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David Bowie - Low CD (album) cover

LOW

David Bowie

 

Prog Related

3.98 | 221 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

js (Easy Money)
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Albums like this only come out about once or twice a year, yeah ... it's that good. A lot of people probably wouldn't consider this to be progressive rock per se, a better classification might be progressive rock's more urban and urbane half-brother, art rock. In fact this may be the best and most artfully developed art rock album ever. The music on this record has a strong similarity to a lot of Eno's work. At first I assumed Eno helped write a lot of this, but when I looked at the record label I was suprised to find that almost all the writing credits were given to Bowie. If indeed Bowie did write most of this music, then he produced the best Eno album Eno never put out.

In a lot of ways this record is like two seperate albums. On side one you have a great collection of semi-punky art rock songs that sound like a cross between Eno's Warm Jets album, early Roxy and some of David's previous glam meets progressive hard rock songs. When this album came out punk and new wave were breaking in a big way and David is right on time as he captures the essence of this new music and moves it forward into more progressive territory as well. A lot of these songs feature bold upfront, unfiltered and unprocessed synthesizer lines ala the early days of exotic synth records. This use of synth as guitar really adds a lot of character and typically Bowie styled subtle ironic humor to the songs. Another unique feature of these songs is drummer Dennis Davis' big trash can snare sound and the way he and bassist George Murray play just behind the beat.

On side two you have an excellent set of four semi-ambient mostly electronic pieces that almost flow together into one big post-classical tone poem. I would describe these pieces as semi-ambient because this is not just a bunch of repetitive new-age drivel, instead each one of these peices is carefully through-composed and all feature interesting melodic and harmonic changes as well. This is some of the best and most progressive music that has the named David Bowie attached to it.

Tracks one, two and four on this side are sparse and somber, while track three has a driving African/gamelan marimba part. Semi-ambient music was still pretty new when this record came out and I remember being very impressed with this amazingingly forward looking futuristic music when I first heard it.

All the tracks on this album are good to excellent, but there is one that has always struck me as extremely unique; A New Career in a Town, an instrumental that closes out side one. Outside of Giorgio Moroder's work with Donna Summer, this was one of the first songs I ever heard that used a disco beat as a basis for something creative, therefore it pre-dates the huge techno-dance-rave explosion by almost a decade. This song starts with the expected futuristic synths and disco thud when all of a sudden David brings in jangly guitars, a 'lonesome' wailing harmonica and a bouncy yet slightly melancholy melody. The mood is futuristic yet rustic and thouroughly tacky Americana. David knows that in the future there will still be trailer parks, laundramats and bus stations. As the song closes David brings in the pizzacato strings and we are now soaking in the essence of 1950s middle-class American shopping conveniance, sheer genius.

js (Easy Money) | 5/5 |

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