One of the more overlooked entries in Bowie’s 1970s’ canon, the final instalment of the Berlin trilogy is the first Bowie album since 1970’s The Man Who Sold The World to be nothing but Bowie songs, with no covers or instrumentals. If that statement makes it sound accessible, in fact Lodger is arguably the weirdest set of songs that Bowie’s ever committed to vinyl, with more emphasis on rhythm and exotic sounds than ever before. Some of the songs are little more than chants, while there are drones aplenty, like the Middle Eastern strings of ‘Yassassin’ or guitarist Adrian Belew’s avant-garde stylings. There’s only one major change in the band, with Belew replacing his future King Crimson partner Robert Fripp – even if their styles are different, Belew is able to match Fripp in the weirdness stakes – while Utopia’s Roger Powell guests on synthesiser.
Despite the weirdness, there’s still accessible material; ‘D.J.’ is one of Bowie’s most creative and infectious singles with a disco beat, kiss-kiss hook and more musings on the blurring of artifice and reality. The other major classic here is the ‘Yassassin’, fuelled by weird Eastern strings. The aggressive ‘Look Back In Anger’ steers relatively close to conventional rock, while ‘Fantastic Voyage’ provides the album with a solid start.
Lodger clearly isn’t the place to start an investigation into Bowie’s catalogue – it’s quirky, flakey, and downright weird in places, but its throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-hope-something-sticks approach throws up its share of great moments.