David Bowie

Christiane F. Wir Kinder

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A mid-'70s West German film about a 14 year old's descent into drug abuse, prostitution, and general sleaze led to this 1981 soundtrack, comprised entirely of previously released songs from David Bowie's "Thin White Duke" period. The bleak music of Bowie's collaborations with Brian Eno provides a fitting backdrop to the film, as his icy soul killer pose perfectly reflected the frozen and fragmented lives of Christiane and her gang: an "alternative family" taking respite in discos and underground train stations. Removed from that context, the album is still enjoyable for the sheer quality of the songs. Its primary appeal, of course, is to Bowie completists, who will gush over the relative rarities "Heroes/Helden" (Bowie shifting from English to German in mid-song) and a live version of "Station to Station," as well as some magnificently extensive liner notes recapping both the film and the songs. More casual yet devoted fans will be disappointed by the truncated "TVC-15" and "Stay" (the latter excising nearly all of Earl Slick's searing guitar pyrotechnics), but will gain some much-needed exposure to Eno's brand of atmospheric orchestration. Despite the melancholia of Eno's wordless contributions and the film's dark theme, there are moments of levity to be found in "TVC-15" and "Boys Keep Swinging"; that mix of darks and lights makes the soundtrack to Christiane F. -- which, tragically, did not see CD release until 2001 -- an intriguing listen for anyone who appreciates David Bowie's artistic output from the mid- to late '70s.

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