Bowie's Outside: C or D?

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I really enjoyed this when it was released. Upon further listening more recently, I think it's still pretty solid. The story's a hoot, too...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Saturday, 14 December 2002 20:06 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Never one for the story (something about a serial killer turning his victims into pieces of conceptual art?), but I've always thought it was pretty strong as well. At the time, Bowie would talk a load of crap about the "hyper cycles" of narrative that went into the seemingly random storytelling. Whatever. Have another line of coke, Dave. Stricly in terms of music, though, I think "The Heart's Filthy Lesson" is among the more exciting things he's done in the past two decades. There were a handful of cool moments on that record, and it's certainly a good deal more interesting than EARTHLING (Dave goes all drum'n'bassy) or HOURS (Dave goes all dull and hirsute) or what little I've heard off of HEATHAN (that's its title, right?)

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Saturday, 14 December 2002 20:16 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Wasn't Outside supposed to be part one of some trilogy of works? Interesting how Bowie consumed and digested his Damien Hirst-inflected-T. Reznor-appropriated-art-ritual-murder-hypercycle schtick in the course of a year. Some really great tracks came out it it though, granted. "No Control" still sounds as heavy and foreboding as ever. "I'm Deranged" was purdy good.

maria b (maria b), Saturday, 14 December 2002 22:52 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

It's one of only *two* Bowie albums I never bought.

Heathen is good, btw.

Sean (Sean), Saturday, 14 December 2002 22:58 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Yeah, "I'm Deranged" is quite good.

"Damien Hirst-inflected-T.Reznor-appropriated-art-ritual-murder-hypercycle schtick"

Masterfully summed-up.

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Saturday, 14 December 2002 23:01 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"We Prick You" = my secret favorite.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 15 December 2002 00:24 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Was listening to it just last night...material is a bit varying, but at it's best, it's excellent. "Hearts Filthy Lesson" is a great song. I also like "A Small Plot of Land" a lot.

Joe (Joe), Sunday, 15 December 2002 01:19 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

One of his most underrated albums, I think. Just ignore the dumb segues based on that "nonlinear gothic hyperdrama" shit or whatever concept he was trying for. There are some really great, really sad rock anthems buried in there.

geeta (geeta), Sunday, 15 December 2002 01:28 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

OT: Bowies's cover of Pixies'"Cactus" on the Carson Daily Show was teh suck.

Aaron A., Sunday, 15 December 2002 01:32 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

yeh - him doing that tune makes me want to PUKE. outside i would buy at the drop of the hat if for example i found it for £3.99. same goes for black tie white noise

bob snoom, Sunday, 15 December 2002 12:50 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

only buy btwn if it's £1.99

mark s (mark s), Sunday, 15 December 2002 16:34 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

BTWN was my first Bowie record because nobody told me he was good, I just saw the "jump" single on VH1 and decided, hey, that's great shit, I've heard of this guy somewhere.

I still like it a lot, minus all that trumpet silliness.

Tom Millar (Millar), Sunday, 15 December 2002 16:47 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

the trumpet silliness makes it!

bob snoom, Sunday, 15 December 2002 20:18 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

BTWN is the other one i never bought.

Sean (Sean), Sunday, 15 December 2002 21:34 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I'll have to check out Outside. I've never understood the hate for Earthling though, there are some great tunes on that record and I'm a sucker for the dn'b beats. And all the goth industrial kids love it (my friends of that persuasion were excited when I got Heathen until they realized that it was all organic shit).

Jordan (Jordan), Monday, 16 December 2002 00:20 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Outside: So Classic it makes Latin look like AOL-speak. So grebt the B might as well stand for Bowie.

I'm a huge Bowie fan, but the albums I'd put on the "don't bother" list would be hours and Never Let Me Down -- followed by Black Tie White Noise (except "Jump They Say" is one of my favorite last-twenty-years Bowie songs) and, actually, Let's Dance.

And continuing to be off-topic, I love Bowie's cover of "Cactus"! Even as a Pixies fan who hates most Pixies covers.

Tep (ktepi), Monday, 16 December 2002 00:28 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I was somewhat surprised by the turnaround between EARTHLING (which, despite being flagrantly drum-n-bassy, was still interesting and had a tune or two to recommend it) and HOURS....which is just dull, dull, dull.

Is HEATHAN any good?

