Monday, March 4, 2013
David Bowie " The Next Day"
Well it's been worth the wait I had resigned myself that Reality was going to be his last studio album, so this was a surprise. The single I wasn't really wowed with and after listening to the album it seems like an even odder choice taking the other songs into consideration, but this David Bowie so who am I to call his marketing choices into question. One thing that is clear on this album and it supports something I have said before that when your favorite singer starts getting over the hill and you find yourself making excuses about their voice then it's time to listen to this album because it's clear cut as to why even to this day Bowie is one of the best Rock singers that ever was. Their at times is an aged delicacy to his voice , particularly when he goes into a voice that imitates the tenor of his youth and I would prefer him to use the more resonate baritone he uses on the "Lets Dance" which served as my entry point for him in the eighties , and he does pull it out to satisfy and over all his singing is superlative , despite not being active for almost a decade he knows where his voice is supposed to go and at 66 is aware of which strengths he needs to play up.
Production wise the album sounds pretty flawless, credit here goes to long time Bowie Producer Tony Visconti, who goes all the way back to "Space Oddity" and up to the 2003 "Reality" and as well as the Bowie album I think the bears the closest resemblance to "Scary Monsters". but this is not to say while it covers more ground stylistically its too far removed from "Reality" as it features retreads from the Heathen/reality era such as guitarists Earl Slick, Gerry Leonard and David Torn. As well the rythymn section of Gail Ann Dorsey and B52's drummer Zachary Alford.
The album kicks off with the manic tension of like a Joe the Lion, Bowie uses his lower more stacatto delivery with the pace picking up into a more almost Tin Machine feel, it's clear former Tori Amos session guitarist David Torn is filling the void left by Reeves Gabrels as he forms soundscapes out of elastic feedback.
There a Morphine like swagger to "Dirty Boys" another one that holds more in common with "I Can't Read" from the Tin Machine days. The guitars have that hollow metallic ring to them , yet here are juxtaposed by the warmer sax ound, the accent are rather " Fame " at time so it draws from all my favorite Bowie colors.
"The Stars are out Tonight" which is guess is the first official video for this album and I'll post it up here later. The song has the more post eighties Bowie feel. His voice sounds youthful and unhmapered by a decade of unuse. This is what I expect from for him the guitar lays back giving blues licks to the edges. It's smoothly crafted and Visconti really has an ear for detail even on a more straightforward Wong like this giving it a flawless sound.
You might forget unless reminded by the keyboards to "Love is Lost " that goth would not exist without Bowie. The drone of the bass and the keyboard darken it up, it makes me wish he had put this out when Iwas doing drugs as the lyrics would have been the perfect description of how I felt and perhaps Bowie is reflecting on his own Sodom and Gammorah he created back in Berlin. There's some interesting electronic accents added to the drums. So far these are my favorite lyrics on the albu,and I love the way the back ground vocals add to the subtle build, Peter Murphy step aside this is how it's done.
the languid lounge of " Where are we now" sounds like it was written on a rainy morning by an introspective Bowie sipping tea in his pajama's, a contrast from an album like Heroes which sounds like it was written in the back of a Limo in between lines of Coke.But this reflective ballad which underwhelmed me on the first listen, has now grown on me and i appreciate some of the subtle layers, there will be a morning where this is going to be the perfect soundtrack and this album reminds me how Bowie has provided the soundtrack to my life, he has been lthere for me often when I was too isolated within myself to interact with the real world and has had a comforting croon to substitute for a parent who always knew the right thing to say. I guess thats why I sometimes dont like to hear the delicacy of age that shadows his voice on a song like this is because I don't want to think of Bowie's mortality. I've lost enough people in my life and losing him would pull the emotional safety net out for under me , even in the last decade where all I have had is his body of work to live off of and well...Morrissey.
Another straight forward and fairly simplistic pop tune with coat of lo if grime on it " Valentine's Day " still works surprisingly well. Its on the happier side of what is an otherwise darker album than anything we have heard fromBowie since "Outside", the gears switch into almost prog on " If you can See Me" but with King Crimson bassist Tony Levi in the studio you can get as prog as you want. This song is experimental even for Bowie, it still holds his sound well but Icant pin it to any specific era. Regardless it's a great song.
It is strange for Bowieto look backward with the rather retro psychedelia of "I'd Rather Be High". Sure I have always know he was influenced by the Beatles and Stones and more than likely smoked more than his fair share of pot during that time period. In some ways there sn anti war undercurrent to this, which I have never though of Bowie as a passifist not that his music even in its harder moments aside from Under the God on the first Tin machine has a violent vibe, but I never took him for a hippy either one of the few songs that is still growing on me but all the sounds are there.
"the Boss of me " has different swagger to it than " Dirty Boys" it's not in as dark of an alley. The bridge out of the chorus pretty much wins me over on this one. With age I think the more sensual nature to what he does isn't thereof this was on " Young Americans" it would drip of sex and have more of a s&m undercurrent, here it kind Adele odd, but works in an asexual contemplation.
" Dancing Out in Space" kinda feels like its from the "Heathen" sessions , I like the vocals melodies here the weird rubbery guitar in the back ground is weird against the bass holding it down solidly like this is "Lust for Life"The chorus to how does the grass grow sounds like it was written to be a duet with the Muppets. but overall this songs doesn't sound like it would have been out of place on Scary Monsters and even all it's yayayas get stuck in my head and there's some great guitar work on this. In the last minute and a half what I think of as the classic Bowie baritone croon come out and like I told some one yesterday during initial listens I don't care what he does with his voices just wan to know he pulls it out as some point to prove to me he can still do it.
Wow , "Set the World on Fire" gets pretty heavy...not metal but on par with say Queens of the Stone Age , until the chorus. His voice is where I want it and I'm getting heavy guitar...check please I'm sold. When I listen to "You feel so Lonely You Could die " I know that in some hummus filled European hotel room Morrissey is listening to the same song and feels the same ways do about it. Bowie knows how to do a ballad. It still has the same swoon inducing majesty. I am at peace with knowing he's not going to tour again and I saw the last go around for him, ok I saw saw several times from 87 to 04 but I'm good with here these songs right as they are recorded.
The album closes with " Heat" it hangs on the simmer of bass as his voice creep over it .this feels like his only wink into the Nine inch Nails days of the mid nineties, I love Outside so I'm fine with that. This song is a slow crooned dark pondering, I. Not sure what prison or father he is referring to here I'll just assume it's all metaphor this is an interesting not to go out on but not sure where else it would have fit on the album so it's a very introspective goodbye.
Don't think I haven't really held this under a high powered microscope in my mind , don't take my word for it when I say I'm one of Bowie's biggest fans ask my friends who have had members of Bowie's band tell them that I am , o.k so there was that little thing where i kinda stalked him in the nineties, he was touring a lot I couldn't help myself . But I rating this album I was tough and it actually worked out that this album would have scored a half a point higher than a ten but since ten is the highest any album can get here it goes with one as to be able to sit next to the rest of Bowie's body of work in good standing it would have to have one as Bowie is incapable of making bad music he just went above and beyond the call of duty to prove it to himself this time and made this album because he can and really gives a shot whether it sells a single copy sincere doesn't care about the money.