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David Bowie

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David Bowie Low album cover
3.98 | 220 ratings | 22 reviews | 32% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1977

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Speed of Life - 2:46
2. Breaking Glass (Bowie, Dennis Davis, George Murray) - 1:52
3. What in the World - 2:23
4. Sound and Vision - 3:05
5. Always Crashing in the Same Car - 3:33
6. Be My Wife - 2:58
7. A New Career in a New Town - 2:53
8. Warszawa (Bowie, Brian Eno) - 6:23
9. Art Decade - 3:46
10. Weeping Wall - 3:28
11. Subterraneans - 5:39

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians


* David Bowie - vocals, guitar, pump bass, saxophones, xylophones, vibraphones, harmonica, pre-arranged percussion, keyboards: ARP synthesizer, piano, Chamberlin (credited on the album sleeve notes as tape strings, tape-cello and tape-horns)
* Brian Eno - vocals, splinter Minimoog, report ARP, guitar treatments, piano, keyboards, synthetics, Chamberlin, other synthesizers
* Carlos Alomar - rhythm guitar
* Dennis Davis - percussion
* George Murray - bass
* Ricky Gardiner - guitar
* Roy Young - piano, Farfisa organ
* Peter Himmelman - piano, ARP synthesizer
* Mary Visconti - backing vocals
* Iggy Pop - backing vocals on What in the World
* Eduard Meyer - cellos

Releases information

RCA - 1977
Rykodisc - 1991
EMI/Virgin - 1999

Thanks to micky for the addition
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LowLow
Parlophone 1999
Audio CD$5.99
$4.98 (used)
Low LP (Vinyl Album) UK RCA 1977Low LP (Vinyl Album) UK RCA 1977
RCA
Vinyl$40.00 (used)
LowLow
Import
Toshiba EMI Japan 2007
Audio CD$125.00
$35.78 (used)
LowLow
Import
Az 1998
Audio CD$45.47
$4.95 (used)
LowLow
Remastered · Import
Wea Japan 2014
Audio CD$14.46
$19.53 (used)
LowLow
Limited Edition
Virgin Records Us 2007
Audio CD$28.46
$32.49 (used)
Low (Shm-CD)Low (Shm-CD)
Import
101 DISTRIBUTION 2009
Audio CD$181.55 (used)
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DAVID BOWIE Low ratings distribution


3.98
(220 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(32%)
32%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(40%)
40%
Good, but non-essential (24%)
24%
Collectors/fans only (2%)
2%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

DAVID BOWIE Low reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars SULA VIE DILEJO, SULA VIE MILEJO

This album supposedly opens the Berlin trilogy which is partially incorrect. The album is mostly recorded in France and only mixed in Berlin. But it is true that David and Angie spent some time together almost in front of the Wall which will add a depressive mood to this album, only augmented by their separation.

In 1976, David contacted Brian Eno (who was producing "Ultravox!") and asked him to help with his new project. Again, Bowie is changing almost completely from musical inspiration. The coldness of the album is peaking during the whole of its B-side.

In terms of popularity, this change won't affect David's success. The album reached the second spot in the UK and the 11th in the US. For such an experimental effort, it was not too bad a result.

I have always felt a bit "hungry" about side one. A great collection of short pieces of music, some of them being extraordinarily catchy as the hit single "Sound & Vision" which I am profoundly fan of, to some great instrumental pieces of work like the opener "Speed Of Life" full of fabulous synth sounds and remarkably balanced. But I have always felt that most of them were kind of unfinished. And I still feel the same more than thirty years later.

It is sufficiently rare to be mentioned, but this album is mostly instrumental. To my knowledge, no other influent singer has ever produced such a piece of art. It's like cutting one of your organ. But his voice is replaced with an orgy of synth and keys all the way through the magnificent B-side.

It starts with the cold, dark and oppressive atmosphere of "Warszawa". Brian Eno is co-credited and one can notice his major influence on this album of course. Highly experimental but combined with an incredible and touching feeling. The "vocal" part is just wonderful. The most poignant of his whole career IMHHO.

As "Young Americans" was a shock for lots of fans (to which I belong), "Low" although unanimously acclaimed by the critics will also leave some fans incomprehensive. What was going into David's mind? Releasing an almost electronic album?

I guess that because of my taste from 1973 through 1976, I was rather pleased with this change. And this part of the album is one of my preferred side of any Bowie album.

Of course "Art Decade" and "Weeping Wall" can't compete with the other two songs but are not disturbing here.

