“Bowibury” Album Open Thread, Week 2

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Some readers are listening to a Bowie album every day this month: here’s a place to talk about what you’re hearing. I’ll put up a new open thread each Monday.

Usual commenting guidelines apply: have fun; don’t be jerks, etc.

Week 2 schedule: Feb 8. Young Americans; Feb 9., Station to Station; Feb. 10. The Idiot; Feb. 11. Low; Feb. 12. Lust for Life; Feb. 13. “Heroes” and Lodger on St. Valentine’s Day.

96 Responses to “Bowibury” Album Open Thread, Week 2

  1. isolapatrick says:

    Let’s go ; ” C’est parti ! “

    • mslucyblue says:

      I changed my long held opinion on two albums this week:

      Firstly, Young Americans is a much stronger album than I gave it credit for. Maybe I’m a glam snob or just a just a simple Brit but it’s an album in his canon I didn’t give much time to.

      Some may call it heresy but I actually switch the odd track into or out of an album to make it a better experience for me. So…John I’m Only Dancing (Again) leading side 2 with Who Can I be Now penultimate track whilst dropping Somebody Up There Likes Me makes for me at least, a very solid, tuneful album I really enjoy.

      I’m also enjoying the fact Bowie often used his last track on albums as a signpost for the next so Fame is lovely where it is. Where he didn’t I’m making it so.

      Heresy Part II: All Across the Universe stays. I’ve so far replaced Fill Your Heart with Bombers and It Ain’t Easy with Velvet Goldmine but damn it, I enjoy this cover. Does Bowie really do bad cover versions or is what intrinsically makes us Bowie fans make us less disposed to songs where the words that are ‘not from the master’? Wild is the Wind would counter this but it was a cover of an old standard…I tend to believe Bowie fans (generally) don’t like reasonably contemporary covers. Why? As they’re Bowie fans and his creativity behind the song’s creation is a much more important element in a song as compared to fans of other artists. Does anyone understand? I may be rambling.

      Anyhow, I enjoy Across the Universe…it’s certainly no banal cover…it’s ridiculously different to the source materiel. Why it gets hate when the frankly boring and lacking in melody Somebody Up There Like Me is simply down to the Bowie fan effect in my humble opinion.

      Anyhow, Young Americans….massive upswing in my own personal opinion.

      Heresy Part III…Lodger is not that good. I mean, in contemporary terms, it’s the ‘hipsters’ version of a great David Bowie album as basically, it’s not that good so it must be great. I’ve experimented with his Tonight to Tin Machine II stuff trying to make a solid, enjoyabal listen, adding in soundtracks and whatnot and it can be done but I genuinely find I can’t save Lodger for there is not much around to save it. The singles are fine but African Night Flight, Yassassin, Repetition & Red Money are tracks I have no wish to hear again no matter how experimental they are or how ‘hipsters’ love them. To these ears they’re just substandard.

      Just my opinion.

      Lodger…massive downswing in my own personal opinion.

      Back to Young Americans…..

      • Chris Williams says:

        You could take Repetition off that list. When Young Americans was released most of us 14 year olds had no way of comparing Across The Universe with the original, likewise most of Pin Ups. There was just no way of hearing the originals without spending money on hard to find oldies, so Bowie’s versions become the definitive.

  2. steven says:

    This is arguably the best single week of the thing. StS, YA and L are my three most played Bowie albums that don’t feature Reeves.

    Also saw the Pixies are teasing a new record. I’m hoping they can do a Bowie and throw off the dad rock murk that made some of the songwriting on IC, which really shone live, sound clear. And also some Paz vocals.

    • add2add6 says:

      I was surprised how much I liked the Indie Cindy tracks in the live setting – fit RIGHT in to the “hits”. Paz is too good to be in Pixies, but I think the boys know it and she dumbs it down to fit in for the greater good. So yeah, please, let her sing, or even play some strings!

      • steven says:

        Paz playing strings is possible, going by this: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2mpxvv

        She’s a huge asset and, tbh, about as good a replacement for Kim as I could think of. Going by the short video they put up, Paz has recorded vocals for it and will also be doing some electronics?

        I liked IC a lot, though it definitely was their weakest album. I thought the press the album got was kind of… vindictive? Kim is amazing but if she’d rather be in excellent other band Breeders that’s fine with me (speaking of Kim actually, IC’s tracks mixed and recorded like her recent solo tracks would have been great)

        (also in my first comment up there i wrote clear when i should have said unclear, which changes the meaning)

  3. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to see this thread: I started my Bowie festival a week after his death (I’ll be concluding on Sunday) and it’s been becoming something of a burden not to have people to share the experience with🙂

    My observations:

    – To my surprise, David Bowie made much more of an engaging (and certainly more enjoyable overall) listen than Space Oddity.

    – I think I can appreciate how much of a shock Young Americans must have been to his audience back in the day (the same goes for Low).

    – The Golden Years albums – for all the listening pleasures they offer – bear strong marks of being made by someone increasingly unwell. Much as I love Heroes or Scary Monsters, Let’s Dance was in some sense a relief: Bowie finally sounded like someone who’s getting enough sleep, so to speak.

    – The bad Bowie is at least as if not more fascinating than the good Bowie. Tonight came as a shock (after the first listen I was really reluctant to try again), but after a while started to work on some levels at least. Especially when I started listening to Never Let Me Down: I managed to go over each album 3-4 times or more, but, in spite of having grown up in the 80s and knowing (and loving) the singles, at the end of the day, virtually nothing stayed with me from Never Let Me Down. I felt as if I couldn’t hear the album at all.

    – Tin Machine remains a puzzle: right from the first sounds of Heaven’s in Here I felt nothing but relief after the Never Let Me Down experience, but both albums are still somewhat inaccessible. I’ll need to revisit.

    – When I reached Black Tie White Noise, Tin Machine began to make sense as something of a purgatory, both for Bowie himself and his audience. And BTWN was sheer bliss. Actually, I listened to the album shortly before embarking on this experiment and I had some reservations about some of the songs. In this context, they were all gone.

    – The Buddha of Suburbs is an unbelievable discovery and my biggest surprise of the whole lot (and this is coming from someone previously basically unfamiliar with any of the pre-1975 stuff). Actually, today was supposed to be an Outside day, but Outside is the first album by Bowie I’ve heard and I know it through and through, so I ended up listening to Buddha most of the day. Ain’t that just like him, to make an album this good at a time when people were rather desperate to hear something half decent from him, and have it virtually disappear…

    I’m settling comfortably in the “late career renaissance”, and now that I’ve explored the “mid career low” in all its breathtaking awfulness, I feel like I’m going to appreciate it more than ever before.

    One final remark: do count on your parents’/spouse’s/inmates patience. My husband only took to “silent complaining” by Heroes (I switched to PJ Harvey for a bit and he was grateful when I went back to Bowie), but a whole month of Bowie can be testing to a third party. To me it’s been endlessly fascinating.

  4. 1234 go!!! says:

    Listening to Tin Machine II. Love Baby Universal. I have a vinyl, I think it`s priceless now.

    • Bri says:

      Isn’t “Amlipura” (Forgive my spelling if it is incorrect) a great Bowie song too? Do yourself a favor, everyone, and finesse it back through the cracks.

