Sunday, February 14, 2016

29 Days of Bowie: Lodger

Released on May 18, 1979 by RCA Records, Lodger is the third and final album David Bowie made in collaboration with Brian Eno that explored electronic music and unconventional ideas towards rock music. Unlike its predecessors which revolved around electronic instrumental suites and were recorded partially or entirely in Berlin, the record has Bowie dabble into elements of world music. Produced with Tony Visconti and aided by the live band that appeared in his 1978 live album Stage that includes recurring collaborators in guitarist Carlos Alomar, drummer Dennis Davis, bassist George Murray, and future King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew. The album would largely revolve on the concept of travel on its first side and the second side devoting to critiques on modern Western Civilization.

The album’s first half opens with this dreamy yet melodic ballad Fantastic Voyage as it is a very straightforward song that feature the idea of a voyage with lyrics that play into the ups and downs as it includes this slow and steady rhythm as it’s one of the album’s more accessible cuts along with the slow and steady funk of Yassassin which is a very playful track that has Bowie singing some abstract lyrics. African Night Flight and Move On are these tracks that has Bowie and Eno dabble in world beats as the former is a driving mid-tempo track with unique time signatures in its percussions and rhythms from George Murray and Dennis Davis along with guitar wails from Adrian Belew. In the latter, Davis provides a more walloping rhythm as it is this song that is filled with a lot of imagery in the lyrics that play into the concept of travel.

Red Sails is another upbeat track that has elements of Asian music textures with a driving rock rhythm that has Bowie singing in different styles as it plays to these imaginative lyrics of looking into the world. The album’s second half features three of the album’s singles as two of them showcase Bowie at his funniest. D.J. and Boys Keep Swinging showcase that sense of humor as the former is a mid-tempo track that mixes funk and electro-rock with Bowie singing about the conflict between experimentation and commercialism of radio as it includes some wailing solos from Belew. The latter is another strange rock track that features Belew’s solos but also some very weird approach to instrumentation that has Davis playing bass and guitarist Carlos Alomar on drums while Bowie sings very weird lyrics about gender-bending.

The single Look Back in Anger is this fast rocker that features driving rhythms and guitars along with rollicking pianos with Bowie singing strange lyrics of body image and identity as it includes a driving guitar solo from Alomar. Repetition is this mid-tempo track on the album that features Murray’s low-key bass lines and dark lyrics of abuse and contempt with Bowie serving as this very cold persona in the song. The album closer Red Money is a remake of sorts of a song Bowie and Alomar had written with Iggy Pop called Sister Midnight from 1977’s The Idiot as it has this mixture of funk and rock with some synthesizer flourishes with Bowie singing weird lyrics that play into the fallacy of man and obsession with money.

From the 1991 Rykodisc reissue of the album comes two bonus tracks. One of which is a 1988 remake of Look Back in Anger performed by Bowie with future collaborators in Edral Kiziclay on drums and bass and Reeves Gabrels on guitar. It’s a song that is given a more brutal tone with Gabrels’ wailing guitars and Bowie singing in a more direct fashion as the track would serve as an artistic rebirth for the artist during a period of mediocrity in the mid-80s. The other track on the reissue is a song called I Pray, Ole` as it is this outtake that has Bowie singing some improvised lyrics where he, Davis, Murray, and Eno perform on the cut as it served as a prototype of sorts of Look Back in Anger.

Lodger is an incredible album from David Bowie. It’s an album that is adventurous as well as being very experimental thanks in part to the group of musicians Bowie was playing with as well as the contributions that Brian Eno and co-producer Tony Visconti would bring. It’s also one of Bowie’s most enjoyable albums in terms of terms of its sense of humor but also in the looseness that is in display in the musicianship between the band. In the end, Lodger is a very fun and enthralling album from David Bowie.

Studio Releases: David Bowie (1967 album) - David Bowie (1969 album) - The Man Who Sold the World - Hunky Dory - The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - Aladdin Sane - Pin Ups - Diamond Dogs - Young Americans - Station to Station - Low - "Heroes" - Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) - Let’s Dance - Tonight - Never Let Me Down - Tin Machine - Tin Machine II - Black Tie White Noise - Outside - Earthling - ‘Hours…’ - Heathen - Reality - The Next Day - *

Live Releases: David Live - Stage - Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby - Bowie at the Beeb - (Live at Fashion Rocks (w/ Arcade Fire)) - (Live Santa Monica ‘72) - (Glass Spider Live) - (VH1 Storytellers) - (A Reality Tour)

Soundtracks: Christiane F. - Labyrinth - The Buddha of Suburbia

Miscellaneous: Peter and the Wolf - Baal - Sound + Vision - (Early On (1964-1966)) - (All Saints) - Toy - (Nothing Has Changed)

© thevoid99 2016

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