THE masterpiece track of this masterpiece album is the closing number. "Subterraneans" is such a desperate call coming from the East Berliners, such an immaculate song. David is "singing" in an unknown language. He said that he was so bored about traditional rock lyrics that he voluntarily opted for some incomprehensible stuff. And it worked remarkably.

David also plays a fantastic sax part (remember, this was his first instrument). "Subterraneans" is a cold anthem, a solemn prayer, harrowing, almost metaphysical. Again, a grandiose number.

In 1977, David will also produce two albums for Iggy. For "The Idiot" he will write all the numbers of which the world known "China Girl" as well as "Nightclubbing". Bowie is even holding the keys, almost anonymously, during the supporting tour.

A little later, it will be the turn of "Lust Of Life". Bowie will sign the music for each of the song (with the notable exception of the great "Passenger"). What a gift to his Iggy friend! But such is Bowie.

The remastered CD version holds three bonus tracks of which two are essential IMHHO. The extended version of "Sound & Vision" of course (I never could get enough of this song) and the beautiful "Some Are". It could have easily fit on the original album.

Did I say masterpiece? Oh yes, this time I have already mentioned it! Thanks a lot to both of you Brian and David. This was (and still is) a great moment in my musical life.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#174863) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, June 22, 2008

Review by 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.

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Send comments to js (Easy Money) (BETA) | Report this review (#175635) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, June 28, 2008

Review by el böthy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars From Ziggy Stardust to the Great White Duke, from folk to industrial electronica, from ugly british teeth to a white smile if there is something David Bowie can do is change, adapt and suceed at it. And maybe, just maybe, might this be the artistic pinnacle of his ever changing persona.

Low is an album marked by everything that surrounds it. Bowie´s high dependecy on drugs and bi-polar state of mind led him to explore the more vanguard sounds of contemporany Germany´s Krautrock bands, such as Can and Neu! and found asylum in electronic experimentation with the help of Brian Eno, who would be his left hand in this and the future Berlin albums. Also the fact that, although not recorded, but mixed just a few steps of the wall in Berlin gave the music a more depressing mood to it. Just listen to Weeping wall to hear what I mean. This is pretty much Bowie´s darkest album and, if this review be so bold, his best.

Armed with a handful of excellent musicians who had already worked with him in the excellent Station to station (which was a subtle indication of where Bowie wanted to go) and some new blood, plus the sounds of Brian Eno, Bowie creates an album that is not glam, nor electronic, nor Kraut but all of the above, played with some funk in the rythm section and sharp melodies in the guitars and synths with Bowie´s calm and expressive vocals on top of it all. All songs are among his most inventive, even though some of them are quite short, mostly instrumental and synth experimentations. For the album is basically divided in two: in Side A we have the shorter, mostly sung more melodic "pop" numbers, from which the beautiful Sounds and visions, the depressing Always crashing in the same car and desperate Be my wife stand out, while on Side B we have the instrumental synth songs which, personally, make the album stand out from the rest of Bowie´s already impressive catalog. And even though Bowie "sings" sounds, more than words, in a personal language and we don´t understand a word of it, we never fail short of feeling and getting everything Bowie wants us to feel and get. Side B is among the most minimalistic and powerful music I have ever heard. And yet, with this clear division "Low" does never lose is´t unity, the whole album, every song after the other are part of a single entity.

This is the first of Bowie´s Berlin trilogy, which would also give us the more succesful "Heroes" (on which Fripp would lay down his famous guitar work) and "Lodger", and although both of them are interesting, and "Heroes" has some clear moments of greatness, they don´t come close to the initial "Low" which I would not only call out as Bowie´s best, but also as album of 1977.

Low is to Bowie what Kid A is to Radiohead. An album like there is no other.

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Send comments to el böthy (BETA) | Report this review (#178689) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, August 02, 2008