      • 1234 go!!! says:

        Amlapura rocks!!!! Hey, vey, baby!!!! And the penises in the front cover too!! I’ve got the european version, not the USA’s. The album sounds like the last real Pixies album, the one with the eyes on the cover. People hated that LP too.

      • fluxkit says:

        I was the only one who voted for “Amlapura” in the song poll, actually. It was my #30. 1 vote.

  5. Young Americans was probably the album that began the whole “Bowie as chameleon” thing, no? I mean, he had already dabbled in a lot of different styles (mod, folk, metal, etc.), but to most of the audience he was primarily a glam rocker. Diamond Dogs signalled a change was coming, but its biggest single was still glam rock, and his look was still a variation of the Ziggy persona.

    More than that, I think Young Americans was the album where it became clear Bowie was going to chase his own muse instead of the comfort of a proven formula.

    I think the album is a big artistic success for the most part. The only misstep in my opinion is Across The Universe. I think Who Can I be Now, It’s Gonna Be Me or John I’m Only Dancing (again) would have been much more solid choices. But I guess even Bowie wasn’t about getting starstruck now and then, and let his fannish impulses cloud his judgement on that one!

  6. Lenny Baryea says:

    Not unlike Drunken Butterfly, above, I’m delighted to find this thread.

    I’d classed myself for some time as a Bowie fan, albeit in a ‘regularly listen to his Best Of in the car’ category. Thought it high time to trawl – properly – his back catalogue; stumbling upon this website encouraged me to give it go.

    First up, on 27th January, was his 1967 debut album. Described by one biographer – accurately, in my opinion – as “the vinyl equivalent of the madwoman in the attic”. Some good stuff on here: Sell Me A Coat and Silly Boy Blue, for example. Proper weird in places as well though! Some bits actually made me think of Blur’s Parklife.

    As for Bowie’s 1969 album, think I preferred his debut! Aside from Space Oddity (obvs.) and Memory Of A Free Festival – the first and last tracks – Freecloud is, IMO, the only other song worth repeat plays.

    Didn’t much like TMWSTW either. The title track by far and away the best thing on the album, so interesting that it was written and recorded on the last day of mixing; an afterthought. The SNL performance of it the US equivalent of Starman on TOTP in 1972?

    I was already familiar with the excellent Hunky Dory album, but now have an even greater affinity towards it bearing in mind (a) the relative dross of his previous LPs and (b) fatherhood (my first child, a son, was born shortly before Bowie passed away). Kooks, most obviously, deals with it, but also Changes and Pretty Things: “Don’t you know you’re driving your mamas and papas insane”. Disappointing, though, to discover that Bombers was left off at the last minute; LOVE this song and can’t believe someone hasn’t had a hit covering it.

    Ziggy Stardust? Five Years and Moonage Daydream left favourable impressions – in addition to the well-known singles (Starman probably my favourite Bowie song, prior to this ‘project’) – but, overall, not as good as I was expecting; preferred Hunky Dory.

    If Ziggy Stardust a bit Elton John, Aladdin Sane a lot Rolling Stones. And, IMO, all the better for it (although, funnily enough, I’m not so sure about the cover of Let’s Spend The Night Together). The title track, in particular, and Panic In Detroit have had multiple repeat plays.

    Pin Ups – Sorrow, from the Best Of, the only one of these versions that I was previously familiar with. Rather wish it had stayed that way!

    Sweet Thing – Candidate – Sweet Thing (Reprise). Then, Rebel Rebel. Wow! The Diamond Dogs whatsits! Big Brother another standout track for me. Love this album.

    Again, as Drunken Butterfly has already mentioned, I think I can appreciate how much of a shock Young Americans must have been to his audience back in the day. Enjoyed it more than I was expecting. A shame, though, that John, I’m Only Dancing (Again) didn’t make the cut; should’ve closed the album instead of Fame, or replaced Across The Universe (another substandard cover version inexplicably plonked in the middle of an album).

    Station To Station (the track; I was already familiar with much of the album) was an absolute jaw-dropper. The relevant post from this blog totally nails it.

    Was going to move straight onto Low, before I came across this thread and so instead listened to The Idiot today. A pleasant surprise. I was struck by how much the opening track reminded me of XTC; perhaps something off Black Sea. A wry smile, then, when I stumbled upon this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOKz3zWku2U

    • Sarah says:

      I grew up late seventies-early 80’s with Bowie in the background until a random listen to Low hit me in my solar plexus in 2012. That is how I found this blog and discovered the kaleidoscope that is Bowie being discussed six ways to Sunday. Great discussion and people here. My first post.

      Fascination is a newfound love. One of my favorites now on the the album.

  7. comicalArchitect says:

    Listening to Young Americans today, Fascination really strikes me like never before. I had previously regarded it as just a fun groove, but it’s really a deeply striking song.

  8. nomad science says:

    Young Americans is my wife’s favorite Bowie album. She even loves the “Across the Universe” cover and has convinced me that it is actually brilliant. It takes the hippy-dippy passivity of the original and transforms it into an anthem of defiance: “Nothing’s gonna change it! No no no no no!” The air of petulance is there in the original, but downplayed by the gentle arrangement, as though the speaker is trying to pummel frustration with good vibes. The passive-aggression becomes just plain old aggression in Bowie’s version. It does what a great cover should do: it posits a new reading by emphasizing a previously unrecognized register of the song.

    It’s also a totally irreverent take on a revered classic. Truly “He trod on sacred ground and cried loud into the crowd”!

    I’ll defend “God Only Knows” on the same grounds, but that’s still quite a few days away.😉

    • Chris Williams says:

      For me Young Americans needs “Across The Universe” and I can’t fit the three left off songs into the scheme of things. I never liked “John I’m Only Dancing (Again)”. Interesting how each album has a foretaste of the next – “1984”, “Fame” the start of “Station To Station”.

  9. Matthew says:

    From my favourite Bowie album of the 70’s (DD) to my least liked one of the same decade, I just have never been able to work up much enthusiasm for Young Americans. The title track and Fame are fine but overexposed by fm airplay and the lyrics of Somebody Up There Likes Me are interesting to ponder hidden depths of, but it just seems a bit bland,oh well.
    My fault for being too into guitar music probably, can’t stand modern R&B either as a rule!

  10. MC says:

    I kind of agree with Matthew. I’d say Young Americans is my least favourite of DB’s 70’s studio albums, though I definitely recognize what an important record it is.

    YA was the last of the canonical DB albums I got to know all the way through. I got it for my 15th birthday in 1985, and it just amazed it me how contemporary it then sounded, in a rock world dominated by various permutations of blue-eyed soul and New Pop. Listening to it now, it’s aged quite well; with the exception of one track, which I’ll get to shortly, it still sounds good. I just find myself in many cases liking bits of the songs rather than songs as a whole: notably the vocal breakdown in Right, the clavinet in Fascination, the drum intro to the title track. The latter is a case in point: I’d hate to think of the song minus Luther Vandross’ chorus hook (though to be fair, the song does have one of DB’s finest-ever vocal performances).

