David Bowie - Low - Review
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critics' view

With “Low”, David Bowie continues with his seemingly relentless quest to reinvent himself with every new album, opting here for a move into the electronic new wave scene, inspired in no small way with his relocation in ’76 from Los Angeles to the European mainland, home territory of Kraftwerk, who proved to have quite an influence on him during this period. Having picked up a coke habit in L.A., Bowie was fighting to break free of it, as he would later reveal: “There's oodles of pain in the Low album. That was my first attempt to kick cocaine, so that was an awful lot of pain. And I moved to Berlin to do it. I moved out of the coke centre of the world into the smack centre of the world. Thankfully, I didn't have a feeling for smack, so it wasn't a threat”.

The album is divided into two distinctive halves; the first in classic band mode with strong cuts such as “Sound And Vision” and “Be My Wife”. The former is ironic in that it’s the happiest sounding song on the album, whilst also being the loneliest: “ Blue, blue, electric blue, that’s the colour of my room, where I will live”. He would later call it his “ultimate retreat song”, revealing that it was how he felt when his wife had left him a few years earlier. The latter seems to be a last-ditch plea to Angela Bowie in the vain hope of saving his marriage. The second half of the set loses all pop momentum, almost as if delving into the dark abyss of a depressed soul. “Warszawa” is the best of the four pieces here, featuring only Bowie and the co-composer, Brian Eno, over the course of the six mysterious and moody minutes of synthesized contemplation. There’s enough quality here to merit a good rating – but the critical acclaim which is afforded this set is somewhat over the top.

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