Some 39 years ago today, Bowie’s Berlin “trip-tych” as he preferred it to be known came to and end with the release of his 13th studio LP, Lodger. Originally, Planned Accidents or Despite Strange Lines were potential titles before the more subtle Lodger was taken on board as recording finished up at Record Plant Studios in New York. The album originally began recorded life in Switzerland. The album would peak at number 4 in the U.K and reach a modest peak of 20 in the US album charts before fading into oblivion.
The record was essentially a postcard of Bowie’s travels to Kenya and Mombassa where he would meet the strangest characters. With over twenty songs recorded, the album continued in the experimental ways from Low and Heroes but also allowed Bowie the chance to write the lyrics some 6 months after much of the music was recorded back in September 1978.
At the time of release, Lodger was generally panned by critics and tossed on the heap, to be forgotten before a revival in interests over recent years. Last year, a new mix of the record was released as part of the New Career In A New Town box set and the mixing was done by none other than Tony Visconti. Philip Glass also recently announced that he will be premiering a Lodger symphony later in the year that will also see release on vinyl and compact disc.
As an interesting side note, Moby once said he got his first job as a golf caddy in order to raise enough money to buy Lodger from his local record store. My first experience of the album came via a rented CD copy in 1993 from an old store called Red Dog Entertainment. I took it home with a few other albums I had rented and copied it directly onto a cassette tape where it would be given regular playing on my way to and from school. It’s just a shame that a deluxe box set containing out-takes and demo recordings has never seen the light of day. There is of course hope that a 40th anniversary box could be on the cards for 2019 but I won’t be holding my breath.
Another unique aspect of the album were the videos for each single, DJ, Boys Keep Swinging and Look Back In Anger, which was also the most unique video due to its triple drag display played out by Bowie himself. Journalists were gathered in New York in early May 1979 and were shown all three videos as a special presentation to promote Lodger. Unfortunately, all three videos failed to promote sales of their respective singles or the album itself.
Lodger remains a unique collection of songs that has stood the test of time and is well overdue for a new appraisal.