    That said, the album has 3 deep cuts that for me are close to peak Bowie. Win is incredible, and eerily ahead of its time. Can You Hear Me? is just flat-out gorgeous, one of Bowie’s best ever ballads, and Somebody Up There Likes Me is stunningly ambitious, a soul-boy Cygnet Committee, unlikely as it sounds. On the demerit side, what I would agree is the worst thing DB did in the 70’s, the flagrantly awful reading of Across The Universe. (Amazing to think this made the cut and not It’s Gonna Be Me.)

    That leaves the other Lennon collaboration, Fame, for me one of Bowie’s finest, and the song that points the way to the Thin White Duke and Berlin – for me, DB’s greatest period. I would agree that Bowie’s dive into soul music was easily the boldest transformation of his career, the one that ensured his longevity, but probably seemed unbelievably risky at the time. I would also say that listening to YA probably opened my ears to classic soul, to the likes of Al Green and Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding. I just find the good-timey, jam-oriented sound of many tracks on YA to be not my thing. I prefer the stripped-down menace of the funk tracks on Station To Station and Low, which were a better utilization of the great Carlos Alomar besides.

    Still, YA is not the album that shows just how awkward and difficult the transition to R&B was. That honour would go to David Live. I’ve always found that album remarkably indigestible, the soul trappings colliding awkwardly with Earl Slick’s frantic soloing on things like Width Of A Circle. And Bowie’s voice is in just awful shape. I really wish there was a proper document of the Philly Dogs leg of that tour.

  11. fluxkit says:

    I spent most of the first two weeks after Bowie’s death listening to different versions of the NLMD album, and lots of 12″ dance and dub mixes from Tonight and NLMD. I can’t listen to an album a day this month (I have obligations to play a steady stream of Kraftwerk for my 18 month old who demands it), but I’ve enjoyed going back to Outside and Buddha again.

  12. s.t. says:

    Young Americans, it’s a bit uneven isn’t it?
    Brilliant first stretch, nice cool down with Right, and then things get a little aimless. I wake up for the spirited (and admirably tasteless) cover of Across the Universe, but I remain firmly planted on our planet’s soil even there. Can You Hear Me is another snoozer in the vein of Somebody Up There Likes Me, though thankfully it closes strong with Fame. It sounds a lot better with Who Can I Be Now and It’s Gonna Be Me taking the place of the weaker tracks.

    Still, the album sounds fresh. This was his first significant stylistic left turn—the first time he dared his fans to follow him, in this case toward a decidedly black pop sound. For the rock purists, this signaled the end of worthwhile Bowie, such an affront was this shift to their crusty notions of rock authenticity. Ain’t there one damn song that can make them break down and cry?

    • fluxkit says:

      When I went back to listening to Bowie about 5 years ago and went all in, YA was the second to last album I tried getting into (before the first self-titled) and I’ve been tired of the singes since I heard them so much growing up. But the album is really nice to dance to, for the non-singles… except for the Beatles cover, which I hate…

  13. add2add6 says:

    Young Americans, as an album, much like Diamond Dogs, has always made me uneasy. I’m just a little bit afraid of it. So this will be a fun challenge, to overcome the fear and just dig in, appreciate the entire song cycle (and will reap the reward of the bonus tracks at the end, as they’re my favourite pieces from this era).

  14. Nijinska says:

    Young Americans has always been a weird one. Of all the ’70s albums, it’s probably the one I listen to least. I’ve spent ages wondering why it doesn’t gel for me, especially given that there are several individual songs I love. Win and Right are among my most listened–to tracks ever from any Bowie album, and even after the hundreds / thousands of times it’s been played and however bored I think I might be by it, Fame still hits me fresh in the gut every time (I think it’s testament to the pure, cold spite of the original that I’ve never found any of the live versions anywhere near as exciting). I’ve always adored John I’m Only Dancing (Again) for its outright dumb coke loon-ness, especially the funkout second half. It’s purely personal, but I think it’s perhaps it’s the disco droniness of these tracks that I like – I recall an interview around that time where Bowie mentioned aiming for a kind of repetitive, hypnotic, rhythmic drone and he definitely achieves that on all those four.

    I find a lot to admire in the other tracks, but much less to like. I can appreciate the ambition behind Somebody Up There Likes Me, and I can respect Can You Hear Me as a composition, but I just don’t really get any great pleasure from listening to either of them – sometimes I find myself wishing they’d just get to the end. Pace Gary Numan for already saying it before, but I think Bowie was guilty of over-singing at times and there’s certainly quite a lot of forced over-singing on Young Americans, especially on those two tracks. From the comments already posted I’m obviously in the minority here, but I’ve actually found Who Can I Be Now? and It’s Gonna Be Me virtually unlistenable because of the over-singing, and I’m thankful that Fame and (even!) Across The Universe arrived instead as eleventh-hour replacements. The subject matter of the two outtakes (Bowie as world–weary Don Juan) doesn’t quite cut it for me either.

    Final, shamefully superficial confession, which I think might underlie a lot of my feelings about the Young Americans period as a whole and which I’m sure affects how I feel about the music: Bowie was at his ugliest and worst dressed in 1974/5. During the glam years he rarely looked other than magnificently beautiful. From Station to Station onwards he never looked other than magnificently handsome. But it all seemed to go a bit wrong for a brief period in between. On Dick Cavett, the clothes and the hair are both truly horrible, and he just… doesn’t look cool. I’ve actually hated that Terry O’Neill shoot (the one in the mustard suit with the scissors and cigarette) being plastered all over the obituaries: it was the worst he ever looked.

    • Gozomoto says:

      I could have written your post, You nicely encapsulated everything I feel about Young Americans and the time period/Bowie’s appearance, in general. Though I loved the Cavett appearance, I’m glad he moved past the look. The Glass Spider era ‘do was almost as bad.

      “Right” has always been a favorite for the complex backing vocals, and I enjoy listening to several others, but I could do without ever hearing at least half the album. Though I dutifully listened to it 4 times yesterday.

      One point of divergence, however, is that I enjoy Bowie’s “over-singing. I think of it as part of the drama he has that can’t be stolen.

      Looking forward to the rest of the week, though. Hands-down, my favorite run of albums.

  15. Matthew says:

    Listening to STS today and thinking of last week and this, has any artist ever done such a diverse set of albums as Diamond Dogs/Young Americans/Station To Station/Low? In such a short space of time too.

  16. Len says:

    I’m still listening to Backstair every day!

  17. Peter Benn says:

    Listening Log 3rd and 5th Feb 2016

    1977-1981

    1. Low
    2. “Heroes”
    3. Stage (live)
    4. Lodger
    5. Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)

    Low and “Heroes” – in the dim and distant past when I first got these albums (that’s vinyl) the tendency was to only play side 1, since the mostly music only side 2’s seemed a tad obscure.
    For this listening session, I had to first play the CDs…and that I’d say is the best way to play them i.e. without interruption from flipping the vinyl over.
    …Breaking Glass is one of my favoutites.

    Both sides are excellent.

    Low really surprised me as it still sounds new and vibrant music and has gone way up in my charts.

    “Heroes” is a meatier selection of songs/music and has some excellent tracks…but in hindsight not a good a Low, but right up there with the best. Sense of Doubt on the B-side of Beauty and the Beast was always a juke box favourite😉

    Stage – well it’s a live album…the only downside (for me) is the first side…the vocals are excellent, but there some instrument in the band that is producing a sound that’s, well, a bit tinny, or with enough bight.

