― queen biatch (queen biatch), Tuesday, 21 March 2006 12:02 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Tuesday, 21 March 2006 12:08 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Frederic T., Tuesday, 21 March 2006 12:26 (7 years ago) Permalink
Yes...Tonight has two good singles, and Never Let Me Down is simply fantastic - one of Bowie's best 5 records.
― Dr. C (Dr. C), Tuesday, 21 March 2006 12:30 (7 years ago) Permalink
Bowie's "recovery" came with Buddha Of Suburbia. Even then it has been a weak recovery. Not one of his more recent output can really be favourably be compared with Station To Station, Ziggy, Low et al. Outside, Earthling, Heathen - they're all about half good or less, each with 3 or 4 good tracks. Hours and Reality have even less. Maybe Bowie needs to do a Scott Walker, go away for ten years then hit us over the head with some wild liminal thang.
― Humberto C. Antunes, Tuesday, 21 March 2006 12:42 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Tuesday, 21 March 2006 12:58 (7 years ago) Permalink
― willem -- (willem), Tuesday, 21 March 2006 13:13 (7 years ago) Permalink
**What on earth could they have found to fill up an extra CD?**
I used to have this, but can't remember any specifics other than the fact that it was absolutely terrible.
― Dr. C (Dr. C), Tuesday, 21 March 2006 13:28 (7 years ago) Permalink
What do you think are Bowie's best 5 records, Dr. C?
― queen biatch (queen biatch), Tuesday, 21 March 2006 13:35 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Tuesday, 21 March 2006 21:48 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Emily B (Emily B), Tuesday, 21 March 2006 23:31 (7 years ago) Permalink
ZiggyLowLodgerDiamond DogsNever Let Me Down
― Dr. C (Dr. C), Wednesday, 22 March 2006 12:39 (7 years ago) Permalink
You honest-to-god believe Never Let Me Down is better than Heroes, Station To Station or Hunky Dory?
― John FR, Wednesday, 22 March 2006 12:43 (7 years ago) Permalink
― bham, Wednesday, 22 March 2006 12:45 (7 years ago) Permalink
― John FR, Wednesday, 22 March 2006 12:52 (7 years ago) Permalink
the album proper though has been revisited several times in the last few years (twas that article on stylus did it) and i reckon its a 'grower'.
neither good nor bad but somewhere in between ..
― mark e (mark e), Wednesday, 22 March 2006 13:26 (7 years ago) Permalink
Hunky Dory - 7Ziggy Stardust - 5 (never got into it)Aladdin Sane - 8 ("time falls wanking to the floor" he crooned, just as my dad came in from work)Diamond Dogs - 8Young Americans - 4 (never got into this either)Station To Station - 7Low - 10 (beginning of time)Heroes - 6 (the Amnesiac to Low's Kid B)Lodger - 6 (only when set next to Fear Of Music)Scary Monsters - 7
― Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Wednesday, 22 March 2006 13:45 (7 years ago) Permalink
For better or worse, we here at Stylus, in all of our autocratic consumer-crit greed, are slaves to timeliness. A record over six months old is often discarded, deemed too old for publication, a relic in the internet age. That's why each week at Stylus, one writer takes a look at an album with the benefit of time. Whether it has been unjustly ignored, unfairly lauded, or misunderstood in some fundamental way, we aim with On Second Thought to provide a fresh look at albums that need it.
It might not be the most loathed Bowie solo album, that would probably be 87’s Never Let Me Down, but it’s definitely one of the most ignored. The casual Bowie historian will tell you it’s just a transitional album between the Tin Machine debacle and the semi solid creative footing of The Buddha of Suburbia. But this is Bowie slowly flexing his creative muscles after a five album run of crap; stirring from the between the sheets of wanting to be seen as a popular working artist and a relevant one. The magnificent album title conjured up images of sharp suits and feedback, a lean Afghan Whigs with an EVOL era Sonic Youth obsession, yet obviously never deliver on this imaginary non existent promise. Now I come to think of it, And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead were supposed to be delivering that, and they didn’t bother either.