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The so-called (inaccurately called) Berlin era is my favorite from David Bowie's extensive discography. He is a singer/musician who truly put the artist's standard in the rock scene through his various interests and stylistic frameworks. The Berlin era found him focused on reconstructing the rough side of glam rock and the pulsating modernistic eclecticism of krautrock, while receiving/anticipating the clever aspects inherent to the new ways of rock'n'roll way back then. All in all, "Low" is my all-time Bowie favorite item ever. The album kicks off on a celebratory note with the up tempo R'n'B-inclined rocker 'Speed of Life', a powerful instrumental whose added funky vibe and synth adornments make it acquire a sophisticated aura. The next two tracks are characteristic of that mixture of punk, krautrock Neu!-style and vintage glam rock that somewhat became the trademark of Bowie-Eno rock'n'roll vignettes; this strategy will be repeated in 'Always Crashing in the Same Car', albeit on a less frantic pace. Stuck in the middle is 'Sound and Vision', a catchy reminder of the 75-76 era that found Bowie refurbishing the glam-rock thing with heavily funk and soul-infected moods. In this case, the overall sound is a bit more Spartan, although the groove is noticeably there - actually, I think this jam would have served better had it been given an extra minute of development, but anyway, it is effective in its catchiness. 'Be My Wife' is arguably one of the most moving love songs ever written by Bowie, in spite of not being a sweet ballad, instead being a mid tempo rocker with a R'n'B stance similar to the opener: the simplistic melody is treated with solid inventiveness and repeated with emotion for the sung parts, while the instrumental passage toward the fade-out brings a pertinent continuation of the lover's desperate hope portrayed in the lyrics. 'A New Career in a New Town' actually sounds like an anticipation of the new wave sound that will take over radio stations all over Europe and the US from 1979 onwards - the magical drive of the drums and percussions, the soaring synth layers and the floating piano chords state a dreamy danceable vibe, while the recurrent harmonica lines hint at image of a lone cowboy wandering in search of new horizons. This is a brilliant ending for the album's first half. The second half has to be one of the greatest Bowie experiences ever, with our hero and Eno perpetrating a series of instrumental journeys in which technology and composition fuse into one single accomplishment. 'Warszawa' is a masterful delivery of textures and ambiences that reflect languidness, anxiety, mystery and loneliness all at once. As the piano, synth and Chamberlin go on developing the main motif through the softly sequenced chord progressions, your eyes can literally see the grayness taking over the sky and earth all around you. The emergence of Bowie's vocalizations emphasizes this grayness powerfully. How can one recover from this? Well, there's still more sonic greatness to enjoy. The closure track 'Subterraneans' brings a slightly similar mood, a bit less dense but equally somber: the sax solos cry the solitude of night owls at the break of dawn, and then, the vocalizations deliver an eerie reconstruction of jazzy chanting - a clever use of jazz tricks in an avant-garde rock framework. Between these solemn pieces are the introspective 'Art Decade' (very much influenced by "Future Days"-era Can) and the ethereal 'Weeping Wall' (heavily featuring tuned percussions): these two pieces show how well Bowie could envision his new musical drive with solid colorfulness, the former bearing a distinguished guise, the latter exploring exotic cadences in a psychedelic ambience. The Rykodisc re-edition includes a remixed version of 'Sound and Vision', plus two unreleased tracks from that era: the cybernetic, aggressively pulsating 'All Saints' and the dreamy ballad 'Some Are'. How come they never made it to this or any other Bowie album from the late 70s? It beats me, because they are great indeed.

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Send comments to Cesar Inca (BETA) | Report this review (#179261) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, August 09, 2008

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
3 stars Five stars for this? Granted, the dark, moody instrumental tracks go on much longer than on other Bowie albums, like Heroes, and actually sound like more than new age noodling, but the actual songs here sound more like incomplete ideas, fading out before they actually go anywhere.

On the rare event of listening to this, I skip the first half.

By the way, my copy, one of the Ryko releases, has two extra instrumental tracks, extending the moody side much longer, and a lame pseudo hip hop remix of "Sound and Vision", where the producer (was it Bowie himself?) thought adding inappropriate turntable scratches and dorky synth sound effects would make the song modern and edgy. Wrong.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#215398) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Bowie is one of my heroes in music. Because of his personality, his aura and his specifical voice. And because of music. In plenty of his changes he found new faces, often they are perfect. So, what about "Low"?

Ok, wellknown facts - it's a beginning of his so-called "Berlin era "and collaboration with Brian Eno. I respect Eno for many things, still from his Roxy Music time. But what do we get in this collaboration?

First of all, I think true name of the author of this album should be written as "Brian Eno feat. David Bowie". Because there mainly are instrumental , often quite long tracks with dark Eno ambient mixed with some "New Wave "elements. If you ever listened "Ultravox "albums from that time, you know what I am speaking about. OK, comparing with "UltravoX " ( produced by the same Eno) music there is less commercial, less rhythmic and ... less focused. Some tracks sound just as blueprints for future songs, kind of experimentation with sounds and mixing. Eno is wellknown because of that kind of works, but Bowie? What is Bowie doing there? All in all, he sings one hit "Sound and Vision " and gave some vocal lines for few more faceless songs? Ok, as it is written on album cover, he is musician here as well, but ( to tell true) who is interested in Bowie as in musician, not singer ?

