Book: David Bowie’s Low by Hugo Wilcken

Low can be a hard album to listen to.  It does not have the conventional pop singles or tracks that are easy to jump into and out of;  the second side of the LP contains nothing but slow, synthetic songs that seem more at home as background music than as actual pop songs.

Given all that, Wilcken's thoughtful and deep analysis, of the album as a whole and as individual tracks, does an incredible job of reinvigorating the listener's interest in the album.

The book is a series of essays detailing the physical surroundings where the album was created, as well as a bit of background on Bowie's mental state at the time – Bowie was strung out and in the process of getting a divorce – and how these affected the work in progress.

Once past the background and overview of the album as a whole, the book turns to tackling each song individually.  The analysis of the songs is very well done, bringing into focus the instrumentation and themes of each track, plus how they relate to each other and to the album as a whole.

More than that, however, the book made me want to listen to the album again.  And again.  I found myself listening to each track before reading the analysis and then again, immediately after.  I found that Wilcken's essays brought nuances and subtleties, of which I had previously been unaware, to light.  The essays let me re-examine the album, changing it from an older, difficult listen to a master work that blended elements and styles in ways many have since tried to imitate.

That is good writing.

The book ends with a brief mention of how the album has withstood the test of time and the author does not attempt to force any opinions or conclusions on the reader.  Instead, he allows the reader to take the analysis he has written and let the reader / listener draw their own conclusions.

The book is a worthwhile read for casual and die hard Bowie fans alike, as well as being an excellent example of pop music analysis that any music fan would do well to examine.

Amazon Affiliate Link:  David Bowie's Low (33 1/3)

Read and post comments | Send to a friend


Leave a comment

Filed under 51841

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s