Each month we handpick a collection of reissues, limited editions or just straight classic long-players that deserve a place in any record collection; this time it’s Lou Reed’s vicious glam-rock belter Transformer, Ella’s 1960 live show in Berlin featuring the icon’s first-ever performance of Mack the Knife, and more!
180GM VINYL REISSUE
If you’re ever down and thinking that the world hasn’t evolved much at all over the past 50 years, let Lou Reed cheer you up. The lead single from this, Reed’s second solo album after departing the confines of the seminal – but not always so listenable – Velvet Underground, Walk on the Wild Side had wowsers up in arms. Won’t somebody think of the children?!
Its subjects included gender identity, prostitution, and drugs – it was scandalous! Nowadays as well as becoming a counterculture anthem, it graces car advertisements with singing dogs, and you’ll happily hear kids singing “Doo, do-doo, do, doo-do do doo…”
Reed’s nous for a killer melody was honed by the one-two punch production teaming of David Bowie and his guitarist mate Mick Ronson, both of whom were fans of the Velvet Underground and were keen to get Reed’s wares heard by a larger audience. In Transformer, a glam rock classic was born.
This 180-gram reissue delivers the original 11 tracks, kicking off side one with the spiteful – and often rather silly – Vicious, later released as a single. Old VU track Andy’s Chest, about the attempt on mentor Andy Warhol’s life, then gets spruced up, before the album’s masterpiece, Perfect Day (the flipside of the Walk on the Wild Side single!), which will never be quite the same for anybody who’s seen Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting.
Hangin’ Round is classic glam, before the side closes in style with Walk on the Wild Side. The absolute highlight of the second side is Satellite of Love, featuring Bowie on backing vocals, before we bid farewell with the languid oompah-laden Dixieland-fest that is Goodnight Ladies. Doo, do-doo, do, doo-do do doo yourself a favour.
TOP TRACK: Perfect Day
FAST FACT: We can thank Andy Warhol for inspiring Vicious – Reed has claimed that the New York art doyen said he should pen a song about someone “vicious”. When Reed asked what Warhol meant, he said, “Oh, you know, like I hit you with a flower”.
After letting loose a debut album as strong as Stoneage Romeos, some bands might freak out at the prospect of a follow-up. Instead, Hoodoo Gurus just got down to it, crafting a more mature, yet just as hookladen tune-fest that contains more than one classic Aussie anthem. As side ones go, this is a belter, kicking off with the album’s first single Bittersweet, and not letting up from the scathing Poison Pen to the driving In the Wild, the emotional whack of Death Defying and the stomptastic side closer Like Wow-Wipeout. Side two starts with a classic country-twangin’ tale in Hayride to Hell, then winds through more top melody-infused rock before a reverb-drenched send-off in She. It is a freak out, but only in the best sense of the term.
TOP TRACK: Death Defying
FAST FACT: The album title is a homage to the 1968 made-for-TV sci-fi flick Mars Needs Women, starring ’60s Batgirl herself Yvonne Craig as a Pulitzer Prize-winning space geneticist.
180GM VINYL REISSUE
The bloke who played Eddie in Rocky Horror had proven that he had an incredible voice, and producer Jim Steinman used them to full effect. Opening an album with a track just shy of ten minutes wasn’t part of the typical rock handbook, but few could argue the power of motorcycle crash melodrama Bat Out of Hell. Then “BAM!”, first single You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth upped the pop, before ballad Heaven Can Wait gave us a chance to get our breath back. The three-track second side had an indisputable highlight in Paradise by the Dashboard Light, a tale of the lengths one guy would go for some, erm, lovin’. Seen as improbable at the time, Bat Out of Hell is one of the best-selling albums of all time.
TOP TRACK: Bat Out of Hell
FAST FACT: The song Bat Out of Hell was inspired by the Shangri-La’s teenage tragedy death disc, Leader of the Pack. It was intended by writer Steinman to appear on “a rock ‘n roll sci-fi version of Peter Pan.”
A stunning live disc recorded at the commencement of a European tour on February 13, 1960 at the Deutschlandhalle in West Berlin, if there were ever any doubts as to Ella Fitzgerald’s talent then they’re quickly dispelled once album opener That Old Black Magic fires up. It’s one of four bonus tracks not included on the original release, the others being Our Love Is Here to Stay, and two performances recorded years earlier at the Hollywood Bowl. Fitzgerald captivates throughout, slinking from sultry to sassy on classics like Summertime to The Lady Is a Tramp. Her unique take on Mack the Knife – including adlibbed lyrics – could have been a trainwreck, but is instead a triumph, and even won awards for the undisputed Queen of Jazz.
TOP TRACK: Mack the Knife
FAST FACT: Fitzgerald created The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation in 1993, to use the fruits of her success to help people of all races, cultures and beliefs, in particular fostering a love of reading and music.