Artist: David Bowie
David Bowie (born David Robert Jones on 8th January 1947 in Brixton, London, UK) was an English rock singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. Active during six decades of popular music and frequently reinventing his music and image, Bowie is widely regarded as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. Shortly after releasing his 25th studio album Blackstar, it was announced Bowie died on 10 January 2016, following an eighteen-month battle with cancer. At the 59th Grammy Awards on Sun, February 12, 2017, Bowie took the award for "Best Rock Song" for "Blackstar".
As a multi-instrumentalist, he is famous for playing the guitar, piano, and saxophone, but also plays the harmonica, drums, cello, marimba, bass guitar, koto, and stylophone. His first single was released in 1964, but he rose to fame with the 1969 single "Space Oddity" and the 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Subsequent albums have explored blue-eyed soul, electronica, and new wave, often pre-dating these genres' popularity or even the point at which they were defined as genres.
Bowie is one of the most influential rock musicians from the 1970s to the present. He has sold an estimated 136 million albums in his career and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In addition to his musical career, Bowie has had success as a painter, web-designer, sculptor, Broadway actor starring in The Elephant Man, and film actor starring in many films.
Bowie is also credited as being a major inspiration behind the new romantic, futurist movement, and subsequent development of electronic/electronica music.
Bowie frequently brings the worlds of high art, mime, and straight theatre to his stage acts. His most famous on-stage look was that of Ziggy Stardust; other personae include Halloween Jack, Aladdin Sane, and the Thin White Duke. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.
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David Bowie is - St. Louis Riverfront Times (Event)
7:00 p.m. September 23 - The documentary David Bowie is attempts to encapsulate the singer/artist/actor's nearly Picasso-like level of production. The film was created as both a tour of and a companion to the Victoria and Albert Museum of London's exhibition of Bowie artifacts, all drawn from his personal arch...
David Bowie, The Next Day - Album Review - Contact Music (Reviews)
The Next Day (Deluxe Edition) (Bonus Tracks) by David Bowie - ArtistDirect
The Next Day (Deluxe Edition) by David Bowie - ArtistDirect
David Bowie - The Next Day - Exclaim! (Reviews)
Not even David Bowie himself makes a secret of the fact that The Next Day makes no effort to tread new territory; just look at the album art, whose white square, rather than fully eclipsing the Heroes cover, instead evinces the impossibility of obscuring and fully transcending a musical past so decorated with beloved and acclaimed albums. Rather than fight it, The Next Day borrows heavily from his "Berlin" trilogy and, especially, the follow-up LP, Scary Monsters. The album's highlights — "Dirty Boys," "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)," "If You Can See Me"...Read More
Fifty Ways To Love Your Bowie: Half a Ton of Fave Daves Rock's Backpages, Oct 2002
WITH THE Bard of Beckenham on a critical high right now (and yes, new album Heathen IS his best in years), it seems an opportune moment to search through his back catalogue for fifty songs that capture him at his very best.
Ive had an on/off love affair with Bowies music for over 25 years now. From days spent playing air guitar when I shouldve been doing my homework and student parties in seedy rooms to aging friends sitting round reminiscing, I realise now that although I wouldnt say he was my favourite artist David Bowie has probably soundtracked more of my life than any other performer. In fact, Ive probably been compiling this list in my head since the mid-70s ...
No apologies for taking the majority of tracks from the sleazy, drug-fuelled megastar-one-minute-recluse-the-next Bowie of 73 80. To me theyre preferable to the happy-hippy-meets-earnest-6th-form-poet of Space Oddity and Hunky Dory or neo-Prog-Rock-apocalyptic-sci-fi- rocker of The Man Who Sold The World and much of Ziggy Stardust. And as for the lost years (from the dreary mainstream MTV pomp rock of Lets Dance, through Tin Machine to Black Tie, White Noise et al) well, I tried to find something to include, believe me, but have you listened to those albums recently?
