Music lover's confusion of David Bowie

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mike Broadman, Nov 30, 2001.

  1. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Well, if you've been paying attention to my posts (and I know you all have them printed out and framed on your living room wall), you'll know that I've been undergoing a bit of a "roots" revival in my CD collection, temporarily eschewing the weird, obscure prog stuff for some basic, classic rock 'n' roll (though I will always love the weird stuff the best). Hence my participation in the Talking Heads and Stones threads.

    Ok, so David Bowie. Yes, yes, I know everyone loves him. Why?

    Disclaimer: this is not a "David Bowie Sucks" thread. I'm not saying that at all. The fact is, I only know the songs you hear on the radio, and that's not enough to judge an artist.

    My big question is, are the popular songs indicative of the rest of his music, or are his more obscure songs and album cuts heads above them? (like Pink Floyd, Rush, and Jethro Tull, for example)

    I ask because a lot of my friends who were musicians and almost-as-big music fans as I were into Bowie, and Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew, two musicians I worship, had played with him at some point.

    Here are the songs I know:

    Fame: white boy playing fake funk. Talking Heads do it too, but with humor and quirkiness, so it's fun. This one bores me to tears.

    Young American: see Fame

    Space Oddity: I'm sorry, but his has to be the dumbest song I've ever heard. "Floating in a tin can?" WTF? It's just some weird song with nothing musically interesting about space or something. I don't get it.

    Let's Dance: Typical 80s synth-pop song. Boring, and I'm not a big enough Stevie Ray Vaughan fan to get the album just because he's on it (though, of course, SRV is god).

    Heroes: I've never heard Bowie's version. I have a King Crimson live album where they play this song. It sounds pretty good, but I'm so in love with King Crimson that they could play the Macarena and I'd think it was a work of art. So I can't honestly judge it.

    Man Who Sold the World: Again, never heard the original. I heard Nirvana play it. I totally dislike Nirvana, but the song sounded like it could have been OK. Again, can't judge.

    So, are there some Bowie gems that maybe I'd like, despite not liking these tunes?

    Again, this is intended to be a discussion and trying to figure out Bowie's influence and musical language, not a mindless bashing, as I would be interested in checking out music of his that might be worthwhile.
     
  2. RogerB

    RogerB Second Unit

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    I'm surprised that a big music fan like yourself knows so little about Bowie. Whether or not you like his music is a matter of taste and expresed in opinions (like "Rush sucks", for example).
    I would suggest that you go buy "Low", listen to it a few times and then talk about his relevance and influence in popular music.
    [​IMG]
     
  3. TheoGB

    TheoGB Screenwriter

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    Personally I don't know. You've not listed any of the songs that are in his standout albums for me:
    Hunky Dory: I consider this one of the 10 best albums I've ever owned (today, at any rate). If you want to hear his best then check this one out - Life on Mars, Changes, Oh You Pretty Things, plus a number of very cool 'tribute songs' to Andy Warhol, The Velvet Underground and Dylan.
    ...Ziggy Stardust...: A bit more obvious, this one is just straight rock'n'roll, and in the middle I think it lacks slightly, but Five Years Left, Moonage Daydream, Starman, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City and Rock'n'Roll Suicide make this a must have.
    It's fair to say that Bowie has crossed a lot of styles but even the recent 1:Outside is an album I found very listenable.
    At Glastonbury 2000 he did essentially an greatest hits set and it was even cooler than I expected. Tracks from all eras played together sounded very good indeed.
     
  4. Ryan Spaight

    Ryan Spaight Supporting Actor

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    Judging from the other things you like, I'd definitely check out Low, Heroes and Lodger, three albums Bowie made in the late 70s in collaboration with Brian Eno.

    As mentioned above, Hunky Dory is a fine early album ("Life on Mars" is worth the price of admission alone), and Ziggy Stardust is a glam-rock classic.

    Bowie definitely falls into the camp of "the radio hits are the dullest stuff he's done." Fame and Young Americans are from his mid-70s soul phase, which never did much for me. Space Oddity is a relic of late-60s psychedelia that hasn't aged particularly well.

    Ryan
     
  5. Nick_G

    Nick_G Stunt Coordinator

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    Aladdin Sane -- STILL my favorite Bowie album. "panic in detroit" "cracked actor" "aladdin sane" -- the whole album is great!!!!!

    Pin Ups is still a great album of Bowie doing cover songs.

    Diamond Dogs -- "big brother" "chant of the ever circling skelatal family"

    Man Who Sold the World

    had a lot of ups and downs and inconsistant stuff over the years though.

    Moonage Daydream and TVC15 are also two of my favorite tunes.
     
  6. Rain

    Rain Producer

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    To me, Bowie is more of an album artist than a singles artist. You need to buy his albums.

    Hunky Dory

    Station to Station

    Young Americans

    ...Ziggy Stardust...

    Low

    Lodger

    etc, etc.
     
  7. Marvin

    Marvin Screenwriter

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    I second the recommendation for "Low", "Heroes" and "Lodger". Also add "Scary Monsters". These all have the Eno and Fripp influence. I'd say Fripp's solo on part 1 of "It's No Game" (on Scary Monsters) is note for note one of my all time favorite guitar solos.

    I also like some of his earlier albums but I think this period (from about 1976-1980) is his creative peak.
     
  8. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    The original version of "Heroes" may be one of Bowie's best. Please discount that awful Wallflowers cover of it.
     
