Lou Reed :: Words & Music, May 1965

Listening to this phenomenal collection of Velvet Underground prehistory, it’s fairly mind-boggling how fast Lou Reed and John Cale moved in the earliest stages of their creative partnership. Less than a year after these acoustic demos were made, the pair were in the studio recording the epochal Velvet Underground & Nico — an LP whose reverberations are still being felt today.

Lou Reed :: Transformer | Transformed

To celebrate a half-century of Transformer, here’s an alternate version of the album, cobbled together from live performances, NYC apartment demos and internet sessions, stretching from the early 1970s to the 21st century. Some of these tunes would become setlist mainstays; others didn’t make it past 1973. The reinventions here are sometimes radical, veering from buoyant glam-funk to shameless Michelob Lite-rock, from austere and solemn readings to goofy garage pop. The one constant? Lou himself, of course. Even as his voice and vibes shift from year to year, Reed’s intense, one-of-a-kind life force shines through, no matter where he takes these tunes. If he taught us anything, it’s that there’s more than one way to walk on the wild side.