Saturday, March 30, 2013

Day Eighty-nine - Classic Albums: Lou Reed - Transformer, "Let's TALK... instead of having an actual album concert."

Boy, did I not know I was heading into a documentary with the Classic Albums series.

Honestly, when Netflix suggested all of this musical content a while back, I assumed it was all concert and video footage. This assumption was reinforced when I watched the Jamiroquai travesty a few weeks back... but, even with the bad taste still in my mouth from Montreux, I had high hopes because this was Lou-freaking-Reed.

Now, a bit of history... I only know the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed, and the like from the periphery. Sure, I'd heard "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" like anybody else with a radio the past thirty years, but my main exposure to Reed came from his tremendous cover of "This Magic Moment" on the Lost Highway soundtrack.

I have NEVER owned a copy of Transformer, which is apparently a crime of enormous proportions to the music literati, and consider myself an outsider when it comes to his brand of glam or pop or whatever you might quantify it as.

Still, going in I was expecting a nice bit of concert and studio footage... and was disappointed. The Classic Albums set is actual a documentary series that takes a hard look at the creation of an album from the perspective of its artists, collaborators, and the critics most familiar with the work.

The start of the episode gives the back story of Lou Reed from his days in Andy Warhol's Factory with the Velvet Underground and how several of the songs on the Transformer album were lyrical character pieces of the unusual characters that Warhol attracted. "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" literally was a sort of bio piece of several male to female transexuals who found a place and, occasionally, their center in the avant garde lifestyle of the Factory.

As the doc progresses, we see how stars like David Bowie, session musicians, and producers attached themselves to the creation of the album and the thing became an actual transformative piece that has influenced music for several generations.

It is a bit interesting, but I was never so bored as when the famous critics gave their interpretations or Lou just sat there at the mixing board and exclaimed how awesome various individual tracks would sound and the like.

I mean, really, I wanted to hear the MUSIC... but, unfortunately, all that came were ten to twenty second snippets of songs played under the interviews or brief live bits with present day Lou on an acoustic throwing out a line or two.

Such is life, I guess.

Still, there are a few brilliant moments concerning the creation of the album that provide both knowing winks and a few ironic laughs that make it an alright doc. It's not a terrible piece, but I probably wouldn't watch it again.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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