Lodger is the 13th studio album by English musician David Bowie, released on May 25, 1979 through RCA Records. After an eventful year that saw the release of two studio albums, Low and “Heroes”, and many other side projects in 1977, Bowie embarked on the Isolar II world tour in 1978. During a break in the tour, Bowie regrouped with collaborator Brian Eno and producer Tony Visconti to record his next album. The final release of the Berlin Trilogy, the album was recorded mainly at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland, in September 1978. Most of the same personnel from prior releases returned, and future King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew joined from the tour.
The recording sessions saw the use of techniques inspired by Eno’s Oblique Strategies cards, such as having the musicians swap instruments and play old songs backwards. After the Isolar II world tour, further recording and mixing took place at the Record Plant in New York City in March 1979. The music on Lodger is based in art rock and experimental rock, but lacks the electronic and ambient styles and the song/instrumental split that defined its two predecessors. Instead, it features more conventional song structures and explores styles such as avant-pop, world and new wave music. Lyrically, the album is divided into two major themes: travel (primarily side one) and critiques of Western civilisation (primarily side two). Pop artist Derek Boshier took the accompanying cover photo, portraying Bowie as an accident victim across the gatefold sleeve.
Lodger was a modest commercial success, peaking at number 4 on the UK Albums Chart and number 20 on the US Billboard Top LPs & Tape chart. It produced four singles, including the UK top 10 hit “Boys Keep Swinging”. Innovative music videos directed by David Mallet accompanied three of the four singles. The album initially received mixed reviews from music critics, many calling it the weakest of the Berlin Trilogy. Over the years, favourable critical reception has grown and it is now widely considered to be among Bowie’s most underrated albums. Its world music elements have been highlighted as particularly influential. Bowie and Visconti were dissatisfied with the album’s original mix and, in 2015, Visconti remixed the album with Bowie’s approval for inclusion on the 2017 box set A New Career in a New Town (1977–1982), along with a remaster of the original.
- “Fantastic Voyage” 2:55
- “African Night Flight” 2:54
- “Move On” 3:16
- “Yassassin” 4:10
- “Red Sails” 3:43
- “D.J.” 3:59
- “Look Back in Anger” 3:08
- “Boys Keep Swinging” 3:17
- “Repetition” 2:59
- “Red Money” 4:17
David Bowie – lead and background vocals; synthesiser (4); piano (1, 6); Chamberlin (6); guitar (8, 10)
Brian Eno – ambient drone (1); prepared piano and cricket menace (2); guitar treatments (5); synthesizers (5, 7); horse trumpet and eroica horn (7); piano (8); backing vocals (4)
Tony Visconti – mandolin (1); guitar (3–4); bass guitar (8); backing vocals (1, 3–4, 7–8, 10)
Adrian Belew – mandolin (1); guitar (3, 5–6, 8–10)
Carlos Alomar – guitar (2–7, 9–10); drums (8); backing vocals (4)
Dennis Davis – drums (1, 4–6, 9–10); percussion (2–3, 7); bass guitar (8); backing vocals (4)
George Murray – bass guitar (all but track 8); backing vocals (4)
Sean Mayes – piano (1–3, 5, 7)
Simon House – mandolin (1); violin (4–5, 8–9); backing vocals (4)
Roger Powell – synthesizers (9–10)
Stan Harrison – saxophone (5)