Monday, December 7, 2009

David Bowie 16: Lodger

While the first two albums of the so-called Berlin Trilogy were merely influenced by Eno, Lodger was the most collaborative with the domed one. It’s also the weakest of the three. The lack of instrumentals also sets it apart from Low and “Heroes”.
There are some truly standout tracks: “Fantastic Voyage” is a pleasant intro, notoriously turned upside down into “Boys Keep Swinging” (complete with swapped instruments among the rhythm section); “D.J.” is still a nasty riff; “Look Back In Anger” had a vivid video and a great singalong chorus despite itself, as does “Red Sails”; and “Red Money” takes the backing track for “Sister Midnight” from The Idiot and adds new lyrics. Throughout, the wild guitar of Adrian Belew adds weird color, sometimes sounding like Simon House’s violin, which also snakes its way through the songs. (The album’s highlight, by the way, is the part-solo-part-riff by Carlos Alomar in the middle of “Look Back In Anger”.)
But that leaves the remainder, which are more experimental than enjoyable. “African Night Flight” spits out the words too fast for comfort, and “Move On” sounds like there’s a melody buried under the pounding drums and chanting. “Yassassin” (which is Turkish for “long live”, as the lyric sheet helpfully points out) wants to strive for something bigger but misses. “Repetition”, about spousal abuse, is as ugly as its theme.
As an album, Lodger gets lots of accolades, but it’s kinda noisy, leaving one feeling much like the broken and bent figure on the cover. Tony Visconti would remix the album in time for 2017’s A New Career In A New Town box set, where it appears alongside the original for contrasting and comparing. Coming on the cusp of the punk era, the album didn’t sound like anything else Bowie had done before, nor did it sound like much else out at the same time. He wasn’t done yet anyway.

David Bowie Lodger (1979)—3
1991 Rykodisc: same as 1979, plus 2 extra tracks

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