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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 15 July 2016
Following, 'Station To Station,' Bowie abandoned Los Angeles & its myriad temptations, for a return to Europe. There he embraced the new electronic sound coming from Germany & exemplified by such groups as Neu! & Kraftwerk. Within months, he'd produced Iggy Pop's album, 'The Idiot,' & began work on his own. Employing the same rhythm section as on his previous album - George Murray on bass; Dennis Davis on drums; and Carlos Alomar on rhythm guitar - Bowie was also joined by Ricky Gardiner on lead guitar & Brian Eno, a man who'd been dabbling in electronica for some years; first with Roxy Music, then as a solo artist, most especially on 'Another Green World.' Though inspired by Kraftwerk, Bowie did not merely wish to copy their sound but to use electronic instruments to enhance his own music making & explore new sonic landscapes. With Eno & returning producer, Tony Visconti on board, he achieved this & then some!

1. Speed Of Life - A fabulous opener & the first of several instrumentals. (Bowie found writing lyrics difficult during this period & kept them to a minimum on this record.) Its use of distorted snare drums & buzzing synthesizers is an indicator of what's to come.
2. Breaking Glass - Short, experimental & barely even a song! I do find it strangely compelling, which may have something to do with its bizarre lyrics... "Don't look at the carpet; I drew something awful on it."
3. What In The World - Iggy Pop, Bowie's great travelling companion & fellow addict, provides backing vocals on my least favourite track but it's still a good listen.
4. Sound & Vision - "Pale blinds drawn on day..." A fantastic single, which ascended to the dizzy heights of number 3 in the charts! It is, however, unusually structured for a hit single, as the opening line doesn't appear until halfway through. The lyrics are also quite sombre & introspective, detailing a difficult period in Bowie's life but the music is glorious! Layered washes of synthetic strings; emotive backing vocals: the insistent plish of cymbals, all come together to provide a wonderful listening experience.
5. Always Crashing In The Same Car - Apparently based on an incident in which Bowie wrote off his Mercedes while drunk, it's a wonderfully barmy song! It features a great lead guitar part from Ricky Gardiner.
6. Be My Wife - The second & last single from the album, which - Incredibly! - failed to chart, begins with a barrelling bar-room piano. The lyrics suggest that Bowie Is searching for some permanence in his life; a wish to settle down to some kind of normalcy.
7. A New Career In A New Town - A bustling instrumental with a great harmonica part from Bowie & the robotic pulse of a Kraftwerk-esque synthesizer.
8. Warszawa - Clocking in at six & a half minutes, it's the longest track on 'Low' but what a piece of music it is! It would seem to be Bowie & Eno's attempt to create an electronic tone-poem; music that expresses one's feelings about a particular place. The place here being Warsaw. Bowie paints a dark and forbidding picture of the Polish capital but there's a wonderful moment when his voice breaks through the bleak introspection to sing in an unknown language. Bowie taking delight in the sound itself rather than its meaning.
9. Art Decade - The most beautiful of the instrumentals, in my opinion. It has a haunting sound, which is enhanced by a cello & is Bowie's reaction to West Berlin & its decaying art & culture.
10. Weeping Wall - A discordant sound, with guitar, piano, xylophones & vibraphones competing for attention. Bowie seems to be wailing at the pain of separation caused by the building of the Berlin Wall.
11. Subterraneans - Ambient, mysterious, disturbing & melancholic, the music helps conjure up an image of a lost people. Bowie's saxophone is muted & though he breaks into song at the end, nothing can quite dispel the mood of darkness & despair. It is yet another superb piece of music & a fitting conclusion to the album!

On its release, 'Low' was misunderstood by many a music critic, with some actively hating it! To them it seemed Bowie had turned his back on rock music for some pretentious, inauthentic, electronic art-music minimalism. What they failed to realise was that Bowie & his collaborators had created the sound of the future; a template for the next generation of British rock & pop stars to follow.
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on 15 January 2017
I don't think it's an exaggeration to call this album Bowie's 'Sergeant Pepper'. Although it is nothing like that Beatles classic, the effect is the same - 'Low' is full of surprises and (for its time) music that was radical and an almost total departure from what he'd done before. Unlike 'Sgt.Pepper', the album was not universally praised but Bowie has since proven to be ahead of the curve. Two years later, many post punk bands cited this album as a major influence and the album has grown in stature and influence ever since. When it was released early in 1977, we are talking about a rock music world where the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac ruled the airwaves and where Abba and Boney M were the pop music of the time (Punk had not quite taken hold yet) No wonder Bowie fell more below the radar. He was just not interested in commercial success anymore and was more inclined to follow his experimental muse. Thank the rock n roll gods that he did, because 'Low' sounds as fresh and as daring today as it did back then.
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on 2 January 2017
I first heard this album in 1979, aged 13, and I'm still listening to it.

