We all know how the great late David Bowie changed music styles many times, always being ahead of the trends, keeping a cool factor throughout his career. OK, some of his 80s and 90s albums aren’t memorable, from “Never Let Me Down” to the Tin Machine project, but still, he produced many gems during his 40 year-career that abruptly ended on January 11th, 2016, a few days after his 69th birthday.

In 1979, he recorded a fantastic but often overlooked album in “Lodger”. It is known as the third part of his famous Berlin trilogy, as he spent a lot of time in Germany with Brian Eno, writing and recording “Low” (January 1977) and “Heroes” (October 1977) while fighting heroin addiction. “Lodger” is a very interesting album as it shows clearly all the personalities Bowie could handle in the same mind and body. This hyper-diversified record includes an Arabic-style reggae in Yassassin (Long Live), great upbeat rock songs that lift your spirit in Look Back in Anger – the most famous song of the album – and very experimental songs with strange beats (African Night Flight) or dark funk that somehow is reminiscent of the “Station to Station” days.

In this playlist, a few rare videos from 1979.

 

Some aren’t perfect but they all have something. It is either that great hook as the chorus comes up, or these double-tracked vocals or some original arrangements, which proved to be very audacious for 1979. On the song DJ, guitarist Adrian Belew delivered a noisy solo on a kind of dark funky disco song, which might have attracted Christiane F. type of girls on the dance floor. And what about that first song, Fantastic Voyage? A typical Bowie ballad that awkwardly opens this mosaic album. It might have closed it better, to settle down, but hey, Mr. Jones was never one to consider comfort as a must.

Repetition is a song that shows Bowie’s experimental side, again, with a hypnotic beat and bass line. Red Money is another moment that isn’t catchy at all, but still very interesting to listen to: it’s very dense, with layers of tortured guitars, slow rhythm, almost robotic singing. Not the type of song you’d ever find on a Bowie Greatest Hits album, but still something that shows this gent’ wasn’t afraid to use path nobody had taken before.

The making of the album cover (Photo Brian Duffy)

The making of the album cover (Photo Brian Duffy)

The extended version of this album, which came out when it was reissued on CD in 1988 included a few outtakes from that period. I Pray Ole is a dynamic pop song that is way cleaner than the rest of “Lodger”.

Bowie also did something he rarely did: he rerecorded Look Back in Anger, in studio, with his 1988 crew, bringing new life to this mid-size hit. Heavier guitars, à la mode loud beats, but still that same cold glance feeling throughout the song. After a long 2:20 minute intro, Bowie’s voice finally takes over, as elegant as he can be. Again, what a singer!

Bowie, in 1979, was kind of being pushed back by emerging genres like disco, rap and new wave. The latest, with upcoming stars Gary Numan, Duran Duran, The Cars or A Flock of Seagulls would become pop stars that would owe a lot to Bowie in their music style, and by the way they would dress up on stage. The mentor would go for a more pop path with the still very interesting “Scary Monsters (and super creeps)” in 1980 and would score international stardom with pop perfection on “Let’s Dance” in 1983.

david bowie lodger

DAVID BOWIE
Lodger
(RCA, 1979)

-Genre : art rock
-In the same mood as Brian Eno, XTC, Nina Hagen

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About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier
Fondateur et rédacteur en chef
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Mélomane invétéré et rédacteur agréé, Nicolas pratique la critique en mode olympique: il parle de tout, tout le temps, depuis 1991. Il a publié 4 500 critiques de disques et concerts dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur en chef de 2009 à 2014. Nicolas a publié "Les perles rares et les grands crus de la musique" en janvier 2013, un ouvrage de 1250 pages en deux tomes.