harmony with Nature: "Perfect Day"
    "Just a perfect day/ feed animals in the zoo"
  • Let's Just Be Friends: Goodnight Ladies
    You said we could be friends, but that's not what I want (It's a lonely Saturday night)
  • Literary Allusion Title: Reed noted that he named "Walk on the Wild Side" after the 1956 Nelson Algren novel A Walk on the Wild Side (which in turn was titled for the 1952 Hank Thompson song, "The Wild Side of Life").
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "Walk on the Wild Side" is a smooth, hooky pop single... about drugs, transvestitism and gay prostitution. Could be considered a subversion, depending on your interpretation; it's a series of vignettes about real people, and Reed doesn't judge them for their life choices - he just talks about them as they are.
    • The sweet song "Perfect Day" where someone says he had a perfect day behind him and is glad to have "spent it with you" ends with the disturbing line "You're going to reap just what you sow".
  • Miniscule Rocking: "New York Telephone Conversation" is just 1 1/2 minutes long.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The album title doesn't appear in any of the lyrics.
  • Obsession Song: "Satellite of Love", where Lou observes the object of his affection in everything they do.
    I've been told that you've been bold
    With Harry, Mark and John
    Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to Thursday
    With Harry, Mark and John
  • One-Word Title: "Transformer" and "Vicious".
  • Pretender Diss: "Hangin' 'Round"
    You're still doing things that I gave up years ago!
  • Record Producer: David Bowie, which also makes him a Promoted Fanboy, seeing that he admired Reed's work with Velvet Underground before their first album was even released in the stores!
  • Rule of Three: Harry, Mark and John in "Satellite Of Love" are three people the subject of "Satellite Of Love" has been bold with.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Walk on the Wild Side" refers to Nelson Algren's novel "A Walk on the Wild Side".
    • Each named character from "Walk on the Wild Side" (Holly, Candy, etc.) is a real person connected with Andy Warhol's Factory.
    • "Andy's Chest" refers to Andy Warhol. The line "Vicious/ You hit me with a flower" in "Vicious" was thought up by Warhol.
    • "Goodnight Ladies" took its title from a line in T. S. Eliot's poem "The Waste Land".
    • The satellite of love in Mystery Science Theater 3000 takes its name from the song "Satellite Of Love".
  • Spoiled Brat: Jeanie in "Hangin' 'Round" is described as such.
  • Wham Line: From "Hangin' 'Round"
    Harry was a rich young man
    Who would become a priest
    He dug up his dear father
    Who was recently deceased
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Arguably the subject of "Make Up".


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