May 4, 2011

Abdulmajid (Philip Glass, “Heroes” Symphony, 1996).

Like “All Saints” and “Some Are,” “Abdulmajid” is allegedly an outtake from the Low“Heroes” sessions, though it was likely tarted up in 1991 before being released (in this case, on the Ryko CD reissue of “Heroes”). As with “All Saints,” which was named after Brian Eno’s ’90s record label, “Abdulmajid” has an anachronistic title, taking its name from Bowie’s second wife, Iman, who he married in 1992.

A rhythm track that’s eventually graced by a three-note melody on synthesizer, “Abdulmajid” calls back to the instrumental miniatures on Eno’s Another Green World. Its overall sound is reminiscent of Can’s early ’70s records, and it also hints at the path Bowie would take with Lodger (if it’s not actually a fragment from the Lodger sessions). It’s fine as B-side material, but if the likes of “Abdulmajid” are considered top outtakes from the Berlin-era sessions, it’s obvious that Bowie, Visconti and Eno used all the best stock in the first go.

Recorded ca. 1977, mixed ca. 1991. Used by Philip Glass as the second movement of his “Heroes” Symphony, composed 1996, recorded 1997.

Top: Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid, as photographed in New York by Francesco Scavullo, ca. May 1977.