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Bowie in Berlin: A New Career In A New Town [Paperback]

Thomas Jerome Seabrook
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Feb 2008
(Book). Bowie in Berlin tells the fascinating story of the three years David Bowie spent in Germany in the mid-1970s, making the most extraordinary music of his career. Driven to the brink of madness by cocaine, overwork, marital strife, and a paranoid obsession with the occult, Bowie fled Los Angeles in 1975 and ended up in Berlin, the divided city on the frontline between communist East and capitalist West. There he sought anonymity, taking an apartment in a run-down district with his sometime collaborator Iggy Pop, another refugee from drugs and debauchery, while they explored the city and its notorious nightlife. In this intensely creative period, Bowie put together three classic albums Low, "Heroes," and Lodger with collaborators who included Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, and Tony Visconti. He also found time to produce two albums for Iggy Pop The Idiot and Lust for Life and to take a leading role in a movie, the ill-starred Just a Gigolo . Bowie in Berlin tells the story of that period and those records, exploring Bowie's fascination with the city, unearthing his sources of inspiration, detailing his working methods, and teasing out the elusive meanings of the songs. Painstakingly researched and vividly written, the book casts a new light on the most creative and influential era in David Bowie's career.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Jawbone (1 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906002088
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906002084
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 15.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 184,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointing 5 Jan 2009
I've always regarded Bowie's Berlin period as the most interesting phase of his career so I looked forward to reading what I thought would be a fascinating insight into his 3 years there, complete with revealing stories of his experiences in the city, his escapades with Iggy Pop and a real feeling for what it was like for him living in Berlin. Unfortunately this book almost totally fails to deliver on those counts. The book only really focuses on the recording of his 3 albums (although the third, Lodger gets a very cursory examination, Low & Heroes recieving a track-by-track analasis, in fact even Iggy Pop's 2 Berlin album's recieve track by track examinations, so why not Lodger?) and these come across as rather tiresome and not particularly interesting. There's very little of the feel of Berlin in the book and next to nothing about what Bowie really got up tp there - the book almost leaves you with the impression that aside from recording albums, Bowie did little else in Berlin! Better parts of the book are the first section covering Bowie's LA cocaine nightmare and the filming of The Man Who fell to Earth, which features information I'd never heard before and was genuinely interesting, and later on the movie Just A Gigolo that Bowie made gets a surprisingly detailed section, as well as shorter articles on Bowie's TV appearances. Overall, though, for a book that is supposed to be about Bowie in Berlin, I found this book to be something of a disappointment.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last, a decent Book on Bowie's Berlin period 24 Mar 2008
By M. C Coulson VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There are only a handful of decent books written about Bowie - period. They are written by Charles Shaar Murray and Roy Carr, Nicholas Pegg, and David Buckley. After that things get decidedly thin on the ground.

I'm glad to say that Thomas Jerome Seabrook can be added to the list. A New Career In A New Town: Bowie in Berlin is a tremendous book which I happily read in one go. It is well written and entertaining with many anecdotes and observations that I've never encountered before. The author clearly has an understanding of Bowie and the music, withough coming over as a gushing fanboy.

Although I've been a great fan of Bowie's so-called 'Berlin' period, this book made me go back a relisten to virtually all Bowie's work from David Live to Heathen.

Whilst an appreciation of Bowie, especially his late 70's output, is helpful, it's not essential as the book is effectively the story of a successful artist who ignoring commercial success, took a potentially suicidal career left turn and inspired and influenced a generation and beyond.

I can't recommend this book enough.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far from Repetition 26 May 2008
This book is definately worth a read, though I would suggest either reading Pegg or Buckley' books which span Bowie's whole career first. You will find Bowie in Berlin goes into more depth, so you won't be re-reading the same information.
Bowie in Berlin gives a good introduction into how Low arrived by covering Bowie's time in LA and a detailed account of his time touring and recording with Iggy Pop.
The books strongest point though is the detailed techinal analysis of each song from 'The Idiot' to 'Heroes', it could of been improved if Lodger had recieved the same treatment.
There is a good conclusion of the impact of the Berlin Trilogy's impact and legacy. Overall an enjoying read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful analysis of the 'Berlin' albums 10 Sep 2012
As other reviewers have commented, the title 'Bowie in Berlin' is something of a misnomer, as this book is not a biography of Bowie during his late seventies stay in Berlin - it is in fact something much better. Seabrook writes with great expertise and insight on the creative process behind the Berlin/ Eno trilogy (he in fact shows that both labels are far from accurate reflections of the process of the albums' creation), as well as the two Bowie-produced and co-written Iggy Pop albums of the period. Having read all the major Bowie biographies, I was pleasantly surprised to find some facts here that I hadn't come across before, but more than anything else, this book will give you a whole new appreciation of these records - I approached them in an entirely new light after reading it. A must for any fan of this most fascinating period in Bowie's career.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Achtung Baby!!! 4 Sep 2012
By T. Satchwell VINE VOICE
I enjoyed this book a lot. There are some nice pictures some b/w some colour at the front...a minor point maybe to some....but they do seem to capture that time around Low and Iggy albums.
It covers quite a lot of ground...the end of station to station who fell to earth...through to the Lodger album and a little summary at the end.
So what do we get... a well researched write up about the "Berlin Trilogy Bowie albums...except.....that they weren't all recorded in berlin....and the two iggy albums from that period could I guess almost be included.....what comes after quadrilogy....but then Lodger was recorded well after Low and maybe that doesn't really count.
There is a track by track breakdown of the albums in terms of writing and musicians...and lots of interesting facts...the eno visconti relationship...I don't want to give it all track by track info on Lodger in the same way as the others.
If you are familiar with the 33 1/3 series...this book is a little like one of those...but very tastefully done... I read David Bowie's "Low" (33 1/3) a while that would give you some information about Low from a different point of view.
If you are a fan..or maybe just interested in say...The Heroes album... I think a good read
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Pointless, lazy, rubbish
Avoid. Hardly any actual detail about Bowie's time in Berlin aside from the studio sessions, excessive repetition throughout(ie Iggy's quote about Johnny Rotten duplicated word for... Read more
Published on 27 Mar 2011 by Teeny Albert
1.0 out of 5 stars Quite staggering in its ignorance!
Having lived in West Berlin 1979-80, arriving there just as Bowie and Iggy Pop departed, I bought this book with relish and anticipation. Read more
Published on 13 Sep 2010 by Nick der Englender
3.0 out of 5 stars You'll Never Know The Real Story
As several reviewers have said, I enjoyed what there is in the book while regretting what there isn't - i. Read more
Published on 17 Mar 2009 by Jim Wilkinson
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing revealing
This book whilst not bad, does little but go over old ground in a very dry and factual way; the kind of way that would bore were it not be detailing the great David Bowie and his... Read more
Published on 1 Jan 2009 by Man Out Of Time
5.0 out of 5 stars Bowie and Iggy in Berlin
Criticism is that this book adds nothing to published facts on the period which isn't true. Thomas Jerome (come on is that really his name! Read more
Published on 5 April 2008 by Andrew Pitchford
4.0 out of 5 stars More beast than beauty
The strength of this book is the technical understanding of the music. It really passes the test of making you want to hear the albums once again. Read more
Published on 23 Mar 2008 by Walloff Domburg
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, but nothing really new
This feels like a decent journalist's put-together. The subject is a worthy one, particularly combining Bowie's production of Iggy during the same period. Read more
Published on 10 Mar 2008 by H. S. C. Barclay
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