- 04 Oct 17
Let's get the obvious out of the way quickly. Low and Heroes remain irrefutable works of genius; if you removed the moody side two instrumentals from both records and combined what's left, you'd have perhaps David Bowie's finest album. The howling, angry, guitar-strangling pop of Scary Monsters is the last truly great Bowie record - you could argue against that, but you'd be wrong.
If there's an essential live album in his canon,Stage isn't it. A re-sequenced remastering brightens things up and adds a couple of tracks, but still can't completely save it. It's not bad; it just fails to really take off. The synthesisers on the Ziggy tracks are particularly unfortunate. The Re:Call discs follow the same format as previous boxes, rounding up single edits and stray mixes. The most interesting things here are the '79 skeletal version of 'Space Oddity', the original 'Cat People' with Giorgio Moroder, and the material from Bowie's appearance in Brecht's Baal, which are hardly songs at all, but Bowie sings his arse off.
Always the runt of the Berlin litter, though it was recorded in Switzerland and New York, the real prize is the Tony Visconti remix of Lodger. In much the same way Don DeVito's 1999 rejig of Dylan's Street Legal transformed a good record into a great one, this is Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus stuff. The sort of travelogue Damon Albarn dreams of making, it now sounds like it was recorded last week. The side two opening, three-card trick of 'DJ', 'Look Back In Anger', and 'Boys Keep Swinging' leap from the speakers, where once they seemed to shuffle into the room, mumbling with their hands in their pockets.