Black Tie White Noise was most certainly not a bid for commercial success from Bowie and Nile Rogers a la their Let’s Dance collaboration; Rogers is adamant he was offering Bowie much stronger arrangements and catchier hooks, but Bowie refused them wanting to stick to his own vision of the album. Bowie uses Rogers here as both a PR (the boys who brought you “Modern Love” are back!) adrenaline shot and a rhythmic foil (never his strong point), but the closest the pair get to the “Lets Dance” era sound is the vague resemblance found on the cover of “I Feel Free”. But the song doesn’t gel with the dancefloor at all as its just too glib, even the enjoyment found in Mick Ronson’s noisily unfastened playing and Bowie’s own dissonant saxophone can’t shake any more excitement out of the song. Despite this and one other minor setback (the schmaltzy Don’t let me Down and Down has the aura of the theme from Moonlighting), he’s pulled together a strong batch of songs and, as usual, brought the best from the players around him. He cajoles exceptional performances all over the album from Lester Bowie, whose idiosyncratically musical style fills the role normally played by Mike Garson. In fact they go marvellously head to head on “Looking for Lester” on which they ride back and forth over firm percussion.
The idea of this being any sort of wedding concept album lays only in the opening instrumental “The Wedding” and closer “The Wedding Song”; lulling you in and out of the album with same music. On first listen it’s just treated saxophone over a plain old housey piano line and bass, but as the layers build the duelling sax lines begin to resemble the Adhan call with Church of England wedding bells ringing underneath; a subtle mash-up of cultural heritages. Another spiritually themed but unrelated piece is “Pallas Athena” with its martial strings, tribal chants and single lyric ‘god is on top of it all, and that’s’ voiced by a creepily deep Bowie.
Centrepiece of the album is unavoidably “Jump They Say” which ricochets from a faulty drum intro into an all conquering single. A squashed backwards horn loop competes with his wailing saxophone on this thoroughly modern sounding, sweeping, energetic track. Signalling a return to lyrical cut ups it switches around between Biblical waffle, Poe imagery and conversational snatches, there is a malignant edge to his twin high/low vocal lines.
Bowie’s penchant for covers gets exercised, and the two here are well referenced in Bowie’s current and past influential appeal. Morrissey’s “I know it’s Gonna Happen Someday” is in essence Bowie covering Morrissey impersonating Bowie and is given the Gospel choir, full voiced Bowie treatment, and is far superior to the original. A great echoing piano sound is somewhat marred though by Wild T. Springer’s guitar solo which is a little too cocaine Clapton for my taste. Scott Walker’s “Nite Flights” is a rebranding of the original which was influenced by Bowie and Eno’s late Seventies work; quirky squeaks, spaceship engine drones and an energy of fake modernity with only the beats grounding the song, his Walkeresque harmonising with himself recalls his Tilt.
The Walker shadow looms again with the hum of the dark storm clouds on the introduction to “You’ve been Around”, its vocal stylings and self harmonies are very similar to those on Walker’s own Tilt and predate it by two years; the cycle continues. The brisk synthetic upright bassline is typical Rogers, a signature sound as part of his strict well marshalled funk. There’s even a nod to the past with the line ‘You’ve changed me….ch ch ch ch ch changed’.
Its the most commercial tracks on Black Tie White Noise that take the most crap, the poppy “Miracle Goodnight” (driven by a call and response trumpet and chorus of Davids’ that’s surprisingly cheery) and of course the title track. There is always much hilarity at even the mere mention of Al B Sure!’s name and his duet on the title track (scurrilously slagged as a post LA Riot “Ebony and Ivory”) is late night modern soul with a great mono wah-wah intro and the other Bowie’s outstanding trumpet. It can be, and will be, viewed as the vaguely cheesy ramblings of a middle aged man, but its becoming a rarity to hear someone touch upon that subject without being aggressive or dismissive.
This would’ve been a far more esoteric, enjoyable and universally accepted collection if Rodgers hadn’t been involved at all, leaving Bowie to fully realise the darker edges. Black Tie White Noise is much more than a step in the right direction and deserves your re-acquaintance.
― queen biatch (queen biatch), Wednesday, 22 March 2006 13:48 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Wednesday, 22 March 2006 13:56 (7 years ago) Permalink
OK, here's my rundownHunky Dory - 8: the first Bowie album to really hit the nail on the head, there's really not a lot wrong with this. I even like Kooks.Ziggy Stardust - 8: I never liked It Ain't Easy, but lately even that's been growing on me.Aladdin Sane - 6: not quite as solid. Title track superb, time wanking on the floor is just a bit too histrionically camped up, the Stones cover is a low point Diamond Dogs - 8: title track a bit too plodding, Rebel Rebel is good but doesn't really fit with the rest of the album. Sweet Thing is an all-time career highlight though.Young Americans - 6: somehow this album works when it shouldn't really. Let down by Lennon cover, and I'm not so keen on Fame either. Title track superb.Station To Station - 9.5 His masterpiece for me. Fucked up rock/funk hybrid, schizoid lyrics. Cocaine romanticism at its finest. But TVC15 a little weak perhaps?Low - 9: Superb from start to finish. Maybe Weeping Wall is a bit too derivative of Steve Reich.Heroes - 8.5: doesn't quite pack the punch of Low, but I think I prefer its instrumentals.Lodger - 7.5: lovely eclectic feel to this album, less angsty than its predecessorsScary Monsters - 6: 1st side faultless, but I'm not convinced by side 2
― queen biatch (queen biatch), Wednesday, 22 March 2006 14:00 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Wednesday, 22 March 2006 14:10 (7 years ago) Permalink
― kyle (akmonday), Wednesday, 22 March 2006 14:11 (7 years ago) Permalink
A rather vast generalisation, n'est-ce pas?
