December 26th, 2013
The music world lost one of the uniquely talented and diverse rockers on October 27, 2013; Lou Reed passed away at the age of 71. Reed made a name for himself initially leading The Velvet Underground in the 1960s. In the 1970s, he broke through as a solo artist. Reed was never afraid to address subjects in his music that previously had been considered off limits, including sex and drugs. Furthermore, Reed’s music varied through the years such that there was no style to neatly confine him to. As a result, Reed’s influence was felt far and wide.
Perhaps Lou Reed’s greatest accomplishment was his second solo album, the 1972 classic Transformer. The 11-track album, produced by David Bowie and Mick Ronson and released by RCA, offers glam rock, hard rock, and a bit of punk, too. Transformer is best known for Reed’s biggest and perhaps most controversial hit, “Walk on the Wild Side”, which mixes such themes as drugs, transexuality, and prostitution. “Walk on the Wild Side”, Reed’s only top-20 hit, propelled Transformer to 29 on the Billboard 200 in 1972.
RCA included Transformer among its earliest titles released on CD in the U.S. This first U.S. release of Transformer on CD was assigned catalog number PCD14807, and the earliest copies were pressed in Japan by Denon (Nippon Columbia). Typically, the Japanese pressing of Transformer is found with inserts printed in the U.S. and with the matrix code stamped on the disc in a dot-matrix font. Japanese Denon pressings from the 1980s are usually found with this dot-matrix font. However, as has been pointed out for some other albums on keithhirsch.com, the earliest of the Denon pressings of Transformer features the matrix code stamped in a crude font on the clear plastic ring. This early pressing of Transformer is featured here.
The matrix code for the early Japanese Denon pressing of Transformer is “PCD14807 A-13”. As is often the case with these very early Denon pressings, Transformer is found with inserts that were printed in Japan, not the U.S. This pressing is rather rare, as it was replaced by the more common Japanese Denon pressing having U.S. inserts and the dot-matrix matrix code font. Shown below are the cover and back insert for the early Japanese Denon pressing of Transformer, along with the disc.
The cover for the early Japanese Denon pressing of Lou Reed Transformer (RCA, catalog number PCD14807). This is the standard cover artwork for this album. Note the RCA CD logo in the bottom center. Later pressings released under this catalog number have the same cover artwork, including the RCA logo.
The back insert for the early Japanese Denon pressing of Lou Reed Transformer (RCA, catalog number PCD14807). As noted along the bottom, this insert was printed in Japan. The booklet was also printed in Japan. Subsequent versions released under this catalog number have inserts that were printed in the U.S.
The early Japanese Denon pressing of Lou Reed Transformer (RCA, catalog number PCD14807). The matrix code is “PCD14807 A-13” and is stamped in a crude font on the clear plastic ring in the center. This matrix code style is indicative of the earliest pressing for this CD issue of Transformer.