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Monday, 16 December 2002 00:40 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Alex is apparently going to keep misspelling that word in all caps until somebody notices.

Tom Millar (Millar), Monday, 16 December 2002 00:50 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

hours seems to be an album about middle age, which is probably why it's so miserably dull. I mean, the guy's visibly happy. He's got a hot wife. He has oodles of money. His albums sell and he gets critical respect. What the hell does he have to say about mid-life crises?

"The Pretty Things are Going to Hell" and "Thursday's Child" are decent songs, though.

Tep (ktepi), Monday, 16 December 2002 00:55 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

earthling is only really "drum-and-bassy" if you've never listened to any drum and bass: it is also better than outside

mark s (mark s), Monday, 16 December 2002 01:17 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Sure it's drum n' bass done by a pop star trying to stay hip, and most of it was done live and speeded up (which is pretty cool really), but how is Telling Lies for example not "drum-and-bassy"?

Jordan (Jordan), Monday, 16 December 2002 02:55 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"Outside" is my all time favorite album tied with "Playing with Fire." So, yeah, I think it's beyond classic. Songs that are really good on it are: We Prick You, The Motel, Strangers When We Meet, I Have Not Been To Oxford Town.

Some of the voices for the segues are great, and even if the story is confusing and weird, the tone it sets adds a lot to the album. The main reason I like it so much is that dark futuristic tone and the Eno/Bowie production. There is really no other albums that capture that as well.

(as for Black Tie White Noise, I would say that is his most underrated. Lester Bowie's trumpet silliness, and Al B Sure! combined with Bowie's jazz fusion attempt works so well. Bowie has some great sax solos too. Good songs: Wedding song, Looking for Lester, Miracle Goodnight, Nite Flights)

A Nairn (moretap), Monday, 16 December 2002 03:45 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

It is not really a Bowie/Eno album. Bowie hijacked the project at the last minute and mixed the record without Eno's input. There is a reason there was only one album in the trilogy.

From what I have come to understand, Eno wanted the record to be a lot sparser. A record can come out a million different ways when you have somebody doing the post-production and the mix-down. I think Bowie pulled a real Raw Power on Outside.

The greatest shame of all is that there are some really great songs and interesting musical ideas hidden beneath all that excessive studio bloat. Strangers When We Meet is one of Bowie best songs to date, but it got lost as the final track on the album. If the production and arrangements had been pared down it could have been a brilliant album. If only Eno had not been cut out at the last minute.

Mike Taylor (mjt), Monday, 16 December 2002 08:39 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Some of the voices for the segues are great, and even if the story is confusing and weird, the tone it sets adds a lot to the album.

That nails it for me right there. The story is incomplete, but this isn't Tommy. The tone is great. Even when I wouldn't name this as the best Bowie album, I'd call it the one that works best as an album, as opposed to a collection of songs -- for that, it's probably the best album in my collection (we had that thread, didn't we?)

Tep (ktepi), Monday, 16 December 2002 18:42 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"All time favorite album"?? "Best album in my collection"?? Gosh! Maybe I need to get a copy after all. The bargain bin is filled with them.

Sean (Sean), Tuesday, 17 December 2002 00:54 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

this is the only bowie album i have ever bought. i can't explain why that is- i find so much of his other work superior (thats another thread)

as an "album" it pisses me off. so much of the experimental parts of the record or the segments betweek tracks are a waste of time and ruin the flow of the album.

i came to reassess it after lost highway and everyone took a liking to 'deranged'. the song in its original form is most excellent, dark and brooding in a pleasant lounge-y sort of way.

there are a bunch of tracks from this album that are excellent, but a low signal/noise ratio all together i would say. HOWEVER this album has been borrowed by several of my friends before and they invariably claim it to be an excellent album! i cannot understand the appeal of this album but obviously it is an interesting side note to bowies career and a point when we saw the very beginnings of what might be termed somewhat of a 'comeback'

Laney, Tuesday, 17 December 2002 18:16 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...
Revive! My own thread! Which I apparently lost interest in after starting!

I'm still struck by how much people still crap all over this record, even as it is far and away (melodically, at least) "the best thing he's done since Scary Monsters" (or, at a minimum, since this record). I remember DeRo called it embarrassing, no one could understand the story, and everyone thought he was chasing Trent Reznor or something. Which he might have.

