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Transformer - Lou Reed and Mick Rock review

Album Review

A connoisseur’s catalogue of cool

The first time many of us clapped our eyes on Lou Reed was via Mick Rock’s camera lens. Transformer’s haunting, kabukistyle cover image was captured during Lou’s debut London show, at King’s Cross in July ‘72. Reed, hastily dressed to impress in a rhinestone jacket by Angie Bowie, gazes into middle distance, the Velvets in his rearview mirror, on the cusp of solo greatness. It’s the ultimate Lou Reed shot, yet its position is far from uncontested.

There’s the fabulous Rock ‘N’ Roll Heart-era shoot: Reed in shades, a leather jacket so small it could’ve been made for a child, under a see-through plastic jacket from Ian’s of St. Mark’s Place, an NYC boutique that did fetish before McLaren and Westwood, just as Lou did punk before Pistols and Ramones. There’s bleached ‘74 Lou: mean ‘n’ moody, dead-eyed ‘n’ skeletal, magnificent.

Name a great Lou shot, it was probably Mick Rock’s, and in this implausibly plush volume, Rock and Reed rap a great accompanying commentary to all the best. The humour’s whiskey-dry, Warhol-weaned Lou reveals a photographer’s eye and it’s only a joy. Expensive, yes, but once you’ve bought the box sets what else have you got to spend your money on?

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