The Second Disc

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Zeit! EMI to Package Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy Together

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Bowie ZeitThere’s no shortage of reminders of the greatness of David Bowie, from his acclaimed comeback album The Next Day to the forthcoming remaster of Aladdin Sane for its 40th anniversary. Soon, EMI will provide yet another reminder, with the release of Zeit! 77-79, a budget-oriented collection of the famed albums of Bowie’s so-called “Berlin Trilogy.”

While the designation of Bowie’s Low“Heroes” and Lodger as the Berlin Trilogy is a bit inaccurate – only “Heroes” was recorded in the West German capital – these three albums taken together represent an important phase – if not the most important – in Bowie’s multifaceted career. Escaping to West Berlin to try to shake the cocaine addiction that plagued him terribly (he later admitted no memory of even recording 1976’s Station to Station), Bowie found himself working with longtime collaborator Tony Visconti as well as Brian Eno of Roxy Music, who influenced the direction of the album’s second side, a longer, mostly instrumental affair. (The album’s first side featured shorter, introspective songs that were influenced by bands like Kraftwerk and Neu!)

A critically divisive album at first, Low was nonetheless a success on both sides of the Atlantic, buoyed by the U.K. Top 5 single “Sound and Vision.” Follow-up disc “Heroes” saw Bowie slowly but surely breaking free of his demons, working in largely the same style as Low, again with Visconti and Eno (as well as guitarist Robert Fripp), to create one of his most indelible works. The third Bowie-Visconti-Eno disc, Lodger, continued the themes of experimentation (band members swapped instruments and Bowie inverted previously successful chord progressions to craft new tunes), but its slightly more commercial structure did not immediately catch on with critics, even with singles like “D.J.” and “Boys Keep Swinging.” Popular consensus, however, was strengthening around Bowie, somewhat setting the stage for a major commercial revival in the next decade.

Zeit! will package the “current versions” of these three studio albums together; alas, said versions lack the bonus material of previous releases on the Rykodisc label in the early 1990s. However, the box will also feature Stage, Bowie’s 1978 double-disc live album recorded on the “Isolar II” tour in support of “Heroes.” Although the band was praised for emulating the complex studio creations of the Berlin albums in a live setting, the sterile mix (devoid of crowd noise) and cut-up running order was not as well-received. However, as EMI are utilizing the current versions of these albums, we should be receiving in Zeit! the 2005 edition of the album, resequenced and featuring three bonus tracks (one of which was heard on the 1991 Rykodisc pressing of the album).

Release dates and further information about Zeit! have yet to be revealed, but they will be posted as received. (Thanks to MusicTAP‘s Matt Rowe and others for passing this one along!)

Written by Mike Duquette

March 25, 2013 at 11:24

6 Responses

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  1. The “current” remasters of low, lodger and heroes are from 1999…the least appreciated/loathed issues. $$$$$ and more $$$$$. Hopefully the 40th anniversary re-issues will arrive.


    April 25, 2013 at 16:50

  2. I can confirm that this box consists of the very same (artwork, booklet, everything) 1999-remaster jewel case CDs (for the studio albums), plus the 2005 jewel case edition of Stage.
    All housed in a cheap, flimsy cardboard box – no extra tracks, no extra booklet, no anything.

    So, if you already own the 1999 remasters and 2005’s Stage, you already own this set.
    That is, apart from the flimsy, cheap outer box.


    May 14, 2013 at 05:17

    • Does the side of the CDs have the pictures of Bowie on the top? You know, on the labeling.


      July 11, 2013 at 02:47

  3. This seems more like a way for EMI to move old stock before any anniversary editions and cashing in on Bowie’s new album. Give us the 5.1 dvd mix of Low and Heroes please. The Stage 5.1 was wonderful as was the incredible Station to Station and Ziggy mixes. We could do with similar releases for Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogsand since we missed out on 40th anniversary editions of Man Who Sold the World ( if ever there was an album that would work in dvdaudio/dts even in stereo that was it) and Hunky Dory you can add them to the list.

    Allan Calleja

    May 20, 2013 at 23:33

  4. @Dylan,
    Yes, as I said these are nothing but the 1999 remasters… so they do have the tiny pictures on top of the spine. Except for Stage of course, for which they used the 2005 edition.

    They probably had to move a bunch of those old reissues (let’s remember that at the present time these titles lay in clearance bins of stores around the world) so they might have thought – Hey, what a great idea, let’s put them as-they-are in a cheap box and let’s sell this as a “Berlin-era” set.
    I do believe this is just what happened…


    July 13, 2013 at 04:06

    • Good. Thanks for responding!!


      July 17, 2013 at 23:59

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