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David Bowie's Low (33 1/3 Series) | [Hugo Wilcken]

David Bowie's Low (33 1/3 Series)

Low is a kaleidoscope in which Bowie's obsessions and traits explode into fragments and reform in a new pattern. Sonically, it is hugely adventurous: combining a driving R&B rhythm section with the experimental soundscapes of Brian Eno, it evolves a whole new musical language. Thematically, it's the sound of a man struggling to get well. Bowie has often talked about his fear of insanity.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Certain albums could only happen in a certain place and time, with the right people, melding influences, techniques, styles, and attitudes. David Bowie's Low is such an album and Hugo Wilcken ties these elements together, contextualizing the album in a way that adds to the rich experience of the retro-futuristic music. Wilcken discusses Bowie's fleeing the drug excesses of LA to Berlin and the lively krautrock scene that was burgeoning there, his work with producer Tony Visconti and collaborator Brian Eno, and the sometimes revelatory and sometimes psychotic or paranoid states of mind that went into making the album. Accomplished voice actor Victor Bevine gives a cool and confident performance of the material, bringing clarity where even Bowie's memory contradicts and falters.

Publisher's Summary

Low is a kaleidoscope in which Bowie's obsessions and traits explode into fragments and reform in a new pattern. Sonically, it is hugely adventurous: combining a driving R&B rhythm section with the experimental soundscapes of Brian Eno, it evolves a whole new musical language. Thematically, it's the sound of a man struggling to get well. Bowie has often talked about his fear of insanity. Despite - or because of - this, he drugged himself into a state that looked very much like schizophrenia, and then recorded an album that structurally reflected the illness.

Hugo Wilcken is Paris-based, Australian-born writer and translator. His first novel, The Execution, was published to critical acclaim by HarperCollins in 2002. His next, Colony, was published in 2006.

33 1/3 is a new series of short books about critically acclaimed and much-loved albums of the last 40 years. Focusing on one album rather than an artist's entire output, the books dispense with the standard biographical background that fans know already, and cut to the heart of the music on each album. The authors provide fresh, original perspectives - often through their access to and relationships with the key figures involved in the recording of these albums. By turns obsessive, passionate, creative, and informed, the books in this series demonstrate many different ways of writing about music. (A task which can be, as Elvis Costello famously observed, as tricky as dancing about architecture.) What binds this series together, and what brings it to life, is that all of the authors - musicians, scholars, and writers - are deeply in love with the album they have chosen.

Rock on: listen to more of the 33 1/3 series.

©2005 Hugo Wilcken; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (42 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Jason 12-05-08
    Jason 12-05-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "even if ur just a little curious about Bowie"

    Part of Bowie's wild Berlin Trilogy, Low is a great David Bowie album. It's the sonic experimentation equivalent to experiencing (second hand) schizophrenia, paranoia, moodiness, and lots of death and drugs. What's not to like?

    Info on Iggy Pop and Brian Eno are contained here, too, so if you are into them, check out this audiobook.

    This is one of the most dense and meticulously-written of the 33 1/3 series that Audible carries.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emilio Porto Alegre, Brazil 02-19-12
    Emilio Porto Alegre, Brazil 02-19-12
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    "An interesting essay on an intriguing album"
    If you could sum up David Bowie's Low (33 1/3 Series) in three words, what would they be?

    An interesting analysis.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The little tidbits that I didn't know about, in spite of the many Bowie-related books I've read to this day.


    What does Victor Bevine bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    It's great to be able to listen to this book while walking as an exercise and Victor Bevine has an excellent voice.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    I would just like to add that I find it rather annoying when the narrator keeps saying

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dean San Francisco, CA, United States 12-13-08
    Dean San Francisco, CA, United States 12-13-08 Listener Since 2006
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    "Ample Background Info"

    This book covers not only the making of "Low" but also contains a considerable amount of information on Iggy Pop's "The Idiot," as well as the Bowie albums that preceded and followed "Low," being "Station to Station" and "Heroes." The real value of the book is not so much analysis of the music of "Low" (actually I thought Wilcken was surprisingly bland and uninsightful when pedantically describing individual tracks on the album) but in the real-life stories about Bowie's days of excess in L.A. and the difficult period of transition during the making of his "Berlin Trilogy." Naturally, the book will also be of interest to followers of Brian Eno's serpentine career. A thoroughly enjoyable listen ... I don't believe any one "perfect" book about this important recording could be written, but Wilcken's is enjoyable, informative, and intelligent.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Raynham, MA, United States 12-24-10
    John Raynham, MA, United States 12-24-10 Member Since 2007
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    "Great analysis, wonderful writing"

    I'm not a fan of this type of music (though I am a Bowie fan), Wilcken provided wonderful background, history and insight. And he is a marvelous writer. Made me appreciate an album I've always overlooked.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pianodoc 11-19-14
    Pianodoc 11-19-14

    Pianodoc

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    ""quote" "end quote" "end listen""
    What would have made David Bowie's Low (33 1/3 Series) better?

    Leave out the punctuation!


    What other book might you compare David Bowie's Low (33 1/3 Series) to and why?

    I can't remember ever hearing anything similar.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Don't keep telling me "quote" "end quote"


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I wanted to hear the story but the narration was driving me nuts.


    Any additional comments?

    "No," "I" "think" "I" "explained" "what" "I" "hate" "about" "this" "audiobook" "."

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-5 of 5 results
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  • Ben
    Chesham, Bucks, United Kingdom
    7/10/13
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    Story
    "How many times can you say "Parenthesis" in 4 hrs?"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I did enjoy this book because the subject matter is a brilliant album with an interesting story behind it. But it should be noted that there does not seem to be any original research involved so the book is a patchwork of quotations from old interviews, something I found hugely disappointing.
    Its not that work of this nature has no merit at all, but obviously the author has no personal insight into the the context of the original quotes and in this case he doesn't seem to have anything new to add to critical analyses of the album either. It's not a badly written little book, but it feels like an over long magazine article at times, written to fill a hole in the 33&1/3 series rather than a classic piece of pop criticism.

    WORST OF ALL - when ever the reader has to read a quote, which in this case is every few minutes, he book marks it by saying "Parenthesis". Boy oh boy oh boy oh boy this gets tiresome quickly! It was a really bad production choice.


    Would you recommend David Bowie's Low (33 1/3 Series) to your friends? Why or why not?

    Only the ones who love David Bowie, Low and audio books. It's not likely to convert any one on the fence about any of those 3.


    What didn’t you like about Victor Bevine’s performance?

    The chronic over use of the word PARENTHESIS.


    Did David Bowie's Low (33 1/3 Series) inspire you to do anything?

    To listen to the album again. To visit the studio by the wall if I'm ever in Berlin (assuming it's still there). To finally get the Stooges and Iggy Pop albums Bowie produced.


    Any additional comments?

    A good enough little book, but no classic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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