David Bowie – Lodger (Tony Visconti 2017 Mix)

30 09 2017

The 2017 Tony Visconti mix of Lodger comes as part of the A New Career In A New Town (1977 – 1982) box set released today (29 September 2017).

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Lodger was Bowie’s 13th studio album, originally released in May 1979. The last of the Berlin Trilogy, the album was recorded in Switzerland and New York with Brian Eno, and was produced by Bowie’s longest collaborator, Tony Visconti, who also oversaw this 2017 mix.

First of all I must confess that Station to Station and Lodger are my favourite Bowie albums, so this review is not a critique, but a review of how the album sounds in its 2017 mix.

The short version of the review is this: Lodger has never sounded so good. Ok, now for the longer review! It does not sound as if there has been much tinkering with the instrumentation or vocals on the album, just a reworking using modern technology and the original master tapes – so it’s a remix, not a remaster.

From the drum roll that ushers in Fantastic Voyage, it’s clear that this is a high-fidelity version of the album. The strings and backing vocals are much clearer in the mix and there is added reverb on the tail-end of the “cos we’ll never say anything nice again, will we” vocal line. Apparently the lyrics are about the possibility of nuclear war, so this song is more relevant now than ever.

There is some great piano work from the late Sean Mayes on this song. I can recommend Sean’s Life on Tour with David Bowie book, which gives an interesting account of life on the road with Bowie and the band on the 1978 Isolar II tour.

African Night Flight is also greatly enhanced by the 2017 remix – there is greater separation between all instruments, and the guitar and chanted vocals sit much more comfortably in the mix. The excellent Dennis Davis drum parts on Move On sound so clear, and as with most tracks on this new version of the album, reverb and delay treatments are added to Bowie’s vocals. The ending of the song reveals layers that I have not noticed previously, that were hidden in the original mix.

Yassassin sounds a million dollars. The guitar and drums (especially the kick drum) are pushed to the forefront, giving the track so much more punch and drive. It’s like discovering a whole new song. The same applies to the frantic Red Sails – the guitar and sax interplay is so much clearer. Some of my favourite guitar lines on the album can be found in this track.

I was particularly looking forward to hearing my two favourite Lodger tracks, DJ and Boys Keep Swinging, and the new mixes Sound very fresh. DJ sounds so much richer – the drums and keyboards, including the wonderful ARP Solina, plus the amazing Adrian Belew guitar solos towards the end of the song, sound better than ever.

The kick drum and bass guitar are so much punchier in Boys Keep Swinging. Renowned for some of the band members switching instruments, this track, released as a single, is in my top 10 Bowie songs. Around the 2.30 mark, there seems to be a high-pitched guitar line removed in this mix, which is a little disconcerting and one of only a couple of negative points in the 2017 version of Lodger.

Repetition has the most disturbing lyrics on Lodger, and the song is greatly improved by this remix. I love the odd bassline on this track, and the guitars sound so vibrant. Once again, there are elements that I have not previously noticed that are more visible in this new mix.

The album closes with Red Money, the album’s update of the Bowie / Alomar song that appears as Sister Midnight on Iggy Pop’s The Idiot album. The bass is deliciously bubbly in this mix, and the instruments, especially the drums and percussion, sound so good. The Comsat Angels sounding guitar riff at around 1.30 and 2.20 – one of the strongest parts of the song for me, disappointingly sits much further back in the new mix.

So whilst this 2017 Tony Visconti mix overall is a vast improvement on the original 1979 version of the album, I will still return to the original of some songs, such as Boys Keep Swinging and Red Money.

Other highlights (on top of some of Bowie’s finest albums) on the box-set include the extended version of Beauty and the Beast (I had not heard this version before) and my favourite version of Cat People (Putting Out Fire), the stunning Giorgio Moroder soundtrack version, which has one of the most emotional Bowie vocal performances.

“Its been so long, so long, so long”

The A New Career In A New Town (1977 – 1982) box set is my favourite of the three released to date.  The whole package includes the following discs (all remastered, apart from Scary Monsters) plus a hardback 128 page book with photos plus notes from Tony Visconti:

Low / “Heroes” / “Heroes” EP / Stage (original and 2017 versions of the live album) / Lodger / Lodger (2017 Tony Visconti Mix) / Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) and the compilation Re:Call 3.