Also, I believe that Bowie usually makes his greatest Art when hes trying to make Dumbass Pop, and simply comes across as dumb when he tries to make Art: thus youll see little of his second-rate-Art-student-postmodern-mime-artist attempts at the latter here (no Life On Mars, Andy Warhol, Ziggy Stardust, Ramona A. Stone / I Am With Name, Law (Earthlings On Fire) blah blah).
There are no live songs, either. Throughout the mid-to-late 70s especially, Bowie chose his producers so well that the powerful-but-precise studio versions are hard to beat. And, though the David Bowie live experience could be breathtaking, no official or bootleg live album has ever quite captured it: the visuals and fan-atmosphere being such essential elements. I have included some unreleased studio tracks though: Bowie was such a prolific and obtuse artists that tracks that seemed to him at the time not to fit onto an album are, with hindsight, sometimes better than many of the tracks that did make the final cut (the Young Americans sessions being a good example).
With an artist whose oeuvre is so vast and diverse, every fan will value a different part of his career, and I apologise if Ive missed out any of your personal fave Daves. Feel free to tell me if you think Ive got it right or wrong, what you think I should or shouldnt have included. Just go to the message board - the David Bowie Top Fifty thread of the Respond to RBP section - and write away (incidentally, the message board costs you nothing extra to use - and takes just thirty seconds of yr time to register ...)
= 50: Candidate (unreleased, 1973)
= 50: Zion (unreleased, 1972)
A quick glance at the Number One will give a clue as to why these seem like the perfect way to begin our trip down Bowie lane. Firstly, the demo for that victorious apotheosis of Glamdom (which is, in typical Bowie style, an almost totally different song) crude but lilting, like a doo wop band in a seedy strip joint. And secondly an unfinished instrumental Bowie would later ransack for parts of that same song (as well as for Aladdin Sane and Lady Grinning Soul) a delightful melody plus some of Ronnos best Lou-Reed-meets-Jeff-Back fuzz madness.
48: Cant Help Thinking About Me (Single, 1966)
Though steeped in his 60s mod influences and very much of-its-time, this is the first hint of the riches to come ("I wish I was a child again, I wish I felt secure again")
47: Little Wonder (Earthling, 1997)
For a brief couple of minutes in the 1990s it was like we had him back. This felt like a real comeback single: swaggering, supra-generic, playful. But then the album (Earthling) came out and we knew it was just it wasnt to be ...
46: Be My Wife (Low, 1977)
If machines could get drunk, theyd create music like this ...
45: Heathen (Heathen, 2002)
The title track of the new album sees Bowie coming to terms with old age: been there, done that, his voice pulsing with wistful experience. The twisted, almost dated, electropop sound of a strangely spiritual post-drug comedown. Its tracks like this that help explain why he twinned the new album and Low in his recent live performance at Londons Royal Festival Hall. So far down the list partly because its hard yet to get any perspective of how it sits within the Bowie canon.
44: Lady Stardust (Ziggy Stardust, 1972)
Sounding somewhat Mott-like, this is campfire camp: a more spirited, ramshackle yet still pure Pop version of those pretentious piano-led singles from Hunky Dory were avoiding here ("Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow"? Erm, I dont think so, David ...)
43: Look Back In Anger (Lodger, 1979)
A hint at what the whole of Lodger could have been like, had Bowie taken more trouble over it (and spent a little less time reading National Geographic). A howling vocal, some tight wah-wah guitar and a rhythm section that combines rock flash and funky beats means it still packs a punch over twenty years on.
42: Joe The Lion (Heroes, 1977)
A reminder of how Bowie squeezes the best from his musical partners before spitting them out: and of how much influence Brian Eno had on Roxy Music's mighty For Your Pleasure.
41: The Prettiest Star (Aladdin Sane, 1973)
Like an outtake from Cabaret, this is a more impressive take on that Weimar-sound than either Time or Alabama Song. Another of Aladdin Sanes many near-perfect vignettes.
