I’ve always vouched for Lodger as my favorite Bowie album, but have never been given the time to explain why I feel this way. When I saw that I was tagged to write this week’s Friday album I wanted to write a piece about an album I could talk endlessly about. This was one of the first that came to mind: a soapbox for me to lavish Lodger in praise was ready for me to sit on.
Lodger is kind of a dark horse in Bowie’s discography; coming at the end of the rightly celebrated ‘Berlin Trilogy’ following up Low and Heroes. Lodger was probably the most accessible of the three albums yet the most inaccessible and experimental at the same time. It’s accessibility came off in a freakish and grotesque manor; its hooks are jarring and ugly, the instrumentation stark and anemic sounding, all of which are reasons why this record is so captivating and interesting almost to a fault. The fault being that it can really be an off-putting record to a lot of listeners, especially people at the time who had been following Bowie’s career from the start. But Bowie is no stranger to change or shifting his sound, and here his work is accompanied by Brian Eno’s touch and Tony Visconti’s production, so that the LP is masterfully made and one of the most interesting sounding records in Bowie’s large body of work.
In movies, books, etc I’ve always found some of the most deplorable characters the most interesting: The bigger the bastard the bigger my interest. David Bowie, who is known for being a musician that has portrayed a new “character” with almost all of his releases, from hippie folk troubadour (Hunky Dory), Rock Star from another planet (Ziggy Stardust), The Thin White Duke (Station to Station) the character Bowie is portraying on Lodger is not one but various troubled characters. Drifters (“Move On”); self romanticized pre-madonnas (“D.J.”); Abusive spouses (“Repetition”) and more come to life on this record. Lyrically Lodger moves away from the mysticism and majesty that lyrics on a lot of his other records would provide. Instead here Bowie plays a human being: warts and all, plain ugly or beautiful owning up to ugly traits. He’s loathsome, yet I remain transfixed on him, just like knowing someone personally: and that to me is the most interesting character to play of all.
Most Importantly the biggest radical shift of this record comes from the music being played. More world music inspired than the now iconic pioneering of ambient music that was displayed on the aforementioned two releases proceeding this one. Lodger is a head rush of an album that provides new idea after new idea after new idea with staggering results. You get classic Bowie balladry with the opener “Fantastic Voyage”, then instantly get catapulted to an entirely new musical island with “African Night Flight” and “Move On,” two tracks that display looping vocal effects, off kilter rhythms and a strong world music influence that sound unlike nothing Bowie or really anybody had made before. You can practically hear experimental rock being created between these two tracks. Along with pushing these new boundaries you also get singles like “D.J.” and “Boys Keep Swinging” in the track listing which are quintessentially Bowie.
I tag Sara
Writer, blogger, record collector/music fanatic, comic book junkie, jerkstore/all around nice dude from the south suburbs of Chicago