George Starostin's Reviews



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Nick Karn <> (15.10.99)

I don't own any David Bowie albums myself (although I have heard quite a few of his songs, and I have to say I'm impressed with what I hear), but I'd say it's a bit unfair to dismiss him as an 'insincere' songwriter, which I can't really see as the 'absolute truth' for anyone in music. Every songwriter has a certain 'vehicle' for expression, and the 'musical chameleon' style is just how he prefers to do it. For all you know his meaningless lyrics and odd arrangements could serve as metaphors for his views on life and emotional state of himself, even while he may be playing a character as on Ziggy Stardust. In my opinion, there seems to be two reasons anyone gets into making music in the first place - to express yourself and to sell records If he was too smart to become a one dimensional sell-out artist (although he did freely admit to doing so in the Let's Dance era) and care only about doing that, then I'd think he was taking the first approach. Just my opinion on Bowie's 'sincerity' - I'm not saying yours is right or wrong.

[Special author note: there are actually different ways of expressing oneself. One is to do it from a 'sincere' point of view - lay bare one's soul, express one's inner feelings and make the music resonate with one's own views of the world. The other is to do it from a 'groovy' point of view - try to mystify oneself rather than clarify oneself. While the second way is sometimes more entertaining and more spontaneously thrilling, the first way always proves the best in the long run. Unfortunately, Bowie always was, and still is a mystificator, never a clarifier. That's what my point is all about.]

Greg <> (20.02.2000)

Hey man, I just spent a good 45 minutes reading your reviews on David Bowie. First I would like to say that your opinions are very respectable, I can see that you have a good basis as to how you rate your music. There are a couple things I would like you to consider about David Bowie. I don't understand how you can be so hard on a musician regarded by other musicians as one of the MOST influential artists if ALL TIME! Obviuosly you are entitled to your opinions, and when the majority of modern musicians see David Bowie as a legendary inspiration I think you should reconsider your outlook on David Bowie. I am an avid fan of David Bowie. I have recently discovered him and EVERY album I've heard gives me a new outlook on music in general... Yes even Never Let Me Down! I won't disagree that David Bowie likes to conform his music to whatever is "hip" at the time, and that to me proves the completness that David Bowie contains. How many musicians that you can think of have been around since the sixties that can change on a dime from one album to another and do it well. The only band I can think of is Pink Floyd, and they were more of a slow transition from the sixties to now anyway. Bowie DID conform his music yes, and still on every album he has that David Bowie "flare", and that is the "flare" that is known to be so inspirational. He has had that flare since his first track was produced, and he has carried it to every track in between to the latest track he recorded on hours. I don't know of ANY musicians who are more versital and creative. It is obvious that the man is a genious both intellectually and artistically. I know David Bowie goes in my top 5 favorite and inspirational artists. He maybe be at this point in my life second to the one and only Pink Floyd.

Well, I just wanted to express my opinions about David Bowie. I hope you consider a couple of the things I said. I know your not going to all of a sudden fall in love with his music, I just hope you can find more in his music that SO MANY of the best musicians found in it. Thanks for giving me the oppourtunity to give you my opinions. If you have anything to follow up my letter with I would love to hear it.

[Special author note: it's hard for me to see Bowie as very influential. Yes, I know everybody quotes him as such and all that, but hey, saying that is one thing (like claiming that you have been influenced by the Velvet Underground when you have really not - it's just cool to say that), and imagining what that really is is another. How can you be influenced by a derivative chameleon? I reiterate that most of Bowie's musical ideas were ripped-off: from Dylan, from Lou Reed, from T. Rex, from Kraftwerk, from Eno, from.. from the Nine Inch Nails, I dunno. The great thing is that he always made clever, intelligent and exciting use of these ideas. But 'influenced by Bowie'? Does that equal 'Bowie has taught me how to successfully rip-off others'? I'm not sure...]

Rose Littlehales <> (02.04.2000)

Hay no offence but give David some credit!!

While balancing his music carear he's had to deal with his hard life with drugs and with his wife and son,don't you think it's a bit much?

From here on I will and always have (since I've been a Bowie fan) I WILL RESPECT DAVID BOWIE 4eva!!

At the age of 12 in 1998 I began to listen to David Bowie's music from my dads collection. I now have 19 albums of his every album (except for Tonight) in my point of view is a great album!!

From Ziggy Stardust to Hours they are all great albums!!


Florence <> (08.05.2000)

I'm not a music expert but I don't think that only one artist can create a genre except maybe his own. Could you tell me who created Rock, Punk or New Wave? There's no limit for the beginning of those styles. You can always go back to a previous artist. So, maybe Mozart invented Pop music...

Yes, David Bowie has created a style: the 'David Bowie-style' ( or you can call it the 'no-style' or the 'all-style'). Have you ever heard a record (whether it is folk or punk) and said 'this sounds a lot like David Bowie'? I know it's not enough to create a genre, but who can?

That brings me to the 'influence' point of your introduction. I agree that David can't really be a big musical influence, even though he has his own style. But I think he can be a huge influential artist. I mean David Bowie cannot be resumed to his music. David's career is not only records but also (and big part of it) images and attitudes and buisness and more. He's a generalist. So I think that when people say they're influenced by David Bowie, they mean the whole stuff and not only the songs.

And lastly, I agree with Nick Karn, I don't know what is an insincere artist. What is that? Mystificator, you said? Mmh...

This can still be done with soul and feelings. I think artists are filters, mystificators or not. Maybe you mean he can't be sincere by always changing? well I'll just end by this: He said in 1983 : " I don't lie, I just change my mind all the time"....

But one very very last thing: a poor voice??? Once again, what is it? emotions, no control, failures, unperfections, low and high, cold and hot, intimate and bombastic...What do you need more? Who do you consider having a rich voice? He's just a pop singer not a opera one.

As you might have noticed I'm a fan so maybe I'm not very objective but I can't be all wrong.

[Special author note: about being sincere while always changing. Sure it can happen - look at John Lennon, always changing and always sincere. Not so with David, whose tendency to mystify has always been at the centre of his music. Once again, I say it's not NECESSARILY BAD - but it's the kind of art that can't serve any high ethical purpose, and that's not necessarily good.]

Evdokimov D.L. <> (11.06.2000)

Hello!  I love David and his music. Hi is a great actor.  Labirint is the best.

