Friday, February 22, 2008

New Music Night and Day

I just completed Hugo Wilcken's 33 1/3 book on Bowie's eleventh release: "Low". "Low" was the first of Bowie's "Berlin Trilogy". I searched it out to gather some background research on "Low" because it was recorded simultaneously with "The Idiot". The record shares some of the same personnel and some similar production techniques. More on that later.

Wilicken's book is well written and very comprehensive. In fact there is a whole chapter on "The Idiot".

Station to Station

"The Idiot"'s genesis can be traced all the way back to Bowie's tenth release, "Station to Station". Here we find Bowie firmly in the grips of cocaine mania and backed by an R&B ("Americans of color" according to Tony Visconti) band. Dennis Davis on drums, George Murray on bass and Carlos Alomar. Station to Station is definitely a fusion of funk and then-modern European influences like Neu! and Kraftwerk.

Iggy Pop had figured into Bowie's life at this time, inspiring songs "TVC15" and joining Bowie on the Station to Station tour.

The left image shows Bowie in Red Square on the Station to Station tour.


"Low" was created after / during (depending on who you talk to) "The Idiot" even though "Low" was released before it. Laurent Thibault said that during the creation of both records, the personnel didn't know which songs would appear on which album. In fact, "What in the World" actually was intended for "The Idiot" and was recorded as "Isolation". Iggy's backup vocals can be heard on the track.
Bowie famously said of Iggy and "The Idiot": "Poor Jim, in a way, became a guinea pig for what I wanted to do with sound. I didn't have the material at the time, and I didn't feel like writing at all. I felt much more like laying back and getting behind someone else's work, so that album was opportune, creatively."


Hugo said...

Brad, thanks very much for the kind words about my book.

I'm afraid I let that 'Recording Musicien' article sit on my desk for a good week before finally getting around to mailing it - you should get it some time next week!

Andrew Bogner said...

Why not ask mr thibault what precipitated bowies' failure to credit his contributions on LOW ?
what really transpired with bowie and thibault about the supposed media infiltration during the LOW sessions ?

I feel these are valid questions

Andrew Bogner said...

Btw, hugo - your 33 1/3 LOW book is a MUST read. I got more info in your book than all my bowie books, nice job. Love it ...