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12th March 2012

Classic album: David Bowie – Low

A perfect example of an album far ahead of its time.

David Bowie
RCA Records
Released: 1977

The late 1970’s was a time when punk rock dominated the hip areas of London, a time when established ‘pop’ stars who didn’t wear safety pins and ripped jeans were ridiculed, and – believe it or not – a time when Liverpool actually won league titles. However, a million miles away from any punk clichés, 1977 saw David Bowie release the first of his famous ‘Berlin Trilogy’ in the form of Low.

Although never one to shy away from radical changes in his persona, even the most ardent Bowie fan couldn’t have envisaged his latest left-turn. Shifting from previous styles such as the funk-rock of hit single ‘Fame’, aswell as his shocking Thin White Duke character from his 1976 album Station to Station, Bowie moved to the drug capital of Europe at the time, Berlin, with old pal Iggy Pop, to produce the album alongside Tony Visconti.

Side A of the record was mostly made up of exhilaratingly original experimental pop songs, such as ‘Be My Wife’ and ‘Speed of Life’, which were two standout tracks. However, nobody could have possibly predicted the shock that followed on Side B: a collection of ambient, instrumental numbers constructed with Brian Eno, which reflected Bowie’s drug-fuelled outlook on life at the time. Although at first this side of the record received mixed reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone, it was to become one of the most influential pieces of music of the decade. Low was a record that had a massive impact on post-punk, in particular on Manchester cult-heroes Joy Division who originally went by the name Warsaw, taken from the track ‘Warzsawa’.

The album today is regarded by many, including the man himself, as being one of Bowie’s most iconic pieces of work, highly acclaimed for its originality and the way it shaped music for years to come. Low is the perfect example of an album far ahead of its time.

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