Neema Parvini <> (29.09.2000)

I'm a massive Bowie fan and before reading your introduction just read the reviews... and of course was shocked at the dismissive nature of the Hunky Dory one. However after reading your introduction I must say you have presented a valid case against Bowie. Admirably you refrain from placing him (as probably at least 3 out of every 5 critics would and EVERY major magazine) 'up there' with the likes of the Beatles. Being an even bigger Dylan fan i can appreciate the need for things to 'come from the heart' but I think you underestimate Bowie's cultural significance. Whilst, arguably, he did not create genres he was certainly responsible for bringing them to the masses. Who'd heard of Lou Reed before Bowie produced Transformer for instance. Perhaps it is an American thing (for I know that he was never quite as successful stateside) but here he's had 8 no.1 albums, with only 3 of them from his 70's output. I can understand your argument but Bowie still deserves a higher 'general rating' then 3.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (07.12.2000)

I'd like to sum up all David's positive and negative moments. Let's start from the good side.

1.David is a great actor. So many concept albums, so many brilliant ideas! At least one his idea can touch your heart (well, only if you don't have any bias towards Bowie (unfortunately, many my friends HAVE this bias and it's very hard to talk with them about David)).

2.Fortunately, David quited many genres after becoming the king. As you said, 'it saved him from dinosaurism problems'. Well, thanks to that fact, Bowie entered so many music styles.

3.Most of his catalog is listenable and his music fits any kind of mood.

4.I admire him for the fact that kept working even without reaching the success. Just check his progress from Early on to Hunky Dory and you'll see what I mean. That 's all about his positive moments, I think. Now the most plesant part for me.

1.Bowie uses too many ideas from many singers (Beatles' Sgt. Pepper) and authors( Ray Bradbury, for example. Take his 'The Martian Chronicles' (1950), a novel about Earth people conquering and colonizing Mars, and compare it with 'Space oddity'(song)).

2.His voice without strong support from instruments sucks much. Listen to bonus demos and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

3.Bowie is a bad live player, though, it's all because of previous minus. Never, never, I repeat, touch David live.

4.The beginning of the 90-ies was a time for dancey Bowie which surely is a great minus (for me at least).

5.I HATE make-up on his face in 70-ies. Such covers as Pinups make me sick.

That's all now. See, Bowie is not so talented as many people think so my rating is 3/5, too.

sophie rual <> (12.04.2001)

Yes, Bowie is a mystificator but not one of his fan know why :

He's a Gnostic one, a Kabbalist one and an Alchemist one!

So to understand the man and his music , you have to look to these areas

and you can absolutly not understand and appreciate his work at its "true reality" without that He's "just a mortal with potential of a superman"...

Believe me, consciousness is The Thing!!

PS: I'm a french surfer so sorry about my english If you want to answer me , I'll be please Actually, "jumping jack flash" was a gnostic too, but the flash ( from the High) which was supposed to enlighted him failed to touch him We're all puppets!!

Kevin Saliba <> (18.10.2002)

Hi George, I'm a fan of Bowie and recently I came across an article which gives a very different interpretation of Bowie and his life and works. Basically, it deals in detail with Bowie's relationship with the occult and how it influenced heavily his music, paintings and life in general. I do not know whether this interpretation is a valid one; but I think it's is food for thought nevertheless. It may give to us fans another insight on his development and evolution as an artist.

The article was written by Peter R. Koenig under the title 'The Laughing Gnostic: David Bowie and the Occult'. Its link is the following:

Have a look at it and if you have time. I would really appreciate it if you reply to me to me with your reactions about it.

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

I'm pretty much a die-hard Bowie fan, although I've only been one for about half a year. But over that time period I've managed to spend hundreds of dollars of student loan money on Bowie albums (vinyl and CD) so I think that constitutes devotion.

Anyway, I really do agree with many, possibly most, of your points about Bowie. I've always thought it strange, too, that people always call him an "innovator". It's just uninformed. I mean, didn't Avril Lavigne (damn her!) cite him as a reference and then mispronnounce his name? But whatever... I agree that he's a great "popularizer" more than an innovator, even though I have NEVER heard anything that sounds quite like Low.

I suppose I would have to agree with your, rating, too, because, to be fair, I only like the output of about half of his career (I can't even STOMACH those eighties albums and will never, ever forgive him for them). I guess I just find him a really fascinating... uh... I don't know... "study"? He's definately a fascinating person, and I really respect that his music is always changing, even if it ended up changing in a direction I didn't particularily like. All of his stuff from the seventies (excluding Young Americans) is great for different reasons, and that's something that few other artists have managed to accomplish, as most people end up becoming derrivative very quickly once they find a profitable formula. My only other point is that I think Bowie's about the greatest rock "performer" I've ever seen. I mean, I watched 60's Jagger in action and I thought that was good, but watching the Ziggy Stardust Motion Picture was something else entirely. Who knows how much that guy in the feather boa performing fellatio on Mick Ronson's guitar was really "Bowie" as compared to the guy in the shiny suit with the big yellow hair nauseatingly belting out 'China Girl'. What matters IS his mystique. Illusion is what made him a star and maintains him as a legend.

apple555 <> (25.04.2003)

First, I just now have listened to Heathen. I'm overwhelmed. You're right, it's perfect indeed. Absolutely immaculate, and this is really weird. Why on earth did it not get 10? My rating now is:

1) Outside (all pieces above imagination, an ideal conceptual album, The Wall sucks);

2) Monsters ('Ashes 2 Ashes' alone would be enough);

3) Low & Heroes (SubTERRANEAS is extraTERRESTRIAL, Eno would never manage such a thing alone);

4) Buddha

5) Heathen (how did he managed to do this?)

2) - 4) are approximately on one level.

Then Station 2 Station, then Diamond dogs, Lodger (imho, only for 'Look back in anger').

And then all other stuff. Sheer early 70-s glam is just boring. I don't realize _why_ such a fuss about Ziggy? And all other bowie of that period isn't worth any attention. (here you may doubt, do I understand anything in Bowie's art at all?). Well, maybe I don't understand what really glam is. As I supposed by the word, glam should be kind of buffo, a vaudeville, grotesque, maybe, black humour. It should have been advisedly tasteless to some extent. And it shan't be any apocalyptic, or cosmic, or refined sadness mood. Say, Alice Cooper hybridized with Queen? Won't it be called 'glam' more fairly? (Isn't Auctyon a good example of glam on a native ground?). Well, Cooper for me is much more 'glammy' artist. So, I just don't understand why that style of music (early Bolan and Bowie) was named 'glam'?

