9. Lou Reed - Transformer
For much of the ‘60s, Lou Reed was the frontman of The Velvet Underground, a band whose influence wildly outstripped its commercial appeal at the time. It’s unsurprising: VU dealt in raw, often abrasive songs about folk on the outskirts of society; it wasn’t exactly an easy sell.
Somehow, though, in 1972 Lou Reed managed to score a hit solo album without sanding down his edge too much. Transformer takes on some dark subjects - prostitution, abuse, drugs - and tackles them head on, but through Reed’s charismatic presentation and slick songcraft, they remain radio favourites to this day.
“Walk On The Wild Side” and “Perfect Day” are the most famous tracks, taking melodic and inventive approaches to Reed’s usual topics. “Satellite Of Love” is one of the high romantic points of the underrated balladeer’s canon, complete with howling harmonics from co-producer David Bowie.
Reed embraces the glam movement on “I’m So Free” and something close to grinding proto-punk on opener “Vicious”. There’s not an ounce of fat on the record, and the mercurial musician has never been more inventive, playful, and effective.