David Bowie's lifestyle in mid-70s Los Angeles was killing him, physically and psychologically. Negative media attention, drug addiction, paranoia and a body weight of around 80 pounds were reason enough for a change. Bowie grabbed his pal, Iggy Pop - also suffering from a bad drug habit - and headed to Europe to find a sanctuary to recover and create new music far from the watchful eye of the press.
Thomas Jerome Seabrook's Bowie In Berlin: A New Career In A New Town gives an in-depth account of Bowie's musical rebirth centered around his time in Berlin, France and Switzerland from 1976-1979. This time period was Bowie's most prolific. Not only did he release Low, "Heroes" and Lodger, toured twice (once as a sideman for Iggy), co-wrote and produced two albums for Iggy Pop - The Idiot and Lust For Life - but also managed to star in a film, "Just A Gigolo."
Seabrook meticulously guides us through each of the Bowie and Iggy albums, song by song. This book is a rare gem for the diehard Bowie fan, because it focuses on just a 3-year period of his 40+ year career. The pages are filled with an abundance of trivia, including the birth of the 'Lust For Life' riff, which Bowie wrote on a ukulele after hearing a Morse code broadcast on the U.S. Armed Forces News Bulletin. It's also revealed that Iggy Pop was once considered as a replacement for Jim Morrison in The Doors.
While there may be a few moments of questionable details - describing the 4 chord progression that makes up Iggy's 'The Passenger' as a 2 chord riff - overall, Seabrook's accounts are thoroughly researched. Jawbone Press does a fantastic job on the layout, beginning with a collection of rare photos, including my favorite - a pic of Bowie and Iggy waiting to catch a train in Copenhagen.
I definitely had a hard time putting this one down. Much praise goes to Seabrook for his thorough look into Bowie's late 70s creative renaissance.
Jawbone Press - Published in April 2008 - 272 pages