Without having listened to it in ages (I lost it), I've always heard a very different record, I guess. You have:

A) Several really good tunes. "Heart's Filthy Lesson", "I Have Not Been To Oxford Town", "Small Plot", and two of his best songs, period, "Thru' These Architect's Eyes" and "I'm Deranged."

B) Some great production touches. "HFL" has great Eno-fication. "Small Plot", an incredible creeping arrangment. Joey Baron described the sessions for this tune to me once — said it was fascinating as Bowie just improvised the whole thing off these sheets he'd put together, shrieking through his headphones.

C) And it wins Bowie the 1995 award for "Best Deployment of a Sideman" with Mike Garson delivering an absolutely INSANE piano performance for the duration (he'd won before in 1976 for Roy Bittan).

D) The story, which I've always found to be intentionally tongue in cheek, all the way down to the cheesy Photoshopped artwork. Shame he seems to have bailed on the 2. Contamination sequel...

At any rate, poss. the last decent thing we'll get out of him...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:23 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Also, does anyone know if Bowie actually kicked Eno off during the mixing stage? I seem to recall a big feature in Musician or something with the two of them where Eno said it was the greatest experience he'd ever had in the studio...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:25 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

yeah I don't get the hate this album receives. earthling and heathen are good too. we have this bowie argument all the time!

eno sounds very excited about the recording of this album in A Year with Swollen Appendices

kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:27 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

still yet to hear the album but i have a bootleg of the tour and find it generally unlistenable. the trip hop/D&B retread of TMWSTW is something i really dont want to hear again.

splooge (thesplooge), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:28 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

arguing about classic bowie years vs current bowie years VS arguing about classic Saturday Night Live seasons vs the current season = so tiring after a while. but everyone still does it anyway.

kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:29 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

What's Bowie's new one again? (with the bad computer grahic cover?) That makes 1.Outside seem like "classic Bowie".

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:42 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

its reality. i like it though, its sort of like lets dance pt 2.

dickvandyke (dickvandyke), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:47 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i liked it when it came out, it didn't last long for me though. but at least it isn't embarrassing.

kyle (akmonday), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:49 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

funny, that was my first bowie album. it's ok. i still bought low after though. where he plays in a different league. never been a fan of bowie. there is something about his voice which really puts me off. it's snobbish and conceited somehow. extremely artificial and fake. a false croon or something. how i love ferry in comparison.

alex in mainhattan (alex63), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 18:59 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Are you arguing that Ferry's voice isn't artificial and fake? Or just that you prefer him?

Atnevon (Atnevon), Tuesday, 17 August 2004 21:31 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I got to hang out with Mike Garson backstage on the Bowie tour this summer. Real nice guy, though I always feel bad when I talk to music people after shows because I feel like I am cutting into their Finding-Someone-To-Have-Sex-With Time. Who wants to talk to me about scales and mic placement when there is a blonde with big hooters standing behind me... The Drummer (I cannot remember his name for the life of me) was probably the most forthcoming regarding the recording of this album. I was really digging for specifics but they were all pretty vague. They were all pretty much parts players who did as they were told and left with their paychecks. They had some input, but it was pretty much Brian and David running the show.

It was not so much that Eno was kicked out during the mixing process so much as Bowie kind of took things over towards the end and cluttered things up. There are several good passages in A Year With... discussing there different styles in the studio, the painter vs. sculptor metaphor comes to mind at the moment. I am not going to stake my life on it, but I am not sure that Eno was still in Switzerland when the album was completed. I am in the process of rereading A Year With, and I have not gotten to the part where they mix the album.

Disco Nihilist (mjt), Wednesday, 18 August 2004 03:20 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

the _outside_ tour was great: i liked the album a lot, but what you can say when a concert kicks off with _look back in anger_ and ends with _moonage daydream_?
they also played tight, edgy versions of _andy warhol_, _scary monsters_, scott walker's _nite flights_ and an unbelievably cold _man who sold the world_.
great band, great show.

Marco Damiani (Marco D.), Wednesday, 18 August 2004 06:37 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Aside from Bowie dropping Reznor’s name at the time, the CD sounds absolutely nothing like NIN. I believe that it is not only a fine CD, it’s his best, most sustained work aside from (most) of Ziggy. It functions nicely as an updated summation of earlier career tropes, and as an almost ridiculously inventive mish-mosh of fully formed ideas—whole tone guitar riffery, some sort of space funk, jazz metal—there’s entire new genres here that he (and Eno) casually toss off like flaked hair gel. Even some of the spoken interludes have a nicely gloomy affect.

ian g, Wednesday, 18 August 2004 19:09 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Aside from Bowie dropping Reznor’s name at the time....