I dare say (resting upon a limited set of bands I'm familiar with), that Bowie's style transitions could hardly be compared with those of other musicians. His different styles often popped out in such an accomplished and integral form, as though he had experienced a true irradiation. It's relevant both to some albums and several standalone songs.

E.g., Diamond Dogs, as I can see, wasn't prepared by any of the previous works. Say, Big Brother has absolutely nothing to do with any of the previous songs, am I right?

These revolutional changes came in such a manner that it is often not obvious at all, why this next aesthetical trend is devised (or used) by Bowie and not some other person. For instance, Scary Monsters could be (imho) put down by any decent new waver.

Again, Outside is a perfect example. Being those songs sung by different voice, I would have hardly suppose that was Bowie.

Alik Zubr <> (10.06.2003)

To my opinion, it is absolutely impossible to rate David on the same scale with other great artists and bands. When listening to a Bowie record - be it one of his "best", like Ziggy Stardust, or be it one of his "worst", like Tonight - one almost immediately gets the impression of his greatness. But, on the other hand, this is not the kind of greatness one feels is present in the Beatles. The Beatles' greatness is HUGE: it makes you forget everything in the world and go totally ecstatic. The greatness of David Bowie is weird, somewhat perverted, and it is also spread over all of his records in a much more careful way than the greatness of others. It looks like he just took all of his talent - way back there, in 1967 or even earlier - then cut it into three/four hundred equal parts and even now, after all these years, he has still some of these parts left.

That way, I cannot determine what can be called "the best record of David Bowie". Ziggy Stardust? Maybe... but hey, are the songs on it REALLY better than on, say, Earthling? Hardly. And Black Tie White Noise? Is this a bad album? Yes - at first sight; but then again, it's the same David Bowie, is he not? So what if the man traded electric guitars for an electronica one day? Big deal. He's always been writing the same things - over and over again. And in that way Earthling or Black Tie White Noise are not much worse than Ziggy or Heroes. They're all about the same thing, see. And it's all about David. In all, I would say that if one loves David Bowie, he should buy ALL of his records and not choose favourites. If one hates David Bowie - well, then he will not understand even a single thing about him. And he was never "totally tasteless", as you write in your Black Tie White Noise review. Never! If you really think so, well... you've missed a big part of Mr Jones’ world.

Palash Ghosh <> (24.01.2004)

I grew up knowing David Bowie's name and image (he was incredibly famous) and a few of his better-known songs like "Space Oddity" and "Fame" -- but only in recent years (as a jaded adult) have I started to really explore the man's music. I must say, George, that your analysis of Bowie was very stimulating -- I could not disagree with much of it, and, yet, I think I hold a much higher opinion of him than you do.

One thing you must remember about Bowie -- he was born very, very poor and was absolutely driven to succeed. He struggled long and hard to "make it" -- he was not an "overnight success." I think he started out in 1964 (when he was only 17) and knocked around the fringes of London's burgeoning pop music scene throughout that decade before coming up with the fluke hit "Space Oddity." Yes, I think it is fair to criticize Bowie for being shallow, fashion-conscious and too addicted to his own glamourous image -- but, what is unquestioned is his greatness as an entertainer and the fact that he was NEVER dull, no matter what bizzare paths his career took him to.

I think experimentation and evolution are GOOD things for a musical artist. Bowie tried to create a new Sgt Pepper with every record (most of the time he failed, but what fun he (and we) had trying!). Underneath all the make-up, fashion, stylings, reincarnations, image changes, etc. -- Bowie had SUBSTANCE. If he simply wanted to churn out simple, Top 40 pop hits, he probably could have. But he took risks, he was ferquently vulnerable to criticism. That should be lauded. Moreover, he is extremely intelligent (perhaps a genius) and never sought to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Bowie's career paralleled Elton John's -- and I find Bowie a far more attractive and intriguing figure.

Elizabeth <> (31.07.2004)

Overall, I really like your webpage of David Bowie album reviews. Most of the things you find online about Bowie are written by fanatics who would say his last album was good if his last album entirely consisted of him reading aloud the phone book. Either that or it's websites by people who hate Bowie and dismiss him as a fag.

But your reviews seem to be an unbiased middle ground. Though I'm bored by the instrumental pieces which dominate the Berlin trilogy and really love listening to Earthling (hey, some of us like techno), your insights are enjoyable. You know what you're talking about and you've thought about it longer and harder than I ever could.

Trond Braaten <> (14.10.2005)

First of all let me say that this is a great site. But the following quote about Bowie not being a sincere artist I find rather odd (espesically the last sentence):

"[Special author note: about being sincere while always changing. Sure it can happen - look at John Lennon, always changing and always sincere. Not so with David, whose tendency to mystify has always been at the centre of his music. Once again, I say it's not NECESSARILY BAD - but it's the kind of art that can't serve any high ethical purpose, and that's not necessarily good.]"

Art that can't serve any high ethical purpose?! Surely art that serve high etchical purposes is almost always NECESSARILY BAD. The implications of your view, if I understand you right, is far conservative and left by the artworld a long time ago. And by the way, I don't think it's Bowie's intension to serve any high ethical purposes with his art (God forbid!). It is therefore a total miss to judge his art after that standard.

sakal <> (11.06.2006)

If you get tired of these little addenda and corrections, you can say so. I am bothering because you have done a very good site, mostly. But some things go over your head. That's not surprising - Russian cultural referents would mostly go over mine.

"the unbearable 'Cygnet Committee', a nine-minute grandstanding ode to the supernatural and to God-only-knows-what"

You know, a lot of people reckon this song highly, but it is only because of the words, and you missed. Like "5 years" it is a science-fiction novella. Now, I am glad to see that somebody has already explained the last one correctly in a comment, but not this. And it is certainly under-rehearsed because Bowie did not have much money behind him, and no regular band. If he had had the Spiders you would see things otherwise, I think, but only the success of "Space Oddity" (69 in Britain!) brought this. In 71 he was obscure again - he played right beside me and I did not even..... oh well, my fault.