    Lodger – played on CD and vinyl (and was worried as it looked played to death, but cleaned up nicely). Initially it seems to be a strange collection of songs…and indeed it is, but the complex simplicity and stunning vocals make this a brilliant album – from the Berlin Trilogy I’d rank this equal with Low, with “Heroes” coming in third.

    Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) – this was my first real purchase of new album material, so much so I had to get a new record player needle as the vinyl was so thin…once playable, met with an obscure collection of commercial hits and hard grinding tracks that take a while to really appreciate. A good example of this is Teenage Wildlife – at first listen it’s almost unbearable, but a few plays and you are hooked into the narrative and passion/angst to the realisation that this is one of the classic Bowie anthems, ever! Of all the tracks, my absolute favourite is the title track (also released on my birthday!)…and I have it on tape too!

    …and the missing bits:

    “Helden”/”Heros”
    Revolutionary Song
    Crystal Japan
    Bing and Bowie!
    Alabama Song/Space Oddity ’79 – this version of Space Oddity and associated video touches on the demise of Major Tom, which is re-enforced on Ashes to Ashes.

    …must remember to dig out The Idiot and Lust for Life.
    ==================================================
    Listening Log

    1981-1985

    8th Feb 2016

    During this period, Bowie left RCA and moved to EMI America.

    A whole host of stuff to watch and listen to:

    “In the same month, Scary Monsters was released and Bowie also recorded Under Pressure in 1981 in Switzerland and the song appeared on Queen’s album Hot Space the following year. The song reached No. 1 in the UK.

    After this period, he dropped out of the public eye, while remaining involved with various film projects. 1982 saw him playing the male lead in The Hunger, the role of Celliers in the captivating World War 2 drama Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, alongside Tom Conti and Ryuichi Sakamoto …writing the theme song for the movie Cat People. Another greatest hits compilation, ChangesTwoBowie, came out in 1982.

    In October 83, RCA released Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture Album, capturing the energy of Ziggy and the Spiders during their last show. Shortly thereafter, the movie, originally filmed in 1973, was also released.”

    Under Pressure – Queen and David Bowie
    Baal
    Cat People
    Dancing in the Street
    This Is Not America

    Albums
    Studio
    1. Let’s Dance
    2. Tonight

    Compilation
    1. Rare
    2. RCA: Christiane F. Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo – from the Film
    Live
    1. RCA 1983: Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture Album & Film

    OK, here we go…I didn’t play the Compilations or Live listings above as I have already covered these…but did listen to:

    Under Pressure – classic
    Baal – collectable oddity
    Cat People – awesome – this is the 12″ original version that appears in films etc.
    Dancing in the Street – classic
    This Is Not America – oddity?

    Let’s Dance – as it says on the tin, Let’s Dance! A nice collection of tunes (not many!). Side 1 dominated by the hits. The only ‘downside’ is that the danced up Cat People is not as great as the original release.

    Tonight
    I saw my baby
    She was turning blue
    Oh, I knew that soon, her
    Young life was through

    And so I got down on my knees
    Down by her bed
    And these are the words
    To her I said….

    I’ve been dreading this for months!!! Ripped to shreds, discarded, not artistic….But needle to vinyl, the music here is sensual/seductive…some of the revamped Iggy Pop entries are given a pop or reggae treatment that works. Downsides – too commercial? It did get to #1. God Only Knows – vocals not quite right?…compare to Friday On My Mind on PinUps and it’s in the same ballpark (yes, another cover)…but if you take that in the stride of the album and ignore the removal of the context of the Tonight song, this is a very good album. Screaming Lord Byron = Blue Jean…brilliant video film. Listening back to back with Let’s Dance, I’d play Tonight more then Let’s Dance = there, I’ve said it!!!!

    The Christiane F. Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo is a fine/the best compilation of ‘hits’ from 76-79.
    ====================================================
    Listening Log 1986-87 (9th Feb 2016)

    Sounds from Films….
    Absolute Beginners/That’s Motivation – from Absolute Beginners
    Underground…from Labyrinth

    Why ‘That’s Motivation’ wasn’t the B-side to the Absolute Beginners single is a mystery.

    Never Let Me Down

    Glass spider Tour – I was at Wembley🙂

    Listening today, a few things came to mind:
    1. The track order – surely it should have opened with Glass Spider?
    2. It (mostly) has that 80’s polished sound with the annoying bits – the same that appear in 80’s films that date the film firmly in that decade.

    This album is just that – big band, big sound, tinny/twangy 80’s overlays, guitar ‘breaks’ (American?) that stick out like a sore thumb (today), but at the time, that’s what we were being force fed through film, radio and tv. I have similar issues with Blah! Blah! Blah! that came out in 1986. The big difference between these and all the other stuff being pushed out at the time is that it’s Bowie. Whilst not hot on playlists, there are some nods to the Beatles/Lennon and some reminders of Scary Monsters.

    As said elsewhere, it’s a good album (just not great).

    Then there’s the Glass Spider Tour – which was fantastic.

    What jumped into my mind was this: Was the tour to promote the album, or was the tour planned first (as a big band all-singing all-dancing entertainment extravagance – as it was) and the album was the product of the new songs ‘designed’ for the show?

    Also, if the overbearing 80’s polish was removed, how would it sound?…after a bit of a search, Time Will Crawl was re-recorded in 2008🙂

    Best track today: Absolute Beginners 12″ extended version.

    Julie (b-side)
    Time Will Crawl 2008

  18. Sky-Possessing Spider says:

    The most charitable thing I could say about the Iggy Pop re-workings on Tonight is that at least they earned the Igster some much needed cash at a time when he appeared to be on the skids, and was allegedly upsetting Haitian voodoo priests.
    But all philanthropic motivations aside, ALL of these cover versions sucked so bad, that they (along with the God-awful rendition of God Only Knows why he recorded it) made Tonight THE single worst album in Bowie’s almighty canon, by a country mile. Forget about Never Let Me Down. Yes, the overblown and frankly embarrassing histrionics of the Glass Spider tour were definitely the lowlight of his onstage career. But it’s not fair that the album which spawned it should suffer so badly by association when it is vastly superior to the stink-bomb that was Tonight.
    The re-worked Neighbourhood Threat was about as threatening as a toothless, flatulent old dog.
    Don’t Look Down sucked all the New Orleans swing out of the original, and replaced it with catatonic, coma-inducing cod reggae.
    But the biggest abomination of them all was the grindingly awful title track, which took out Iggy’s ode to a dying junkie girlfriend because “it didn’t seem appropriate ” for Tina Turner.
    A recent issue of Classic Pop magazine compiled their list of the 100 best albums of the 80s. I was horrified to read that Scary Monsters failed to make the cut (yes, I’m not kidding), yet both Let’s
    Dance and Tonight were there. The author came to the ridiculous assertion that Tonight was long overdue for a re-evaluation. Well here it is: This lazy, phoned or faxed in piece of contract filler should suffer the fate of Too Dizzy, and be expunged from the market altogether.