Yes, this was when he'd latched onto Trent (before latching onto Moby as his new sychophantic protoge).

Alex in NYC (vassifer), Wednesday, 18 August 2004 19:22 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Aside from Bowie dropping Reznor’s name at the time, the CD sounds absolutely nothing like NIN.

I dunno. Lyrics aside, "The Heart's Filthy Lesson" is straight-up Reznor. "I'm Deranged" and "We Prick You" too.

Atnevon (Atnevon), Thursday, 19 August 2004 03:01 (fourteen years ago) Permalink


the bellefox, Thursday, 19 August 2004 15:47 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

ten months pass...
Does anyone have a decent boot of the Outside sessions? Apparently, Reeves Gabrels talks about this "4-hour improvised opera" that ended up being used for the interludes on the record. I dl'd something the other night on slsk which sounds like it may be part of it, but whose sound quality is crap, has tons of rough edits, and of the 9 tracks or so, appears to replay the same one at least 3 or 4 times.

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Friday, 15 July 2005 16:35 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Its a shame that box set of those sessions never materialized. Bowie is one of those artists that tease these sorts of things and never delivers. The Eno sessions were supposed to stretch three records and that never happened, either.

Brett Hickman (Bhickman), Friday, 15 July 2005 17:44 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I read in "A Year With Swollen Appendices" that Eno lamented Bowie's mixing decisions. "Sometimes you need the courage to be simple" or some such truisim, which is totally true.

Outside is one of those Bowie albums I loved upon release but now think it's overbaked. "No Control" and "I'm Deranged" are marvelous, and "Strangers When We Meet" is one of his best ballads ever, not to mention his use of Colin Newman-esque non sequiturs in a moving way. The rest I can live without.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Friday, 15 July 2005 18:36 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

alfred, kudos for mentioning "no control"

i feel that is one of the most overlooked songs in the entire bowie catalog.

ZionTrain (ZionTrain), Friday, 15 July 2005 18:59 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

the synth swells after his last vocal are majestic and beautiful.

Alfred Soto (Alfred Soto), Friday, 15 July 2005 19:06 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I liked this album and Earthling. And hours..., too - surprised that there seems to be only negativity about that one; I liked it even more than Outside or Earthling.

If I'm remembering correctly, the interludes on Outside album were recorded with the band using Eno's 'strategies for musicians' cards. I'm interested, too, in what all the band did in the full sessions for these.

Tim Ellison (Tim Ellison), Friday, 15 July 2005 19:09 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

no matter what bowie album seems to come out year after year- there always seems to be 2 or 3 true GEMS.

it's unfortunate but OUTSIDE's attempts (conscious or not) to revisit the magic of the berlin trilogy came up unfounded.

ZionTrain (ZionTrain), Friday, 15 July 2005 22:25 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I quite liked Outside when it came out, except for the interludes. "I'm Deranged," "Heart's Filthy Lesson," "I Have Not Been to Oxford Town" are all terrific.. Now that I no longer like things that make sense, I'll have to go listen to it again. Doesn't matter what the story is or whether it's finished, although throwing too much stuff in there (what's he say, a non-linear gothic something cycle?) makes it seem like he was trying to force it all to make sense.

If I remember right, the video for "Heart's Filthy Lesson" really underlined the connection to NIN, it was all creepy gothy and shot to look like it was on washed out old film stock and such.

Heathen is one of my favorite Bowie albums (Alex, did you hear it?), but I did not like Hours much and found Earthling kinda meh.

daria g (daria g), Saturday, 16 July 2005 03:57 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

to 20-year-old-me, Blur was the only competition. 1. Outside was my favorite album of 1995.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 2 February 2016 11:45 (two years ago) Permalink

This album sounds particularly good at the moment, I feel.

Tim F, Tuesday, 2 February 2016 12:01 (two years ago) Permalink

I guess in 1995, next to Blur and Oasis and Pulp and The Bends, it just seemed like a crazy, OTT mess.

Hmm, maybe. The record seems more in keeping with what was going on in 1997 rather than 1995.

