For an RCA Records US-only promo released in 1978, the intriguing Bowie Now is a surprisingly fine album-track selection of Berlin-era Bowie material and originally something of a rare artefact. The purpose of this record was to draw attention of the all-powerful US radio station programmers to Bowie’s masterful Berlin work.
Re-released for its first commercial release 40 years later on Record Store Day in 2018, the tracks are drawn from the ground-breaking Low and “Heroes” albums, and audio remastered from the A New Career In A New Town box set released in 2017. The handsome package features a newly designed inner sleeve with rarely seen black and white images taken in Berlin in 1977 by Corrine Schwab.
Bowie Now (1978) mp3
1-1 V-2 Schneider (3:10)
Bowie’s tribute to Kraftwerk’s Florian Schneider…splendidly demented…check Bowie’s multi-tracked saxophones.
1-2 Always Crashing in the Same Car (3:26)
Bowie’s evocation of a dream is a powerfully recurring foreboding of DOOM!!…anticipation of violence and imminent disaster…Ricky Gardener’s seering guitar riffs excite.
1-3 Sons of the Silent Age (3:15)
“All I see is all I know“…fragmented lyrics are a juxtaposition of traditional chorus with a cut-up William Burroughs-style verse.
1-4 Breaking Glass (1:42)
Urban time bomb set to self-destruct…”You’re such a wonderful person, but you got problems“…love/pain relationship captures the dark side of contemporary soul.
1-5 Neukoln (4:34)
An area in Berlin where Turks live in very bad ghetto conditions…an isolated community unnervingly and vividly surreal…instrumental impressionism…Eastern sounds…Bowie blows outrageous sax…jazz riffs above Eno’s glacial overture of rising chords.
2-1 Speed of Life (2:45)
It seems that Bowie has changed his motivation for running through life at breakneck speed…self-confidence rather than paranoia is the driving force…intergalactic roller rink music…life in the fast lane?…theme song for the New Wave.
2-2 Joe the Lion (3:05)
Compassion for people and the desperate situations they’ve gotten into..illustration of future panic and social disintegration…”Nail me to my car, and I’ll tell you who you are“…Christ-like madman haunting the late-nite spots with murder and terror in mind (Son of Sam? Boston Strangler?)…breathlessly psychotic…song runs at 4 or 5 speeds simultaneously.
2-3 What in the World (2:20)
Confused generation in search of a cause…radical dreams…realpolitik…”What in the World Can I do?”
2-4 Blackout (3:50)
Inspired by newspaper accounts of New York’s own…mental failure, emotional breakdown…”Get me off the streets, get me on my feet“…”Nothing to lose, nothing to gain“…
2-5 Weeping Wall (3:25)
Walls of sound envelop the listener with layers of rising and falling pitch, volume, and emotion…electronic masterpiece sets the tone for “Low“…all instruments played by Bowie.
2-6 The Secret Life of Arabia (3:35)
Unashamedly romantic yet tongue-in-cheek.