Posts Tagged ‘berlin’

Where Are We Now?

January 24, 2013

“Where Are We Now?” is the first single from Bowie’s 24th album entitled ‘The Next Day.

Where Are We Now? is the first single from the forthcoming David Bowie (or Bowie) album The Next Day.

The song seems to be from the perspective of an insecure Bowie speaking to a youngster today. The purposeful omission of his face from the artwork is a  direct challenge to those below a certain age. Do they remember him? Would they know that the image on the album cover is him?

 “Had to get the train / from Potsdamer Platz / you never knew that / that I could do that / just walking the dead,”

The original image is from Bowie’s (in)famous Berlin era, namely 1977’s Heroes – the second installment of the Trilogy.

This was a period in Bowie’s life when he was reportedly running around Berlin with Iggy Pop consuming drugs, drink and people of either gender. But it was also a time of unmatched musical creativity.

Thankfully ‘Where Are We Now?’ is a step away from ‘Eighties Bowie’ and much more stripped down. On first listen I was unmoved but the song has a mark of genius about it, it’s subtle and poignant but most importantly catchy. The simple bridge is unbelievably basic but is arguably one of Bowie’s best of recent times.

The lyrics and video are unabashedly centered around late 70’s Berlin, featuring Brandenburg Gate; the Dschungel nightclub,  Potsdamer Platz railway station; the Reichstag among others.

The video conjures up the image of Bowie’s fragmented, mind during the 70’s – the disembodied heads/Puppets sitting in a cluttered studio apartment surrounded by half completed items representing manic creativity. While a video image of Berlin passes by. The opening shot of a discarded diamond is perhaps a reference to Diamond Dogs.

However Berlin has grown older and become a lot more stable, much like Bowie himself, it has changed. Gone is the Wall, in have come Europe’s hipsters.

Perhaps David Bowie is hoping to tap in to the wave of popular culture like he has done successfully so many other times. Or is Bowie the original Berlin Hipster?

“Sitting in the Dschungel/ On Nürnberger Straße,”


Classic Albums #2: David Bowie – Low (RCA – 1977)

February 26, 2012

The three albums borne by David Bowie between 1977-79 (Low, Heroes & Lodger) are commonly referred to as “The Berlin Trilogy”, despite the fact that only Heroes was wholly recorded in Berlin and none of Lodger was. Stylistically ‘The Trilogy’ is not a million miles away from 1976’s Station to Station which was recorded in LA. Low was primarily recorded just outside Paris.

Nick Lowe reportedly titled his EP "Bowi" in response to Low, dropping the 'e'.

Bowie collaborated with producer Brian Eno throughout and Eno is often credited with producing the experimental, avant-garde sound espoused over the trinity. Though this has been called into question to some extent, given Bowie’s own predilection for experimentation throughout his career.

The working title for Low was “New Music Night and Day”, however Bowie opted for the title due to his “low” moods during the album’s writing and recording according to the albums producer, Tony Visconti.

“There’s oodles of pain in the Low album. That was my first attempt to kick cocaine, so that was an awful lot of pain. And I moved to Berlin to do it. I moved out of the coke center of the world into the smack center of the world. Thankfully, I didn’t have a feeling for smack, so it wasn’t a threat.” David Bowie

The albums style is comprised of shorter, fragmented tracks on the first side, perhaps a reflection of Bowie’s ruptured mental state at the time while the second side shoots off into space with longer, instrumental tracks. ‘Breaking Glass’ is one of the stand-out tracks with Carlos Alomar throwing his name into the ring as a genuine rival to Mick Ronson for Bowie’s greatest guitarist companion.

Although heavily influenced by Neu! and Kraftwerk, Low is widely regarded as being heavily ground breaking.  Often held by critics to be Bowie’s best album and received praise from publications such as Pitchfork who voted it the best album of the 1970’s .

Low is Bowie at his artistic zenith, a height which he never reached again. The lyrics are biographical, apocryphal and fiction all at once. The layered sound flits effortlessly from punk-rock, to rhythm & blues to progressive rock.  Though rejected as the OST for Bowie’s motion picture “The Man Who Fell to Earth” the record is a very real soundtrack to Bowie’s recovery from exhausting drug addiction.