David Bowie - Low
I was even less of a fan of Bowie's characterisation of the Thin White Duke and his ill-considered excursion into the world of smooth American lounge-funk. That always appeared to be something he adopted in order to try to crack the American market. Typical Bowie, always chasing the fame and adopting any persona, any image he could in an attempt to keep chasing. He had taken glam to its ultimate conclusion - now he was ready to hijack another rising trend and see if he could do the same.
So where does that leave me? Well, this is one of the highest rated albums of the mid- to late-seventies I possess and I cannot get enthusiastic about it. Maybe this sort of music just passed me by, I don't know, but I could never see what all the fuss was about. In places it is simply bland and there are precious few tracks to stir the blood. At times the tracks just all seem to merge into one another as if they form some sort of miasmic haze. At other times, the drive to be experimental and push the boundaries just becomes an irritation and a distraction.
This album was one of the three created for Bowie in Berlin with Brian Eno collaborating. The so-called Berlin trilogy (so-called because they were recorded principally in Berlin - duh) was the outcome. It was a step further for Bowie along the experimental path he had set himself with Station to Station and into an area of pop which had been little explored by British musicians. Drawing heavily on krautrock, Low can be seen as an attempt to anglicise a musical form which had been regarded as continental (and therefore somehow irrelevant to British musical sensibilities).
The result is an album made up of a mixture of instrumentals and vocal tracks, with the instrumentals being in the majority. Now this may have satisfied Eno, the creator of ambient music, and it may have satisfied Bowie's desire to be innovative and creative, but it doesn't satisfy me. Too many of the instrumentals are sterile and unfeeling. Listening to this is an unforgiving experience. Overlook the catchy pop number "Sound and Vision" and there is precious little else there in which to take any comfort.
Overall an album which I find unrewarding and difficult to engage in. Many regard it as one of the most important albums or the seventies but I will always argue that an album which sets itself in the face of the listener is never going to be one which can be ranked as truly great. Musically it is well-crafted, no doubt, but in truth it lacks passion. I find it cold and distant and unengaging. I am unable to relate to it on anything more than the most superficial levels. This album is a struggle to listen to and as a consequence I do not listen to it very often.
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on 2011-02-22 CharlesMartel Said:
I never really bought into Bowie in this phase of his career. "Low" was for me, despite its reputation, a poor album, where any innovation was to be found on the mixing desk rather than the music.