Low
David Bowie (1977)

Header photo: Still from The Man Who Fell To Earth
The cover art for Low is based on the film's poster.
Station to Station features another still from the film
© Optimum Home Entertainment

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David Bowie autographs, photographs and more @ ebay.com (direct link to photographs) - just checked and a bigger selection than i have seen everywhere else




David Bowie ~ Low CD Album


Type: Audio CD (20 Sept. 1999)
Number of Discs: 1
Format: Enhanced, Original recording reissued
Label: EMI


Item Details

Boarding the 354 Bus on Beckenham High Street.

Me: "How do I get from Beckenham to Berlin?"
Bus Driver: "Low."

In hindsight, and knowing Bowie's creative might, this was a triumph waiting to happen. It was a time when everything came together at the right time and right place - something that rarely happens for any artist in his/her life but when it does you get LOW.

Consider the facts. Bowie had just turned thirty, mature, growing up, grown up, he was trying to rescue himself from his cocaine habit and took himself to a foreign place, West Berlin. There he lived, in the Turkish quarters, in an apartment and bought his own groceries. For a major rock star the latter is almost revolutionary!

Thus the man who fell to Earth could say: 'Ich bin Berliner'. Berlin. UFA. Fritz lang, Metropolis, M - a child, a tune, a murderer, German Expressionism, Das Kabinett des Dr. Caligari. Pabst, Murnau, Nosferatu. Distorted perspectives, dreamlike perspectives. The Fall. The horrific memories of the recent past staining 1976 like the nicotine stained yellow fingers of a heavy smoker throttling the neck of Berlin. Apocalyptic downfall of the Evil Third Reich just 30 years or so before. Käthe Kollwitz. Her life, her death as Berlin fell. Soviet revenge. The women of Berlin uniformly raped. Revenge. Death. Destruction. Buildings in flames, bodies rotting with the smell of decay pungent in the air. Corpses. Lautreamont corpses. A permanent darkness casting its shadows over monochrome grey landscape.

Sectors. The Wall. The West, the East ... the East trying to get to the West. Erich Honecker. Socialist Unity Party. The Stasi. KGB. Brezhnev. Walter Scheel.

1977. Ich bin Berliner.

This was Bowie's world in those days. Musically, there was Krautrock and, in particularly, Kraftwerk and Neu! which influenced his direction. Roping in Brian Eno to help bring to fruition the vision of his world, there and then, was inspired. Bowie's songs and lyrics filtered through the unfathomable depths of the brilliant mind of Eno ... well, Low is the offpring of that musical union.

You can read about Bowie and his own words about the making of Low below. But as a general aside, imagine a world without Low. Its influence touches almost anyting of interest in electronic music. No Low no Replicas & Tubeway Army/Gary Numan (imagine a world without that album? - listen to it again, it's astonishingly fresh just like Low), no Joy Division or early Human League. The claim to fame for those mentioned above is that for a time each and everyone shared a fame similar to Bowie's. But it was brief wheras Bowie, was, seemingly, always that famous.

Only now and from this point on now he is gone will we truly realise just how Low was so important in the soundrack of so many peoples' lives. The next generation, the one after that, etc. will discover it and try to find out anything they can about the man and the music.

In that way, Bowie will live on forever, or, at the very least, long after we have all shifted off this mortal coil.

Bowie's label, RCA, had attempted to dismiss Low, asking for Young Americans 2 instead.

This 1999 UK 11-track 24-bit digitally remastered CD album comes with a picture sleeve booklet including lyrics in a hype stickered jewel case.


Track Listing:

1. Speed Of Life 2:46
2. Breaking Glass 1:51
3. What In The World 2:23
4. Sound And Vision 3:03
5. Always Crashing In The Same Car 3:29
6. Be My Wife 2:55
7. A New Career In A New Town 2:51
8. Warszawa 6:20
9. Art Decade 3:43
10. Weeping Wall 3:26
11. Subterraneans 5:39

Baal Petition


David Bowie on Low & V-2 Schneider:

"In L.A. I fell into the trap of referring back to rock all the time. It was incestuous. I had blinkered myself to all the other musical possibilities. When I left, I tried to find out more about the world. I discovered how little I knew, how little I have to say. The lack of lyrics on Low reflects that I was literally stuck for words. I was making a new musical language for my new life. It's so personal that I expect to be misinterpreted." (January 1978)

"Low was a reaction to having gone through that peculiar...that dull greeny-grey limelight of American rock'n'roll and its repercussions; pulling myself out of it and getting to Europe and saying, 'For God's sake re-evaluate why you wanted to get into this in the first place? Did you really do it just to clown around in L.A.? Retire. What you need is to look at yourself a bit more accuarately. Find some people you don't understand and a place you don't want to be and just put yourself into it. Force yourself to buy your own groceries...

