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David Bowie - Lodger CD (album) cover


David Bowie


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3.47 | 208 ratings

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3 stars It's hard for me to shake the feeling that Eno and Bowie decided to do a third album with each other without a second thought, only to show up for the sessions and realize they didn't really know what they wanted to do next. Even accounting for the notion that it would have been nearly impossible for them to top "Heroes", so it was just as well that they didn't try to, this album is an incredible letdown on first listen. The production is especially disappointing, and almost confusing; I guess they wanted to go for a sparser, more relaxed sound than had been featured the last two albums, but they also try to make it sound fairly slick, and the end product doesn't really work. About half of the material is pretty strong and able to withstand these production weaknesses, but some of the material is driven down from okayish to kinda sorta pretty bad by these issues.

The first four tracks, for the most part, don't do that much for me. I like the chord sequences of the opening "Fantastic Voyage" quite a bit, but neither Bowie's voice nor the instruments are done any favors by how hollow the track sounds. "African Night Flight" is an intriguing mix of contemporary styles (and a foreshadowing of styles to come), but it comes together in a headachey mess, and neither "Move On" nor the awkward venture into mid-Eastern music (crossed with reggae) that is "Yassassin" end up interesting me in the least. For all of the snipes that can be taken at previous Bowie albums, how often has a Bowie album started with four tracks where only one of them is even sorta good? What a terrible start.

The album ends up finishing way stronger, fortunately. The closing "Red Money," as decently entertaining it may be, is still just a slick update of an old Bowie/Iggy Pop collaboration (with new lyrics), but the other five tracks are all solid no-doubt-about-it winners. "Red Sails" is great slick up-tempo rocker that makes great use of having Adrian Belew hanging around the studio, and the cool upwards synth break in the middle is the coolest part of the album; it's almost the perfect synth tone for bridging between the late 70's and the 80's (fitting for something released in 1979). Funny that the song seems to be about pirates ... "D.J" briefly sounds EXACTLY like something off of Fear of Music, and it's a great cross of Bowie's re-emerging desire to make great dance pop and his lingering desire to make kinda ugly music that would drive away most people looking for dance pop. The climactic hook of Bowie singing, "I've got believers *kiss kiss* believing me," would be enough to make this a really great song (and one of the two best on the album), but everything else, including more great Belew playing, just makes the track that much better. My other favorite of the album, "Look Back in Anger," has three really great things going for it: (a) an insanely frantic drum track propelling the song forward, (b) a fantastic backing vocal hook in the "Waiting so long, I've been waiting so, waiting so" part, and (c) a great energetic Carlos Alomar solo. Much to my shock, there are apparently some people who really dislike this song, but I can't fathom why that would be.

The other two tracks are rather, um, tweaked, and I like them a lot. "Boys Keep Swinging" takes the chord sequence to "Fantastic Voyage" and dresses it in guitar-heavy, post- punkish clothes, while Bowie sings about the great life benefits that come with being a boy ("Life is a pop of the cherry when you're a boy;" "Other boys check you out" etc). The combination of the lyrics and the deepness of Bowie's voice in this song is very jarring the first couple of times through, but I got used to it. And finally, "Repetition" is another post- punkish song, this time featuring Bowie singing about domestic violence and verbal abuse (focusing on the abuser) while keeping any emotion out of his vocals. It's definitely disturbing, though for some reason hearing Bowie sing, "He could have married Anne with the blue silk blouse" in the way he does cracks me up a little bit. I'm pretty sure this means I'm a bad person, but I can't help it.

All in all, this isn't a great album, but it's still an album with some great material, so it's definitely worth having. The worst stuff is pretty bad, though, so you should probably either just seek out the best tracks individually or try to find this used somewhere. This is definitely not how I would have liked to see the Bowie/Eno 70's collaboration end.

tarkus1980 | 3/5 |


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