Unless you’ve been living under a rock, for those who have only seen/heard Bowie on TV ad’s, a TV series or on film soundtrack or know of his iconic Ziggy or on the defining as Let’s Dance look and albums that’s just scratching the surface. There’s so many stories of interest, the Berlin days, film career, countless collaborations, covers, charity work and anecdotes about his youth. If you want read about him there’s an endless amount of material out there. He’s always tired to set the trends, he’s always been edgy, arthouse and commercial but possibly his only hiccup was becoming too current and mainstream (if there’s such a thing) in the late 80s and early 90s. But as usual Bowie can reinvent himself. As well as an amazing back catalogue, there’s some great tracks on his last four albums spanning the 90’s to the noughties ‘Earthling’s ‘Little Wonder’, ‘I’m Afraid of Americans’, ‘Dead Man Walking’ to name a few. Hours is a corker with great videos and tracks. ‘Everyone says Hi’ on ‘Heathen’ and ‘Never get old’ on ‘Reality’ are classic Bowiesque in spirit.
Now apparently a ‘clean’ and sensible fellow at 66 and after a 10 year hiatus ‘The Next Day’ may be the most exciting thing Bowie’s done to date (and cleverly marketed too). Even streaming it for free for a limited time.
After listening to the stream of the whole album it sounds like pre-ordered money well spent. There’s catchy ground breaking tracks, tracks reminiscent of each decade gone by – where as many of the later albums have a produced thread running through them in style this is a mix of Bowie wearing the past on his sleeve in a serious yet more fun and surprising fashion.
Update: A few thoughts on the album after it release…
To be frank Bowie’s The Next Day is excellent – It’s less of a single concept album and encompasses all old and new Bowie across the tracks with some surprises thrown in for the hell of it..
Also the album cover is the ‘Heroes’ cover but with Heroes crossed out and a ‘sticker’ over it, so it’s sort of recycled. Quirky bold idea but what’s he got to lose?
The title Track ‘The Next Day’ and ‘If you can see me’ are probably the weakest tracks with latter being like an Earthling track with a touch of ‘Under Pressure’.
Naturally ‘The Stars’ is a stand out track with ‘Where are we now’ already feeling like a worn Bowie Track.
‘Love Lost’ is reminiscent of Cat People track Putting Out Fire with a Let’s Dance 80s sound. ‘How Does the Grass Grow’ has touches of ‘China Girl’.
‘Valentines Day’ – Bowie does Suede doing Bowie with a bit of ‘All Young Dudes’ thrown in for good measure.
‘Dirty Boys’ is excellent – hard hitting medium tempo with plenty of sax and guitar.
‘Heat’ is a ‘Heathen’ sounding track with some ‘Star Man’-like acoustics.
‘(You Will) Set the World on Fire’, His voice sounds great – like many of the tracks on this – Bowie sounds like his old ‘normal’ singing voice, with ‘You Feel So lonely, You Could Die’ similar in tone to a ‘Drive in Saturday’.
‘Boss of Me’ is really neat there’s loads of good ones here I won’t spoil it all.
It’s a real grower with more catchy track per binary digit than Hours, Reality and Heathen put together. It can’t be digested overnight either. There’s too much going on.
The three Bonus on the deluxe version for a change are a welcomed and are just that – a bonus. Oddly some of his best singing and a pace is on ‘I’ll take you there’.
Typically there’s a space track on there called ‘Dancing Out Of Space’ sort of like ‘Boys Keep Swinging.’
Tony Visconti is all over it. Which is a good thing.
Apparently Bowie’s fairly adamant he’s not going to perform this live so no tour – this may well be his last album and if it is, what a way to go out. Not bad considering his 2004 heart attack.
My only complaint is that there’s not a Laughing Gnome in sight…