"And that's exactly what I do. I have an apartment on top of an auto shop in an area of town which is quite heavily populated by Turks, and I did that for a bit..." (November 1977)

"Low is my reaction to certain places. Warszawa is about Warsaw and the very bleak atmosphere I got from that city, Art Decade is West Berlin - a city cut off from its world, art and culture, dying with no hope of retribution. Weeping wall is about the Berlin Wall - the misery of it. And Subterraneans is about the people that got caught in East Berlin after the separation - hence the faint jazz saxophones representing the memory of what it was." (September 1977)

"That initial period of livimg in Berlin produced Low, which is: isn't it great to be on your own, let's just pull down the blinds and f##k 'em all. The first side of Low was all about me: Always Crashing In The Same Car and all that self-pitying crap, but side two was more an observation in musical terms: my reaction to seeing the East bloc, how West Berlin survives in the midst of it, which was something that I couldn't express in words. Rather it required textures, and of all the people that I've heard write textures, Brian Eno's textures always appealed to me the most.

"Brian isn't interested in context. He's a man with peculiar notions, some of which I can come to terms with very easily and are most accessible, and some of it is way above my head, mate, in terms of his analytical studies of cybernetics and his application of those things to music and his general sort of fine arts approach. It's something that I've known from way back as a general characteristic of a kind of person that I used to know when I was a lot younger. I find that very simpatico. All those crazies...

"But I can't really talk on his behalf. We spend most of our time joking. Laughing and falling on the floor. I think out of all the time we spent recording, forty minutes out of every hour was spent just crying with laughter. Do you know (Robert) Fripp? He is incredibly funny. Unbelievable sense of humour. Having the two of them in one studio produces so much random humour - incredible stuff...

"So anyway, what I'm doing in this wonderful new world of discovery and experimentation, is a refocus about what I'm trying to do." (November 1977)

"I was disappointed in the reception Low got from the press - I gave them more credit than that.

"A lot of people dismissed it as an Eno album. Obviously he was very important to Low - but I put a lot of blood and guts into that album, a fact that tends to be ignored." (September 1977)

"Warszawa was a quite positive idea to try and take a musical picture of the countryside of Poland. But I didn't tell Brian that. The procedure of that one was really quite simple.

"I said, 'Look, Brian, I want to compose a really slow piece of music, but I want a very emotive, almost religious feel to it. That's all I want to tell you at this point. What do you suggest as a start?

"And he said, 'Let's go lay down a track of finger clicks'. And he laid down I think it was four hundred and thirty clicks on a clean tape. Then we put them all out as dots on a piece of paper and numbered them all off, and I picked sections of dots and he picked sections, quite arbitrarily.

"And then he went back into the studio and played chords, and changed the chord as he hit that number, and went through the piece like that. And I did a similar thing on my areas. We then took the clicks out, heard the piece of music as was, and then wrote over the top of that, according to the length of bars we'd given ourselves.

"V-2 Schneider was much more of an idea of a sequence. Except we turned the riff around in the beginning, purely by accident. I started playing the sax riff on the offbeat instead of the onbeat. Halfway through I thought, 'Oh, I'm the wrong way round', but we continued through.

"So now you get this extraordinary intro where it's all the wrong way round - beautiful! Impossible to write that - so I stayed with that and built it up from that wrong way round.

"But I must say, that is why I'm so held to these albums: that each track is a whole different system of methods. It keeps me interested. It's incredible! And I'm still learning, every album I go in with Brian.

"Now I've learned some of his methods quite thoroughly, and I'm fairly competent with them so I can utilise them on my own, but I'm still learning more from him.

"He's spontaneous, but in a slow, methodical fashion. He allows accidents to slowly evolve, and I work very quickly. So Brian is probaly in the studio for a far greater length of time than I am, because we often work seperately - either of us will not be in the studio when the other is, so we don't hear what the other one is doing.

"It does sound, as you say, very mathematical and icy, but that doesn't defeat its ultimate musical impact. The impact is definately an arrangement and presentation of some emotive force, and it does touch one." (June 1977)

Quotes from Bowie in His Own Words Book.

Sales:

No. 2 in the UK for one week. Sales (before his death): 2.3 m.

Key track: Sound And Vision.

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Condition: new - still sealed. April 2017: in stock.

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