David Bowie

RCA, 1979


REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


David Bowie’s fruitful collaboration with Brian Eno on the critically acclaimed and highly influential Berlin Trilogy of albums came to an end with the release of Lodger in 1979.

Rather than simply repeat the formula established on Low and Heroes (half eccentric pop songs and half ambient instrumentals), Lodger is a flawless fusion of the unusual sonic worlds explored previously. Initially, this album may appear less experimental than its predecessors, but a close listen reveals just how wonderfully bizarre and diverse it is, full of unconventional arrangements, odd chord sequences, melodies that take unexpected directions, strange instruments and sounds, all by way of a more direct, stripped down, forceful approach in a post-punk format.

Another important difference from all previous Bowie albums is the presence of a consistent level of energy. The songs are all fairly brisk, with a plethora of catchy melodies and beats, along with a never ending parade of musical surprises that easily makes my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Lodger in all probability the most fun album of Bowie’s career.

Once again, along with Eno, producer Tony Visconti, and long time session guitarist Carlos Alomar, Bowie employed the services of top notch musicians, most notably future King Crimson guitarist and front man, Adrian Belew, whose patented, almost mathematical style of playing plays an important role in lending the songs on this disc an experimental excellence.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a virtual buffet of styles to be found, but never in a clichéd manner. Tribal chanting is found mixed with dissonant, Primus-like arrangements on “African Night Flight,” followed by the brisk travelogue, “Move On.” One of the highlights is found with the exotic Turkish reggae song, “Yassassin,” which is full of wonderful instruments like slithering violins and plucking mandolins in addition to the standard rock equipment.

“Red Sails” is a driving, feedback drenched rocker, while “DJ” is a disco song that finds Bowie at his subversive, sarcastic best, ruthlessly mocking the genre while simultaneously incorporating the infectious, danceable qualities of it albeit in a rather twisted manner. Fantastic stuff.

The winning streak continues with another batch of fast, energetic songs – see the great, spastic vocals by Bowie in “Look Back In Anger,” the cheeky nod to transvestites, “Boys Keep Swinging,” and the robotic new wave track, “Repetition.” The album then ends its all too brief running time with the off kilter funk of “Red Money,” yet another outstanding track.

Admirably adventurous from beginning to end and successful in every unpredictable aspect explored, Lodger is David Bowie’s career high water mark, where Bowie the entertainer and Bowie the artist mesh into a cohesive form with spectacular results. It is shameful that the lack of an obvious hit single has caused this disc to remain overlooked in comparison to his weaker albums. As far as I’m concerned, every track on Lodger hits its mark – there are no weak moments to be found.

Rating: A

User Rating: A


Roland Fratzl has hit the nail right on the head with his review. Every song is exceptional. People often bag the Bowie from the late 70's early 80's. Listen to this and get back to me. There's a really great version of repetition on Bowie's unplugged album. Amazing song.

© 2008 Roland Fratzl and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA, and is used for informational purposes only.