Oh, Lodger. I’ll probably get a bit of crap for this, but it’s not a favorite of mine.
There are a lot of interesting ideas. A lot of cool sounds. Bowie’s voice is as varied and consistantly excellent as ever. The production is great. Unfortunately, none of these elements come together for long enough to create a perfect song, let alone a cohesive album.
“Fantastic Voyage” starts the record in decent, bombastic yet fragile fashion. My hopes are always raised for the rest of Lodger when it starts. Unfortunately it isn’t to be.
“African Night Flight” almost works. Frentic rapping, odd soundscape, and chanting. Almost, but never completely. “Move On” is fair but comes off a little goofy. From there, “Yassassin” gets worse. One of the few Bowie songs I always skip when it comes up digitally. “Red Sails” continues the light tone. Again, interesting portions, but as an entire song?
“D.J.” is good; strong for the record, but a very minor song as far as things are concerned. The same goes for “Look Back In Anger”. Some people love it, I think it is a overrated. Not bad, but only decent. “Boys Keep Swinging”, to me is another solid song. The Berlin Era counterpart for, say, “Panic In Detroit” from Aladdin Sane. “Repetition” also has quite a bit going for it, but still feels like a product of Brian Eno’s methods working against the song rather than an unorthadox musical breakthrough.
Finally, the album ends with “Red Money”, a song reconstructed from the Bowie/Iggy Pop song “Sister Midnight” recorded a few years prior for The Idiot. I have no problem with recontextualized work, especially when it comes from a co-author. Sometimes a fresh take is a blast in completely unexpected ways. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone defend “Red Money” as the better version though. It really is inferior in almost every way.
I do own several versions of the album. The original cd release, the 90s re-issue with bonus tracks, including “I Pray, Ole”. I love this song. It is one of my favorites, I must say. Boggles the mind to think that it was left off the album in favor of others. Anyway, I digress… I also have the vinyl/digital resissue as a part of the A New Career in a New Town Box Set. The mastering on each successive re-issue sounds a little brighter and clearer, but negligably. As far as the exclusive (Bowie condoned but not participated in) Tony Visconti remix? To me it was an interesting companion piece; differently separated mix and focuses. I do enjoy hearing and appreciating different mixes. Essential? Not in the least.
The album really is is a wildly diverse but uniformly disappointing album. I think the law of diminishing returns may to be blame. The spark of the Berlin Era disappeared. That’s fine. Low, ‘Heroes’, The Idiot, Lust for Life, and the respective tours are masterpieces. Lodger, is not.