What is happening here is; Bowie is imagining that the "beautiful people" of the 60's manage to unite behind a charismatic figure, who is narrating at first. A kind of Jesus/Dylan figure, a "talking man" with spiritual powers. He is genuine, but the people around him are power-hungry and, after he has effected the revolution, they destroy him, then turn the "love" cliches into a totalitarian programme - we also hear their side of the story. We can say that it recalls Stalin and the killing of Trotsky - the wiping out of "permanent revolution" in favour of propaganda and force.

Like many Bowie tracks, it quotes a lot and rock cliches like "Love is all you need" and "Kick out the Jams" appear, showing that any mass ideology is a bad ideology. Very intelligent and as well-constructed a song as Dylan's "Lily, Rosemary...." But you did not appreciate that one either. Oh well. It makes him much more than a "flower child", because he is very close to the kind of thinking that dominated that time ("up against the wall, motherfucker!") but well beyond it.

"Probably the second best 'space' classic after Elton John's 'Rocket Man'"


"'The Bewley Brothers', with some unmatched pretentiousness, rather nonsensical lyrics and an ultra-pathetic vocal delivery"

Look, you have to be a little sensitive here - this is personal to the point of self indulgence, yes, but you see his brother had just died. They had been living a surreal, druggy life, "shooting up (that means injecting) pie-in-the-sky (heroin)". Hey, but you forgot to condemn his "cashing-in fake cockney" accent ("starving for me gravy"). Most likely inspired by Mike Sarne and Anthony Newley as much as Marriott.

That reminds me: "Modern Love" and "church on time" - this time he is quoting Lerner and Loewe's "My Fair Lady" - another famous "cockney" performance, by Stanley Holloway, MASSIVE in the early sixties. But do not ask me exactly why this time.

"'Life On Mars?' The melody is not very strong....."

Don't be silly, and also do not knock Bowie as a singer. You cannot judge from demos. A demo is a demo. This time the quote "look at those cavemen go" is from "Alley Oop" by ohmygod what were they called?? Same guy that did "Surfer Bird". Anyhow, "Life on Mars" is as good as ...... anything.

"'Fill Your Heart' is also a tossoff "

I think you do not know what that expression means in England!! It's Biff Rose's song, naive but lovely.

"Anglo-Saxon public"

You had better avoid this "A-S" expression (especially when referring to the Incredible String Band and Lindisfarne!) And, incidentally, you had better not say (especially in Newcastle-upon-Tyne) that Lindisfarne are forgotten - or you will see "those cavemen go" for you! They are bigger than the Animals and ELP - Novocastrians are very loyal to local bands and I think Lindisfarne still fill City Hall every New Year, though Alan Hull is long dead. Moreover, Lindisfarne's first album "Nicely Out of Tune" is MUCH better. And there is masses more Incredibles stuff.

"Don't mind the lyrics on here (there's no sense anyway)"

Yes, this is Bowie-as-bisexual, trying to lose an importunate boyfriend in favour of his "mellow-thighed chick".

"If you're sick of the originals (yeah, like you could have worn out your favourite Mojos record ten times...)"

Is this a joke? We played The Mojos to death back in 64. It is a fantastic record, and the follow up "Why not Tonight?" nearly as good. Oh, the way that the "Everything's Alright" riff started in "backwards", the sublime drum crack, the Jerry Lee piano, the wild whoops. Oh my god what a record, but they could never follow it after that one lookalike follower. Just like The Dennisons and their "Walking the Dog". Absolutely TROUNCED the Stones. Real, real, classics. But not hits in the US, so who cares????????? Yes, we wore it out all right. Still not sick of it, because I cannot find a copy of the bloody thing.

At this point I pretty much tuned out from Bowie till "Let's Dance", (then tuned out again) so I shall bid you good night.


No reader comments yet.


Pirjo Kling <> (08.06.2001)

Just want to say that I really don't find this as Bowies debut album. Why? Well, according to my knowledge the Music was Bowies but he didn't have much t do with the building of this one.

I mean that after the mid-sixties David recorded a lot of material to the Deram record company ( Deccas subsidiary) and most of these songs were released as singles, none of 'em achieved any kind of succes worth mentioning, until Space Oddity when David had allready left Deram, encouraged by SO:s success and started to record his first album Man of Words / Man of Music ( later known as Space oddity).

But Decca was faster, so being enthusiastic about the fame that David had recently reached they started beatin' a dead horse. Decca compiled this collection called (The World of) David Bowie from his flopped singles. After all this debut album flopped, Space Oddity-the album flopped, the two next albums also flopped. But some people just don't give up.

Now this is why I think many fans have become estranged from this album, which is quite sad, because this is a good album. The songs are still by David Bowie.


Ben Greenstein <> (04.10.99)

I'm glad to find someone else who thinks that "God Knows I'm Good" is a great tune. I've always felt that it really catches the album at its most clever and catchy. The rest of the album is sort of a letdown, but with a couple of classic tracks. The best are the title track (obvious, really), "An Occasional Dream," the super-catchy "Janine," and the end part to "Memory Of A Free Festival." I'd give it a high six, or maybe a seven when I'm in the mood. And does anybody have any idea what's supposed to be going on in "Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud"?

Jeff Blehar <> (05.04.2000)

I don't quite understand the appeal of this album.  I mean, if you asked me to *objectively* rank it, I'd tell you it blows without thinking twice.  And's tough for me to dismiss Space Oddity (or David Bowie, or Man Of Words, Man Of Music, or David Does Dylan, or whatever it's being called these days) so cavalierly, 'cause for some reason I enjoy the damned thing quite a bit.  Certainly I like it more than The Man Who Sold The World - whereas that sludgefest actually has some tracks that I openly DISLIKE, this one has got nothing really unpleasant, just loads and loads of naivete, and perhaps a sprinkling of stupidity.

