- Original uncensored album back cover

In 1972, Lou Reed's "Transformer" emerged as a musical masterpiece, produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson at London's Trident Studios. The album, with an iconic cover by Ernst Thormahlen, showcased Reed's evolution in the vibrant era of musical experimentation. Collaborative brilliance, featuring Herbie Flowers and Mick Ronson, shaped a sonic landscape that remains a timeless emblem of the dynamic 1970s music scene.


LOU REED - Transformer 12" LP Vinyl Album front cover https://vinyl-records.nl

"Transformer" Album Description:

In the autumn of 1972, a musical transformation took place that would leave an indelible mark on the rock music landscape. Lou Reed, the iconic American rock musician, unveiled his second studio album, aptly titled "Transformer." Produced by none other than David Bowie and Mick Ronson, this German release showcased Reed's evolution as an artist and marked a significant cultural moment in the early 1970s.

The Time Period: 1972

The early 1970s was a dynamic period for music, witnessing the emergence of various genres and the blurring of traditional boundaries. The cultural landscape was undergoing a metamorphosis, with artists pushing the boundaries of creativity and self-expression. Lou Reed, already a prominent figure in the music scene as the leader of The Velvet Underground, embarked on a solo career that would redefine his artistic identity.

Released in November 1972, "Transformer" captured the zeitgeist of the era. It was an era of experimentation, both musically and culturally, as artists sought to break free from conventional norms and explore new sonic territories. Reed's collaboration with David Bowie, a musical chameleon himself, brought a fresh perspective to the album, infusing it with a unique blend of glam rock, proto-punk, and art-pop elements.

Production at Trident Studios, London

The sonic tapestry of "Transformer" was woven at Trident Studios in London, a hub of creative energy where numerous iconic albums were brought to life. The studio's vibrant atmosphere played a crucial role in shaping the album's distinctive sound. Under the guidance of Bowie and Ronson, Reed's compositions came to life, each track a testament to the collaborative synergy between these musical luminaries.

Album Artistry: Ernst Thormahlen and Photography by Stoeker and Rock

The visual representation of "Transformer" was as striking as its musical content. The album cover, designed by Ernst Thormahlen, encapsulated the essence of Reed's transformation. The photography by Karl Stoeker and Mick Rock captured the enigmatic aura surrounding the artist, creating an iconic visual identity for the album.

Musical Alchemy: Band Members and Collaborators

The album featured a stellar lineup of musicians, each contributing to the eclectic mix of sounds. Herbie Flowers, with his prowess on bass guitar, double-bass, and tuba, added a distinctive touch to tracks like "Goodnight Ladies" and "Make Up." Mick Ronson's lead guitar, piano, and backing vocals, accompanied by his intricate string arrangements, showcased his musical versatility.

The rhythmic foundation provided by John Halsey on drums, complemented by the baritone saxophone of Ronnie Ross on select tracks, created a rich and textured musical landscape. The backing vocals of David Bowie and The Thunderthighs added depth and dimension to Reed's lyrical narratives.

Album's Back Cover Controversy

A controversy on the back cover of Lou Reed's Transformer album centers around the image of a man, Ernie Thormahlen, who appears to have a large bulge in his pants.

Here's the breakdown:

The photo features two figures: fashion model Gala Mitchel and Ernie Thormahlen, a friend of Lou Reed and the album's art director.

Thormahlen's pose and clothing create the illusion of an erection.

Lou Reed has claimed that the bulge was actually a banana strategically placed down Thormahlen's pants. Whether it's a banana or not, the image sparked conversation and raised eyebrows due to its suggestive nature. This fit with the overall theme of the album, which touched on sexuality and gender identity.

In some countries these controversial photos have been cleverly censored. A censored version is here

Music Genre:

 Art Rock, Prog Rock

Art rock is a subgenre of rock music that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It is characterized by its ambitious and experimental approach to music, incorporating elements from various genres, such as classical, jazz, avant-garde, and progressive rock. Art rock bands sought to expand the boundaries of popular music by incorporating complex musical structures, unconventional instrumentation, and thought-provoking lyrics.