    • Matthew says:

      Phew SPS you really don’t like it! I can’t actually remember most of the tracks to be honest. I bought it as soon as it was released and have just had a look my copy, it’s in mint condition and looks unplayed. Ominously has a special offer price sticker on the cover too. Just about sums it up. Never Let Me Down I’ve never heard so looking forward to that later on this month.
      Mind you ‘Jazzin’ for Blue Jean’ has charm and the extended video references ‘Warszawa’ where Bowie falls through the ceiling

    • Jasmine says:

      Loving the Alien has stood the test of time. I would like to hear the demo which Bowie spoke about, it probably has none of the 80s mixing and over-production on it and would gain a lot more respect – like the Reality version.

      Blue Jean I like because I thought he was super cool as Screaming Lord Byron. It’s a feel good song which takes me way back to being a teenager.
      I’ve not listened to anything else off the album since 1984 though.

      The cheesy Glass Spider tour, yes agree about the bizarre dancing and everything, but his vocal range was at its peak and he did play some classics. And of course as the German Foreign Office has thanked Bowie for ‘helping bring down the wall’ because of his ”Heroes” at the Berlin Glass Spider concert, I’d argue that has to be a highlight of his onstage career.

      [I’d never seen him before and I was so excited at seeing Bowie in front of me quite frankly he could have sung anything I’d have been happy].

      • Matthew says:

        Forgot ‘Loving the Alien’ was on Tonight, but agreed it still sounds good. I’m more familiar with it from the 2002 Best of Bowie compilation which is ideal for long journeys with non fan family and friends.

      • Sky-Possessing Spider says:

        Yes, actually you’re right about that concert which helped bring down the Berlin wall being a career highlight. And like you, when I saw the show at Kooyong in ’87, I was, as always, happy and awed just to be in the presence of Bowie.
        But, I have the Glass Spider concert on DVD, and I can never bring myself to watch it due to the cringe factor of “Spaz Attack” and those other hideous dancers, blathering on about Thor the God of thunder and other such nonsense. Even Carlos Alomar was quoted as saying that he stood on stage and was just bemused by the whole sorry spectacle.
        It’s funny (or kinda’ sad actually) that it’s de rigeur for all the big modern acts now to have these atrocious kind of choreographed dancers. the dreadful Madonna of course was probably the first one to grab this particular ball and run with it.

    • s.t. says:

      Fortune cookie consultation for the “Tonight vs Never Let Me Down” question:
      “Better to try and fail miserably than let your session men wank on record during your 40 minute smoke break.”

      • Sky-Possessing Spider says:

        Yes, but which of the two albums does this quote apply to? I would say probably either, or both, as Bowie doesn’t seem to have been too hands on with his career at this point. Which is probably a large part of the problem with his 80s stuff-.his apparent boredom with the musical landscape and his new mainstream audience.

      • s.t. says:

        Fair enough. I get the sense that he was trying to some extent (and failing for the most part) with Never Let Me Down, but there are nevertheless plenty of signs of laziness there as well.

  19. s.t. says:

    STS is such a tight record, perfection from start to finish. Bowie was obsessed with Kabbalah at this time, and so perhaps this was his attempt to conjure Tiphereth, or perfect beauty and balance; the point where mortality and divinity converge.

    The album betrays a deep despair, though, so Bowie likely was conjuring these magics to try to bestow some meaning or worth upon his life. Word On a Wing is perhaps the most nakedly religious song that Bowie has ever written, and its lack of irony is quite moving. His songs here granted glorious shape to everything in life that Bowie seemed to lack; they tower over us as monoliths of sound and ideas. Nothing for us listeners to do but submit and wait for rapture.

  20. James says:

    Funnily enough I never had any desire to listen to anything before Station to Station. except for a few classics , Life on mars, space Oddity, TMWSTW, etc..To me the universal Bowie we know starts at STS.

    • add2add6 says:

      Yes, absolutely. It took the experience of making all the music and living out those characters to bring him to an album as good as Station To Station, and then keeping that benchmark for quite a long time, harkening back to it when it was essential for him to do so, so I’m glad he made music before 1976, but I rarely make time for it at home. Too much cult of personality, not enough vibes, man.

  21. comicalArchitect says:

    To be off-topic for a moment, I’ve been considering starting a blog in the format of PAOTD, but analyzing the music of Lou Reed. Would any of y’all be interested?

    • Gozomoto says:

      If you are even half as good as Chris is on Bowie, I’d read it.

    • Brian says:

      You’d better give ‘Ecstasy’ its due, it has some of the best songs of his career on it and no one seems to know it.

    • billter says:

      I’ve had a similar idea but would probably never follow through on it. So I’d be interested. I think it would be an interesting twist to do it in reverse chronological order (possible when the artist is already deceased).

  22. s.t. says:

    The Idiot may be the most forwarding thinking of all of Bowie’s sonic conceptions. Station to Station notably references a motorik sort of sound, but it came out five years after Neu!’s debut; Low references Eno’s sound paintings, but it came out three years after Another Green World.

    There aren’t any obvious points of reference for the sound of The Idiot, save for Bowie’s own production on Diamond Dogs, yet it foreshadowed and shaped the sound of what is now called post-punk. The only possible sources I can think of is Pere Ubu’s early singles and perhaps some Faust (Mamie Is Blue in particular), but it’s quite likely that Bowie came up with this desolate and spooky sound on his own. Martin Hannett likely worshiped this record.

    • comicalArchitect says:

      What I love about The Idiot is how each song is stylistically completely distinct, yet the album maintains a consistent feel. I’d love to see it used as a horror movie soundtrack.

    • 1234 go!!! says:

      I never liked how it sounds. Maybe an expert could explain what’s wrong with it. It ruins China Girl but it’s great in Fun Time. Hannet loved it maybe because it sounds as recorded inside a trashcan.

  23. 1234 go!!! says:

    The Idiot is about me!!! I just realized that… Everytime I’m on a taxi cab heading to a club I hear Nightclubbing in my head. The cover version the Jamaican lady did, of course.

  24. nomad science says:

    Every time I hear that one line in “Mass Production” I think Iggy’s about to sing,”I’m buried deep in mashed potatoes!”

    The Idiot is to heroin what Station to Station is to cocaine: where Station to Station is crisp, tight, bright, fast, and metallic, The Idiot is murky, sloppy, sludgy, slow, and dark.

    • add2add6 says:

      That’s funny. I fell into a food coma about the time I put on The Idiot tonight. Not an album that usually puts me to sleep, but perhaps I too needed to think deeply about mashed potatoes.

  25. Sadly back in early Jan I was joyously listening to all my old vinyl Bowie albums which included:

    Station to Station
    Space Oddity
    Low
    Never Let Me Down
    Young Americans
    Hunky Dory
    Tonight
    Diamond Dogs
    Scary Monsters

    So I don’t really need to be a part of this. Although I do look forward to spinning Let’s Dance on my birthday 😅

  26. s.t. says:

    Old ghosts awakened
    Manhattan starts to make sense
    Low Side Two is on

  27. Lenny Baryea says:

    OK, Low.

    The amazing Sound and Vision was, prior to this listening, the only song that I was familiar with (from the Best Of).

    The first two tracks sounded half-finished, the third like an outtake from The Idiot (which, essentially, it is?).

    I thought the last three tracks of Side One were excellent, though, particularly Be My Wife (safe to say that Blur have heard this one!) and A New Career In A New Town.

