“I demand a better future” – Better Future / David Bowie

בקטגוריות: Uncategorized

29 Sep 2002

…and I got it.

It starts with the age-old (or, more precisely, two-decades-old) saying – “all bands go bad when they release an album in the 80’s”.
It’s been practically an axiom for rock and prog fans, with the titans of the 70’s entering the 80’s at less than top form.
Pink Floyd, many said, were never the same in the 80’s, after Waters split.
Yes released several horrid albums in that decade.
Jethro Tull, I hear, released some pretty crappy ones.
King Crimson’s 80’s albums, some proclaim, are horrible. (I strongly disagree, but that’s a different story), and I won’t even talk about Bowie.

Or, actually, I will talk about Bowie.

For many die-hard rock fans, Bowie’s last great album was 1980’s “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)”. Hard-edged rock, with a claustrophobic quality and the vicious edge of Robert Fripp’s guitar loops, preparation for his 1981 Crimson rebirth with the hypnotic “Discipline” (But that, as I said, is another story).

After “Scary Monsters”, Bowie closed his doors for a few years. Lennon’s death in 1980 kept him quiet for a while, and “Let’s Dance” only came out in 1983. “Let’s Dance” was the start of the end, for many of the fans. It was a turning point in his music. The 80’s had hit Bowie as well – pop-ish, synthesizers and the works. I admit not being familiar with most of it, but the tracks I do know – “Modern Love”, “China Girl” and “Let’s Dance”, while being very different from earlier Bowie, were still not bad – as hard as it may be to admit it. Then again, “Early Bowie” is also very different from itself, album from album, so it’s just another step. The problem is that the next steps were even harder to swallow. “Tonight” and “Never Let Me Down” were, indeed, a let-down for fans.

So let’s skip the 80’s. Over to the retro-loving rock-reviving 90’s. What have we here? “Black Tie White Noise” – again, I don’t know it personally, but after that (quite a few years) we have Outside (or, more properly 1. Outside. #2 was never released, though it’s tentatively named “Contamination”). Outside was… different. Long expected, and very strange. Going heavily on the art-design, it was very stylized and not particularly pleasing, in my opinion. It had some good tracks (“Outside”, “I Have Not Been to Oxford Town” and the successfully-remixed “Hallo Spaceboy”), but all in all it was a disappointment.
Two years later, the 90’s are drawing to a close, and out comes “Earthling”. Again, a change of style. A lot more electronic, and lot more active – though it, too, never clicked with me. The single from it, “Little Wonder”, was great though.
And again, we waited two years. The millenium approaches, and in 1999 we have “Hours…”, hailed by the starry-eyed empty-headed music media as “Hunky Dory for the 90’s”, for simple reason that it had quiet songs.
Now “Hours…” showed promise. “Seven” was a good single, and “Thursday’s Child” not a bad one either, but still – it wasn’t a bad album, but it wasn’t Bowie, in all his grandeur. We were giving up hope, beginning to accept the fact that yes, he was Ziggy, but that is in the past. Lament for the Thin White Duke.
And then, a small surprise came to us around the end of the year 2000. A new compilation was released, “Bowie at the Beeb”, covering 5 years of BBC recording in the late 60’s and early 70’s – among the most wonderful of his songs. Along with that boxed set came a bonus disc, a live performance at the BBC Radio Theater, June 27th 2000. So you put the album on, and from the very first sounds you go “Whoa. What’s this? Is this the tired, old Bowie of the end of the century? This kicks ass! This rocks! This, my friends, is BOWIE”.
It’s Bowie doing his classics as well as his new material, and he does it WELL. It swells your heart with joy to hear, and you get your hopes up that maybe, just maybe his next album will be as good as the classics.
And again, two years pass. 2002 is solidly in and out comes “Heathen”, beautifully designed with a suited-up Bowie, by now well over 50, staring back as if possessed from the cover. A quick glance at the back – my God, he’s covering Pixies?! Will it… can it be…

It can. It will. It is.

With “Heathen”, Bowie shakes off the dust and gets back to form. Heathen is a wonderful album. It rocks, it rumbles, it does the whole deal. It’s got covers a-plenty (Pixies, Neil Young, Legendary Stardust Cowboy) and plenty of excellent new material. I won’t get into pointless arguments the lines of “Is it better than Scary Monsters” or “How does it compare with Aladdinsane”. They’re of no use. I’ll just say that it’s a great Bowie album, on par with “StationToStation” or “Space Oddity”.

Two singles came out by now – “Slow Burn”, accompanied by The Who’s lead guitarist, Pete Townshend, came accompanied by 3 new b-sides, all Bowie-written tracks not on the album, all of them (surprisingly enough) GOOD. Not a half-written schtick or a pointless album by-product among them. A fifth track on the single is “You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving”, which I’ll get to in a moment.
The second single, “Everyone Says ‘Hi'”, came out a few days ago. The version I have (the ‘net claims there quite a few different prints) has one new track – “Safe”, one remix of an album track – “Sunday”, with a rather pointless remix – and another track, “Baby Loves That Way”.
This track, along with the aforementioned “You’ve Got A Habit Of Leaving” were written by Bowie (then still called by his birth-name, David Jones) in 1965 and released as a single by “Davy Jones (and the Lower Third)”, one of Bowie’s earliest bands. In these singles, he re-recorded those oldies. I don’t know how the originals went (There are SO many compilations of his pre-70’s work around, all overlapping, that I never bothered to get one) but the versions here are pretty good. A blast from the past for the real collectors who already know them, I guess.

There. That’s the end of my Heathen explosion. Glad to have it off my chest. Go buy it. Have fun.

P.S. The song in the subject line is, of course, from Heathen. Good song. Go listen.

3 תגובות על
“I demand a better future” – Better Future / David Bowie

Avatar

lukkke

29 בSeptember, 2002 בשעה 10:22

You convinced me…

I’ll get myself a copy ASAP.

Avatar

Anonymous

24 בNovember, 2002 בשעה 03:01

I bought this disc because of this post

And it’s cool. Like a Bowie record from an alternate timeline, where “Never Let Me Down” never happened.

– Dotan

Avatar

אקלקטיקה אהובתי » מיומנו של חובב The The בעל כורחו

10 בApril, 2013 בשעה 13:33

[…] יוציא רק אלבומים גרועים” שבר לי דיוויד בואי, ב-2002, עם Heathen המצוין, אבל עוד ב-2000, The The היו במקום הנכון בזמן הנכון – להקה […]

טופס תגובות

פעם היה לי לייבג'ורנל. עכשיו הוא כאן, מגובה.

פוסטים