Art rock musicians aimed to create music that was intellectually stimulating and artistically expressive. They often embraced a wide range of influences and drew inspiration from diverse sources, including literature, visual arts, and philosophical concepts. By blending different styles and experimenting with musical techniques, art rock bands created a sound that was both sophisticated and innovative.

One of the defining features of art rock is its emphasis on musical complexity and instrumental proficiency. Bands would often employ intricate arrangements, unconventional time signatures, and extended song structures, challenging the traditional verse-chorus format of mainstream rock. This allowed for a more dynamic and expansive musical landscape, giving artists the freedom to explore a wide range of moods and emotions within a single composition.

Lyrically, art rock often tackled unconventional themes and explored philosophical and introspective concepts. The lyrics were often poetic and laden with symbolism, reflecting the influence of literature and poetry on the genre. Art rock songs frequently delved into introspection, existentialism, social commentary, and surreal imagery, offering listeners a deeper and more thought-provoking experience.

Several influential bands and artists have contributed to the development and popularization of art rock. Progressive rock bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson pushed the boundaries of rock music with their epic compositions, intricate instrumentation, and conceptual albums. David Bowie, with his ever-evolving musical style and theatrical stage presence, incorporated art rock elements into his music, blurring the lines between rock, pop, and avant-garde.

Other notable art rock artists include Roxy Music, with their blend of glamour, artifice, and musical experimentation; The Velvet Underground, who combined avant-garde sensibilities with rock and roll; and Kate Bush, known for her ethereal vocals, poetic lyrics, and eclectic musical arrangements.

The influence of art rock can be seen in subsequent genres and movements, such as post-punk, new wave, and alternative rock. Many contemporary bands continue to draw inspiration from the art rock tradition, incorporating experimental and progressive elements into their music.

Overall, art rock represents a fusion of musical creativity, intellectual exploration, and artistic expression. Its emphasis on innovation, complexity, and lyrical depth has left a lasting impact on the evolution of rock music, expanding its boundaries and inspiring generations of musicians to push the limits of popular music.

Album Production information:

The album: "LOU REED - Transformer" was produced by:David Bowie, Mick Ronson

This album was recorded at: Trident Studios , London

Album cover design: Ernst Thormahlen

Album cover photography: Karl Stoeker, Mick Rock

Mick Rock, born on 24 November 1948, is a renowned British photographer widely known for his iconic images of rock and roll legends. Dubbed "The Man Who Shot the Seventies", Rock's distinctive style and uncanny ability to capture the essence of the music and artists he photographed have solidified his position as one of the most influential rock photographers of all time.


Early Life:

Michael David Rock was born in London, England. From an early age, he displayed a deep interest in the arts and music. He attended Cambridge Arts College, where he further honed his artistic skills and developed a passion for photography. During this time, he experimented with various techniques and styles that would eventually define his unique visual language.

Rise to Fame:

In 1969, Mick Rock's career took a serendipitous turn when he met a young and relatively unknown musician named David Bowie (then known as David Jones). The meeting marked the beginning of a transformative partnership and close friendship between the two artists. Rock's camera lens would go on to capture some of the most iconic moments of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust era, helping to cement Bowie's status as a legendary rock star.

Rock's ability to capture the raw and flamboyant energy of the emerging glam rock movement brought him to the forefront of the music scene. Throughout the 1970s, he became the go-to photographer for rock and roll royalty, working with iconic acts such as Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Queen, The Ramones, and many others.

Photographic Style:

Mick Rock's style was characterized by a unique mix of intimate, candid shots, and staged, imaginative portraits. He had a keen eye for detail, and his use of lighting and composition brought a surreal and theatrical quality to his photographs. His pictures often managed to capture the vulnerability and charisma of his subjects, revealing the human side behind the rock star façade.

The visual language he developed became synonymous with the glam rock era and significantly influenced the perception of rock and roll culture during that time. His images exuded an aura of decadence and hedonism, reflecting the spirit of the era's music and lifestyle.