I (inevitably) preferred the more accessible first side when I was younger, but it's the second that really impresses me now - as much as I'll always adore "Sound & Vision" and "Always Crashing In The Same Car", the unearthly climactic "Subterraneans" might honestly be my favourite Bowie track of all. Time seems to stand still every time I play it.

Low is a singular masterpiece, Bowie's zenith, utterly timeless.
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on 4 March 2017
This is often hailed as David Bowie's best album, and I feel that accolade is entirely justified.

This album sounds as though it could have been released last week by, so fresh and contemporary is its sound. Track after track after track, it doesn't disappoint. Every number is strong and unique with no 'duds' or weaker tunes letting the album as a whole down.

The stand out of the 'Berlin Trilogy' albums without a doubt.
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on 14 June 2017
The Berlin Wall was the place that David and Brian went to make Low when David was feeling battle fatigued and coked-out in ‘76. Davey was just barely alive but alienated.

This was all round bout the time old Nic Roeg put Davey in a movie called “Man Who Fell To Earth” which was all about Davey’s life, how he came to Earth from his home planet from a distant galaxy to look for water for his people. Davey thought they were making his autobiography all along.

So now you got Davey convinced he’s a Thin White Alien and in 1976 he hooked up with Brian outside Paris and said: I must seek water for my planet; packed up 8 boxes of Rice Krispies and took a train to the Berlin Wall to make a album that reflected his mood. Though he also went back to Paris.

In other words, we’re talking suicide note, psychotic-narcotic meltdown in Berlin with no jokes and 2 aliens. No rejoicing. Low. Basically, it’s time to call Bellvue Psych Ward.

So watchyugot is David as the Thin White Alien Priest with Withdrawl Symptoms disclaiming the Last Rites and horror with Brian Eno as the mad Martian church organist in Berlin, whole thing sounds like a freaked out funeral march, 3 maniacs, 26 different keyboards and Carlos Alomar soaring from time to time in liturgical octaves or horror chords..

We git multiple keyboards layers , got thrash metal guitars strung with chromed brake cables that shreek, whine and frenzy like Carlos had dengue fever, did mutiltiple wrap-arounds on 6 fire-hydrants in a 67 Corvette, organs, moogs, titanium klaviers and stainless steel kettle drums and it’s real noisy at times, got that Long Beach car-crusher metal on metal jinglejangle all over while tunes erupt and David announces the bad news at varying pitch but never does actually sing, he’s in too much pain. Then someone polished the whole thing with Glimmer-Wax to a high gloss showroom shine – it’s sonic arc-welding in the Berlin machine shop.

But’s that’s only half the story on account that tracks 1 and 7 thru 11 have no real vocals whatsoever, Davey went back to his home planet but did broadcast some scarey inter-planetary voodoo, short-wave, for Brian to blend in when he flamed this burger.

Davey said: “Brian, I will sing no more, my world is doomed and has no water”. Brian said: “we laid down but 13 minutes of actual songs here, Skippy, which is kinda short”. Davey said: “My people suffer too much”. Brian said: “Sorry, Davey-boy, we gotta mek more musak pronto”.

Instead, they went for instumental mode entirely. Also, those 5 real songs, the whole way they sounded with that show-room shine and glimmer-gleam edges invented the next 10 years of pop music on the spot.

Anyway, the other tracks read like one, long, lonesome electronic adagio in themes with occasional inter-planetary space warblings and withdrawal symptoms from Davey, distorted by the curvature of Neptune. We’re talking Doom. It all came out like a never-ending funeral march death-wish for the ages. No Hope. Mahler revisited for 1976 by coked-up space-cadets. Game Over - Lights out, Letitia.

Davey said: “let my people know the truth”. So they went and shipped this sucker, around January 14th 1977.