The Dave Grohl of ILX (Turrican), Tuesday, 2 February 2016 12:45 (two years ago) Permalink

In 1995 it just didn't seem as cool as the Berlin records/Before and After Science, ime

albvivertine, Tuesday, 2 February 2016 12:47 (two years ago) Permalink

yeah the 'eno and bowie! back together! to make a new trilogy!' hype didn't help

balls, Tuesday, 2 February 2016 14:18 (two years ago) Permalink

like i enjoyed that last byrne/eno record but i think if it had been presold as 'get ready for another my life eating bush' i would have been let down. unfair to hold an album's hype against it i know but it definitely influenced my perspective, was something i had to work past.

balls, Tuesday, 2 February 2016 14:20 (two years ago) Permalink

I bought Buddha of Suburbia the other day, too. There aren't any threads about it that I can see on here. Any major discussion in any other threads that anyone knows of? I'm very intrigued by it. It does in retrospect seem to sit very neatly between BTWN and this.

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Tuesday, 2 February 2016 14:42 (two years ago) Permalink

it's really good (buddha). title track is one of his best songs and all the instrumentals are super interesting; if not quite on par with side 2 of low or heroes, they show bowie really stretching out and doing something different.

akm, Tuesday, 2 February 2016 14:45 (two years ago) Permalink


Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 2 February 2016 15:09 (two years ago) Permalink

I think Buddha is one of the reasons people were let down/confused by Outside. Buddha (along with BTWN) broke his losing streak - I remember at the time people really excited it marked a return to "experimental" Bowie - and then came the announcement he was reconvening with Eno (on his own winning streak as producer) for a full collaboration. And then the album was this unfocused sprawl with a crazy concept that embraced both weird improv and then fashionably ugly electronica/industrial tropes. I recall my introduction to "Outside" via the end credits to "Seven" the week before.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 2 February 2016 15:15 (two years ago) Permalink

No one heard Buddha at the time though, did they?

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Tuesday, 2 February 2016 15:22 (two years ago) Permalink

I kinda admire the fact that Bowie used electronica/industrial tropes, and later on some jungle tropes... could you imagine McCartney/Jagger/Ferry going "jungle"!?

The Dave Grohl of ILX (Turrican), Tuesday, 2 February 2016 15:25 (two years ago) Permalink

It was hard to find. I think it was pulled in England, sneaked out in December 1993? In the USA it didn't get a release until fall '95.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 2 February 2016 15:25 (two years ago) Permalink

I mean, christ, the Stones' idea of broadening their palette at the time was getting in The Dust Brothers and ripping off k.d. lang!

The Dave Grohl of ILX (Turrican), Tuesday, 2 February 2016 15:26 (two years ago) Permalink

It's true, trip hop seemed more Mick's speed. Though Bowie dipped into that, too.

Josh in Chicago, Tuesday, 2 February 2016 15:32 (two years ago) Permalink

i can imagine ferry going trip-hop

balls, Tuesday, 2 February 2016 20:39 (two years ago) Permalink

he flirted with it mildly on his '90s solo albums.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 2 February 2016 20:55 (two years ago) Permalink

No one heard Buddha at the time though, did they?

Got an MM review I'm pretty sure. I've heard good things about the series itself. Kurieshi wrote a piece that ran in the Times but (precisely because it's in the Times and thus paywalled) I've not read it beyond the introduction.

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 2 February 2016 21:50 (two years ago) Permalink

Never cared about the story or reading the liner notes or anything, but I love the spoken tracks. He does good voices over nice music and I like the mangled sci-fi syntax (though I'm sad to learn the "something is about to be heard" I've always got before Hallo Spaceboy is a mishearing.

The two songs people often mention as classics, Have Not Been to Oxford Town and Strangers When We Meet, are maybe the most underwhelming for me on this record.

I love A Small Plot of Land most. It could easily fit on Blackstar - very similar to Tis A Pity She Was a Whore.

Eyeball Kicks, Tuesday, 2 February 2016 21:51 (two years ago) Permalink

I had to buy buddha as an import when it was released; yeah it got no airplay or attention in the US outside of bowie fans.

akm, Tuesday, 2 February 2016 23:35 (two years ago) Permalink

Wrote this on the RIP thread because it felt more appropriate there but selfishly I want to talk about this record.