"Space Oddity" is the only classic here, and I enjoy that one just as much as I always have.  Calling it dated seems rather pointless, since it was dated the day it came out; part of its charm is that it's such a wonderful period piece that evokes its era yet doesn't seem hopelessly trapped in cultural amber.  But there are other songs here that I'd call top-flight for Bowie: "Janine" is REALLY good, with an almost country-rock groove and lyrics which prefigure the identity crisis issues which would become Bowie's dominant lyrical theme throughout the 70's.  ("And if you took an axe to me, you'd kill another man, not me at all.") Similarly, "Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud" is a goofy charmer (unfortunately tarted-up on the album version with Tony Visconti's overdone strings - look for the acoustic/viola single version which went out on the B-side of "Space Oddity" and is currently only available on the long-deleted Sound + Vision boxed set).  If you can dig Marc Bolan's fantasy-hippie trip, then this song is right up your alley.

While the other songs are certainly nothing compared to Bowie's late-seventies work (heck, I'd say they're not even as good as a single track from Hunky Dory), they're all...pleasant.  They've got this digable faux-hippie vibe to them, all acoustics and farfisa and echo and ropey guitar, and while the lyrics are truly frightening in their ineptitude (has anyone bar possible Jon Anderson EVER penned a more ungainly lyric than the one from "Cygnet Commitee" about "the love machine lumbers through desolation rows?"  That one almost puts "rearranging your liver to the solid mental grace" to shame!), the music is all smooth cruising.  I have to say, this album goes by quickly and inoffensively, and while I almost never listen to it except in conjunction with a lot of other Bowie (I like putting all of the albums on in chronological sequence and moving down the years), I never get bored, and I never skip anything.

Which is not to say it's a great CD.  It's certainly one of the last ones you should get from the "classic" era, but there's no reason to place it at the bottom of your list.  And if you can find the old Rykodisc version, pick it up - the bonus tracks are pretty cool (and essential for completists), being a B-side of "The Prettiest Star" (another track now difficult to find, it was put on Sound + Vision and thus not included here; look for it also on the now-deleted-as-well Best Of David Bowie 1969/1974) and both sides of a superior remake of "Memory Of A Free Festival" featuring Mick Ronson for the first time.  I got a strange, soft spot in my heart for this oddity: 6/10.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (21.12.2000)

'Space oddity'? Or 'Face oddity'? Whatever be, it's great. This is the first David's album you can really enjoy (or the most part of it). Lyrics of title track are well constructed and that's why they are so enjoyable! But still they remind me Ray Bradbury or A.Azimov. The next track( 'Unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed' ) in my opinion is rip-off from 'Song for Jeffrey' by Jethro Tull.

'Janie' is wonderful. Ooh! How I like the chorus! The end of 'Memory of a free festival' makes me feel rather free. 'An occasional dream' with 'God knows I'm good' are cute numbers and I enjoy them. The only song I dislike here is 'Gynet committee'. Ah, and don't forget about 'Wild-eyed boy from freecloud' which is maybe the best song here (after 'Space oddity'). Hurahh! From now we face real Bowie!

Well, maybe I overrate this album but I think that it deserves 8/10. Still let's remember that this album takes many ideas from other artists or writers...

Pirjo Kling <> (08.06.2001)

Like George said "whatever he does, you know he doesn't really believe in it". I mean he never takes very seriously anything he's doing. David's irony is mostly so gentle that seldom people really recognize it at all. The homosexual glam rocker, mid-seventies white soul man, Pop Prince in the eighties -they were all created with a lil' twinkle of humour in his good-old-odd-eyes.

And I think that Space Oddity was the Major Joke. I mean look that hairstyle in the booklet pictures! Who would have imitated Bob Dylans ( and I'm talkin' 'bout Bob Dylan now, man ) style of songwriting and his hair so arrogantly back in1968? THIS MUST B A JOKE!!!

And althought the joke's not as funny as it can be, it sounds good, and not just the well known classics like "Wild eyed boy from Freecloud" + the title track. I like them all (exept for "God knows I'm good" which I [sorry, I know many peole like it] allways found just a short-inspired filler).

And think once more, does it really even sound like Dylan, I think it's more like Pink Floyd.

PS. The CD cover is nice, why did they change it on the new re-releases and even put some fairy tale-crap in the back ( Fairy Tale-crap goes well with Floyd's but David Bowie?) What do you people really think about these new re-re-releases? Da ya turn and face the strange?


Ben Greenstein <> (12.10.99)

For the most part we agree on this one, although I like "All The Madmen" and hate "Width Of A Circle," whereas you seem to be quite the opposite. I guess a lot of people like this album because it's "dark" (or so I've read in reviews), but I don't see it. It just sounds like a bunch of half-realized rockers to me, most of them not being gloomy in the least. The ones I like are "After All," "All The Madmen," the title track (which I, like many others of my generation, became familiar with through Nirvana's swell cover), and... well, that's about it. The rest of the songs are boring. I give it a five.

Jeff Blehar <> (05.04.2000)

Yeah, you're right George, it's boring.  But The Man Who Sold The World DOES sound genuinely like heavy-metal.  I wasn't sure what to expect from it before I got it, hearing it described as a heavy metallish album; I think I was expecting an APPROXIMATION of the sound similar to the way Young Americans approximates black soul without actually being the real McCoy.  But lo and behold, folks - this is REAL heavy metal most of the time, not a fakey Bowie version.  Of course, that heavy metal "sound" is not really Bowie's doing at all, but Mick Ronson's; the story is that during the sessions for The Man Who Sold The World Bowie was at an absolute low in terms of interest in the music-making process, being more concerned with his new wife and arriving to the sessions with exactly ONE song written ("Width Of A Circle"), and that in a version drastically different from the one heard here.  As a result, most of the songs here were "written" by Tony Visconti and Mick Ronson, working tirelessly to bang an album out of jams, fragments, and Bowie's lyrics which were composed on the scene, more or less.  So if anyone should be given credit for the places where this album works, it's probably those two.  "All The Madmen," for example, is largely Visconti's triumph (and the best song on the album, I think), while "The Man Who Sold The World" was based on a Ronson riff all the way through.

Of course, this "music-making by committee" led to a lot of shit, quite frankly, as well.  Witness "She Shook Me Cold," a "song" (note the arch quotation marks there, friends) that even a 5-year old could figure out was transparently thrown together in the studio. Atonal guitar noise (actually, in this sense Ronson was on the cutting edge of heavy metal at this point) running underneath a positively excruciating non-melody and some atrocious singing make for what might be the single worst moment in Bowie's 70's output.  I swear to god it feels like my ears are bleeding after this one is done.  I see no point in songs like "Saviour Machine" or "Running Gun Blues" or "The Supermen" (although the last mentioned is the first recorded appearance of Bowie's obsession with master races which would culminate in the Thin White Duke's Nazi demeanor), and they're just boring snoozes.