    I also liked Side Two, particularly Subterraneans.

    Overall, I enjoyed this much more than I was expecting and can certainly appreciate why it is such a highly regarded record.

    • comicalArchitect says:

      Wait, you were familiar enough with The Idiot to notice What in the World, but you hadn’t heard Low at all before?

    • billter says:

      It took me awhile to appreciate this, but I think “half-finished” is part of what Bowie was going for here. The fragmentary nature of some of these songs is part of the experience. “Breaking Glass,” in particular, is always over much too soon, which is frustrating; but frustration is part of what the song is about. And I admire the restraint it took to cut off such an incredible groove at the two-minute mark; it could have been milked for two or three times as long (and in the 80s it would have been–if it could have been created in the first place without Murray/Davis, which is doubtful).

  28. I think Low may be my favorite Bowie album right now, but a large part of that is because of how it sounds – those glorious Eventide Harmonizered snare drum sounds, especially at the start. SWOK! SWOK! Takes ya right into another world, even 37 years after it was recorded. There are some good songs on the record, but it’s the sound that makes it special.
    The Idiot: since Bowie’s passing, I’ve played more Iggy Pop than in my entire lifetime. OK, so that’s still only about 40 tracks streamed, but they’re from three or four different albums that I wouldn’t have listened to otherwise. I was not a fan, previously. The Idiot is growing on me, but so far I think Lust For Life is the better album as a whole.
    (I’ve also dug into Lou Reed a bit – not for the first time. I don’t find Lou’s music growing on me at all. I just fundamentally don’t get him. It’s the voice. Everything about the voice makes me want to tune it out and listen to, say, Bowie’s backing vocals on Transformer.)

    • billter says:

      If you’re among the strongly melody-oriented, i.e. technically poor voices bother you on a fundamental level, Lou’s solo stuff isn’t going to work for you.

      But what about the VU? Try the Couch Album, if nothing else.

  29. Anonymous says:

    off topic, but important: the montreux footage from 2002 is online, finallly (part 1: the hits, part 2: the lows):

    http://davidbowienews.com/2016/02/montreux-jazz-festival-2002-part-1/
    http://davidbowienews.com/2016/02/montreux-jazz-festival-2002-part-2/

    this was the best bowie concert i’ve ever been.

    daniel

    • Gozomoto says:

      So far this week, I’ve logged more daylight hours on this site and listening to the “scheduled” music (and whatever else I feel like, typically 80% Bowie or related) than doing my day job. And I’m actually quite displeased that I have to now attend a meeting instead of starting up these vids. I suspect my mgrs won’t understand the excuse if I try to proffer one!

  30. Jasmine says:

    This is controversial maybe, but Low & The Idiot for me, are not true Berlin albums as they were only mixed there. They are essentially both Bowie’s follow-up to STS and they were recorded back to back in France. They seem to be recreating the idea of Berlin, like musical diaries of their travels across Europe during the Isolar tour.

    Sister Midnight is very intriguing because it really does sound like it could have come right out of the STS sessions, with its history right back to 74 with Fame & Footstompin. (I’m talking about Bowie’s Sister Midnight and the Isolar rehearsal version).

    But does anyone here know if Bowie ever recorded Sister Midnight?

    No STS outtakes apparently? It’s possible that it was written while Bowie was filming TMWFTE and then brought back for the 76 tour. I can’t see it was ever part of Bowie’s failed OST for TMWFTE as some of that apparently re-surfaced on Low, but maybe it could have?

    So for me, the true Berlin albums are Lust For Life and “Heroes” i.e. not a trilogy. The Idiot, Low and Lodger are the beginning and end of Bowie’s European catharsis in the 70s (and Red Money finishes that off nicely).

  31. Matthew says:

    Thanks to Vinnie who pointed me to the Bowie version of Sister Midnight I’ve put it into my STS listening in favour of Golden Years which I’ve moved to YA! I can’t find any reference anywhere to a studio version though.
    Given the date of 2nd Feb for the Vancouver rehearsal, the band sound familiar with it and that by this time Bowie wrote most of his songs in the studio, It must have been written during the STS sessions. Surely.
    I

  32. Matthew says:

    Just found out Earl Slick is taking Station to Station on tour but sold out already near me. Bah!

    • comicalArchitect says:

      I got excited before I realized it was UK-only.

      • Matthew says:

        He’s added a few dates in Asia so you never know he might bring it your way if there was enough demand.

    • Jasmine says:

      Iggy’s doing a tour in Europe soon, still some tickets but fairly pricey. Sure he’ll tap into the back catalogue…

      • Gozomoto says:

        I certainly hope so! I have tickets for end of March. I haven’t seen him since the 80s, but decided, in light of recent “events,” that I best not make the same mistake I did with Bowie.

  33. s.t. says:

    While The Idiot is thought of more as a Bowie/Iggy album and Lust for Life as an Iggy/Bowie album, I think the latter left a deeper mark on Bowie’s career. Not even going into covers, Bowie’s strongest songs during his “has-been” 80’s period mostly seem like approximations of this classic Iggy sound. Then of course came Tin Machine (including the Sales bros), and the rule still held. It was 1993 when he finally started to draw upon some other inspirations for his songwriting.

    Here comes success!

  34. billter says:

    One of the things I find interesting about this run of albums (Idiot/Low/Lust/Heroes/Lodger) is the tension between the organic and the mechanistic. Lust for Life is the most organic (sounds mostly like a rock and roll band); The Idiot is the most mechanical (sounds like it was made by robots designed by Bowie for the purpose). The three Bowie albums all kind of push and pull between those poles. Is it the past and the future doing battle? Given the way music went in the 80s, it may be so.

    But in this context Lust for Life sounds refreshingly, gloriously human.

  35. MC says:

    Ok, we’re well into Bowie’s 2nd imperial phase. Station To Station, Low, and The Idiot…I’ve heard these albums so often I almost don’t need to listen to them again; it’s like every chord is embedded in my DNA. When I do listen to them, though, I always find something new.

    Listening to S&S again 2 days ago, I was newly astonished by its power. Despite the length of some of its tracks, it has zero waste motion, no flab, and it leaves you wanting more. It occurred to me how the two sides mirror and complement each other. The intense spiritual journey and retreat of the title song is mirrored by the cracked odyssey through the tv set, “down that rainbow way”, in TVC15. The self-assured seductiveness of Golden Years is answered by the desperate, alienated mating call that is Stay; and the anguished prayer Word On A Wing finds its secular echo in the similarly-titled Wild Is The Wind. What a great band, with Alomar in full swing, fighting it out with Earl Slick for the title of “The New Ronno.” What great songs. An immaculate pop record with profound depths of strangeness. An uncanny masterpiece, and for me, Bowie’s greatest.

    Where S&S is polished to an almost scary degree, The Idiot revels in the murk. A nightmarish record, this (and I mean that in a good way). This should probably be included with DB’s run of “dystopian” albums which I mentioned earlier, though it lacks a Rebel Rebel or a Fashion to relieve the prevailing darkness. Let’s not forget Mr. Osterberg. The Idiot is Iggy’s finest, and not just because of Bowie’s involvement: it has his most nakedly personal lyrics, sung with alarming passion. The final “Can you hear me calls” in Sister Midnight are just terrifying. The only non-snazz track for me is the seemingly tossed-off Tiny Girls, but it functions as a necessary breather between the twin epics Dum Dum Boys and Mass Production. Chilling to think that the latter was likely the last thing Ian Curtis heard before his suicide.