Yolanda, it’s Non-stop misery. Non rodeo, distinct. No Jokes.
Here’s what a $1000 dollar a day narcotics habit sounds like.
“Don't look at the carpet, I drew something awful on it” says David. Now there’s a thought. A misery classic, whole new musik invented in glimmer quavers, still sounds like they did it last Monday. Total Funeral Service Experience: 38’33

No straw in the stalls please, shavings only, said Tammi.
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VINE VOICEon 17 March 2006
The first of a trio of albums that David Bowie co-produced with Tony Visconti, this was recorded at Hansa Studios by the Wall in Berlin. Low (originally titled New Music - Night And Day) represented probably the most radical change of colour that the chameleon that was Bowie had so far affected. Their relatively poor sales at the time of release were instrumental in Bowie and RCA parting company (though all three reached the UK album top five), but have served only to enhance Bowie's standing over the decades.
Bowie has described the album as one that was extremely important to him and which had an influence on English music thereafter through its ambience and drum sounds. All three albums (Low, "Heroes" and Lodger) featured the involvement of Brian Eno, whose presence is clearly audible throughout, though on Low he is working to Bowie's brief rather than in true collaboration and has only one shared composer credit on the album, Warszawa.
Work on the album began in France at the Chateau d'Hérouville in June 1976, where Bowie was working with Iggy Pop in preparation for his album, and both albums feature the two of them with Ricky Gardiner and Carlos Alomar on guitars. Low therefore also belongs to a second trilogy, alongside The Idiot and Lust For Life, its sequel.
Bowie and Iggy relocated in 1976 to Berlin, to live and work and to kick their cocaine habits - a bizarre strategy which against all odds seemed to work. The resultant Low is an album of two distinct sides, an aspect that the CD format slightly unravels. The first side consists of half a dozen bursts of song featuring the augmented full band from his previous tour, albeit treated by Eno, sandwiched between two instrumentals, and including the two singles Sound And Vision (with the vocal doo-doo-doos of Mary Hopkin Visconti) and Be My Wife. Bowie had evidently been soaking up the German music scene and their are echoes of Faust, Neu!, Can and others.
If the lyrics on side one were minimal, having more or less discarded narrative, on the second side they were banished altogether for a startling eerie and wordless, largely instrumental handful of atmospheric longer textural tone poems, of which Warszawa is the centre-piece. They possibly comprise Bowie's strongest album side. Though sounding initially dark and sinister because of the (then) unfamiliarity of the sounds, they are intended to be glowing and spiritual, a positive source of regeneration and optimism, that grew out of his impressions of the Eastern bloc, though it was to be another duo-decade before the Wall was to go. Weeping Wall, despite its title, was originally intended for the soundtrack of the film The Man Who Fell To Earth, and the album cover is a still from that film, depicting Bowie as Newton, in profile (Low profile).
The composer Philip Glass used two of the pieces from side 2, Subterraneans and Warszawa, along with the unreleased composition Some Are from the same sessions, to create in 1993 his "Low" Symphony - From The Music Of David Bowie And Brian Eno.
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on 5 July 2017
This was a gift for my bf and he loves it! (phew) He says no scratches and plays like a dream.
This also got lost in the post (not anyone's fault), but the seller tracked me down and re-sent at no extra cost, so thanks a mill for that!
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The Thin White One was a bit confused & not having the best of times in the mid to late 1970s- addictions, diabolism, dead Playboy models, slipping with ease into the role of an alien, Nazi-salutes, cocaine...it was all getting a bit much? 1976's 'Station to Station' (my personal favourite) saw Bowie look back to Europe, the title track whirring with noises closer to Krautrock.Bowie left America & with accomplices Tony Visconti (co-producer), Iggy Pop (who Bowie would tryout his new sound with on the classic LPs 'The Idiot' & 'Lust for Life') & Brian Eno he recorded this key album.'Low' is considered the first part in the so-called Berlin-trilogy, though the attentive are aware it was partly recorded at the Chateau d'Herouville in France where Mr Eno was apparently harassed by the ghost of a dead composer!
Bowie & Eno employed those oblique strategies, taking the approach the latter had employed as a solo artist and collaborating with Cluster & Harmonia. Bowie himself was enamoured with all things Kraut, attempting to get members of Neu! involved (he was turned down) and nodding to other key West German acts like Can, Faust & Kraftwerk (whose 'Trans Europe Express' namechecked Bowie & Pop). Having said that, such key Bowie-associated musicians as Carlos Alomar, Dennis Davis, George Murray, Ricky'The Passenger'Gardener & Roy Young also contribute. It seems like the tight alien plastic soul collective are there to nail Bowie & Eno's avant-directions to the wall.(I'm sure Hugo Wilcken's 331/3 book on 'Low' will be of interest...)