Not all is lost, however.  "Width Of A Circle" is the only time on the album where they get that heavy-metal psychojam thing correct, and it's awesome.  On top of the music is that really intriguing mindfuck of a lyric; what is it about, a homoerotic meeting with Satan?  Who can be sure?  But it's memorable, to be sure, and in a really good way.  "All The Madmen" is just fantazmo, the best song on the album and one of the most disturbing songs Bowie ever did.  Right up there with "The Bewlay Brothers" not only in terms of sheer evocation of the creeping unease of laughing insanity (that "where can the horizon lie" bit just gives me shudders, along with that "look! I'm out of my goddamn mind!" vibe from the circus organ), but also in terms of autobiographical import: this song is made a hundred times more disconcerting when you know it was written about his BROTHER (half-brother, actually), Terry, who went insane in his 20's after a normal adolescence and ended up hanging himself . 

The entire Jones family has a history of mental insanity, and Bowie was seriously frightened that he would be the next victim of the family.  (Actually, he almost was - the breakaway towards mental stability came only with Low and the end of constant "persona" shifts.) All one needs to do is look carefully into the discography of this guy to find a whole slew of songs that deal with this theme ("All The Madmen," "The Man Who Sold The World," "The Bewlay Brothers," "Aladdin Sane," "Quicksand," "Station To Station," "Scream Like A Baby," etc.).  Now compare those with the songs which deal with the OTHER major theme of his career, that of identity ("Janine," "Changes," "Fame," "Win," "Who Can I Be Now?," "Always Crashing In The Same Car," "Teenage Wildlife," etc.) and tell me you're not absolutely fascinated by the complex interplay between the two.  I swear, Bowie's such an interesting artist precisely because (and despite what his theatrics and regular accusations of phoniness would lead you to believe) you can SEE the warring aspects of his personality fighting each other on record.  Yes, his early albums were poses, but that's the POINT, and every now and then some profound insight to his personality slips through, revealing something utterly fascinating.  Despite the legend of Bowie as being inscrutable, his 70's albums tell an overarching tale of sorts, that of a mentally unstable man wrestling with his psychotic demons while projecting a series of "constructed" characters to the audience (doesn't anyone else see the crucial relationship between his shapeshifting, his FEAR of insanity, and his actual mental instability?), and then finally breaking free.

Despite the interest of this psychodrama (and despite "The Man Who Sold The World," which is not only excellent but actually pretty coherent in its offputting conceit: Bowie, much to his surprise, meets HIMSELF going down the stairs as he's climbing up, with the ensuing identity crisis you'd imagine), this album is pretty lackluster.  It's got the three songs I mentioned plus the okay "Black Country Rock," and the rest is disposable.  (Not to mention the bonus tracks on the Rykodisc release, all of which are useless.)  But for anyone interested in Bowie's history - and it's a pretty interesting one - The Man Who Sold The World is essential listening.  Still, objectively this is among the weakest of his 70's albums.  4/10.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (07.12.2000)

It's better to describe this album in two words: 'boring but'. Don't forget that this album started real Bowie's career and audience was really influenced by The man who sold the world. In my opinion this album is better than Space oddity and it's surely darker than all Bowie's albums he produced before. The man who sold the world is more agressive, too! Take 'Width of the circle' or 'Running gun blues' for instance. I was really frightened by these songs (oh, well not 'frightened' but 'impressed'). Guitarwork is very good, too. 'Black country rock' is rather pretty number and 'The man who sold the world' is ...err... I don't know how to desribe it, just believe that it's very good song. The only two songs I dislike here are 'Superman' and 'After all'.

The man who sold the world is very important album in Bowie's catalog and it worths listening (and buying, too) so I give it 7/10.

Bryan Boyd Jackson Jr. <> (07.01.2001)

What the heck is wrong with you people? The Man Who Sold The World is a great album! Every song is incredible except "She Shook Me Cold". Seems as if too much is going on at once to enjoy it on that song. But besides that, everything else is incredible. "Saviour Machine" and "Width Of A Circle are excellent songs. Don't listen to George or these other jabroni's, buy this album now.

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

I read that Bowie was actually very uninvolved with this album because he was always off screwing his new wife and smoking pot. I just thought that maybe that might explain something about why it was such a mess. And it is a mess, I agree. I like most of it except for 'Running Gun Blues' because... God... Who can stomach it when his voice get's THAT nasal? I probably love Bowie's voice more than the next person but the delivery on that one is really too much. And I don't really like 'The Supermen' that much because the more acoustic version that now comes on the bonus disk for the 30th aniversary Ziggy Stadust is the one I heard first and is actually much superior.

But man... 'Width of a Circle' is great, huh? I once had a brief conversation about it with an army cadet in a CD store, which I thought was humorous because I couldn't help wondering if he was gay...


Jeff Blehar <> (05.04.2000)

Rick Wakeman once called Hunky Dory "one of the most fantastic collections of great songs ever," and while that's a bit effusive, you'll find me hard-pressed to disagree. Hunky Dory is just magically delicious, with beautiful melodies and orchestrations all over the joint, some surprisingly hard-hitting lyrics, a few rockers, and one grating Anthony Newleyesque tune thrown in for good measure.  In fact, I definitely prefer this to Ziggy Stardust, though to a certain degree that's because for the longest time Hunky Dory, due to its popularity, was absolutely the hardest David Bowie album to find on CD.  I started listening to Mr. Jones after they deleted all of his Rykodisc albums from the market, and collecting all the Rykodisc versions (something I'm now glad I did, as the packaging and bonus tracks make them far superior to the new EMI remasters) was something of a two-year odyssey which took from from California to Washington D.C. to the beaches of Brighton, England, where I finally found this one.

Enough of my personal recollections, here's why this album is great: not only does it present Bowie at his melodic finest, but it gives us a glimpse of him before the mask finally went all the way on. We got personal confessions like "Changes" (an irresistable single, methinks) and "Quicksand" - to say nothing of the epic that is "The Bewlay Brothers" - as well a lovable ditty written for his child ("Kooks" - usually I find things like this to be cloying, but it's so uncharacteristic for him to be doing something like this that I stow my reservations) and a series of open tributes to his influences. And then there's the single best ballad of David's career, the titanic "Life On Mars?," which, despite the fact that its real reason for exsistence was to carry out a private musical vendetta against Paul Anka and "My Way," is still rea--

What?  "MY WAY?"