    And finally, the consensus Best Bowie album. I actually don’t differ all that much with that sentiment. I guess the somewhat academic quality of a couple of the Side 2 instrumentals is what puts Low a little further down in my personal ranking. But if it’s not quite Bowie’s greatest for me, I would definitely say it’s the finest sequencing on a Bowie album. From the short sharp shocks of the funk tracks at the beginning of Side One, through the finely-etched melancholia of the later songs, culminating in the eerie, beautiful A New Career In A New Town (the 1st song I listened to after hearing the news of Bowie’s passing.), straight through to the sublime Warszawa: this is one of those seminal records that still sounds like the future, 40 years after its creation, but still touches real depths inside you. It’s the kind of album people repeatedly cite as one that got them through a bad time, and it’s easy to see why. In some deep way, it mirrors the pain of being alive and the joy of being alive. Subterraneans closing the album is like a vision of urban darkness slowly being engulfed by light. (And why the hell didn’t it make my Top 30.)

    And yes, if you want to hear the albums in which the 80’s were invented, it’s these three.

  36. The songs and performances on Heroes just shine…. but compared to Low, it doesn’t sound as good.

  37. Matthew says:

    Lust for Life seems like the brasher, more exciting sibling to The Idiot but contains some gentler moments such as ‘Fall in Love With Me’

    Loved this track since the first listen, the way Iggy sets the scene at the beginning almost like a panning opening shot in a movie it draws you in. This is not ‘Let Me Sleep Beside You’ or ‘Lets Spend the Night Together’ Iggy by the halfway point seems to be almost begging the girl to fall in love with him, he’s already smitten.
    The focus of his desire is someone he knows as a friend but is resisting anything more, and I’m not so sure of her youthfulness. Phrases such as ‘young at heart’ are usually applied to older people who have kept youthful looks and attitudes.

    This song makes a good contrast to ‘Be My Wife’ which feels very abstract, as if Bowie is singing about the idea of a wife but cold and distant whereas Iggy’s singing is about one person in particular, passionate and close.
    If the band just pulled this out of a jam with made-up-as-you-go lyrics then I’m even more impressed.

    Alternatively the whole song could be a daydream about someone he’s only glimpsed, running a senario through in his head until at the end;

    won’t you
    come to this old salon
    come to my waiting arms
    a table made of wood
    and I will look at you

    It’s that ‘won’t you’ as if it hasn’t happened yet. Works either way though.

  38. s.t. says:

    I vacillate between Low and Heroes when asked what my favorite Bowie album is. Low is pretty much perfect as albums go. The first half makes neuroses sound so fresh and lively, and the depressive second half feels heartfelt and poetic. And there’s no weak link to be found.

    Given this, Low has some clear advantages over Heroes. The structure and sound of the latter album are more variations on a theme than the shock of the new. The theatrical distance of the sequel is also more palpable. And then there’s The Secret Life of Arabia, a cute proto-Lodger tune that unfortunately upends the feel of its host album.

    But the fact is that Heroes boasts some incredibly strong songs. Most of the magic of Low comes from the tossed off nature of the first half and the unadorned emoting of the second. But what if you want artifice and showstopping drama in your Bowie albums? Joe the Lion, Blackout, and Neukoln deliver quite well on those fronts. And, of course, the song “Heroes,” which is the finest work Bowie has ever done (the pollsters certainly agree!). A magnificent sphinx of a song, a powerhouse of shrieking grandeur. Low may be a perfect album, but Heroes houses Bowie at his absolute best.

    But like Ziggy and Aladdin Sane, these albums are not mutually exclusive. List rankings are kind silly that way. It’s interesting to think about what you would put where if forced to choose, but practically speaking we can enjoy things equally for very different reasons, and bask in certain ones at certain times given certain moods. Low and Heroes are another complimentary pair, another joining of yin and yang. Where I am in my perpetual vacillation depends on which one I need more at the moment.

  39. silent_age says:

    When I’m listening to Heroes (and comparing it with what I feel about Low) to me he just sounds more confident with the new style and more optimistic (despite the surroundings) – the run through Joe the Lion – Heroes and Sons of the Silent Age is just perfection to these ears. The instrumentals from Scene of Doubt to Neukoln are the same prefer em to Warsawa etc.

    Chris – want to add my thanks and amazement of your achievement on here.

  40. comicalArchitect says:

    Listening to Heroes today, I noticed a certain importance in the album’s sound. Bowie seemed to believe in this album as the greatest thing he had crafted; you get the sense that he felt he had finally settled on a single style. Of course, this was not the case, but this confidence makes the album all the more interesting.

  41. Matthew says:

    Quick defense of ‘The Secret Life of Arabia’ . I really like how the track sounds, it’s great as the album closer and not in any way a mood breaker. The three preceeding tracks are much more soundscapes than songs and I feel this track brings you gently back to reality.
    Besides the running order on the whole album is spot on. Eno wouldn’t have co-wrote a song and then carelessly plonked it on at the end, he has far too much craft for that. If the album had ended with ‘Neukoln’ it might feel like it just petered out.
    A brilliant track with a great vocal performance by Bowie.
    Thats all.

    • comicalArchitect says:

      100% agreed.

    • nomad science says:

      I love “The Secret Life of Arabia,” both as an album closer and as a song in its own right. It does “bring you back into reality,” as you say, with those opening guitar chords and then rides off into the sunset on a great groove. There’s a whole world beneath its layered guitar lines.

  42. billter says:

    I also have a huge soft spot for “Secret Life.” It provides some much-needed uplift at the end of the album and serves as a perfect bookend for “Beauty and the Beast.” It’s also a little bit of a “coming attractions” for “Lodger.”

    Speaking of “Beauty and the Beast,” this is such a weird song. Sometimes (usually) I just love love love it, its propulsiveness and panache…and then once in a while it seems just noisy and offputting. A pretty daring choice for an opening track.

  43. Brian says:

    [Excellent Flaming Lips tribute concert to Bowie here: Listen to this!]

    +1 for Secret Life of Arabia from me as well

    I’ve warmed up to Lodger since first hearing it years ago. In fact, listening to it, I was surprised that it had such a long streak of songs I enjoy. African Night Flights and Red Sails have really gone up in how much I appreciate them, while Move On and Yassassin remain enjoyable. For me the album only peters out with Repetition and Red Money. I just can’t get into Repetition and Red Money feels like a recycled song.

  44. Cliff says:

    I love the end of beauty and the beast on Stage. The menacing synth leading into the audio chaos is just so intense. When I saw this in 1978 it blew me away. Still remember my friend Phil and I just staring open mouthed at each other. Blown away by it!

  45. MC says:

    Ok, I’m falling a little behind. It’s amazing with Lust For Life, many of its songs are so dark, but the overall feeling the album generates is a rollicking joie de vivre. It’s a contagious sense of joy on the edge of chaos, which owes more, probably, to Iggy’s sensibility than Bowie’s. Interesting point that s.t. made, though, about this album being on a prime influence on 80’s Bowie, apart from the Iggy knockoffs/collaborations and Tin Machine. I’ll have to contemplate that when I get around to the 80’s stuff.