40: Always Crashing In The Same Car (Low, 1977)
More (JG) Ballard boogie a haunting, slow funk smooch of a tune that both soothes and disturbs: the aural equivalent of Christopher Walken's disturbing gentleman-or-psycho characters.
39: Hang On To Yourself (Ziggy Stardust, 1972)
A nasty little thug of a track, all amphetamine and sleaze. The closest 70s Bowie came to re-embracing his Mod roots.
38: The London Boys (Single B Side, 1966)
Theres a theory that Pop progresses as a series of mistakes: bands trying to play one genre but, because of their background or their idiosyncracies, end up creating a whole new genre altogether (Beatles ape Girl Groups and create Merseybeat etc). London Boys is a case in point: Bowie tries to write an Anthony Newley song but bases it around a lyric of pill-popping depressives, thereby accidentally creating what was perhaps the first REAL David Bowie song... maybe even the first Glam song. Shame about the oompah arrangement, though ...
37: Fashion (Scary Monsters, 1979)
A bass-heavy stomper that perhaps gives a glimpse of the music he would make in the 80s, but here with a spirited musical and attitudinal twist that Bowie only seemed capable of pre-Lets Dance.
36: Sorrow (Pin Ups, 1973)
Mr Bowie does tender and vulnerable. A pose, sure the lounge lizard and lothario Bowie would undoubtedly have fucked over the girl in question had he had the chance but poignant none the less. The Cracked Actors cocaine comedown and one of the few times that adding saxophone to a Bowie track was a good idea ...
35: Silly Boy Blue (David Bowie, 1967)
The We Are The Dead of his daft Cock-er-ny music hall period, with a lyric that mixes school days with the surreal. How much better Pin Ups wouldve been had Bowie reinterpreted the best of his own 60s output.
34: Scream Like A Baby (Scary Monsters, 1979)
Like all the best bits of Lodger (there were a few, despite the disappointment of the whole) thrown together. As a semi-sci-fi lament for the loss of youthful friends, its a companion piece to Iggy Pops Bowie-produced Dum Dum Boys.
33: Diamond Dogs (Diamond Dogs, 1974)
They may have airbrushed the balls off the dogs on the sleeve of the album, but the title track had enough of them to compensate. A passionate powerhouse of a track. "Keep cool, Diamond Dogs rule ... OK"
32: Let Me Sleep Beside You (The World Of David Bowie, 1970)
Recorded in 1967, this is a sneaky early peak at Bowies future glories, from its lyric ("Baby, baby, brush the dust of youth from off your shoulder") to its Ziggy-style acoustic guitar/bass/drums sound and Pop riffs: not surprising, as it was his first ever collaboration with producer Tony Visconti. True to the Pop vs Art argument, Bowie recorded this (and the almost-as-good Karma Man) in what he called "an attempt to make some Top Ten rubbish".
31: Tired Of My Life (unreleased, 1970)
Given the intellectual poverty of so much of Bowies Man Who Sold The World, its a mystery why this haunting track was left off. One of his earliest compositions, parts of it were later re-fashioned into Its No Game on Scary Monsters.
30: Let's Spend The Night Together (Aladdin Sane, 1973)
A car-crash cover that drags the Stones original kicking and screaming into the 1970s: more abrasive and yet more playful too. After such a twisted reworking as this, the bland run-throughs of most of Pin Ups were a supreme disappointment.
29: DJ (Lodger, 1979)
Sounding like an out-take from Heroes (or maybe Talking Heads Remain In Light), this is another metal machine monster. And the biting lyric ("Ive got believers believing me") still holds true for todays DJ superstars, from Paul Oakenfold to Sarah Cox ...
28: Star (Ziggy Stardust, 1972)
One of the greatest tracks on Ziggy Stardust how come it's so overlooked ? The perfect amalgam of '50s RnR and '70s Pop boogie: Aladdin Sane was just a heartbeat away.