A lot of has been written about Bowie’s legacy since his passing, but for me, the thing I keep coming back to is the fact, or perception anyway, that Bowie was /the/ guy who spotted trends before they were trends and brought them into the mainstream. /Outside/ very clearly—and very self-consciously—was designed to explore that side of Bowie's persona. Yes, it was a celebration of “outsider” art and the sordid characters that produce it, but even more than that, a tribute to Bowie's own mythology for championing, popularizing, consuming, and, ultimately, discarding those artists and movements before moving on to something else.

Candidly, I think Bowie understood the significance of that role—as Lester Bangs wrote about /Young Americans,/ Bowie's best work often seemed to be when he failed at something so wildly that it became something else entirely—but don’t think he was ever entirely satisfied playing it. Deep down, Bowie really did wish he could be a pop hermit like Scott Walker or a performance artist like Chris Burden physically harming himself for his art. But as his copious interviews on the talk show circuit reveal, he also wanted to be loved, admired and appreciated.

I realize now that this is one of the reasons I have always found /Outside/ so fascinating, because it not only self-consciously exploits that tension — but the project itself was consumed by it, transforming from the ambitious, careening, improvised opera about “outsider" art it was initially conceived as into a messy, overstuffed “gothic non-linear hyper-cycle” into an art rock concept album, the subject of which is "David Bowie."

That’s why, even tho PAotD judges /Outside/ to be something of a failure … I’m not sure it actually is. The songs are great. The bootlegged /Leon/ sessions that started it off are completely unique. The story is intentionally batshit and incomprehensible. Not everything works and some of it is baffling, but it’s never boring. As a result, the project as a whole feels like…pretty much everything Bowie ever did. And on those terms, I feel like it has to be judged as one of his most important releases.

Naive Teen Idol, Wednesday, 3 February 2016 20:47 (two years ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

I love A Small Plot of Land most. It could easily fit on Blackstar - very similar to Tis A Pity She Was a Whore.
― Eyeball Kicks, Tuesday, February 2, 2016 10:51 PM (seven months ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Donny McCaslin covers it (and "Warszawa") on his upcoming album.

willem, Tuesday, 6 September 2016 12:48 (two years ago) Permalink

This is on Spotify. It's a nice thread from the Blackstar era to its roots in Bowie's catalogue. I like the instrumental sax solo section, perhaps unsurprisingly. Makes me think that some enterprising person could make an interesting cover of the whole record.

Tho it was recorded later in NYC, 'Small Plot' always struck me as a bit of a head nod to the Leon sessions (PAotD agrees). Joey Baron and Mike Garson are amazing on it. There's another mix of it that Eno supposedly did on the Basquiat OST that mixes them both out – but I prefer the original.

Naive Teen Idol, Tuesday, 6 September 2016 13:34 (two years ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

Listening to this again after a long while, I'd say this is up there with Blackstar as one of his very best post-Let's Dance LP's. music and chicken have become intertwined (Turrican), Tuesday, 11 April 2017 16:09 (one year ago) Permalink

Or "classic", in other words. music and chicken have become intertwined (Turrican), Tuesday, 11 April 2017 16:10 (one year ago) Permalink

no doubt, IMO anyway. I can kind of see how people find it overly indulgent and maybe, story-wise, even silly, but I really like basically all of it.

akm, Wednesday, 12 April 2017 22:05 (one year ago) Permalink

The "indulgent" nature of it is a huge part of why it rules so much, IMO. music and chicken have become intertwined (Turrican), Wednesday, 12 April 2017 22:39 (one year ago) Permalink

Combined with Leon Sessions, maybe some other working pieces and anything that survived from the aborted followups, this would make a *great* boxed set. I wonder if Eno, who has fashioned himself in the press as something of a a keeper of Bowie's legacy since his passing, would consider curating such a thing.

Naive Teen Idol, Thursday, 13 April 2017 13:29 (one year ago) Permalink

Dud, but I appreciate the effort.

yesca, Thursday, 13 April 2017 13:37 (one year ago) Permalink

Classic as far as I'm concerned. Outside is my second favourite Bowie album (Diamond Dogs is no. 1).

It might come off as somewhat indulgent but it's so energetic and diverse that it also sounds to me like Bowie, and everyone else involved, were having a real blast with it.

Valentijn, Thursday, 13 April 2017 13:53 (one year ago) Permalink

one month passes...



the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 12 June 2017 13:55 (one year ago) Permalink

six months pass...

