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  • 16:9 Enhanced
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Lou Reed: Transformer - Classic Albums

Eagle Vision/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 50 mins . M15+ . PAL


Ask the casual music fan to name four solo Lou Reed songs, and it would be fairly safe to say that if they managed it they would come up with Walk on the Wild Side, Vicious, Satellite of Love and Perfect Day. Other than the blatantly obvious, what do these four tracks have in common? They all hail from the one album - Reed's now classic 1972 release, Transformer.

This DVD release takes us track by track through the album, naturally spending extra time on the more well renowned tracks. As well as a quick history of Reed's involvement with the more influential than actually listen-to-able Velvet Underground, and the whole Andy Warhol scene with which they became inextricably linked, we are treated to all manner of interviews with people involved in both the scene at the time, and the making of Transformer - plus one or two who have no relation whatsoever, other than taking away rather big chunks of influence from the release. Then of course there is the large amount of fascinating chat with Mr Reed himself...

"I never had kids screaming at me particularly... Me, they'd throw syringes and joints on stage."

Musicians who worked on the album get to have their say - including producers David Bowie and his guitar toting cohort Mick Ronson, there's some fascinating toying about with the original master tapes with engineer Ken Scott and remembrances of the sessions from drummer John Halsey and bass player Herbie Flowers. The latter even deconstructs *that* incredible Walk on the Wild Side bass line for us, which for those into the mechanics of the musical side of things is an utter treat.

Other interviewees include journos, photographer Mick Rock (who was responsible for the shots on the album cover), Warhol cohort Gerard Malanka, and even 'Little Joe" (actor Joe Dallesandro) and "Holly" (Woodlawn) from the classic "do-do-do-do-do do-do-do do-do-do-do-do do-do-do" laden hit make modern day appearances.

Added to all this are snippets of acoustic performances of many of the album's tracks from various sources, bits of video clips (including the British number one remake for charity of Perfect Day from a few years back that features the likes of Elton John and U2's Bono), archival footage of the whole Warhol "Factory" scene and even some classic scenes of Bowie in full Ziggy Stardust flight.


Mostly shot on video, this 1.78:1 anamorphically enhanced presentation is of fairly good quality throughout. There are a few miniscule tape glitches for the keener-eyed to spot, and as is generally expected much of the older archival footage, especially that from the Warhol days, isnít in the greatest shape. Generally though colour, black levels and detail are more than adequate for such a presentation, with only very slight cases of aliasing popping up on occasions (those old guitar strings once more).


While only Dolby Digital Stereo, the sound on offer does a perfectly adequate job, marred only by a slight whine in a few of the interview segments, and a buzz for a few seconds when Herbie is playing with his tuba. Needless to say there isnít really any surround or subwoofwoof activity unless you have a receiver that gives the option to re-process the sound, and really all else that's left to be said is that synching is spot-on throughout.


A vinyl-themed animated intro leads to static (but not silent) menus with animated transitions on selecting an option. On delving into the bonus features section we are offered up a number of further interview clips (The Velvet Underground, Waiting For the Man, Meeting Andy Warhol, Vicious, Recording Transformer in London, Lou Reed "The Poet", Walk on the Wild Side Bass, Perfect Day and Satellite of Love and The Three Chords), with many of the people featured in the main presentation as well as Lou Reed himself. The odd bonus video clip snippet is also thrown in. Totalling just over half an hour in length, very little is repeated and it all comes with the same quality vision and audio as the main show.


If you're interested in the story behind the Transformer album, rather than just digging it for being a collection of rather catchy tunes (which, of course, is just as valid), with so many who were around or involved at the time AND the participation of the uniquely gravel voiced Reed himself, this is a simply fascinating documentary. With a further half an hour of footage this DVD offers great value for any fan of the album or, indeed, the man himself - and even Bowie diehards should find it a more than useful addition to their collections.

And if anybody can explain what, "Vicious, you hit me with a flower" is supposed to mean, I'm all ears!

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      And I quote...
    "A fascinating documentary that offers great value for any fan of the album or, indeed, the man himself..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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