He called Lodger the Triptych of the last few albums he had created. It is the last album of the trilogy and is perhaps my personal favourite album of Bowie’s. This album is also rather underrated too.
FANTASTIC VOYAGE: LODGER (1979)
I love Lodger as an album because it is an album about the world and it is an album about worldly problems. While I said that Station to Station featured the last Bowie character, some would consider Lodger to have its own character, which would go against the notion I discussed that Bowie’s albums were all autobiographical from Station to Station onwards. I suppose The Lodger could just be Bowie himself, but I don’t consider the album to be about a character, more about the views of Bowie himself. Lodger is my favourite Bowie album.You get a sense that things have returned to normality with David Bowie, the music seems more cheerful, the instrumentation less disjointed, its a very good album.
It is a very hard album to select the best song from Lodger because all of the songs range from very good to downright excellent. Fantastic Voyage is downright excellent. Listening to it musically, it is not a loud song or a disjointed song, it feels like a complete song, with a rather calm instrumentation, and pretty calm vocal delivery. Thematically, this song really nails the theme of the album, as one which is about worldly problems and then contemporary problems. This song is about the cold war and the threat of Nuclear destruction, putting the calmly cheerful music into sharp contrast with the topic matter.
I feel like Fantastic Voyage is the best song to open this album, as a follow up to ‘Heroes’; which in its second side was very much delving into that fear and aural imagery of a nuclear wasteland, and a good follow up to the last track of Heroes; The Secret Life of Arabia, which was a precursor to this album. Fantastic Voyage is excellent, it is part of an excellent album, and I would encourage you to listen to it. Low and ‘Heroes’ are great albums, but many can be turned off by how so experimental they are. Lodger is the most conventional album of the Berlin trilogy.
This album has very unfairly been ignored over the last 38 years, whether that is due to its commercial failure, Bowie’s own discontent with the album, or something else. Though hopefully, time has softened people’s views to this album. In 2015, the Five Years Boxset was released, re-releasing and remastering all of Bowie’s albums, as well as offering alternative mixes of the albums and compilations featuring rarities. The most recent boxset, covering Bowie’s output between 1977-1982, includes a new mix by longtime Bowie producer, Tony Visconti, which improves the album quite a bit. I love the original, but the new mix of it has versions of the songs which are actually better, rather than just being a cheap remastering. The Tony Visconti remixed Lodger can be listened to on Spotify here:
And with Lodger, that is the end of 70’s Bowie. Ultimately, this era was very consistently good, and consistently popular with fans. 80’s Bowie would not be as consistent, but we will start looking at that period from tomorrow onwards.