With the recent passing of the great David Bowie, writing this review has, inevitably taken on a different perspective for me.
Written by: Explorer
ARTIST: David Bowie
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: David Bowie – vocals, acoustic guitar * Donny McCaslin – flute, saxophone, woodwinds * Ben Monder – guitar * Jason Lindner – piano, organ, keyboards * Tim Lefebvre – bass * Mark Guiliana – drums, percussion
TRACK LISTING: 01 Blackstar * 02 ‘Tis A Pity She Was A Whore * 03 Lazarus * 04 Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime) * 05 Girl Loves Me * 06 Dollar Days * 07 I Can’t Give Everything Away
WEBLINKS: Site Link
With the recent passing of the great man, writing this review has, inevitably taken on a different perspective for me. I had plans to review ‘Blackstar’ anyway, but it now does seem all the more appropriate for GDM to pass comment on this, his last album and with his position within the history of rock now truly cemented as iconic.
Recorded, very much like his last album ‘The Next Day’ in near perfect secrecy, Bowie this time round used musicians from a progressive jazz background to fulfil his need of what he wanted for the sound of ‘Blackstar’.
I would argue that the songs on ‘Blackstar’ (a relatively loose term for this album) are on a par with his most engaging and experimental work since his glorious ‘Berlin’ trilogy. The music on offer here seems to be more like sketches which have then been woven together to make up a bigger picture.
From the jarring opening sequence of the title track which then segues into the most beautiful melody half way through all the way to the final strains of ‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’, the quality is undeniable. The title track at nearly 10 minutes in length captures the listener’s imagination throughout and coupled with its eerie video it will live long in the memory.
‘Lazarus’ sees Bowie half singing, half speaking the lyrics on top of a haunting, moving backdrop. Bowie till the end had an unerring sense of melody and knew how to get the maximum impact out of the musicians around him. Throughout Bowie’s vocals are as usual wonderful, particularly on ‘Dollar Days’ and the busy ‘Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)’.
Also, it’s worth mentioning Bowie’s long standing producer Tony Visconti who yet again oversees the album and compliments perfectly Bowie’s vision. It’s rumoured that there were also other songs that had been worked on during Bowie’s last burst of activity and if they are of this quality, it would be a crime for them to remain unreleased.
Since his passing there has much conjecture and analysis over the lyrical content of the album and whether or not it was Bowie saying goodbye. I for one am not going to join in with this debate. The only person who really knows the meaning behind the words on this album is Bowie himself.
What he has left the world with is an album that poses as many questions as it answers, and Bowie leaves behind a legacy that, and rightly so, has been lauded as genius.
The day before David Bowie’s death I had a FB conversation with George here from GDM and commented that the album was strange, but strangely compelling, which could sum up his whole career really, he was indeed at times strange but his music was always compelling. The world is a less good place without David Bowie in it.
Finally, and I don’t think I’m overstating his importance, here was man who not only changed music but changed the way we questioned everyday conventions and also, speaking from a personal viewpoint he touched my life at time when as a curious teenager back then was seeking answers and looking for a direction. I miss him.