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David Bowie – The Next Day
Label: ISO Records – 88765 46186 2, Colombia – 88765 46186 2
Format: CD, Vinyl, Download
Released: March 2013
Genre: Rock, Pop
How do you start a review of a David Bowie album? do I go over his four decade career? straight away that begs the question, are there any music lovers alive in the western world who have never heard a Bowie song? A man such as David Bowie should really need no introduction as his contribution to modern Pop and Rock is undoubtedly immense, so at 66 what is Bowie doing putting out another album when he has achieved so much? Love of making music would be my simplistic guess. Though I will get this out of the way first, as someone who was subjected to David Bowie being played regularly in my house when I was in my formative years, I have never warmed to his music but I’ve always appreciated the talent behind the music and thats how I’m coming to this new album “The Next Day” as an admirer rather than a fan, also I happen to be from the same area Bowie grew up in, our junior schools were half a mile apart and our childhood houses were one mile apart, so I’m reviewing a album from a bloke from literally, my manor, thats a first for me.
The first thing that you notice though is the rehashed cover of one of Bowie’s most loved albums “Heroes” so I’m guessing with the title “The Next Day” thats it is a bit of a follow up to one of his most coveted albums? Is it finishing off outtakes and unfinished material from that session? Well on first listen you could be forgiven for thinking that this is typical “Bowie” faire, you know the slightly awkward melodies the indecipherable lyrics, this time though it is all done in a mature way, a way of a man who has honed his crafted over those four decades from his shy Ziggy Stardust alter ego to posturing Modern Romantic to experimentalist. The opener, the title track “The Next Day” could well come from any Bowie era really, it is a standard Pop/Rock workout with of course added Bowieness. The next track “Dirty Boys” shows some signs of Bowie’s experimental side and is an off kilter Jazz/Rock affair with piercing Sax, wobbly keys and ethereal guitar waves combining to make a more interesting track than the first.
Its not until the released single “Where Are We Now” until we hear a change of pace with a slower more ethereal and solemn track with Bowies vocals more prominent showing his voice has aged as he’s singing in a higher pitch than on previous songs, though to be honest its holding up as you’d have thought it would have died by now with David being a heavy smoker for most of those four decades. So this is how the albums goes from now on with standard Bowie up tempo Pop/Rock songs interspersed with more experimental tracks such as the Prog Rock inspired “If You Can See Me” with angular chord changes and synth washes throughout its 3:13 length. Other tracks like “Boss Of Me” and “I’d Rather Be high” have a Brit pop/Baggy feel with a more full on Rock track in “(You Will) Set The World On Fire” also the album ends with the modern Scott Walker inflected “Heat” which caught me slightly off guard compared to the rest of the album.
Overall its quite an eclectic collection of songs but it never moves to far from Bowies Pop/Rock core sound so unless you are new to Bowie (there must be someone out there) you’ll probably will not find anything “out there” or as radical on here as you would have with the original Heroes in 1977 and thus conclude whats all the fuss about this Bowie guy?. “The Next Day” is a well recorded, tight, upbeat, inimitably David Bowie album that fans I’m sure will love especially as Bowie has had some health problems in recent years. So for fans I imagine any album is better than no album but unless you’ve been living in a cave there is nothing here that will excite those new to Bowie, I’d point them to his earlier 70’s output like the afrorementioned “Heroes” but start with say “The Man Who Sold The World” from 1970 and head towards “Scary Monsters” released in 1980, which still to this day are a testaments to the diversity of mainstream music in that era, albums that would be deemed as too “far out” for mainstream consumption these days but were applauded for such creativity when they were released, then I think you’ll appreciate this album on a much deeper level. As for me? I still do not connect with David Bowie’s music but then what do I know about good music eh!
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I knew nothing of this artist before this arrived for review, just a vague feeling I had listened to something by him on Spotify once.