I don't hate it, but I find it a bit less interesting than the rest of the album - the beat isn't as interesting, I'm not sure if the humour works in the context, etc etc. It's just not quite as good as the rest.
― queen biatch (queen biatch), Wednesday, 22 March 2006 14:15 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Alfred, Lord Sotosyn (Alfred Soto), Wednesday, 22 March 2006 14:22 (7 years ago) Permalink
I forgot Pin-Ups - never really saw the point of that(presumably "Let's Spend The Night Together" inspired the idea; either that or writing block, or he heard Ferry's These Foolish Things and wanted to try it)
― Marcello Carlin (nostudium), Wednesday, 22 March 2006 14:26 (7 years ago) Permalink
― Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Wednesday, 22 March 2006 15:08 (7 years ago) Permalink
Heroes would be my number 6. STS doesn't knock me out - it's very good, but has never fully engaged me. I don't like Hunky Dory much.
Here's my marks out of ten.David Bowie - 8 (this is great stuff!)Space Oddity - 5The Man Who Sold The World - 6Hunky Dory - 5 (meh!)Ziggy Stardust - 10 (but the BBC versions would rate 11 - for Ronno's guitar sound alone)Pin-Ups - 8 (great songs, mad delivery)Aladdin Sane - 7 (I could be being unfair to this)Diamond Dogs - 9 (widescreen beauty)Young Americans - 6 (but it's fun)Station To Station - 7Low - 10 (the new music)Heroes - 8 (side 2 is maybe better than Low's side 2)Lodger - 9 (instinctive brilliance - Bowie feeding off the new wave and splurging ideas back out)Scary Monsters - 7 ('She could have been a killer if she didn't walk the way that she do/And she do')Let's Dance - 6 (but a good 6)Tonight - 5Never Let Me Down - 8 ('You are my moon, you are my sun/Heaven knows what you are')Tin Machine - 6 (ha - I like it!)Tin Machine II - never heard itBlack Tie White Noise - 1 Buddha Of Suburbia - 6Outisde - never heardEarthling - never heard...Hours - 6 ('People boys all snowy white/Razzle dazzle clubs every night)Heathen - 6Reality - never heard
― Dr. C (Dr. C), Wednesday, 22 March 2006 15:17 (7 years ago) Permalink
1. Low2. Ziggy3. Heroes4. Hunky Dory5. Scary Monsters6. Lodger7. Aladdin Sane8. Station to Station9. Earthling10. Diamond Dogs11. Heathen12. 1. Outside13. Man Who Sold the World14. Let's Dance15. Space Oddity16. David Bowie and other early odds n' ends17. Young Americans18. Never Let Me Down19. Tin Machine20. Tin Machine 221. Pin Ups (I can see it being higher, since it pretty much created the covers album as we know it, but ehh...)22. Buddha of Suburbia23. Black Tie White Noise24. Reality25. Tonight26. ...Hours (what a boring album...and it came out at the height of my teenage Bowie obsession too)
― Emily B (Emily B), Wednesday, 22 March 2006 21:41 (7 years ago) Permalink
I'm finding myself rather obsessed with "Jump They Say" at the moment.
― Naive Teen Idol, Friday, 23 March 2012 05:04 (1 year ago) Permalink
There are worse things to get obsessed about :)Song and video are fantastic.Got to be/lieieieieieieve some/bo/dy
― willem, Friday, 23 March 2012 07:52 (1 year ago) Permalink
Love that song. And Lester Bowie solos!
― we can be gyros just for one day (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 23 March 2012 13:50 (1 year ago) Permalink
"Jump They Say" made my Bowie ballot.
I suppose I'm biased b/c BTWN was the first new Bowie album I owned and it pales only beside later achievements but it's half a fantastic record.
― Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 23 March 2012 13:51 (1 year ago) Permalink
the title track was one of the troll votes on my Bowie ballot
― internet somebody (some dude), Friday, 23 March 2012 14:11 (1 year ago) Permalink
Al B Sure!!!
― Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 23 March 2012 14:13 (1 year ago) Permalink
yes i'm sure!
― internet somebody (some dude), Friday, 23 March 2012 14:15 (1 year ago) Permalink
album is at least half classic. really one that got unfairly maligned.
― akm, Friday, 23 March 2012 14:17 (1 year ago) Permalink
It got terrific reviews at the time.
― Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 23 March 2012 14:17 (1 year ago) Permalink
"It's not Tin Machine! *****" - Rolling Stone
― internet somebody (some dude), Friday, 23 March 2012 14:18 (1 year ago) Permalink
pretty much. The main review too.
― Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 23 March 2012 14:24 (1 year ago) Permalink
It was a pretty big step up from Never Let Me Down and Tonight though, no? RS likes to go nuts for so-so records that follow awful records.
― we can be gyros just for one day (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 23 March 2012 14:27 (1 year ago) Permalink
RS awarded the first Tin Machine album a good review for the same reason.
― Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 23 March 2012 14:28 (1 year ago) Permalink
It's better than Tonight, NLMD, TM (except for TM's title track), and TM2 (except maybe 'Baby Universal' which I liked at the time, being 17 and stupid). But that's not really saying much. Half of the tracks on BTWN are still disposable. The title cut is listenable despite or maybe because of the lyrics. The Morissey cover is yet another example of DB doing a crap overblown cover devoid of the original's emotion and human scale (see also 'God Only Knows').
― a dramatic lemon curd experience (snoball), Friday, 23 March 2012 14:41 (1 year ago) Permalink
And 'Jump They Say' is great, an absolutely bang on target pop song of it's time.
― a dramatic lemon curd experience (snoball), Friday, 23 March 2012 15:03 (1 year ago) Permalink
The first three tracks, all killers: The Wedding, You've Been Around (underrated as hell), I Feel Free. I'll also take Jump They Say, Miracle Goodnight (great video too), Nite Flights, and Pallas Athena.
"I Know It's Gonna Happen" isn't great but it's far wittier than "God Only Knows."
― Exile in lolville (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 23 March 2012 15:09 (1 year ago) Permalink
Well the one thing that can be said about GOK vs IKIGHS is that on the latter at least DB sounds like he's awake.
― a dramatic lemon curd experience (snoball), Friday, 23 March 2012 15:17 (1 year ago) Permalink
BTWN is not his most focused record, necessarily, but it's definitely not boring. The production is a little obvious and big-bam-boomy in places, but for the most part the record has a classy, high gloss contemporary (or whatever passed for contemporary in 1993) sound.
Someone upthread, I think, lamented that Nile Rodgers was involved bc in his absence Bowie would have been more free to experiment. But like a lot of his post-TM record, BTWN feels like something Bowie made for himself -- sort of a meditation on how different parts of his history and legacy coexist when they sit next to each other.
It doesn't always work, but I'm not sure it's totally supposed to. Regardless, I kind of like how, say, the vocoder on "You've Been Around" and squiggly filter processing on "Jump They Say" results in this sort of mashup of commercial and avant.
― Naive Teen Idol, Friday, 23 March 2012 18:23 (1 year ago) Permalink
The Bowiesongs blog has been going into this one big time:
― Ned Raggett, Friday, 26 October 2012 16:06 (6 months ago) Permalink
yeah, bowiesongs gets to his nite flights, goes into the whole scott v bowie thang - http://bowiesongs.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/nite-flights/
genuinely tempted to listen to black tie white noise again for first time since hearing a friend's copy once twenty years ago. the obv classic 'jump they say' aside i remember it being dire, a notch above never let me down maybe but nothing compared to outside or earthling, comparable to hours maybe. dire. it's made much much more interesting reading than the tin machine stuff though.
― balls, Wednesday, 14 November 2012 23:46 (6 months ago) Permalink
The WeddingYou've Been AroundI Feel FreeJump They SayNite FlightsPallas Athena
I prefer Bowie's cover of "Nite Flights" ftr
― the little prince of inane false binary hype (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Wednesday, 14 November 2012 23:54 (6 months ago) Permalink
― balls, Thursday, 15 November 2012 00:06 (6 months ago) Permalink
haha if these days Bowie's vocals annoy me in a way they didn't when I was 18 what makes you think Scott Walker has a chance?
― the little prince of inane false binary hype (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 15 November 2012 00:08 (6 months ago) Permalink
I agree with Alfred's keepers list and it's a pretty good ratio of good to bad (I like his Morrissey cover too and Baby Can't Dance).
― akm, Saturday, 17 November 2012 16:18 (6 months ago) Permalink