The Velvet Underground may have influenced hundreds of bands since the late 1960s, but it was Lou Reed's second solo album Transformer (1972) that contained "Walk on the Wild Side," a surprise hit single that introduced the iconoclastic New Yorker to the general public. That uneven album set the stage for much of his career -- Reed's personal, commercial and artistic interests change faster than the times. His despairing Berlin (1973) is a key "darkside of the counterculture" album, while the live Rock N' Roll Animal introduced millions to revved-up versions of such classic VU songs as "Sweet Jane." Even as he started working with top session players and recording warm, evocative songs like "Coney Island Baby," the fledgling art rock and punk scenes embraced Reed with the same enthusiasm that their London counterparts had for his friend David Bowie. With this strong cult following, Reed entered the '80s as a respected and vital elder statesman and continued to change stylistic hats. Praise for his often hyperrealistic and brutal lyrics obscures the fact that Reed has written some of the best songs of the last three decades, many as sweet as the family dedication "Little Sister."