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Transformer - Lou Reed and Mick Rock review

A connoisseur’s catalogue of cool

Cover art for Transformer - Lou Reed and Mick Rock album

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?

Classic Rock’s Reviews Editor for the last 19 years, Ian stapled his first fanzine in 1977. Since misspending his youth by way of ‘research’ his work has also appeared in such publications as Metal Hammer, Prog, NME, Uncut, Kerrang!, VOX, The Face, The Guardian, Total Guitar, Guitarist, Electronic Sound, Record Collector and across the internet. Permanently buried under mountains of recorded media, ears ringing from a lifetime of gigs, he enjoys nothing more than recreationally throttling a guitar and following a baptism of punk fire has played in bands for 45 years, releasing recordings via Esoteric Antenna and Cleopatra Records.