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David Bowie's Low (33 1/3) Paperback – August 19, 2005


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Frequently Bought Together

David Bowie's Low (33 1/3) + Brian Eno's Another Green World (33 1/3 series) + Talking Heads' Fear of Music (33 1/3)
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Product Details

  • Series: 33 1/3 (Book 26)
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (August 19, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826416845
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826416841
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 4.7 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #345,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"David Bowie's album Low,released in 1977, is an inspired high point for the singer/actor/musician/icon,yet the record still fails to generate the attention it deserves. HugoWilcken's Low will hopefully put anend to the long neglect....his book will captivate Bowie fans and the musicallyinquisitive looking for a lost gem from a name artist. Fascinating for rockhistorian types who are drawn in to the never-ending debate of who influencedwho, and those that simply want to know the stories behind the songs. Devoteeswill be anxious to rediscover a forgotten favorite....an absorbing and appealinganalysis, thankfully sans the type of mind-numbing prose that often accompaniesthis type of scrutiny. Once Bowie's long career has concluded Low will surely stand as his creativeapex, and Hugo Wilcken's book will be its knowing and worthy companion. — Drastic Plastic Press

“David Bowie’s album Low,released in 1977, is an inspired high point for the singer/actor/musician/icon,yet the record still fails to generate the attention it deserves. HugoWilcken’s Low will hopefully put anend to the long neglect….his book will captivate Bowie fans and the musicallyinquisitive looking for a lost gem from a name artist. Fascinating for rockhistorian types who are drawn in to the never-ending debate of who influencedwho, and those that simply want to know the stories behind the songs. Devoteeswill be anxious to rediscover a forgotten favorite….an absorbing and appealinganalysis, thankfully sans the type of mind-numbing prose that often accompaniesthis type of scrutiny. Once Bowie’s long career has concluded Low will surely stand as his creativeapex, and Hugo Wilcken’s book will be its knowing and worthy companion. – Drastic Plastic Press

About the Author

Hugo Wilcken is a Paris-based, Australian-born writer and translator. His first novel, The Execution, was published by HarperCollins in 2002. ("A remarkably accomplished debut heralding the arrival of a noteworthy talent"- Publishers Weekly.) It was well reviewed, and has since been translated into Dutch and German. A second novel, Colony, was published in August 2007.


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Customer Reviews

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REcommended read for Bowie fans.
M. Doron
I've read 7 or 8 of the 33 1/3 book series, which I consider to be a great idea for people to experience their favorite albums with deeper understanding.
Duane Sherwood
Definitely a good choice for anyone interested in the album or Berlin era of Bowie's work.
M. Fallon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By desmond on February 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
Seems quite meticulously researched. (The Amazon description should make some mention of that; it seems unnecessarily vague is describing what the book is.)

I did find 1 minor factual error in the first few pages (it was Gus Dudgeon who produced the "Space Oddity" single, not Paul Buckmaster!).

But given the density of detailed information packed into this relatively small book (culled from a variety of books and music articles published over the past few years), that may be a forgivable offense.

Overall, this book is filled with interesting facts, beginning with the recording of Station to Station, then the actual recording of Low and the beginning of Bowie's Berlin period.

Among other things, the book recounts:
- how various influences (Kraftwerk, Neu!, etc.) actually worked their way onto the album
- how Eno recorded the album's signature drum sound
- some of the strange devices used in the studio to "inspire creativity"
- an insight into Bowie's working methodology at the time
- and generally does a great job of analyzing the album in the context of Bowie's career and mindset

I have found this a very enjoyable read, and I recommend it to all Bowie enthusaists and especially fans of one of Bowie's very best albums, Low.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By K. Buckley on February 8, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is perhaps the finest, most detailed analysis of Bowie's work I've ever read, and I earnestly entreat the author to consider taking on the remainder of the Berlin trilogy albums. In spite of the minor error or three (that's Walter Tevis who wrote The Man Who Fell To Earth, not Travis), this book answers so many questions I've always wanted to ask about "Low"-- which is saying a lot, as this has remained one of the most important albums of all time to my own musical work. Great stuff!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. Doron on May 13, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having first listened to this record years ago, and understanding it is among Bowie's best, I found refreshing history bits about the record I never knew about. REcommended read for Bowie fans.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Kimberg on November 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
Bowie's time in and around Berlin has long been a subject of tremendous interest, and this small book does a nice job of distilling it into manageable form. Wilcken shows tremendous respect for both the subject matter and the reader, and does not waste space. I think there's something important in this book about the nature of creativity, although it may take a second read, or another book covering the same material, to be sure.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ex12ex34ax311ab10 on February 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
I read Hugo Wilcken's "Low" and Joe Pernice's fellow 33&1/3 volume for "Meat is Murder" in the same day and the difference between the two books is staggering. Wilcken crafts the definitive volume in the series, full of meaty anecdotes, interesting cultural references, and more thought-provoking revelations into the album, artist and cultural milieu than you can shake a proverbial stick at.

Pernice gives us some dodgy sixth-form fiction vignette about teen suicide. Zzzz. Regrettable that that book is even allowed to stand in the same general company as Wilcken's masterful read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Fallon on July 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
Being a big fan of David Bowie, I picked up this book to learn more about one of my favorite albums. I'd read reviews of some of the other 33 1/3 books and was a little bit worried that the author might go off topic or write mostly about his own experience with the album. Luckily Mr. Wilcken avoids that and covers the creation of the album as well the the events and people that influenced it. He shows how Low was a connected to Station to Station and The Idiot, while also explaining the influence of Kraftwerk and others. Definitely a good choice for anyone interested in the album or Berlin era of Bowie's work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JCS on September 12, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hugo Wilcken does an excellent job of bringing on the ambience of Bowie's world, circa mid 70s, not only focusing on the first disc of the Berlin Trilogy, Low, but capturing the mindset of the world in which Bowie lived, one full of drugs, Iggy Pop's The Idiot, Station to Station and so much more. Informative, not quite perfect, but too good not to give the full five stars and my personal fave of this series so far.

JCS
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Duane Sherwood on December 5, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read 7 or 8 of the 33 1/3 book series, which I consider to be a great idea for people to experience their favorite albums with deeper understanding. The 2 best, in my mind, are the Kinks Village Green Preservation Society, and David Bowie's Low.

This book sets the standard & should be the model for how the others in the series are written. It begins with background on where Bowie was in his career, leading up to Low. Then a detailed description of the early creative process, chronicling how they first recorded Iggy Pop's "The Idiot" as a way of fleshing out sonic ideas that would govern Low. Followed by the early sessions in France, as Eno entered the creative mix, soon followed by longtime Bowie producer, Tony Visconti . And then traveling to Berlin to finish mixing at Connie Plank's Hansa by the Wall studio.

Hugo Wilcken doesn't dwell too deeply on a technical description of the songs, and he definitely doesn't resort to one of those dry "at 2:37 into the song there is a bridge that pre-supposes the chorus structure while belying a sub harmonic tonality of the root level rhythm...." type texts that can creep into some other books of the series.

Instead, the author focuses on the life being lived by the artist as the songs were being created, and how it influenced and shaped the process. He describes conceptual ideas that manifest themselves into creative decisions, such as the merging of dense Germanic electronic sound with an American soul-based rhythm section. Plenty of description of the surrounding atmosphere in the whole process. You feel like you are there as it happens.

A thoroughly enjoyable experience for anyone who loves that album.
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