Later Career:

As the music scene evolved, so did Mick Rock's photography. In the 1980s and beyond, he continued to collaborate with musicians from various genres, documenting the rise of new wave, punk, and post-punk acts. His versatility as a photographer allowed him to adapt to changing musical landscapes, capturing the essence of each unique era.

In addition to his photography work, Mick Rock has also directed music videos for prominent artists like David Bowie, including the iconic video for "Life on Mars?" He has published several acclaimed photography books, showcasing his vast collection of images from his decades-long career.

Legacy and Recognition:

Mick Rock's contributions to the world of rock and roll photography have earned him widespread recognition and numerous accolades. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums worldwide, and he continues to be celebrated as one of the pioneers of his craft. Rock's images have become an integral part of music history, immortalizing the spirit of some of the most legendary and influential musicians of all time.

Mick Rock a selection of album covers for which he has done the photography: Queen , David Bowie , Syd Barrett, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and The Stooges, Geordie, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Joan Jett, Talking Heads , Roxy Music , Crossfade, Thin Lizzy, Mötley Crüe , and Blondie. Often referred to as "The Man Who Shot the Seventies", most of the memorable images of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust were shot by Mick Rock, in his capacity as Bowie's official photographer.

Heavy Metal bands he has photographed include: Attila, Def Leppard , Doro , Fates Warning, Hallows Eve, Piece Dogs, Riot V, Thin Lizzy, Voivod , Yngwie J. Malmsteen.


Record Label & Catalognr:

RCA International NL 83806

Media Format:

 12" LP Vinyl Stereo Gramophone Record
Total Album (Cover+Record) weight: 280 gram  

Year & Country:

 1972 Made in Germany
Personnel/Band Members and Musicians on: LOU REED - Transformer
    Band-members, Musicians and Performers
  • Herbie Flowers – bass guitar, double-bass, tuba on "Goodnight Ladies" and "Make Up"
  • Mick Ronson – lead guitar, piano, recorder, backing vocals, string arrangements
  • John Halsey – drums
  • Ronnie Ross – baritone saxophone on "Goodnight Ladies" and "Walk on the Wild Side"
  • David Bowie – backing vocals
  • The Thunderthighs – backing vocals
  • Barry DeSouza – drums
  • Ritchie Dharma – drums
  • Klaus Voormann – bass

    Klaus Voormann: From Beatles Confidant to Record Producer. Explore the life of the artist behind the iconic Revolver album cover, a talented bassist who shaped the sounds of legendary musicians, and a prolific record producer whose vision propelled artists to success .

Complete Track-listing of the album "LOU REED - Transformer"

The detailed tracklist of this record "LOU REED - Transformer" is:

  1. "Vicious" – 2:58
  2. "Andy's Chest" – 3:20
  3. "Perfect Day" – 3:46
  4. "Hangin' 'Round" – 3:35
  5. "Walk on the Wild Side" – 4:15
    Side Two:
  1. "Make Up" – 3:00
  2. "Satellite of Love" – 3:42
  3. "Wagon Wheel" – 3:19
  4. "New York Telephone Conversation" – 1:33
  5. "I'm So Free" – 3:09
  6. "Goodnight Ladies" – 4:31


Front Cover Photo Of LOU REED - Transformer 12" LP Vinyl Album


LOU REED - Transformer 12" LP Vinyl Album front cover https://vinyl-records.nl

 Note: The photos on this page are taken from albums in my personal collection. Slight differences in color may exist due to the use of the camera's flash. Images can be zoomed in/out ( eg pinch with your fingers on a tablet or smartphone ).

Photo Of The Back Cover LOU REED - Transformer 12" LP Vinyl Album


LOU REED - Transformer 12" LP Vinyl Album back cover

Photo One Of The Poster included with LOU REED - Transformer 12" LP Vinyl Album


LOU REED - Transformer 12" LP Vinyl Album inner gatefold cover

Close up of Side One record's label LOU REED - Transformer 12" LP Vinyl Album

"Transformer" Black Colour RCA International Record Label Details: NL 83806 ℗ 1972 RCA Corporation Sound Copyright

"Transformer" Black Colour RCA International Record Label Details: NL 83806 ℗ 1972 RCA Corporation Sound Copyright
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