Yes, "Warszawa" ( original, polish name for "Warsaw") is very interesting instrumental with some etno-vocals ( the only strange, that this etno line is more middle-east, not western- slavian). But again, how did it connected with Bowie?

All in all, I am really disappointed with this album. It is not bad music, but often placed as Bowie's one of the top works - are you joking?

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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#237869) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, September 07, 2009

Review by fuxi
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Rock is going down the drain; even Bowie has turned into a machine" was a common complaint when this album came out. Many old-fashioned admirers of Bowie's glam rock period just didn't "get" LOW. They mistook Bowie's depressed, low-key vocals for a lack of passion. They refused to see that instrumentals such as "Warszawa" and "Subterraneans" reflected a state of mind, just as much as "Rock'n'Roll Suicide" or "The Bewlay Brothers" had done. More than three decades after LOW was released, who would now describe the playing of Carlos Alomar, Dennis Davis, Charles Murray, Brian Eno and Bowie himself (to name the most obvious participants) as lacking in wit or passion? You might as well accuse the Spiders from Mars of sounding like a machine; after all, when the Spiders went on tour, they churned out well-oiled rock night after night!

No, LOW is the first album which fully managed to show how Bowie absorbed and reflected the influence of Krautrock and Enoesque avant-garde. You will hear echos of bands like Can and Neu, but thanks to Tony Visconti's hyper-clean production, LOW ended up sounding less messy and much glossier than the best products from Connie Plank's German studios. Although LOW's most inspired tunes are (in my personal view) somewhat less involving than the best material on STATION TO STATION, "HEROES" or SCARY MONSTERS, there's not a single track which lacks interest. Songs like "Be my Wife" and "Always Crashing in the Same Car" may initially seem underwhelming, but they grow on you. "Speed of Life" and "Sound and Vision" are part of the soundtrack of many people's lives without them even being aware of it. And LOW's B-side was beautiful enough to encourage Philip Glass to write a symphony.

LOW's influence on late 1970s and early 1980s pop culture is well-known. Nick Lowe, Joy Division and The Simple Minds were all inspired by the album, while Gary Numan made a career out of copying its idiom. Less familiar is the amazing connection that exists between LOW and Caravan's BETTER BY FAR. Check out my review of the latter if you'd like to know more.

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Send comments to fuxi (BETA) | Report this review (#264921) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, February 08, 2010

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars The genius of Brian Eno had a hand in many interesting mainstream releases in the 70's. Every album he cooperated on seemed to challenge his colleague artists to come up with their best work, Roxy Music and John Cale's Fear being notable examples. And that also seems to apply for Bowie's Low.

Low mostly feels like a collage of Eno ideas rather then an album with a recognizable Bowie vision, which obviously affects my appraisal of it, as I'm not much of a Bowie fan. It's not entirely consistent, but there are accomplished art-punk songs such as Speed of Life and Sound of Vision. But much of it seems to be made up from short instrumental snippets and less memorable songs such as Be My Wife. The instrumental pieces on the second half of the album are more remarkable.

The importance of this album lies very much in its sonics, more then in the song writing. The sound that was achieved here seems to purify some of the best ideas that had been bubbling in Eno's mind for years. He had always used keyboards in a way that was very different from his contemporaries and didn't get involved with baroque synth solos or tweeting moogs, but strived to incorporate ambient textures and new sounds in rock. The influence on artsy new wave bands such as Ultravox, Japan and Tuxedo Moon is obvious. I even suspect that tracks like Warszawa and Sunterraneans might even have inspired Peter Gabriel for some of his soundtrack ideas. Bowie and Eno sure captured the spirit of the age.

