If you walked into a record store 40 years ago this week, Low was in the L rack, and no one was ready for it. But if you took this album home and dropped the needle, then less than an hour later you might wonder if you had been waiting for this one all your life. And as deliberately other-worldly as this master work is, it offers a sampler platter of pop music tropes and elements.
Take “Breaking Glass.” At the 21 second mark it drops a funk groove like they
invented “groove” that day, or funk the day before. Not surprising
considering who’s at bass, drums, etc. That was some lineup. It cries out for an
extended mix and Soul Train line dance, but it’s really just an interlude, as
so many songs on Low seem to be. Seriously, the very first track starts in
I do like that moment here when Bowie goes full Anthony
Newley with the vocals, and it’s intriguing that the lyrics offer very
straightforward commands (“Listen!” “See!”) to foreshadow
“Sound and Vision,” the song after next on this side. But holy cow
nothing on the first side foreshadowed side 2, an electronic soundscape that
functioned as a portal to outer galaxies (or inner dimensions). And largely
speaking, nothing in music that decade was a lead-in to this amazing work,
which was a pop-cultural line of demarcation when it was released. It became a veritable aesthetic touchstone almost instantly, maybe within the next year. I
will have plenty to ramble on about this album the next few days, and I hope a
lot of other folks will too.
The ladies (and gentlemen) of the Soul Train line dance. High waist jeans, satin disco pants, long silk tunics with harem pants and platform shoes, tear drop skirts, three-piece suits and a man leading his lady on the dance floor.
Oh how groovy! Soul train was the American bandstand of Soul. Hosted by Don Cornelius, there were many performances by people like Chaka Kahn. And you certainly can’t leave out the dancing! I watched an old dance off from Soul Train, no wonder dancing is a workout…there were lunges and turns, back leg lifts, arm exercises, jumps and a few things I haven’t figured out how to explain. Go look it up, see for yourself.