Yep.  Here's the story: Bowie had been asked to write a set of lyrics for a French melody, "Comme D'habitude," but they were rejected and Paul Anka was asked to submit a different set. The result was "My Way," endless Frank Sinatra comebacks, and Karaoke night for Japanese businessmen down at the local bar. "Life On Mars?" is therefore a pretty neat parody of "My Way," ("inspired by Frankie," as Bowie's liner notes say), utilizing a very similar four bar melody.

That aside, whatta song!  It's got one of the most lushly, perfectly overdone orchestrations of any song I've ever heard, which is to say that it's dripping with strings, but in a very winking, ironic way (unlike, say, "The Long And Winding Road"). Rick Wakeman contributes some delightfully ostentatious piano, and everything gels, even Bowie's singing, which in general was still far too nasal at this point.

I could beat my point into the ground by reviewing all the songs on this album, but I'd rather leave it at this: with one or two exceptions ("Fill Your Heart" make my joints ache, and "Song For Bob Dylan"'s message is confused: is this tribute or parody?) this album is damn near perfect.  Most of my friends say either this or Station To Station is his best album, and while I generally favor Bowie's late Seventies material, I can completely understand where they're coming from.  10/10.

Oh, and the cover of the album is absolutely beautiful as well.  Probably my favorite one of his album covers (and this from Bowie, who had a slew of memorable ones), with "Heroes"'s stark avant-gardism close behind.

Ben Greenstein <> (23.06.2000)

Yes, "Life On Mars?" is the best song on here, and the rest are certainly great as well. Except for "Eight Line Poem," which more or less sucks. I could give this album a nine - it's defenitely one of his most solid works.

Rich Bunnell <> (19.07.2000)

It's hard to say a lot about an album that's REALLY consistent, but keeps basically the same pretty, gorgeous mood the whole way through. But doesn't that speak in favor of the album itself? The tributes are awesome ("Queen Beeeeotch" in particular), the three classics are grandiose and effective ("Life On Mars?" is an absolute triumph, and I find the verse melodies of "Changes" and "Oh! You Pretty Things" to be just as captivating as the choruses) and the bouncy dippy songs like "Fill Your Heart" and "Kooks" work as little asides to bookend the overblown "Quicksand"(at least, on the CD version). "Eight Line Poem" is the only weak point due to lack of a distinguishable, memorable melody, but it's short and serves as a breather between the two masterpieces it sits between. I give it a nine-- I can't see how this can get an eight. It's definitely one of Bowie's most well-performed, well-written albums (and one of the only ones where he shows any sincerity at all).

By the way, the chorus of "Changes" says "Turn and face the strain," not "strange." It makes a lot more sense in light of Bowie's whole career, though, the way that you heard it.

<> (26.08.2000)

With a split second hesitation, and immediate defense of the ones I like almost as much, Hunky Dory is my favorite David Bowie album. It's a nice album, and I mean that in a good way, but like all his stuff there's a sinister undercurrent. I will explain this further as each track goes by.

It was this album that harvested the seeds for his 'sound'; add the crunch of his previous LP to the piano, strings, sax, and you've got the Spiders. "Changes" starts the album perfectly, with its melody showing off all he learned form listening to Anthony Newley all those years. Quite a mature statement for a 25 year old, and the bridge ("strange fascinationetc.") does a great job of going in to third gear right before the last chorus. And I still have to remind myself that that last sax part at the end is HIM. "Oh! You Pretty Things" at first sounds like all his other songs about aliens taking over/improving/destroying the planet, but I'm still seduced (never that I'd use that word in connection with Bowie!) by the cheery, Sunday morning coffee mood it sets by the simple piano and vocal.

"Eight Line Poem" follows immediately; vocally he may be trying to do Dylan, whose paino-dominated New Morning may well have inspired this, byut the biggest influnce on this tracks is Nick Drake's "Time Has Told Me". The piano and guitar tone on that track are identical to the sound of this one. The piano continues on "Life On Mars?", the sweeping sound of which carries one away, just like whatsername watching the movie show. And the "My Way"-meets-2001 ending is stunning, right down to the phone ringing at the end of the track.

"Kooks" is a lullabye to Zowie, complete with admission of the fear that he might not be a perfect father! (An understatement, since it's bad enough your Dad says he's bi, shaves his eyebrows, dyes his hair orange and banana yellow, does enough coke to cover Antarctica...but he names you Zowie! Which the way yer supposed to prounce it rhymes with your last name! Wouldn't have been much better if it rhymed with "kapowie" or "Maui", but you've suffered enough.) This track is very derivative of Neil YOung's "Till The Morning COmes" from his comtemporrary After The Gold Rush.

"Quicksand" is another tune I love without understanding what it's about. The chords are so catchy I've written several new lyrics of my own to go with them. I also love the subtle key change that can't happen until the first chorus, that sets up for the modulation towards the last chorus.

"Fill Your Heart" was my first candidate for least favorite song on the album, but it's so gosh-darn happy, and how the hell did Ronno learn to arrange strings? They make the song memorable.

"Andy Warhol" would probably be forgettable, if not for the in the studio snippet that starts the tune, an idea stolen from Dylan's "115th Dream" (more on that in the next bardo...I mean paragraph). Still, I can't help singing along with "Andy walking, Andy tired, Andy take a little -- SNOOZE". This just wouldn't sound right with electric guitars and a rhythm section.

"Song for Bob Dylan" just hasn't worn well over the years. In the future he would do better in this style without be so overt. I think if he found a different lyric for the verse, while keeping the "here she comes" chorus, it might haved aged better. Plus Ronno's guitar parts arre priceless.

"Queen Bitch" is just fun. It's a sugar-coated distillation of Lou Reed's Tales of the City, and the last verse where he's "staring at [his] hotel wall...phoning a cab...throwing both his bags down the hall" is such a great litany of growing pissed-offness it, too makes me chuckle. Best musical moment: where the electric comes crunching in on the third bar.

