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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..."

"The Original..."
Tagline from the album's advertising campaign.

Transformer is the second studio album by Lou Reed, released in 1972 through RCA Records. 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. It was followed by the much darker Berlin.

Has nothing to do with alien robots that turn into cars.


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:

  • Glam Rock: Was released during this era, was produced by two major figures from this movement (David Bowie & Mick Ronson), and is 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 the grittiness of LGBT+ culture in the late '60s in an era when these people were forced to operate mostly underground. 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, being a bisexual man himself — 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-Steve Limit: "Walk on the Wild Side" refers to Joe Campbell by his nickname, Sugar Plum Fairy, to better distinguish him from Joe Dallesandro from the previous verse.
  • One-Word Title: "Transformer" and "Vicious".
  • Pretender Diss: "Hangin' 'Round"
    You're still doing things that I gave up years ago!
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: "Andy's Chest" was written off the heels of Andy Warhol's near-fatal assassination attempt by Valerie Solanas in 1968, being Reed's way of trying to cheer Warhol up after his brush with death.
  • Rearrange the Song: "Andy's Chest" originated from The Velvet Underground's planned follow-up to their eponymous third album that got thrown out after MGM Records dropped the band; their actual follow-up ended up being Loaded (which also included re-recorded material from that scrapped album). Reed ultimately re-recorded the song for Transformer, while the Velvet Underground version wound up on Verve's 1985 outtakes compilation VU.
  • Record Producer: David Bowie and his sideman Mick Ronson. Both were longtime fans of the Velvet Underground, with Bowie having discovered their work from a pre-release acetate of their debut album.
  • 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" is a real performer connected with Andy Warhol's Factory and the LGBT+ community. Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling were trans women, Joe Dallesandro and Joe "Sugar Plum Fairy" Campbell were gay men, and Jackie Curtis was a genderqueer drag queen; all of them had been acting in Warhol's films since Reed's days with the Velvet Underground.
    • "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 "I've been told that you've been bold" line from "Satellite of Love" is from Little Richard's "Slippin' and Slidin'."
  • 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".