Low is one of the best Bowie albums for me, but as stated before, I've never been very impressed by his music, so my appreciation might reveal more about my admiration for Eno then offering an insight into Bowie's music. 3.5 stars

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#266350) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, February 15, 2010

Review by tarkus1980
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Somewhere around 2004, the music review site Pitchfork polled its various writers/contributors to put together a list of the top 100 albums of the 1970's. I had some issues with some of the results, of course (a shortage of prog rock, rating some albums far lower than I would, rating others far higher than I would), but overall I didn't think it was a terrible list. One result absolutely flabbergasted me at first, though: the #1 album on the list was Low. As I thought about the process of putting together this kind of group list, though, the result actually started to make sense to me; while it was unlikely that Low rated in the top 5 or 10 of very many individual lists, it was probably present in almost all of them, and in group rankings that matters a lot to final placement. Low, ultimately, does not feel like an all-time great album to me; it feels like a, "oh yeah, I don't love it, but it's a really good album with no major flaws, I'd feel pretty stupid if I didn't include it on my list" kind of album.

This album, of course, marks the beginning of Bowie's collaboration with the great Brian Eno, known as the "Berlin Trilogy" due to Bowie's relocation from L.A. to Germany. Eno did not serve as the album's producer (that was Bowie himself and old friend Tony Visconti), nor did he do much songwriting (his only formal cowriting credit here is on "Warszawa"), but his impact was felt nonetheless as a crucial sounding board and guide for Bowie's ideas. The general approach was to take ideas that had previously been introduced by various krautrock bands (not to mention Eno himself) and to try and fuse them with Bowie's more commercialized sensibilities. This isn't to say, of course, that this is anywhere near a commercial-oriented album; to the contrary, the entire second side is basically ambient music, while the first half is bookended by instrumentals and full of, how can I say this, "jagged" instrumental textures. Yet the tracks on the first side are all rather short, showing an attempt to take the ideas that influenced him and chop them up into something easier to digest. For the most part, he definitely succeeded; all of the beeps and boops are fused with an amazing drum sound, and on the first side, when the goal is memorability, the songs tend to be catchy more often than not.

Ultimately, the album consists of 11 tracks that I like, and not a single one that I love or would call a classic. On the first side, what throws me off the most is the perpetual feeling that I'm listening to songs that are only 85% finished, even though I know that every single one has been polished and finished into exactly what Bowie wanted. The "regular" rock instruments all sound simultaneously raw and processed, and while the combination is fun, it's also disconcerting.in a way I don't always like. The melodies, as much as I enjoy them, still leave me with a, "Wait, what? The song's finished already?" feeling when a given song ends; again, it's a neat effect, but this is a case where neatness doesn't leave me feeling entirely satisfied. Plus, I'm not sure I really like Bowie's singing in much of this side; except for when he sounds completely ridiculous ("Breaking Glass" and "Be My Wife," perhaps not coincidentally the ones I enjoy most on side, even if I still don't quite adore them), I find myself almost forgetting I'm listening to songs that actually have vocals. This might have been the intended effect, but again, that doesn't mean I have to love it.

Still, like I said, I like all of the songs on the first side more than not. The opening instrumental "Speed of Life" (featuring the "Hot Blooded" riff) immediately makes it clear what kind of album this will be; "normal" foundations messed up as much as possible in the details by a fascinating drum sound, a bunch of great synth sounds alternately carrying the melody and giving texture, and guitars treated into oblivion. "Breaking Glass" may last less than two minutes, but it has the album's funniest lyric ("Don't look at the carpet/I drew something awful on it"), and the combination of great hard rock (from the guitar and the drums) with goofy synths makes an unforgettable impact. "What in the World" features noises that would later make their way into Pac-man, underpinning a bunch of lyrics that make little sense when read as text but still create an overall sense of paranoia and (possibly, I'm not sure) desires for a girl. The best part of the song, anyway, is the swooping guitar noises that pop up briefly in the second half before heading into a more conventional guitar part.

"Sound and Vision" is often singled out as the album's best track, but I've never really seen why it's especially better than everything else around it. The main guitar lick is a simplistic marvel, and I like the descending synths near the beginning, but the "main" song portion just seems like a typical Low pop song, and nothing more remarkable. "Always Crashing in the Same Car" would probably impact me more if Bowie had been able to better articulate his vocals; as is, I have to rest my enjoyment on the processed guitar playing (almost sounding like Dave Gilmour in a couple of moments) and the melody. I've read the lyrics, and they're plenty emotional (a great look at self-frustration about making mistakes over and over), but some better singing wouldn't have hurt. "Be My Wife" is a standout if only because of the fantastic repeated ascening deep piano line, but the vocal melody is a minor marvel as well, and almost enough to make me single it out as especially great. And finally, "A New Career in a New Town" closes things out with another instrumental, featuring some nice harmonica interplay with a rather moving synth line. It's not superb, but it's pretty nice.

