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Music / Lodger

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"I am a DJ, I am what I play."

Lodger is the thirteenth studio album by David Bowie, released in 1979. The third and final album of what critics and fans call the "Berlin Trilogy" of his Krautrock/post-punk albums (though most of the album was recorded in Switzerland or New York City). It also marks the end of his working relationship with Brian Eno. The two reunited later for his 1995 album 1. Outside.

Lodger is perhaps the most accessible entry in the Berlin Trilogy, to the point where an uninitiated listener wouldn't be able to tell that it had any relation with Low and "Heroes"; there are no instrumentals on side two and the songs are lighter and more pop-oriented. As with Low, critical reviews were indifferent to negative upon release, only to later be Vindicated by History; it is now considered one of his most underrated albums.



Side One

  1. "Fantastic Voyage" (2:55)
  2. "African Night Flight" (2:54)
  3. "Move On" (3:16)
  4. "Yassassin" (4:10)
  5. "Red Sails" (3:43)

Side Two

  1. "DJ" (3:59)
  2. "Look Back in Anger" (3:08)
  3. "Boys Keep Swinging" (3:17)
  4. "Repetition" (2:59)
  5. "Red Money" (4:17)

Bonus Tracks (1991 Reissue):

  1. "I Pray, Olé" (3:59)
  2. "Look Back in Anger" (1988 version) (6:59)

Life is a pop of the cherry, when you're a trope:

  • Book-Ends:
    • Bowie's "Berlin Trilogy" sometimes unofficially includes Iggy Pop's The Idiot due to Bowie's involvement and its sound. The first song on The Idiot is "Sister Midnight", and the final song of Lodger is "Red Money", a rewrite of "Sister Midnight".
    • A more bizarre case occurs with the cover photo: Low featured a profile shot of Bowie's head on the front cover, Lodger a shot of his legs and feet (though some reissues, such as the RCA and Rykodisc CD releases, make the upper half of the photo the front cover instead of the lower half).
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  • Bowdlerise: The Saturday Night Live performance of "Boys Keep Swinging" muted the second line of the couplet "When you're a boy/Other boys check you out". Subverted at the very end of the performance when the costume Bowie was wearing suddenly reveals a fake penis and waves it around the place.
  • Call-Back: The rhythm of "Move On" is the chord sequence for "All the Young Dudes" played backwards.
  • Camp: "Boys Keep Swinging".
  • Distinct Single Album: Songs with themes of travelling on side A and lyrically introspective songs on side B.
  • Domestic Abuse: The subject of "Repetition".
  • Double-Meaning Title: "DJ". Yes, the song is about a disk jockey, but when you remember that Bowie's real name was David Jones...
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Invoked in the video for "DJ".
  • Everything Is an Instrument: "African Night Flight" features a buzzing noise midway through the song, listed in the liner notes as "Cricket Menace".
  • In the Style of...: A Talking Heads biography posits that "DJ" was Bowie's attempt at emulating the singing style of frontman David Byrne; Berlin Trilogy collaborator Brian Eno had started working with Talking Heads during the interim between "Heroes" and Lodger, with More Songs About Buildings and Food and Fear of Music being recorded and released before and during the recording sessions for Lodger.
  • Large Ham: Most of the songs on the album thrive on this, as do the music videos:
    • DJ: Bowie in a pink suit, breaking down in a D.J. studio.
    • Boys Keep Swinging: Two minutes of Bowie gyrating his hips, one minute of his backup singers showing off on the catwalk and revealing themselves to be Bowie in drag.
    • Look Back in Anger: Bowie paints a self-portrait, which becomes progressively more and more detailed while his face decays.
  • Lighter and Softer: By far the most accessible and pop-oriented of the trilogy.
  • Motor Mouth: "African Night Flight" features Bowie delivering lyrics at serious speed.
  • My Nayme Is: Subverted with "Yassassin" - it is not another way of spelling "assassin". Some versions of the album remedy this by adding the subtitle "(Turkish for: Long Live)".
  • One-Word Title: The album itself, plus the songs "Yassassin", "DJ" and "Repetition".
  • Rearrange the Song: "Red Money" is a rewrite of "Sister Midnight", from the Bowie-produced Iggy Pop album The Idiot.
  • Refuge in Audacity: "Boys Keep Swinging", both the song and the video, continue Bowie's tradition of playing with gender and sexuality. "D.J." isn't too far behind.
  • Reggae: "Yassassin" uses a Reggae riddim as its base.
  • Revealing Injury: The full image for the album cover has Bowie as an accident victim, heavily made up with an apparently broken nose.
  • Shout-Out: "Red Sails" uses a motorik rhythm lifted from Neu!.
  • Stylistic Suck: "Boys Keep Swinging"'s rough sound, the result of Bowie having the members of his backing band switch instruments to perform it.
  • Wham Line: "Repetition"
    "I guess the bruises won't show/If she wears long sleeves"
  • World Music: The album is seen as an Ur-Example of the worldbeat boom of The '80s which came to popularity with artists such as Talking Heads and Peter Gabriel.


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