    If The Idiot provided much of the blueprint for Joy Division, I’d say Lust For Life was one of the templates for The Pixies. Indeed, I remember a Black Francis interview in which he talked about dancing to the album naked in his dorm room. Just try to get that picture out of your head.🙂

    • s.t. says:

      Oh Iggy was a huge influence on the Pixies. Perhaps the most obvious LfL nod being “Lovely Day.”

      • Sky-Possessing Spider says:

        The song “Ten Percenter” on Frank Black’s first solo album is an obvious Iggy homage, where FB sounds so uncannily like Mr.Pop it’s unnerving. He even sings the line; “I’m just trying to be a guy who’s hailing from Ann Arbour”, Iggy’s home town.

  46. Galdo says:

    Not on the subject, but I’ve just discovered by listening ‘Blackstar’ reversed, that the song is quite a palindrome. Interesting. Is this intentional?

    • comicalArchitect says:

      I had the same thought; what makes that especially interesting is the emphasis it puts on the center, the “way up on money” portion.

  47. s.t. says:

    I have mixed feelings about Lodger. While the brief song shards of Low Side One feel fresh and audacious, much of Lodger feels slight. The travelogue idea comes off like a gimmick (via Eno) to have something to write about, rather than anything that really moved Bowie. And I can’t say I would know how to follow up a masterpiece like Heroes, but closing your follow-up album with a lazy copy of Sister Midnight is not a good idea.

    But, like Pin-Ups, a big part of Lodger’s charm is that simple disposable nature. Particularly coming after the heavy grandeur of Heroes, the relative modesty of Lodger can be downright refreshing. And while there’s only one song that I’d say could match the ambition of the other “Berlin” albums (Look Back in Anger), there are some other moments that can stun, like the soaring vocals in Fantastic Voyage. Given the unreal productivity of Bowie in 1977 (four masterpieces in one year!), I can totally understand why he might be fatigued or short on grand ideas. But the fact remains that even his slight work during this time was often quite impressive by anyone else’s standard. Even Repetition, which strikes me as particularly cheap songwriting for Bowie (Chris perhaps agrees), has an edge and energy that’s a lot more exciting than many of the New Wave acts that were popping up at the time. I guess like most vacations abroad, there’s a canned quality to Lodger that’s underwhelming, but thankfully also plenty of snatches of real feral beauty that make the trip worthwhile.

  48. Sky-Possessing Spider says:

    I actually prefer Lodger to Heroes. To me, the former has always unfairly been dismissed as the runt in the “Berlin trilogy” litter, whereas that run of songs from Yassassin to Boys Keep Swinging is just magnificent. I LOVE how Red Sails sounds like it could be a lost single from Harmonia/Neu! orLa Dusseldorf, and that skronking guitar wig-out at the end of “Boys” is just fabulously mental.
    My criticism of Heroes is that the instrumentals on side two don’t hit the mark in beauty, melody and grandeur like the ones on Low do. That menacing four-note piano riff repeated throughout Sense of Doubt sounds to me like something out of a B-grade horror movie, Moss Garden is a little underwhelming, and that atonal saxophone in Neukoln can be a bit grating. Similarly, some of the lyrics on side one are a bit hit and miss. They definitely hit on Sons of the Silent Age, whereas some of the imagery on Blackout, let’s face it, seems like pure doggerel.

  49. Matthew says:

    Lodger’s a strange one for me. Whilst some albums I can listen to day after day, Lodger is an occasional listen. When I do hear it I love it but soon tire and put it away for months and months, then I play it again and it’s great for a short while and so it goes on.

  50. Matthew says:

    Au Pairs trivia. Whilst playing their version of repetition I just noticed a lack of any mention of Bowie. No songwriter but just a publishing credit to Bewley Bros / fleur music. The lp label does have ‘Ziggy’ type lightning bolts on painted fingernails though.
    More oddly their Live in Berlin lp credits the song to themselves, an error still on some discography websites.

  51. Jasmine says:

    This past week has been brilliant! I’ve heard so much more than I had before on most of the albums. Golden Years indeed

  52. MC says:

    Ok, a little late to the party. Some thoughts on Heroes and Lodger. I think, after the crack-up represented on Low, these albums mark the arrival of the mature Bowie sensibility, the sometimes-wounded, sometimes detached humanism that would persist, with some variation, right through to the end. For me, the Bowie you meet on these records is essentially the same Bowie you find on The Next Day and Blackstar.

    I ranked Heroes my 2nd favourite DB album in my poll. As with s.t., it could easily change places with Low depending on the day. The main reason I’m inclined to place it higher, apart from the mammoth title song, is the extraordinary suite of instrumentals on Side 2. They’re quite an eclectic group, but they fit together beautifully. They’re astonishingly vivid, cinematic pieces of music. I close my eyes, listening to them, and it’s like I’m touring the nightworld of an imagined Berlin. Then The Secret Life Of Arabia lands, and it’s like a new horizon opening up

    Side 1 is Bowie rock at its most angular and anarchic. The Iggy influence is palpable. Then the title song. I’m reminded that I fell in love with it long before it became an all-purpose anthem, long before Microsoft, and Jacob Dylan croaking the words at a crap Godzilla. For me, it will always be the glowing yin to Blackout’s tortured yang, the epic lead-in to the Sons Of The Silent Age, the answer song to the sardonic menace of Beauty And The Beast, the response to Joe The Lion’s call to be like your dreams tonight. Despair and transcendence, again fighting it out on an album side.

    Never mind the Berlin Trilogy, which is a misnomer anyway. For me, Heroes is the Berlin album.

    I love the notion of Arabia as a “Coming Attractions” for Lodger. The latter picks up and runs with the former’s exuberant faux-exoticism, its manic streak colliding with a serene detachment. Nothing on Lodger has a groove like Arabia, but it’s full of wit and invention. The album takes a lot of chances, and most of them work.

    It occurred to me that Lodger is not just the first Bowie album, but the first album by anyone not The Beatles that I got to know the whole way through, at the age of 10. I can see how someone whose musical tastes are fully-formed might be put off by the record’s eccentricities and self-indulgences, but for me back in 1980, African Night Flight was a straight-up comedy song, which I found uproariously funny, and Repetition was downright scary. Listening to these songs now, I see more clearly just how weird they are, but they still sound great.

    I would agree that Lodger is the weakest studio album Bowie made in this period, but that’s still better than what most people could come up with. The Imperial Phase is still very much in play. I get the criticism that Bowie here isn’t making a lateral move like he did on Young Americans and Low, that he’s chasing various New Wave trends, and strip-mining Krautrock. But the album has three of the most exciting moments on record, which more than rival anything the great Talking Heads were doing at that time:

    1) Adrian Belew’s guitar, relentlessly prodded by Visconti’s bass in the outro of Boys Keep Swinging

    2) “Feel it in my voice!” in Look Back In Anger.

    3) “The hinterland, the hinterland!”

    Now, as Pierre Elliot Trudeau said many years ago, welcome to the 1980’s…

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