The second half is 4 lengthy ambient drones (with some wordless vocals in the first track and jumbled lyrics at the very end of the last track), and this is where opinions split a lot. I, of course, have no problems with ambient music, so dismissing these tracks is out of the question, but I don't love these as much as I do the best stuff on "Heroes". The one portion that reaches up to no-doubt-about-it greatness is the first two-thirds of "Warszawa," which has to be one of the most depressing and moving themes (and to think it's just based around A-B-C on a keyboard, before changing keys) I've ever heard. So sue me, I'm a sucker for a mellotron/chamberlain flute part over well-arranged synths. I think the track weakens a little bit once the wordless harmonized vocals come in, but not too badly.

The other three tracks are decent enough. "Art Decade" starts off with an effect I remember from Another Green World (on "In Dark Trees" if I remember correctly), and centers around a single theme designed to portray the decaying culture of West Berlin. "Weeping Wall" is a tweaked adaptation of "Scarborough Fair" over busy percussion (I'm pretty sure I hear a lot of xylophones and vibrophones in there) with lots of synth and guitar noises thrown in, and the closing "Subterraneans" depicts the hopelessness of East Berlin through a lot various ambient tricks. None of these, frankly, are among the very best ambient tracks with which Eno would ever involve himself, but they're not among the worst either, and they definitely work as part of an overall suite.

Overall, I'll never quite adore this album, but I still think it's extremely nice, and I'm happy to listen to it from time to time. Don't get it before the albums that bookend it, though.

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Send comments to tarkus1980 (BETA) | Report this review (#295827) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, August 22, 2010

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars The first part of the Berlin Trilogy, which is incidentally also considered to be the artistic peak of David Bowie's Art Rock career, is an album that baffled me the first time I heard it and has continued to do so up until today.

Even if Bowie did manage to stabilize his artistic direction after the mixed bag that was offered on Station To Station, this stability came at the price of less interesting collection of performances. Although, apparently both critics and fans liked this album enough to proclaim it to be one of his best efforts! What's not to like when you have great tunes like Speed Of Life and Sound And Vision? Well, that's exactly my point, these songs aren't even remotely representative of Bowie's career, so how can Low get all this credit?

I must admit that starting a David Bowie album with an instrumental was a very daring move on the artist's part but, in a way, it also works as a foreshadowing of the things to come. Side one consists of very short numbers that don't exactly overstay their welcome, but at the same time also lack momentum for me to really get into any of them. Only once we get to Warszawa, track number 8 out of 11(!), the music finally gets the attention it was completely shunned up to this point. This track is also my favorite out of the bunch since it really bring out some interesting new qualities to Bowie's style and, thanks to Brian Eno's careful direction, this style sound very natural in Bowie's repertoire.

The final three tracks are pleasant but they unfortunately fail to shed any new light on the mystery behind this album's great reception. Luckily, things would get a whole lot better with the release of "Heroes". To me, Low is competent album but it falls short whenever I compare it to both its predecessor and especially the next album!

**** star songs: Speed Of Life (2:47) Breaking Glass (1:53) What In The World (2:23) Sound And Vision (3:03) Be My Wife (2:57) Warszawa (6:24) Art Decade (3:47) Weeping Wall (3:28) Subterraneans (5:41)

*** star songs: Always Crashing In The Same Car (3:34) A New Career In A New Town (2:53)

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#307297) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 29, 2010

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The first of Bowie's classic collaborations with Brian Eno sees Bowie clawing his way out of the cocaine-addled muddle which had led to the folly of Young Americans and added a dangerous edge to Station to Station. How best to celebrate sobriety? Well, if you're David Bowie, you do it by producing a classic, revolutionary art rock album which will serve as a major inspiration to the artier, more progressive of the New Wave, of course! With one side concentrating on bizarre rock songs warped and distorted through an electronic haze and the second side devoted to foreboding, Krautrock-infliuenced instrumentals, the album is probably the proggiest in Bowie's discography, and certainly sounds like nothing that came before and little that came after it. Eccentric, edgy, neurotic and outright weird, Low proved that Bowie wasn't ready to stop innovating just yet.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#551944) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, October 17, 2011

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars An album in two halves, "Low" was one I picked up on vinyl years ago and I know I must have played side two way more than side one. the reason is that side one really did not appeal tome and were nothing more than a bunch of songs similar to the stuff being churned out of the late 70s. Side two is a horse of a different colour. Brian Eno absolutely takes over and the music is spellbinding and downright esoteric. The masterful alien landscape of 'Warszawa' is a prime example followed by the avant 'Art Decade' ad plain weird 'Weeping Wall'. The final track is another strange offering with synthesizers to the wall and saxophone jazz 'Subterraneans' and for these songs alone this is worth picking up. The side two synth soaked soundtracks are highly influential and ushered in the New Romantic movement of the 80s.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#615514) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Italian Prog Specialist
4 stars Classy. Cool. Stylish. Timeless. The Berlin years were good to Bowie, right from the start.

