A New Career in a New Town (1977-1982) (Rhino / Parlophone)
Reviewed by Lauren Modery, Fri., Dec. 8, 2017
By 1977, the Thin White Duke was dead, David Bowie having ditched his cocaine-ravaged body somewhere in Los Angeles before setting out to find a new identity in West Berlin by way of Switzerland.
Rather than finding another creature to hide behind – Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane – Bowie found Bowie. And this Bowie bustled with inspiration fueled by his newfound love for German synth-pop and his friends Iggy Pop and Brian Eno. In five short years, he pumped out A New Career in a New Town, most of it moody and atmospheric, and not exactly radio-friendly.
Third in a chronological series, the latest 11-CD or 13-LP set includes some of the Brit's most unique and challenging work – Low, Heroes, Lodger, and Scary Monsters – which have all been remastered. Added to the lot is Bowie's rendition of Bertolt Brecht's Baal for the first time on CD, a remaster of his 1978 live album Stage, and several singles and B-sides, including a French and German rendition of "Heroes." A 128-page booklet with photos from Anton Corbijn and Helmut Newton completes the package.
For the fair-weather Bowie fan, his Berlin years are probably the least favorite next to Tin Machine, but to the rabid appreciator, this time frame is arguably one of his best. To that latter demographic, a word of warning: Consumer feedback alleges CD quality issues with complaints of volume dips and lack of clarity. The label addressed one of these issues by offering replacement discs for Heroes (www.davidbowie.com/news/heroes-album-update-57416).
While A New Career doesn't garner the same accolades as predecessors Five Years (1969-1973) and Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976), it's still a comprehensive view into a pivotal time in the artist's life and career. To truly understand David Bowie, his Berlin period remains absolutely crucial.