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Album Art: David Bowie – Lodger

February 3, 2012

My exert from a new 405 feature by Will Slater – Album Art of the Month

It’s taken a while for Lodger to dismiss the cheap ideology that it was the runt of the so called ‘Berlin trilogy’, the final release (1979) in this iconic series, though iconoclastic types will dispute it ever really existed as such a series. The most Brian Eno fingerprinted of them all (he barely got to touch Low in all honesty), this post-Thin White Duke/post-cocaine Bowie album is one of the most experimental he procured and was alarmingly successful and focussed with it, bridging the gap between Neu!, reggae and Talking Heads (acting somewhat of precursor to them in fact).

But ah yes the album cover; it’s taken on a Polaroid SX-70 type camera with stale lighting, and then crudely blown-up out to create an amateurish low resolution effect. The image itself features Bowie on his back with limbs sodden and uncomfortably spread on the bathroom floor, nose broken, hand crocked. To see the whole picture you have to unfold the vinyl sleeve and open up; in it’s natural folded state one side sees his torso and the other just his mangled legs with text.

And once you do open up it gets weirder; photos of Che Guevara’s corpse, a couple of Omega wrist watches and Mantegna’s Lamentation over the Dead Christ to name but a few oddities. The explanation behind the cover from pop-artist visionary Derek Boshier is it’s homage to Roman Polanski’s film, The Tenant, a disturbing psychological thriller that contains crossover themes with Lodger. Fascinating, layered album art for an equally fascinating and layered album.

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