  9. Gary Harris

    Gary Harris Stunt Coordinator

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    I'd agree with Bowie being an album artist and also an era artist. I really like his nineties stuff, Buddha of Suburbia, Outside & Earthling being exceptional.

    The eighties material was generally horrible after Scary Monsters. Let's Dance was so-so, but Tonight & Never Let Me Down, avoid like the plague.

    My favorites of the seventies are Ziggy Stardust, Diamond Dogs (my all time favorite Bowie album) & the Berlin Trilogy(Low, Heroes & Lodger).

    I guess you could say I'm a lifetime fan (well since '72 anyway)
     
  10. Jim_C

    Jim_C Cinematographer

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    Hey there Mike. Odd that we find each other participating in a non-prog thread....
    I love Bowie, especially the older non-radio stuff.
    Get "...Ziggy Stardust..." and listen to it often. IMO this album showcases what Bowie is all about.
    Hunky Dory is another must have. As mentioned above Life on Mars is worth the cost alone. Others on the disc that standout are Changes (obviously), Oh! You Pretty Things, and Andy Warhol. The bonus track "The Supermen" is very good as well.
    Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs come next. Both are very good. Panic in Detroit and The Jean Genie on Sane and Candidate, Rebel Rebel, and Sweet Thing on Dogs.
    Future Legend is cool as well. "...fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats and 10,000 peoploids split into small tribes..."
    Others have mentioned Heroes and Lodger. I agree and add in Scary Monsters as well.
    Later Bowie is good too. I have his side project Tin Machine. Pretty good stuff. This is where he met his now co-collaborator Reeves Gabrels, an amazing guitarist. I have Outside, Earthling and Hours and enjoy them all. They're not as strong as the 70's Bowie but still good.
    Some of Bowie's best songs are the non-hit's. I think that he's really good at putting together an entire album. A lot his music IMO relates better when it's in it's albums context. This is especially true with Ziggy.
     
  11. Tony Stirling

    Tony Stirling Stunt Coordinator

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    I'll echo everything that everyone above me has posted.

    Definately check out the original verson of Heroes. Though Crimson does it justice, the original is the reference. Give those 3 late 70s CDs a chance: Heroes, Low and Lodger. Enjoy.

    tony
     
  12. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Actually, Jim C, prog makes up a very small portion of my CD collection. But since there aren't many jazz threads, I talk about prog. For the record, I hate the term and all the extra crap associated with it. Music is music. Period.
    Perhaps I will then check out some of the albums. With recommendations like these, who can resist?[​IMG] With luck, I'll find some in a used bin.
     
  13. James RD

    James RD Supporting Actor

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    While looking in that used bin - if you find "Stage", a somewhat underrated (and for some reason no longer available new) 1978 2 disc live set, buy it. The best version of "Heroes" that I have heard and Adrian Belew on guitar.
     
  14. Nigel McN

    Nigel McN Supporting Actor

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    I can't believe that we are this far into a David Bowie thread and no one has mentioned one of his best albums!
    Labyrinth Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
    and no I am not kidding, I love it! [​IMG]
     
  15. David Egan

    David Egan Stunt Coordinator

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    If you're a Belew fan you need LODGER and if you're a Fripp fan you need SCARY MONSTERS. I also agree that ZIGGY STARDUST and HUNKY DORY are brilliant. The best news is that the new 24 bit remasters sound amazing. Don't get your Bowie CDs from the used bin!
     
  16. Stephen L

    Stephen L Second Unit

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  17. Mikael Soderholm

    Mikael Soderholm Supporting Actor

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    Well, most of what I think has alreday been posted, but I can't leave a Bowiethread alone, now can I [​IMG]?
    If you don't like the accessible radiostuff, I agree the Berlin trilogy (Low, Heroes and Lodger) is a good place to start. The sounds on these pretty much defined what music would sound like during the next decade. Not exactly easy listening, though...
    The glitter albums like Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs and Ziggy are rockier and maybe not quite as experimental, but good stuff still. You will probably recognize some of these tunes from the radio etc...
    90s stuff; 1. Outside and Earthling stand out, as The Buddha of Suburbia, the great forgotten Bowie album, not many 50 year olds do that kind of inventive stuff at a time when they could be milking their back catalogue to pay for their lifestyle (well, Bowie has done that too [​IMG]).
    The early stuff, yes that's good too...
    Come to think of it, there is not one of his albums you don't need, even the sometimes horrible 80s album have redeeming tunes (Richochet on Let's Dance, Loving the Alien on Tonight and Day-in, Day-out on Never Let Me Down), so just buy them all [​IMG]!.
     
  18. Marvin

    Marvin Screenwriter

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  19. Gary Harris

    Gary Harris Stunt Coordinator

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    Bowie's library upto Let's Dance (I think) was previously released by Rykodisc. The sound wasn't as good as the 24 bit EMI remasters BUT...there were some killer bonus tracks included; most notably the tracks Dodo & Candidate on Diamond Dogs. Candidate is such a good song I can't imagine it not being there now. It seems every few years the Bowie library is reissued in a way that the hardcore fans will rebuy them all. I've heard the next series of reissues will be double disc sets with the first disc being the original & the second disc will be bonus tracks from that period. It may be just rumor but it wouldn't suprise me.
     
  20. TheoGB

    TheoGB Screenwriter

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    That's really annoying. Our library has the last versions of the albums and I am trying to get all the bonus tracks to burn onto CDs but I'd rather EMI just released some b-sides/rarities albums too, covering those tracks.
     

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