'Low' was reported to have been initially rejected by RCA, while Bowie's initial plan to blend the vocal/intrumental tracks more was nixed- the first half ('Speed of Life' apart) finds vocal-songs, as the latter half showcases the instrumental side of things. A performance of 'Low' alongside 'Heathen' a few years ago appeared to put 'Low' back in the order Bowie originally intended (...any chance of a release Dave?).
'Speed of Life' is a pulsing instrumental that sets the tone for the album, leading into the classic 'Breaking Glass' co-written with Davis & Murray - certainly the missing link between Can & Chic! Eno's cortex-melting waves of synths are perfect colliding with the funk as Bowie looks back with horror at his time in LA as he embraced the Occult:"...don't look at the carpet/I drew something awful on it/See..." 'What in the World' speeds things up, a rapid pop song with Iggy on backing vocals - the "Deep in your room, so deep in your room" feeling akin to the sybaritic "Blue, blue electric blue/That's the colour of my room" of 'Sound+Vision' - Bowie a bit lost in the scheme of things (...the turning point could be 1979's 'Fantastic Voyage'?).'Sound And Vision' is an absolute joy, as ever, benefiting from Eno and Mary Hopkin's (Mrs Visconti) backing vocals and one of Bowie's perfect popsongs.
The first half becomes darkest with 'Always Crashing in the Same Car', which has the feel of J.G. Ballard's 'Crash', sort of plastic soul after 'Autobahn' - setting the tone for such later joys as 'Pull Up to the Bumper', 'Warm Leatherette', 'Cars', 'Little Red Corvette' & 'The Art of Driving.' As with material on 'Young Americans' & 'Station...' Bowie is dripping with soul and passion here, the "Jasmine..." line and the aching guitar of Alomar is one of the great moments in the Thin White One's canon. The vocal-section concludes with the charming 'Be My Wife', the predecessor of 'Heathen's 'I Would Be Your Slave' and the place where Bowie trys out his Mockney vocals (contrast to uber 80s hit 'Modern Love' & its opening vocal). The "sometimes you get so lonely..." line seems to encapsulate the album - as bleak as it is, Bowie isn't wallowing and is kind of looking for a way out - more an 'On the Beach' than a 'Berlin'...
While some may gripe that Bowie wasn't doing what more cult European acts were, the second side disproves that notion. Bowie may have been influenced by European acts, but he took that Euro-electronic thing somewhere entirely new. The five instrumentals that conclude 'Low' stand up as a key moment in the history of electronica, setting the tone for the years that followed. Their influence can be found in New Order-Joy Division (whose name post Stiff Kittens was Warsaw after the track here), Ultravox!, Tubeway Army, Japan ('Burning Bridges'), Y.M.O., Throbbing Gristle (the instrumentals on '20 Jazz Funk Greats' a definite relative), Associates, B.E.F., Visage, Magazine (Dave Formula's keyboard work on 'Secondhand Daylight' definitely!), Simple Minds ('Empires & Dance'), the Eno/Talking Heads collaborations (notably 'Fear of Music'), Cabaret Voltaire ('Voice of America/Three Mantras' advanced on these climes), Spandau Ballet, 'Kid A'-Radiohead, Vangelis ('Blade Runner'), Soft Cell (Mr Almond nodded to it a few years ago), Devo, Depeche Mode, Suede's 'Introducing the Band', Blur ('He Thought of Cars', 'Yuki & Hiro','13'), Moby, John Foxx, Nine Inch Nails, Madonna, Fennesz, Sylvian/Czukay, Simian, Sakamoto, Pete Shelley's 80's solo albums, Yello, Leftfield, PIL's 'Radio 4' etc etc. 'Warszawa' is also familiar as alongside German single 'Helden' and tracks from "Heroes" & 'Lodger' it appeared on the soundtrack to the bleak 'Christiane F- We the Children from Zoo Station' (some of these instrumentals have a parallel existence on the excellent instrumental only compilation 'All Saints'). & a major tribute to 'Low' not mentioned thus far is Philip Glass' 'Low Symphony', one of the great cover versions and proof that pop-music (...if this is what pop music is...) can belong in the classical world if required...
'Low' is a key album.
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on 21 April 2006
This album demonstrates Bowie's best abilities as a songwriter, a musician and a trendsetter. Bowie (along with Eno) seemingly predict where the music scene is heading years before it actually does, with a concoction of sythn and guitar laced tracks ranging from brillient songs to beautiful instramentals. Bowie experiments, but it doesn't get out of hand like other albums have, and it leads to what is his most rewarding album, at least of the late 70's. Musically this album dwarfs anything Bowie has done since and, although he had bigger comercial successes,in my opinion is better than the highly critically aclaimed "Heroes" which "Low" preceded. The stand out track is "Sound And Vision", but every track is excellent, especially the daunting, lethargic instramentals.

This is a definate for Bowie fans, and for anyone truley into music. Get "Low" in your collection now!
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on 7 January 2015
Bowie's Berlin era - side 1 poppy, commercial and sing-along fab, side 2 challenging, innovative, atmospheric, evocative, moody and inspired. Bowie is the greatest rock/pop singer songwriter that has ever lived. No question about it.
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