Nice piece about this era of Bowie’s career:

David Bowie: No Control in RECORD COLLECTOR PRESENTS BOWIE December 2016 #BrianEno #Outside #PetShopBoys

— Brian Eno (@dark_shark) January 7, 2018

Naive Teen Idol, Sunday, 7 January 2018 15:51 (nine months ago) Permalink

Tennant's talked about that remix often, but I like the thought of him being nervous about Bowie's approval, like a schoolboy who's disappointed his favourite schoolteacher.

Anyone read the Swollen Appendix book?

Chuck_Tatum, Sunday, 7 January 2018 19:02 (nine months ago) Permalink

Other thought about Outside: (for me, anyway) it's the only bowie record that *needs* gabrels, whereas everywhere else i kinda just tolerate him or wish he wouldn't ruin the song by doing that

Chuck_Tatum, Sunday, 7 January 2018 19:03 (nine months ago) Permalink

Anyone read the Swollen Appendix book?

― Chuck_Tatum,

Essential reading -- lots of offhand sundry insights, reflections on his urine, valentines to his wife and daughter, revelatory bits about recording James, Bowie, U2..

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 7 January 2018 19:06 (nine months ago) Permalink

For those who have HBO, there is a new Bowie documentary on tomorrow, focusing on the end of his life, The Last 5 Years.

kornrulez6969, Sunday, 7 January 2018 19:26 (nine months ago) Permalink


Turns out it's out of print and sixty quid on eBay. Used to see that thing all the time in used bookstores. Oh well.

Chuck_Tatum, Sunday, 7 January 2018 19:30 (nine months ago) Permalink

I read A Year With Swollen Appendices!

I am a secret enormous James fan and mostly absorbed the parts about that band. I'd been frustrated with all of Saul's violin contributions to that band and was delighted to read passages of Eno slagging him off as a musician, heh

I don't remember much about what he said about Bowie tho, oddly enough-- probably because it was just uniformly positive?

flamboyant goon tie included, Sunday, 7 January 2018 21:14 (nine months ago) Permalink

This album, to me, is his actual "best since Scary Monsters" ... Blackstar is even better, though.

Gholdfish Killah (Turrican), Monday, 8 January 2018 17:01 (nine months ago) Permalink

That Bowie doc is okay, I watched it on a long flight a few months back. The best thing about it is just him being in a good mood and goofing around at truck stops and stuff.

There's a quote on the back of the Eno book I think about Bowie calling him one day to express admiration for the new Scott Walker album, which at the time was Tilt, and Eno being relieved that it was totally different from what they were up to.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 8 January 2018 18:14 (nine months ago) Permalink

Also, re Gabrels, I hate this dude's guitar playing, even the sound of his guitar. I much prefer the boring ambient stuff David Torn provided Bowie.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 8 January 2018 18:16 (nine months ago) Permalink

Bowie might have been the world's only Reeves Gabrels fan.

Scam jam, thank you ma’am (Sparkle Motion), Monday, 8 January 2018 20:54 (nine months ago) Permalink

Robert Smith seemed to like him for a minute. Or is he still in the Cure?

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 8 January 2018 20:57 (nine months ago) Permalink

I've always kinda of loved this ridiculous record. The "Leon Suites" boot is fantastic, just got hipped to it

chr1sb3singer, Monday, 8 January 2018 21:00 (nine months ago) Permalink

xpost -- He's still in the Cure.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 8 January 2018 21:02 (nine months ago) Permalink

And I have to say when I saw them last year that Gabrels's tendency towards 'let me art-deconstruct this 'solo' you speak of' has shifted more towards actually good, creative solos that fit well within the arrangements.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 8 January 2018 21:03 (nine months ago) Permalink

so people do learn then

Scam jam, thank you ma’am (Sparkle Motion), Monday, 8 January 2018 21:08 (nine months ago) Permalink

Anyway how dare you mock someone who found love

(Seriously, this is a story about Gabrels from the other day.)

Ned Raggett, Monday, 8 January 2018 21:23 (nine months ago) Permalink

I just saw that on my twitter feed the other day. Good for him. I guess.

Naive Teen Idol, Tuesday, 9 January 2018 00:11 (nine months ago) Permalink

Remember when this came out some review describing "another unlovely Gabrels solo" and the phrase has stayed with me to this day.

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Friday, 12 January 2018 04:38 (nine months ago) Permalink

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