And so another edition of Random Bowie, then. This is number six, look you see, which means I am doing not so bad at my idea of doing one a month. And this month, after some deliberation between two possibilities, it’s the record which was ostensibly the last of the “Berlin” trilogy and his last release of his most prolific 70s. So, yes, Lodger it is, to be sure.
For some reason I have stacks of curious facts and bits of trivia floating around in my head. In relation to Lodger, one such example is an article I can remember reading. It will have been in the 80s or possibly early 90s. Anyway, apparently this album, along with Off The Wall by Michael Jackson, was the most common record or cassette to find at car boot sales. Go figure.
Lodger is referred to as the third of the “Berlin” trilogy, following Low and “heroes”. Which is weird, you know, considering Lodger was recorded in Switzerland and New York. Granted, it shares the Eno-Bowie producer-artist relationship of the first two, but that’s about it. And by all accounts the two of them, whilst not falling out, felt that they had already “exhausted” all that they could do together at the time.
The above all seems not very promising for the album, then. That’s all negative waves above, isn’t it? Quite misleading if so. Whilst not as celebrated or treasured as Low, and not featuring anything as anthem-like as “heroes”, Lodger is a fine album.
General consensus says that the album has the name because it’s transient in theme. It speaks of not knowing a place in the world – accepting where you are but holding an inherent sense of not so much belonging as not being tied to it. Many of the song titles – Fantastic Voyage, African Night Flight, Move On and Red Sails – evoke images of travel, of movement. In this sense, perhaps it ties in more to Station To Station than it does the other elements of the “Berlin” trilogy. The infamous and not directly explained “broken nose” cover tends to underline the sense of dislocation.
The most recognizable song from this album is Boys Keep Swinging. Somehow Bowie got away with poking fun at sexism with an overtly exaggerated set of clearly comical sexist lyrics in a decade known for being sexist. Him being in drag in the video probably helped, although the “when you’re a boy” bits of him in a suit shows David doing some absolutely boss moves on the dance floor. Most consider the whole of Boys Keep Swinging to be a cheeky nod of the hat and parody of the Village People. Whatever, really – the boss drums played by Carlos Alomar and the twanging bass Dennis Davis make this a particularly funky number.
My favourite off the album is Look Back In Anger. The passion of Bowie’s vocal on it has always been something of comfort, solace and reassurance to me. Why? No idea, I just love the way he sings the song. He must, presumably, have rather liked the song himself quite a bit. On the CD I have a bonus track is a re-recording of this one from 1988. The re-recorded version is not too different in sound, but features one Reeves Gabrels on guitar. I am uncertain if this would have been just before or just after David and Reeves formed 50% of Tin Machine. Or, for that matter, what the purpose of the re-recording was intended as.
Otherwise, unless it was a bizarre play on the word of the title you have to assume that Bowie really, really wanted people to pay attention to the song Repetition. It appears as a b-side on 3 of the 4 singles released from Lodger. The songs itself is pretty dark, going as it does into the mind of a violent husband, exploring his own justification for violence. Uncomfortable listening, but my what a powerful song.
DJ, which by the standards of the 70s and his output in this regard by this time had a pretty lavish promo video, is another point of discourse if not controversy. At face value the song sounds rather complimentary to the life and plight of a DJ. A bit of digging, however, and it seems to be a dig. Who at? Ostensibly, perhaps, DJs who make a living from the music others have made, but also at the emerging, not called this yet but still New Romantics for simply “copying” his current music style and claiming it as their own. Again, though, really good song.
By the commonly accepted method of counting Lodger was Bowie’s 13th studio album proper. Unlucky for some, some might say. Certainly I would agree with that in respect of how the album is generally viewed. Or, perhaps, not viewed. This does tend to be not so much the part of the “Berlin” trilogy people forget as it is his one 70s album people tend to forget about.
Is Lodger worth the time of the more casual listener? Absolutely. Beyond the songs singled out, there really is not a bad track on the album. In terms of the singles, for some reason the four released from Lodger – DJ, Boys Keep Swinging, Look Back In Anger and Yassassin – tend to be the first four discarded as and when someone at the record label is looking to trim things for a single or double CD “best of Bowie” release. So getting the album is often the only way to hear some true gems from his most impressive catalogue.
As was the case with the previous episode, Tonight, I have thoroughly enjoyed having this album on the stereo on repeat over the last couple of weeks. It was probably several years since I had last played it from start to finish. I suspect, however, that it shall be played with more regularity in the several years ahead.
Well, that’s that for another edition, then. No, not quite sure yet as to what the next one shall be. It’s possible that I might stick in the 70s, but we will see. At least I will, but hopefully you are along for the ride too.
Many thanks as ever for giving me your time to read this, hope it was of some interest!
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!