27: Panic In Detroit (Aladdin Sane, 1973)
The closest anyone has come to putting JG Ballard's short stories to music. Takes the Glam Teddy Pop of T. Rex, Mud and Gary Glitter etc and stomps it into the ground.
26: Sweet Head (unreleased, 1972)
Like Star, this signposted the way to the Boogie Pop of Aladdin Sane. Again, its a track that should never have been left off the album it was recorded for (in this case Ziggy Stardust). Instead of veering into laboured sci-fi (Five Years, Moonage Daydream), here he uses JG Ballards trick of imagining "alternative futures" and peopling them with characters wed easily recognise from our own time, creating a metaphor for the present as much as a vision of what was to come. And on that level, this early track prefigures not only Aladdin Sane but Diamond Dogs too.
25: Changes (Hunky Dory, 1971)
Another timeless track and one of the few high spots on the over-rated HD. As with 'Starman', this track is like some newly discovered object in a sci-fi film which proves the existence of alien life cos everyone knows it couldnt have been made by human hands ...
24: Who Can I Be Now? (unreleased, 1974)
A confident, yearning outtake from Young Americans so superior to the majority of that albums tracks its bizarre it never made the grade. Along with Win, it illustrates how the YA sessions were actually a natural progression from Diamond Dogs rather than the volte face theyre too often described as.
23: Boys Keep Swinging (Lodger, 1979)
How fuckin' audacious outcamps even 'Queen Bitch'. Everyone in my class at school knew I was a Bowie fan and the day after his drag queen video for this single was aired on Top Of The Pops I was given a good hiding for liking "that queer". Those were the days: when Bowie still had the power to shock ...
22. Sense Of Doubt (Heroes, 1977)
The sound that links Heroes to Diamond Dogs: a moody, rain-swept, Taxi Driver meets The Omega Man land- and soundscape.
21. The Bewlay Brothers (Hunky Dory, 1971)
Perhaps the only genuinely sombre note on the hippie-dippy Hunky Dory: a disturbing dissection of his past.
20: Soul Love (Ziggy Stardust, 1972)
A hymn of hope, its '50s drive-in doowop roots dont stop Bowie achieving yet again a timeless, alien quality found in his best 70s Pop.
19. Right (Young Americans, 1975)
Bowie deconstructs that Barry White/Isaac Hayes 'Walrus Of Lurve' persona and turns it on its sleazy ass. Wonderfully disturbing - like a slow dance with an OD case ...
18. What In The World (Low, 1977)
Like a techno version of the Stones 'Stray Cat Blues' - a strutting, sputtering jailbait-angling ramshackle electro pop tune.
17. Teenage Wildlife (Scary Monsters, 1980)
"How come you only want tomorrow?" A great start to Bowies last great sob-song. A mannered yet poignant vocal and a beautiful Bob Fripp solo. Strange to think that the dispiriting Lets Dance was just around the corner (though a slightly leaden rhythm section here gives a hint...)
16. Watch That Man (Aladdin Sane, 1973)
A swaggering boogie stomp up there with the finest Mott, Stones or Faces Ronno's guitar kicks ass !
15. Queen Bitch (Hunky Dory, 1971)
Talking of kick-ass rock'n'roll, this is a 60s-style pastiche that out-swishes Jagger and Reed.
14. Stay (Station To Station, 1976)
Another twisted disco track like the entire Ze Records catalogue in one six minute shot.
13. Heroes (Heroes, 1977)
This beautiful, yearning ballad from the then-newly-cleaned-up Bowie seemed to come out of nowhere in that year of Punk and Jubilees. A powerful ode to those who dare to love in the Machine Age (well, that's how we saw it in our proto-New Romantic days anyway !)
12. Win (Young Americans, 1975)
"Someone like you should not be allowed to start any fires," sings David in this, the perfect amalgamation of Diamond Dogs-era songcraft and purist Philly groove.
