David Bowie
Lodger


4.5
superb

Review

by Major Tom CONTRIBUTOR (139 Reviews)
August 6th, 2011 | 32 replies | 6,078 views


Release Date: 1979 | Tracklist

Review Summary: We’re going to sail to the hinterland.

Lodger is one of the most tragically underrated and overlooked albums in Bowie’s catalogue. It’s difficult to comprehend exactly why, because it’s both the ending chapter of the groundbreaking Berlin trilogy and Bowie’s last album of the seventies - a decade which earned him a reputation as an endlessly innovative musical chameleon.

Perhaps why it tends to get overlooked lies in the fact that Lodger sits in the unenviable position of being sandwiched between two arguably superior albums (Heroes and Scary Monsters); or the fact that it doesn’t feature any hits as brashly anthemic or grand as ‘Heroes’. Whatever the case it’s a damn shame, because Lodger is a superb album and a real grower - unfolding and improving over time, rewarding those who pay careful attention to its 10 tracks with a rich and intriguing experience.

On the face of it, Lodger appears a more commercial outing than its Berlin predecessors. Gone are the expressionistic, non-linear lyrics, finding themselves replaced by a tenuous return to narrative. The one half vocal, one half instrumental concept is also ditched in favour of a set comprised entirely of vocal tracks, although to call Lodger a traditional rock album would be to vastly undersell the avant-garde experimentation deployed in studio. Despite its seemingly user-friendly appearance (in comparison with its icy, fractured brethren), Lodger is still most definitely an experimental album.

Bowie and Eno took just as many risks on Lodger as they did on Low or Heroes. Alongside Bowie’s revealing future remark that a mistake made three times becomes an arrangement; tales of musicians being told to play accidentally (i.e. without the guidance of a backing track or vocals), and Bowie’s instructions for each band member to swap instruments during certain tracks made it clear that neither he nor Eno were content with making a conventional album.

Overall, the odd composition methods proved to be nothing less than successful. The track list is consistent and dense, featuring the most cosmopolitan and intercontinental mix of sounds Bowie ever achieved. Whether it’s the demented Swahili chanting and menacing piano of ‘African Night Flight’, or the exotic, avant-garde sway of ‘Yassassin’; Lodger shapes up as a diverse and rich album - like a tantalising sonic postcard detailing a travel round a world of musical diversity.

Its melodies and obscure arrangements are subtle and clever - perhaps an explanation as to why the album doesn’t grab as quickly, or seem as instantly satisfying as the other Berlin albums. But if one takes enough time to delve into its bizarre mix of sounds, the ultimate reward is more than worth the effort. Highlights include the exhilarating chorus of ‘Fantastic Voyage’, the funky bass of ‘D.J.’, the gender-blurring, avant-pop of ‘Boys Keep Swinging’, and the gem of all gems, ‘Look Back In Anger’- a rollicking wash of frenetic percussion and wailing background guitars make for an overlooked classic.

It might not be as groundbreaking as Low or Heroes, nor is as instantly gratifying - its relentless oddness easily overwhelming for fans of cut and dried rock music - but for those who invest the appropriate amount of time into Lodger, they’ll find an incredibly enjoyable album on their hands. What’s more, Lodger goes to great lengths to demonstrate just how brave and challenging Bowie was as an artist who could’ve easily rested on the success of Heroes or Low, and merely churned out more of the same. But the point is he didn’t. He took a step forward and tried something new, so if nothing else convinces you to give Lodger a chance than perhaps the presence of Bowie’s undeniable ambition and credibility will.



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user ratings (281)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
jk2two (4.5)
An album so underrated I had to add it in order to review it!...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Meatplow
August 6th 2011



5524 Comments


first

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
August 6th 2011



6006 Comments


aptly written, have a pos.

Unfortunately, i can't comment on the album's music or Bowie's work in general, but with your reviews, i will change that relatively soon...



absorbing-The-Cure-atm

Digging: Troldhaugen - Obzkure Anekdotez For Maniakal Massez

Meatplow
August 6th 2011



5524 Comments


absorbing-The-Cure-atm


me too

Tom's reviews make me want to work through Bowie's material I haven't listened to

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 6th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks guys. I'm glad my reviews come in use to people looking to explore new music.

Jethro42
August 6th 2011



12391 Comments


I know ''Look Back in Anger'' at the very least.
Waiting so lonnng
I've been waiting so
waiting so

I yet have to listen to the album annnd another Major Tom's I will read.


Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 6th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Love that track, Jethro.

Jethro42
August 6th 2011



12391 Comments


Damn straight. DJ is pretty cool as well.

AggravatedYeti
August 6th 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

man your review makes me feel guilty with my 3.5

Jethro42
August 6th 2011



12391 Comments


I I'll have to give to it some more spins obv.
At first glance, this album sounds harder to digest, but is it just me.

AggravatedYeti
August 6th 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I found it easier to digest comparatively to the other 2 Berlin records + Station To Station but not nearly as enjoyable.

not that a 3.5 is horrible but when we're talking Bowie it is basically transcendence or go home.

AggravatedYeti
August 6th 2011



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

African Fight Night is where it's fucking at though.

Jethro42
August 6th 2011



12391 Comments


Oh Yes Yéti, song rules. Right here, no doubt Kate Bush was strongly influenced by Bowie. !!!
I love all his songs where he sounds like Frank Zappa as well.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 6th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

It's a pretty weird album but without all the instrumentals It's a lot more accesible.

Acanthus
August 6th 2011



9537 Comments


Sounds like a strange yet endearing album!

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 6th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

You pretty much summed it up there acanthus. I really like this album - its not as good as Low or anything but it
holds a very unique sound and gets better the more you listen.

Acanthus
August 6th 2011



9537 Comments


Those are always the best albums, not to mention it gives you a good platform for helping others see the genius behind the album.

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 6th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Acanthus - True, man.

Expect Scary Monsters tomorrow guys.

omnipanzer
August 6th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review for a great album. I think African Night Flight, Red Sails, DJ and Look Back in Anger are all really note worthy tracks here.

Digging: The Ettes - Shake the Dust

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 6th 2011



1106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Thanks, omnipanzer. Nice to see you've got the same rating as me - i.e. you've got sense. Album is so underrated on here - kind of indicitive of the lower views this review got to yesterdays, i guess.

omnipanzer
August 6th 2011



21442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Might just be that it is a Saturday too. I probably would have rated it lower but I gave it a couple of spins yesterday and reminded myself how much I loved it back in the day. I really think this is more instantly gratifying over Low for me.



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