David Bowie FAQ:Music:Albums:
Low (1977)
In Berlin, Bowie worked with Brian Eno, who had been keyboard player for Roxy Music, a band that had opened the Ziggy Stardust shows at the Rainbow Theatre in London in 1972. Eno is currently one of the most important (according to music critics) record producers in the world. From 1977 to 1979, Bowie collaborated with him and producer Tony Visconti on a triptych of albums - Low, "Heroes" and Lodger - known as the Berlin trilogy. (Note: they collaborated again on 1995's 1. Outside.)
Bowie: "One day in Berlin, Eno came running in and said "I've heard the sound of the future" and I said "Come on, we're supposed to be doing it right now". He said "No listen to this", and he puts on I Feel Love by Donna Summer. Eno had gone bonkers over it, absolutely bonkers. He said "This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next fifteen years" which was more or less right".
Yet another quote: "I guess I should mention that on Low, "Heroes", and Lodger, Brian and I utilized his "Oblique Strategies" cards quite a bit. I mean, if we got to an impasse, we'd just turn over one of his cards, and whatever the instruction said on it, we'd obey - which led to some hilarious musical insights. We would write out arbitrary chords and then put them up on a board, and then Eno would point to a different chords on the wall and the band would have to follow them. We just did everything we could to break the rules of what playing rock music was supposed to be about".
Low, released in January '77, had two very contrasting styles of music on both sides. Side one consisted of short strange pop songs, while side two had strange electronic instrumental music. The working title of the album was New Music Night And Day.
The cover of Low is a visual pun. The picture is of Bowie in profile, so the cover reads: low profile. When Low came out, an interviewer asked Bowie the significance of the title. The question irritated him, since he thought it was obvious: he was keeping a low profile.
Nick Lowe, a singer, decided that since the title Low was his name with the 'e' dropped, he produced an EP called Bowi.
Some of the tracks on Low (including Art Decade and Weeping Wall) were originally written for the soundtrack of The Man Who Fell To Earth.
Low is one of Bowie's most influential albums. It was particularly influential on 70s British New Wave (artists like Gary Numan), 80s synthpop and some 90s electronica. Influential band Joy Division (who later became New Order after their lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide) were originally called Warsaw, after the Low track Warszawa.
Low is one of Bowie's most influential albums. It was particularly influential on 70s British New Wave (artists like Gary Numan), 80s synthpop and some 90s electronica. Influential band Joy Division (who later became New Order after their lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide) were originally called Warsaw, after the Low track Warszawa.
Although now regarded as a ground-breaking album and one of Bowie's masterpieces, the album was critically panned on release and greeted by a mixture of confusion and scorn by many fans. In the US, it marked the end of Bowie's first period of enormous commercial success which had started with Diamond Dogs, becoming the first Bowie album since then not to go top 10 (it made #11) and spending only 19 weeks on the chart (just over half as long as Station To Station, and one third as long as Young Americans). Conversely, in the UK the album brought something of an improvement in Bowie's commercial performance, reaching #2 (better than Station To Station, which only reached #5) and spending 18 weeks on the chart (two more than "Young Americans").
In 1983, RCA re-released the album to cash in on the success of Let's Dance. The album spent five weeks on the UK charts, peaking at #85. Ryko and EMI re-released the album on CD with bonus tracks in 1991. The EMI reissue spent one week on the UK charts (at #64). A 1998 EMI mid-price CD reissue spent a further three weeks on the UK charts, peaking at #128.
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