11. Beauty And The Beast (Heroes, 1977)
Nobody makes funk out of the sound of tearing-metal like Bowie - if someone jammed an iron bar and a blender into Robocop, the ensuing noise might sound something like this. "Theres slaughter in the air, protest in the wind ... My my, someone fetch a priest: you cant say no to the beauty and the beast, da-a-a-rling."
10. We Are The Dead (Diamond Dogs, 1974)
The ultimate in drug-fuelled, self-searching self-indulgence. Saved from the over-earnest pose of, say, Rocknroll Sucide by a chilling sense of dread.
9. Cracked Actor (Aladdin Sane, 1973)
Like Dylan, Bowie was often at his best when on the defensive. Dylan created characters modelled on sides of himself he was ambivalent about and, by attacking them, attacked himself (Like A Rolling Stone etc). Bowie went one postmodern step further and became those characters (see also DJ). He does it to fine effect here in this celebration / condemnation of a hedonistic star whose fame is on the wane. The 'Positively Fourth Street' of Glam...
8. Golden Years (Station To Station, 1976)
A camp cocaine anthem from the days of disco glitter. Sums up that backstage-at-Studio-54-with-a-supermodel-on-each-arm style, but with a poignant ennui only Bowie (and at their best, Ferry and Jagger too) understands: "Dont let me hear you say lifes taking you nowhere, angel. Look at that sky, lifes begun: the nights are warm and the days are young..."
7. Young Americans (Young Americans, 1975)
Bowie always does his best work when he tears open a genre, rams his essence in then sticks it back together clumsily, not when he reveres and mimics it. Too many tracks on Young Americans sound disappointing now because they fall into the latter category - but the title track (and Win above) is a wonderfully sloppy Bowie/Soul mess and sounds all the better for it.
6. Aladdin Sane (Aladdin Sane, 1973)
A Noel Coward trip for the sci-fi set beautiful, sexy, frightening and throwaway at the same time ("battle cries and champagne, just in time for sunrise"). The song is dominated by Mike Garsons startling piano work, which lurches brilliantly from barrelhouse boogie to Thelonious Monk-style avant garde chops.
5. Word On A Wing (Station To Station, 1976)
This is Bowie at his most vulnerable, as he struggles with ideas of faith and belief "Lord I kneel and offer you my word on a wing and Im trying to fit among your scheme of things: its safer than a strange land but I still care for myself". All set to a loping groove reminiscent of early 70s Marvin Gaye (pinned front and back by simple solo piano and choir work). A rare and beautiful thing ...
4. Lady Grinning Soul (Aladdin Sane, 1973)
A hymn to the ambiguous delights of obsessive love ("Shell come, shell go. Shell lay belief on you, skin sweet with musty oil ... She will be your living end"). As with much of Aladdin Sane, its never quite clear whether Bowie is an emotional participant (actor) or detached observer (artists) of the songs events, but it works well on either level. And sonically, the deceptively simple groove hides some charming, subtle note-perfect guitar, bass and piano work.
3. Rebel Rebel (Diamond Dogs, 1974)
Here in four and a half minutes is the essence of all that is rock'n'roll: black rebel leather and an innocent belief in the redemptive power of music. "We like dancing and we look divine ... Hot tramp I love you so". The albums segue from the black swamp of madness that is Sweet Thing / Candidate to the upbeat swagger of Rebel Rebel is perhaps the greatest moment in Bowies entire cannon.
2. Station To Station (Station To Station, 1976)
Kraftwerk with balls. A twisted, holy trip to the legendary Grail, taking in autobahns, railways and industrial cities on the way. Best heard pumping out of solid state speakers in some crowded sweaty disco. "Its not the side effects of the cocaine, Im thinking that it must be love," indeed ...
