Reed, Lou - Transformer - LP
This sophomore release by the Velvet Underground cofounder has long been hailed as one of the key touchstones of the punk and alternative eras that followed it. Reinforcing the literary adage to "write what you know," Reed paints an alternately detached/debauched portrait of the drag-and-drugs-infused underground of Warhol's New York, a place, time, and mindset so compelling it has largely overshadowed the rest of the singer-songwriter's mercurial career. That the album would also give Reed an unlikely Top 20 pop hit via the teasing, twisted sexuality of "Walk on the Wild Side" is but one of its deep, rewarding ironies. Indeed, as produced by David Bowie and guitarist and cohort Mick Ronson at the height of their own Ziggy Stardust fame, Reed's songs are cast in a seductive cabaret setting that's more Jacques Brel than Lower East Side.