My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
Brief Background: Low
is the first in a trilogy of albums written in Berlin while he was trying to get a handle on a severe cocaine habit. It was mainly recorded in France during the second half of 1976 and was released in January of 1977.
What I think: Knowing a bit about this album, I was surprised that it opens with a number of short mostly instrumental, pop pieces. Trying to get past an addiction in Berlin seems like something depressing that would be emotionally draining. No fear, those songs come on the second half of the album. The electronic pop-rock on the first half is amazing though. I’m a pretty big new-wave guy, and I can hear such an influence in what would come in a couple of years. It’s really stellar and although the lyrics are sparse, this is where you would find the pain littered about in the pop. My favorites are “Sound and Vision”, “Always Crashing in the Same Car” and “A New Career in a New Town”.
The Second side are dark and moody ambient synth experimentation and doesn’t strike me as much. If you’ve followed this blog, you would know I’m not a huge fan of droning ambient music. Particularly, most of Brian Eno’s material, who worked with Bowie on the second half of the album. But, of the music in that category, this probably grabs we more than anything else I’ve listened to. Bowie is somehow able to make such stark sounds still a bit catchy.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? I think it has to be, even if I didn’t like it. What other artist would be able to get away with releasing such a departure from what they had recently put out. Lady Gaga is probably the most comparable musician we have to Bowie right now. Can you imagine if she put out a mostly instrumental ambient pop-album? It wouldn’t work. Bowie makes that work a year after “Fame” and “Golden Years”.
Rating (Out of 5) 3.5
Is this my first time hearing this album? Yes (302/389)
Percentage of Albums that are new to me: 77%