Lou Reed issued Transformer, an album meant to psychologically (if not sexually) transform the listener, over three decades before Kinks guitarist Dave Davies documents just a portion of his live performances with a superb and highly recommended 73 minutes of music entitled Transformation. For the fans who have seen the other half of the Kinks live, consistency is as much a part of the equation as entertainment for this artist. The guy not only brings some of the Kinks catalog with him, he takes along much of the fun as well. Keith Smith's extensive liner notes are great reading while one explores "Father Christmas," "Till the End of the Day," and other titles, catching a vibe from the intense and passionate playing: Jonathan Lea's rhythm guitar keeping pace with Jim Laspesa's drums and the lead singer/guitarist's various notions. Some of the material is from 2002's Bug album, most notably the beautiful and moving "Rock You, Rock Me," "Flowers in the Rain," and two variations on "Transformation" -- which is "Life After Life" from the Bug album, and sounds like Dave was listening to Cher's disco hit "Believe" repeatedly when he composed it. This album captures the magic of what's been a treat for the cult that has experienced Dave Davies in concert, truly someone deserving of more attention, as evidenced here. The Angel Air label deserves a Grammy just for its very existence, having the good sense to put so many influential artists out under their umbrella and giving a 20-page booklet to this project along with the 18 tracks. The "You Really Got Me" riff slips in and out of the segues (the full song does get played as the set concludes) on this concert recorded at the Alex Theater in Glendale, CA, for an altruistic cause in 2003. And though Lou Reed is often credited with the dawn of glam rock, keep in mind that it was the Kinks' "Lola" -- which launched two years before Reed's Transformer -- that really got the thing in motion. Transformation is a nice look back at some of those sensibilities, and a good argument for those who consider Dave Davies one of rock's underrated and absolute geniuses.
AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione