David Bowie-Low(1977) also…notes on fighting Pretentiousness

5 04 2011

It seems my arch nemesis of a music website, Pitchfork has, like 6 years ago, declared the little-mentioned David Bowie album, Low the number one album of the 1970’s. It’s funny that I just found this out while I was in the middle of an enjoyable Brian Eno phase, but found myself  wanting something a little more concrete. Thus, after a little sluething, found out that he and David B had teamed up, no surprise, to work on Low, Bowie’s 1977 release. But really, number one album of the 1970’s…? Do you know what a BOLD claim that is? Sure you do.

Saying that Low is the best album of the 70’s is a Grand Canyon-Spruce Goose-Sir Mix a Lot Big Butt Lovin’-sized bold claim, man.

Even within Pitchfork’s best of the 70’s countdown, their own contributor wrote about Led Zeppelin IV coming in at number 7 and that there was NO WAY(yes in all caps) that Led Zeppelin IV wasn’t the number one album of the 1970’s. Sure, this is totally predictable and non-pretentious, but seriously. Shouldn’t Led Zeppelin IV roll in at least  a shabby 3rd?

I was already into my second listen of Low, when I’d discovered Pitchfork’s bold claim and became even more impassioned to find out for myself why they declared it so. Is this a Bowie album worthy of such an illustrious title as number one album of the 1970’s?

According to research, this is David Bowie’s coke-recovery album. Frankly I cannot picture David Bowie as any kind of drug addict. He just seems too other-worldly  to have “normal” problems.  The title of this album is indicative of his low mood and perhaps he enlisted the help of Brian Eno to be his new upper ‘cuz it’s not much of a downer album. The album begins with a sort of late-70’s punch in the face with the track, Speed of Life. Coke reference perhaps? There’s some amazing stuff here and it’s physically impossible for me to be impartial, it’s David Bowie and I owe him for a fair portion of my happiness, but some of the tracks are just kind of silly. The track Warszawa reminds me of the Twin Peaks soundtrack. A feeling of being downtrodden and like I could sleep for days…is this what coming off of coke feels like set to music? If so, count me out.  Then there’s also these ridiculous chanting voices that fade in and out, dating this album incredibly. Perhaps the greatest contributing factor for why I can’t say agree with Pitchfork. Throughout the album there’s also a sense of this sounding like the early planning stages for the Labyrinth or Never Ending Story soundtrack. Just makes me laugh, I guess.

So folks, although I love this album in all its Eno-Bowie greatness, I have to give the finger to Pitchfork and say that they’re wrong. It’s an album that defintely grows on you, and I do have a fondness for albums like that. I am just not entirely sure this album aged so well unlike its competition, Led Zeppelin IV and oh I don’t know…(sorry to bust out all the regulars, I’m just not going to go down the much-trodden in the music-commentary pretentious road)…Dark Side of the Moon. Come on, we all know that album’s amazing.

I realize that I am not so much reviewing this Bowie album, but conciously trashing Pitchfork for being so damn pretentious. There’s room in decade countdowns for some lesser-knowns or surprises, sure; but to pick an album that’s relatively unheard as The Best is flat out pretentious. It’s so easy in the music world to bow down to the all powerful, The Great Pretentor. Not here, friends. The Great Prententor shall not conquer yet another music commentary blog. Not here in our brains at Balafonic dot com.

~itschewbac

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