Low is a tale of two albums in many ways, with a quite sharp divide between the more "standard" art rock fare of the first half, and the decidedly more convoluted and evocative sound of the second. But standard is as ever a deceptive word to use when attributed to David Bowie, being his usual mercurial self.

With a backbone of controlled, groovy (and just a tad funky) rhythmic propulsion, the "songs" found here feel, at core, disciplined. Almost a little bit cold. A bit mechanic. They draw from somewhat the same influences as early Roxy Music and pre-ambient Brian Eno, with an added touch of slight new wave and punk sensibilities, but are altogether Bowie in style and presentation, if that makes sense.

The playing is never mindbogglingly technical, but the structures and melodies are familiar, in a way almost catchy, yet wondrously idiosyncratic, generating a lovely, unsettling sheen of detachment. A fair bit of space is also left in the compositions, perhaps as a side-effect of the previously mentioned discipline or a conscious decision. This serves to unclutter the songs, adding power and focus to what is already there as well as leaving a lot of room for the various electronic sounds and effects. Most of them continue as well as bolster the vague theme of detachment and urban desolation I constantly pick from Low. Sharp disharmonious shrieks, washes of crisp and icy synthesizer, jagged underlying sound carpets and what can be only be described as an assortment of various buzzes, beeps and blip-blops. The Brian Eno influence and contributions are tangible, to say the least. Taken altogether, this generates an atmosphere that tends to be a bit cheeky, slightly wheezy and malfunctioning, at times almost approaching the hysterical or the desperate - the sounds of a long-forgotten steam-powered gaming arcade. The guitars tend to assume almost the same role from time to time making it unclear which instrument is leading the pack underneath the structurally dominating rhythm section. It is effective having it this way, allowing the instruments to freely move between rhythm, melody and harmony, adding well-needed life and movement to some of the compositions.

The second side of the album continues in the same slightly bleak, detached way as the first, but it is presented in a wholly different way. Moving away from the warped art rock into ambient territory mixed up with a touch of Krautrock, this is instead a refined, elegant set of musical panoramas. Sleek and beautiful electronic compositions mixed up with tender contributions from guitar and various other instruments (and Bowie's powerful, if sparse, vocals). For being so few songs they manage to cover a lot of ground; sometimes near the busier and more melodious of Brian Eno's ambient works, straight on to an excellent percussion-laden and synth-rhythmic Kraut ditty, wrap it up with a pseudo-orchestral soundtrack-like track. It makes for a nice, if dramatic, change of pace. Here the tone is markedly less abrasive and a good deal more atmospheric, both in structure and in timbre. The jaggedness is almost completely removed and replaced by sweeping, wave-like and more melodic evolution. The cold urban gleam remains, make no mistake, but it is not confrontational in the same way, but more reflective, almost melancholic, one might say.

It is two albums for the price of one, so it is a bargain. It is also a massive artistic statement. A great achievement. A cryptic, constantly fresh gem of a record.

Mandatory. 4 stars.

//LinusW

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Send comments to LinusW (BETA) | Report this review (#644799) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, March 03, 2012

Review by HolyMoly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl and Canterbury Teams
5 stars This is a landmark recording of experimental rock music. It was conceived and recorded at a time when Bowie was heavily influenced by German giants such as Neu!, Can, and Kraftwerk, and it shows. On top of that, he had the sonic expertise of Brian Eno at his disposal, which gave Bowie the freedom to experiment and not have it come out stilted or awkward; Eno already had plenty of experience making this kind of thing work. Less well-known is the presence of Iggy Pop, whose album The Idiot was being made at the same time in the same studio; it's as if Bowie's work on that project gave him a chance to think outside the box a bit and try out some new things before shaping them into Bowie album material.

