eMusic Queer CD of the Week: Lou Reed – Transformer
Though he’s not often heralded in the gay canon with contemporaries like Sylvester, Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed released the best, and queerest, album of his solo career with 1972′s Transformer. No one glamorizes the underbelly quite like Lou does, and the New York he creates in Transformer is one of drugs, parties and more kinds of sex than I could print here without being brought up on obscenities charges. While his career with the Velvet’s hinted at gay themes in songs like “New Age” and “Candy Says,” that theme of his writing explodes throughout Transformer’s blacklit halls.
Starting with the fact that David Bowie holds a producer credit (and some say wrote the gospel-tinged “Wagon Wheel,”) the discerning queer music fan can find many echoes of their own life in Transformer. The most overt examples are on the album’s best known song, “Take a Walk on The Wild Side,” which means a lot more to me now than it did when I was ten. Then, I was distracted by the background ditty and what I thought was an allusion to “Where The Wild Things Are.” Now I recognize it as an ode to hustling, cross-dressing and giving head in back rooms. (Basically, how Larry Craig spent his summer vacation.) There are an unsung number of camp flourishes throughout as well, like Lou’s gossip girl precursor “New York Telephone Conversation” or the baroque, cabaret-style closer “Goodnight Ladies.” All of this conjures up a time and place that most of us probably weren’t able to visit, but damn well wish we could.
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