CIVIC | Credit: Marcus Coblyn

Love Letter to a Record: CIVIC on Lou Reed’s ‘Transformer’

Music Feeds’ Love Letter to a Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with the music they love and share stories about how it has influenced their lives. Here, guitarist Lewis Hodgson of Melbourne punk band CIVIC toasts Lou Reed’s Transformer (1972).

On their second album, Taken By Force, Melbourne band CIVIC teamed up with producer Rob Younger, the front person for Radio Birdman and The New Christs. It’s an apt partnership given how convincingly CIVIC channel the sound of post-MC5 rock music rebellion and proto-punk. The album is out now via Cooking Vinyl Australia and CIVIC will hit the road this March and April.

CIVIC’s Lewis Hodgson on Lou Reed’s Transformer

Lewis Hodgson: It was probably 2000, so I would’ve been nine turning 10. My family had just got dial-up internet at home and my dad was trying to download Lou Reed’s Transformer off Napster, song by song, shitty version after shitty version. It took months until the whole thing was pieced together. Dad justified this because he had once owned the record but had lost it and thought he shouldn’t have to pay for it twice. Fair.

This was my first proper taste of Lou Reed. He would grow to become maybe my favourite songwriter ever. I’d heard ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ before, but it had never clicked until I heard Transformer in its entirety. Although this was not the intended first listen – mp3s converted to WAVs at different volumes with no artwork just my dad’s handwriting on a generic blank disc – it still hit me.

The grit and tones of Mick Ronson’s glam and proto punk guitar and David Bowie’s flawless production and back-up vocals fill the record while Lou sings about things that sounded taboo and seedy and made it sound cool, even if I didn’t understand the references to sex work and drugs yet.

‘Satellite of Love’ is a perfect song. His voice and delivery hit a chord with me and I’ve always tried to hit a similar vein with the lyrics I write. Obviously, it’s a classic record and probably needs no more praise, but this is one that I remember doing something to my brain.

Later, my dad would move on to burning CDs from the library (even ones he didn’t previously own) including The Velvet Underground. I now own Transformer on multiple mediums. Thanks Napster and thank you Castlemaine Library.

Further Reading

CIVIC Announce National Album Tour, Share Latest Single

Brunswick Music Festival Announce 2023 Lineup Including Camp Cope, CIVIC + DJ Leon Vynehall

Hear The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas Cover Two Velvet Underground Classics

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