1. Sweet Thing / Candidate / Sweet Thing (Reprise) (Diamond Dogs, 1974)
His most dramatic, sweeping suite is an unusual Number One perhaps, but its strange motions combine all Bowies finest features: his most powerful inner demons ("Dont you see that Im scared and Im lonely"), his most impassioned vocal ('Heroes' basso voce meets 'Wild Is The Winds heart-wrenching swoops), a powerful soundscape (echoed years later in Side 2 of Heroes) that builds to a Kraftwerkian bumpngrind funk (ditto Side 1 of Station To Station), a remarkable ear for melody and pop arrangements (and Bowies piano-led tracks are too often overlooked in favour of his guitar workouts) plus a fine lyric both metaphysical ("love is a cheap thing") and realist ("We'll buy some drugs and watch a band then jump in the river holding hands"). The ultimate DB experience ...
David Bowie: Pantomime Rock? Rolling Stone, Apr 1971
Los Angeles: in his floral-patterned velvet midi-gown and cosmetically enhanced eyes, in his fine chest-length blonde hair and mod nutty engineers cap that he bought in the ladies hat section of the City of Paris department store in San Francisco, David Bowie is ravishing, almost disconcertingly reminiscent of Lauren Bacall, although he would prefer to be regarded as the latter-day Garbo.
In the studios of San Franciscos KSAN-FM, he assures an incredulous DJ that his last album was, very simply, a collection of reminiscences about his experiences as a shaven-headed transvestite. In Hollywood, at a party staged in his honour, he blows the minds of arriving hot-panted honeys with Edy Williams hair, welcoming them lispily in his gorgeous gown before excusing himself so he can watch Ultra Violet give interviews from a milk bath at a party held a few blocks away in her honour.
Although he is the creator of one of the years most interesting albums, The Man Who Sold the World, he remains mostly unfamiliar. But perhaps not for long. The 24-year-old songwriter/singer/theatrician/ magnificent outrage from London will undertake his first performing tour of this country (due to visa difficulties he was not allowed to play in public during his February visit) in April.
"I refuse to be thought of as mediocre," Bowie asserts blithely. "If I am mediocre, Ill get out of the business. Theres enough fog around. Thats why the idea of performance-as-spectacle is so important to me."
He plans to appear onstage decked out rather like Cleopatra, in the appropriate heavy make-up and in costumes that will hopefully recall those designed in the thirties by Erte. He says he will also interpret his own works through mime, a form in which hes been involved at several points in his career, most notably when he wrote for, acted in, and helped produce the Lindsay Kemp Mime Company of London: "Id like to bring mime into a traditional Western setting, to focus the attention of the audience with a very stylized, a very Japanese style of movement."
Bowie assures us that he has already put that idea into practice with gratifying results: "About three years ago, at the Festival Hall in London, I did a solo performance of a twenty-minute play with songs that I wrote called Yet-San and the Eagle, which is about a boy trying to find his way in Tibet, within himself, under the pressures of the Communist Chinese oppression. I might bring it over to some of the bigger places I work in America. It was very successful everybody seemed to understand and enjoy it."
He is not overly concerned with American audiences lesser experience with and consequent lesser receptivity to theatrically-enhanced musical performances: "Should anyone think that these things are merely distractions or gimmicks intended to obscure the musics shortcomings, he mustnt come to my concerts. He must come on my terms or not at all. My performances have got to be theatrical experiences for me as well as for the audience. I dont want to climb out of my fantasies in order to go up onstage I want to take them on stage with me."
Bowie contends that rock in particular and pop in general should not be taken as seriously as is currently the fashion: "What the music says may be serious, but as a medium it should not be questioned, analysed, or taken so seriously. I think it should be tarted up, made into a prostitute, a parody of itself. It should be the clown, the Pierrot medium. The music is the mask the message wears music is the Pierrot and I, the performer, am the message.
"Tell your readers that they can make up their minds about me when I begin getting adverse publicity: when Im found in bed with Raquel Welchs husband."
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