“There’ll be others on the line filing past, who’ll whisper Low…”
January 14 1977 saw the release of the first of what came to be known as Bowie’s Berlin trilogy. That album was Low and it was followed later the same year by “Heroes” with the trilogy completed in 1979 by the arrival of Lodger.
Most of the music across the three albums wasn’t even recorded in Berlin, the unifying factor actually being Bowie, Visconti and Eno. Low was a Bowie/Visconti production, and not a Brian Eno one as widely misreported.
Much has been written about the brilliance and braveness of the music on Low, and rightly so. It’s probably hard to imagine how absolutely unique the record sounded back in 1977.
Apart from the obvious slicing of the album into two distinct sides (reflected better in the original working title of New Music Night And Day), Visconti gifted Low that distinctive gated snare via his latest gadget, the Eventide Harmonizer.
Though Low was a record purportedly informed by the likes of Kraftwerk and other German musicians of the time, it actually sounded far more organic and not at all mechanical.
This was in no small measure due to the nucleus of the band Bowie had favoured during this whole period (starting with Station To Station), of Carlos Alomar (guitar), Dennis Davis (drums) and George Murray (bass).
If you’ve not listened to it for a while, stick Low on now and prepare to be transported by its gloriously uplifting melancholia and musical language from another time and place, not necessarily the past.
Low sounds as fresh today as it ever did…thirty nine minutes of untouchable genius.