The "song" side of the album presents us with seven short songs, some almost fragments, but each of which gives us some interesting new sounds that might have been heard on Krautrock records before, but not on an international pop star's album. Most of the songs were conceived out of jam sessions by the band, with interesting bits excised and re-arranged in unorthodox ways. "Breaking Glass", for example, is one of the best tracks despite being under 2 minutes long and never really turning into a real song -- parts fly in and out, the guitar player (Carlos Alomar) plays some heroic rock fills, synthesizers jump in at surprising moments, drums stop and start, just a strange piece all around. It's not all crazy weird though -- both "Sound and Vision" and "Always Crashing in the Same Car" are emotive, melodic pieces that seem to harness Kraftwerk's knack for detached melancholy; the faint glimmer of sadness seen across the buzzing wires. On the other hand, "Be My Wife" and "What in the World" are almost ecstatically upbeat, bubbling over with electricity and giddy vocals. The side opens and closes with unremarkable instrumentals ("Speed of Life" and "A New Career in a New Town") which are still pretty good despite their repetitiveness.

Side Two is all instrumental (with the exception of some wordless voices), and just as evocative and impressive as Eno's definitive Another Green World album released a couple of years prior. In fact, one could argue that this stuff is even better, as it condenses the best aspects of the latter work (massiveness, timelessness) into about 20 minutes. "Warszawa" is an absolute stunner, a 6-minute howling void of bigness. "Art Decade" scales it down a little, emphasizing a single sad melodic line on the synthesizers. "Weeping Wall" brings some gamelan-like percussion into the mix, and "Subterraneans" brings all these elements together to a quizzical conclusion.

Long my favorite Bowie album, and a must-own for any progressive rock fan.

(Interesting trivia: former Magma member Laurent Thibault actually played some bass and assisted in the recording of this album; but for whatever reason, his name was omitted from the credits. I learned this from an audiobook about the album from the 33 1/3 series, for which Thibault was interviewed.)

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Send comments to HolyMoly (BETA) | Report this review (#857553) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, November 12, 2012

Latest members reviews

4 stars So here it is. The first album in the Berlin period. The first full collaboration with Brian Eno, and probably at a time in Bowie's life whenever he had been on the most amount of drugs he could possible be. After the brief flirts with soul music during the mid 70's, the previous album "Stat ... (read more)

Report this review (#1006827) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Saturday, July 27, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another masterpiece by David Bowie, modern music's chameleon who bent and manipulated the course of music once again. Low sees a new mixture of delicious styles, from pop and post punk on "Sound And Vision" to ambient jazz and classical with "Art Decade". Bowie and Eno's touches here are even ... (read more)

Report this review (#572748) | Posted by Frankie Flowers | Tuesday, November 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars David Bowie LOW By 1977 you could possibly think David Bowie has done it all. From a cross dressing glam rocker, Folk musician and poet, attempting blue eyed soul and funk music, being the first rock musician to moonwalk and among other things. But change has always been a large part of Bowie's ... (read more)

Report this review (#552041) | Posted by sideburndude... | Monday, October 17, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Something about this album caught my eye. I'm a big fan of early Bowie, and knew that he was too talented to simply stop making progressive music after his magnum opus, ZSATSFM. After listening to the first few songs of this album, I thought I might be wrong. The first few songs sound like one ... (read more)

Report this review (#291346) | Posted by MasterShake | Wednesday, July 21, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another album in the 'Berlin Trilogy' this is Bowie at his most arty, which of course i love, This is the second Bowie release ive heard and the first one to get me into him, i just love the concept that centers round these tracks they all blend nicely into each other without any really feelin ... (read more)

Report this review (#283118) | Posted by FarBeyondProg | Saturday, May 22, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars LOW: not quite pop, not quite ambient, not quite art rock. There are traits of each found in the music on this album, but none of these descriptions fit the bill. To start things off, the album is divided into two distinct halves--a collection of strange, processed pop-rock (Side 1 of the LP) and ... (read more)

Report this review (#214734) | Posted by volta3 | Sunday, May 10, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars As much as I can recognize the influence, the innovation and the importance of a work, the basic function of music is still entertaining, well this doesn't entertain me, as much as this is completely new, as much as it has influenced the whole electronic music world, and as much as it is very int ... (read more)

Report this review (#211873) | Posted by JTP88 | Monday, April 20, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars After Station to Station's drug-addled psychotic tunes, Bowie decided he needed time to cool off. He therefore moved to Berlin, where he recorded three albums, known, appropriately as The Berlin Trilogy. Low is the first of this trilogy, and is where David first dips his toes into the world of e ... (read more)

Report this review (#175561) | Posted by burtonrulez | Saturday, June 28, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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