AYL1-3856 Low
Produced by David Bowie and Tony Visconti
Released on January 1977
UK CHART POSITION #2 (RE-CHARTED #83 in 1983, #64 in 1991)
Find it at GEMM
AYL1-3856 cover  

W ell that’s an all-time low, cowed the troll, playing with their minds like that. "But it’s all in their minds," I say, "not mine." And thus we find the artistry of Low explained...

Cool operator, new day is dawning. Flight simulator, this is your warning. Who’s your motivator? Low. Pernicious priestess, temples are burning. Kafkas and Keatses, the worm is turning. Who’s your agitator? Low. Dwell STOP in the deep subterranean STOP breast of a beast of least STOP resistance STOP resist STOP. Car parts strewn, straddling mountains of rough hewn metal, this is the picture I paint or the saint I peddle. Meet me under a weeping wall where we won’t remember a thing at all and tell me all of the bad (please) things (stop). Wasn’t it only a decade ago and where do we put all the new we know? It binds us, coats our sound and vision, clings to the glass of the television and sticks to the bits when the set explodes. Sanctum sanctorum: cats and cathodes. Boondoggled hipster, who made your maker? Hornswaggled sister, who shook your shaker? Meet your perpetrator: Low.

Since it’s too good an album to let the opportunity slip, I’ll go through the usual dry run too. (Jessa minit adze I kut kamillion and tranzishnul outta my dikshunary.) Low is a lovely balance between the yin and the yang of it all: stately caravans ambling on Dali’s improbable elephants’ stilts (I’m listening to “Art Decade” right now) and songs that wobble like boomerangs intoxicated by their own beautiful strangeness (“What In The World,” “Breaking Glass”). Yes, he wrote (stifling back a yawn), I’ll work the word Eno in here once since he helped create this music. The instrumentals are sometimes unmistakably Enoesque (“Subterraneans” in particular), but these were never Low’s high achievement. It’s the candy in the middle, agitated in some great infernal confectionery and spat out like newly minted musical currency, that represents the real attraction. The rest is just a sideshow, a detox chamber that gives the mind pause to reflect on the stunning vision of pop’s future glimpsed in “Always Crashing In The Same Car,” “Sound And Vision” and the rest of side one (even the two instrumentals, “A New Career In A New Town” and “Speed of Life,” point to the new direction of rock rather than ambient sculptures). The Rykodisc reissue includes three Bowie/Eno bits from des deutsche jahren: the mumbled, mournful “Some Are” (in the same general Baalfield as his Brechtian interests), “All Saints” (the lone addition of interest as it shows a pronounced shift toward the music of Tangerine Dream) and more lamentable moustache-painting on the old masters (a remix of “Sound and Vision”).

AYL1-3856 back cover RACS 0142 cover
AYL1-3856 back cover RACS 0142 cover


  1. SPEED OF LIFE    (David Bowie)    2:45
  2. BREAKING GLASS    (David Bowie/Dennis Davis/George Murray)    1:42
  3. WHAT IN THE WORLD    (David Bowie)    2:20
  4. SOUND AND VISION    (David Bowie)    3:00
  5. ALWAYS CRASHING IN THE SAME CAR    (David Bowie)    3:26
  6. BE MY WIFE    (David Bowie)    2:55
  7. A NEW CAREER IN A NEW TOWN    (David Bowie)    2:50
  8. WARSZAWA    (David Bowie/Brian Eno)    6:17
  9. ART DECADE    (David Bowie)    3:43
  10. WEEPING WALL    (David Bowie)    3:25
  11. SUBTERRANEANS    (David Bowie)    5:37

    Reissue bonus tracks
  12. SOME ARE    (David Bowie/Brian Eno)    3:24
  13. ALL SAINTS    (David Bowie/Brian Eno)    3:35
  14. SOUND AND VISION (REMIXED VERSION, 1991)    (David Bowie)    4:43


DAVID BOWIE -- vocals, ARP, tape horn, synthetic strings, saxophones, tape, cello, guitar, pump bass, tape sax section, harmonica, piano, pre-arranged percussion, Chamberlain, vibraphones, xylophones, mixing
CARLOS ALOMAR -- rhythm guitars, guitar
DENNIS DAVIS -- percussion
ENO -- splinter mini-moog, report ARP, rimmer E.M.I., vocals, guitar treatments, E.M.I. synthesizer, piano, mini-moog, Chamberlain
RICKY GARDENER -- rhythm guitar, guitars
ROY YOUNG -- piano, Farsifa organ, organ
Eduard Meyer -- cellos (9)
Peter and Paul -- pianos and ARP (11)
Iggy Pop -- vocals (3)
Mary Visconti -- vocals (4)
David Richards -- mixing (15,17)
Justin Shirley Smith -- mixing (16)
C. Simonpietri/Sygma -- photographs
Clive Anderson -- photographs

UK/NET January 1977 RCA LP PL1-2030 lyric insert
US/CAN January 1977 RCA LP/8T CPL1/CPS1-2030  
JPN   RCA LP RVP-6154 lyric insert
UK   RCA LP INTS 5065  
UK/NET 1983 RCA LP/CD NL1/PD8-3856  
US 1983 RCA LP AYL1-3856  
US 1991 Rykodisc CDX/CSX RCD1/RACS 0142 digital remaster w. bonus tracks
EUR   Virgin CD 5219070 24-bit digital remaster
JPN 1999 EMI/Toshiba CD TOCP-65314 digital remaster


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