Buy “A New Career In A New Town (1977 – 1982)” CD boxset

Buy “A New Career In A New Town (1977 – 1982)” vinyl boxset

Buy “Life On Tour With Bowie” by Sean Mayes

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Slow Electric

29 10 2011

Slow ElectricSlow Electric is a new collaboration between Tim Bowness (no-man), Peter Chilvers (Bowness/ChilversBrian Eno) and the Estonian group UMA (Aleksei Saks and Robert Jürjendal).  The album features Tony Levin (King Crimson / Peter Gabriel) on two tracks.

This album came together when the four musicians played at a festival in Estonia in late 2010. The basis of this album comes from live recordings of the 2010 shows, with re-recorded vocals and added keyboards, plus the contributions from Tony Levin on Towards the Shore & Days Turn into Years.

Towards The Shore / Towards an Ending is a strong opener. Towards The Shore dates back to a previous Bowness band, Plenty and was written in 1986. The 2011 version is beatless and driven by stately piano, atmospheric trumpet and scratched, percussive guitar playing, over the reflective Bowness vocal:

“Too frightened of your feelings
Too frightened of the light
You stripped away the meanings
gave in without a fight… You never moved away”

Listen to the video edit of Towards The Shore below:



iPhone / iPad version

Criminal Caught In The Crime was originally written to be part of the follow-up to the Bowness/Chilvers California, Norfolk album.  One of the few tracks driven by any sort of percussion, the glitchy beats contrast the smooth electronics of the song, and the vocal is bookended by atypical Bowness backing vocals.

Days Turn Into Years was one of the standout tracks on the 2002 Bowness/Chilvers album California, Norfolk.  This version by Slow Electric is the definitive take on the song. The bedsit drama is given a much more elegant treatment that matches the sadness and decay of the lyrics.  At times, sounding like something from David Sylvian‘s Secrets of the Beehive before veering off into a more freeform structure, with vocal loops cascading over the beats, Days Turn Into Years is the highlight of the album for me, and a wonderful reinvention of one of my favourite songs of the past 10 years.

Slow Electric

Slow Electric Hum / Also Out Of Air moves from it’s ethereal instrumental opening into a This Mortal Coil referencing song, with rich, reverb heavy keys, and haunting, heavily treated trumpet.

Another Winter will be known to no-man fans as the first part of truenorth from their 2008 schoolyard ghosts album. It works well as part of this album, and features some lovely trumpet in the second part of the song that reminds me of the emotive playing of Jon Hassell on Sylvian’s Brilliant Trees.

Listen to Warm Winter below:



iPhone / iPad version

Between The Silent Worlds ends the album on a very ambient note.  No piano or beats on this track, just layers of textured guitar and looped trumpet. Evoking snow-covered landscapes, the aching atmospherics suit the reflective lyrics.

“Words become notes become words.”

As proof that the best music is not always instant, on first hearing the album several months ago, I thought this track was the weakest on the album. Several months later, and it has become one of the albums highlights, and is a perfect closer. One of those wonderful late-night soundtracks that when it hits you, hits you hard.

I hope this album from Slow Electric is not a one-off release, and I would like to hear an album of completely new songs written specifically for this project, as there are plenty of possible routes for the musicians to take.

This set of 21st century torch-songs is perfectly suited to soundtrack the change in seasons as the winter nights draw in, and should appeal to fans of David Sylvian, Robert Fripp, as well as those who are moved by the songs of Bowness/Chilvers & no-man.

Watch the Towards The Shore video below:

Video filmed, Edited and Directed by Dion Johnson

Towards The Shore / Towards An Ending (7.23)
Criminal Caught In The Crime (7.43)
Days Turn Into Years (9.35)
Slow Electric Hum / Also Out Of Air (5.24)
Another Winter (5.04)
Between The Silent Worlds (6.37)

Buy Slow Electric from The Burning Shed
Buy Slow Electric at Amazon UK
Buy Slow Electric at Amazon US

Slow Electric website








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