First published in English in 2014, reprinted last year, and inevitably this year, this 184-page account comes hot off the presses, as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung journalist explores Bowie’s move from Los Angeles to Berlin in 1976.
It was, to say the least a fruitful time in the Jones lad’s career, yielding a trilogy of albums, namely Low, Heroes, and Lodger, the first two of which are stone-cold Bowie classics at this point, the third being somewhat neglected by all but diehard fans.
Anthony Mathews’ fluid translation takes the reader through Hansa studios for the making of the immortal music, where only beer was allowed during a drug detox period for Bowie. 1977 saw the beginning of formal estrangement between him and Angie and the couple divorced in 1980. Particular consideration is given to the friendship and collaboration with Iggy Pop, who lived at 155 Hauptstrasse which also became David’s abode. Brian Eno and Tony Visconti are also lead parts in the dramatis personae. It wasn’t just about music and the actor-musician was delighted to play the role of a Prussian aristocrat alongside Marlene Dietrich in the movie, Just a Gigolo.
While in Berlin, Bowie also tried to confront his own demons, bound up with ongoing drug-induced paranoia and identity crises, which, as ever, he channelled astutely - and bravely, it should be said - in the creative realm. The musician was not so interested in Punk – Punk Berlin-style certainly did not attract him – but he readily soaked up the influence of seminal, iconic bands like Neu!, Kraftwerk and Can. Music aside, his real fixation was with the city as artefact, its public art and its repository of great modern art and the work of Nolde and Heckel.
The musican had a veritable retinue following him around while living in LA, but in Berlin he could be relatively anonymous, moving about with a few select pals. The book comes with some fascinating illustrations, including the black-and-white photograph of Iggy Pop and Bowie celebrating Iggy’s 30th birthday on April 21, 1977 and a sultry portrait of his transsexual muse, Roma Haag, nestling close to the musician. An accessible read which can stand proud in the sure-to-expand Bowie bibliography.