"Bewlay Brothers" is one of many tunes about his brother Terry. I don't know what "Bewlay" refers too, but Dave's read more books than I have. And the melody...whaddya mean there's no melodies on this album? The last part about baking me pie still startles me when it comes in, and the demonic cartoon voices...a stunner. Giiven more time I could go on and on about this album. I've listened to it more than any other Bowie over the last 15 years, and there's not a song I dislike.

Forgot to mention the bonus tunes on the Ryko reissue. One gets one's hopes up when one hears of unreleased gems from the sessions for a classic album; in this case it's a toss-up. "Bombers" would have been a fine B-side, but just doesn't fit with the rest of the album. The alternate versions are negligible, but this version of "The Supermen" is my favorite over the overblown one on MWSTW and the live ones where Ronno is more out of tune than usual. And overall the sound of the EMI remasters are some of the best sounding discs I've ever heard.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (07.12.2000)

Very strange album and very strange review, though it's all because of the oddity of this album. I mean when someone gives it 8 out of 10, I disagree but when I rate it 10/10 I disagree with myself! So don't count this letter as disagreement or agreement - I just can't give it final rating. Once I thought of Hunky Dory as about one of the best David's album but then I got into contraversy with myself. Still I don't understand how can you rate Ziggy stardust higher than Hunky Dory. The last one is surely better. Just compare them (don't count the concept, it gives only interest to the album as a story): Four ass-kicking piano songs ('Changes', 'Oh! You pretty thing', 'Eight line poem', 'Life on Mars?') on Hunky Dory against one on Ziggy stardust (though, I have to admit that this one moves me to tears while previous four just make me think about my life and some other silly things). Other songs are equal to each other (oh, well, almost equal - I have to admit that Ziggy Stardust songs are a little bit better but it's all because of 'Rock'n'roll suicide').

But why I'm talking about ratings?!!!!! Everyone (except some extraordinary person) can dig into Hunky Dory (or should I say 'digs into'?) just as into Ziggy Stardust. These albums are brothers that's why I rate Hunky Dory just like Ziggy Stardust - 10/10! Hey! Where's my feeling of disagreement with myself?

P.S. Note about 'Changes': The second and the third chorus are different: in the second one Bowie sings 'Turn and face the strain' while in the third one we hear:'Turn and face the strange'. It seems to me that David is playing with us. Just look: in song 'Young Americans' many people can't understand what Bowie's singing: 'bridge' or 'fridge' (the first line).

Ryan Maffei <> (29.03.2002)

I'm not afraid to say that his sexuality disregarded, Bowie is and always will be my musical idol. The man was a genius and a great writer, unabashedly un-mainstream but also charismatic and affable. And this record, while not his best work overall (Ziggy Stardust, anyone?), is the prime example of his genius, to me. Every production technique, every chord change, every brilliant lyric demonstrates Bowie's anarchic, relentless creativity to me better than anything else in his canon. The song list is unrivaled by most: "Life On Mars?" achieves brilliant, winning grandiosity and flourish, "Andy Warhol" is a thrilling bit of--how shall I say?--"fucking around in the studio", "Changes" remains a classic bit of pseudo-cocktail jazz (how many of those are there in rock'n'roll?), "Oh! You Pretty Things" rivals McCartney as a wonderful piece of pop, and "Song for Bob Dylan" and "Queen Bitch" nicely skewer Zimmerman and Lou Reed to a delightful extent. Granted, Hunky isn't as polished as stuff like "Heroes" and Ziggy, but I believe that that actually contributes to its unbridled artistic effect. Yes, this is remarkably close to a 10--side one is top-notch pop, and side two is brilliant experimentalism--but "Kooks" and "The Bewlay Brothers" bring it down just a smite. A 9 from me, one of the best 9s of all time. Hear this record, all who haven't--it's David at his dynamic best.

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

Why is it that every time a guy says he likes David Bowie he feels inclined to distance himself from his sexuality? I'm just a girl, though, so what do I know... It's ACCEPTABLE for me to be in love with him when he wears stilleto heels...

But anyway, this album's got to get a 9. It really is one of his very best albums. I bought a lot of Bowie albums just on the basis of their being Bowie albums, and while I was able to listen to Outside or The Man Who Sold the World for a couple of days of enjoyment, they didn't stick with me the way this one has. When I first bought it (with much trepedation since I'd hardly heard of it before) I stayed up half the night simply because I didn't want to stop listening to it. Every single track is fantastic, except for 'Song for Bob Dylan', which really doesn't seem to fit in with everything else; it sounds outdated while the rest of it sounds reasonably fresh. I really think that 'Oh! You Pretty Things' is the best song, though. It's an absolutely georgeos song, one of the best he's ever written. I agree with most of the rest of your review, though. God, this is just such a good album... Even better on vinyl. It's sort of the Bowie album that's been forgotten in time. And it does seem almost sincere, doesn't it? It probably isn't, but given most of the other things he's done, it does at least SEEM sincere.

Palash Ghosh <> (28.01.2004)

I can't decipher if you really like this album or not, George, but I love it. I find it exhilarating music, full of eccentric elegance and grandeur (fake, according to you). It might be Bowie's finest record (though there are many of his albums I have yet to listen to).

We have three blue-chip classic songs here ('Changes,' 'Life on Mars' and 'Oh! You Pretty Things'); one near-classic ('Quicksand'); and one very enjoyable rocker ('Queen Bitch'). My main gripe with your critique, George, is your claim that Hunky Dory has no "single strong melody." Are you kidding me??? The five aforementioned tunes are overflowing with melody, as well as dramatic key changes and delicate arrangements that are nothing short of stupendous.

I'll admit the remaining songs are weaker, but (as you aptly pointed out), each is worthwhile. I have always been puzzled by 'Song to Bob Dylan.' I just don't see any Dylan influence on Bowie's works (unless they mean certain meandering, indecipherable lyrics!). Otherwise, Dylan and Bowie are polar opposites; thus, I prefer to think Bowie to ridiculing Dylan.

Adrian Subrt <> (09.07.2004)

Bowie must have really felt the pressure for commercial success after the massive seller that was The Man Who Sold The World. So much pressure that even the demigod that is himself felt trapped in. He escapes from this commercial tyranny by recruiting a future member of Yes and writing many off-kilter, piano-based, and acoustic tunes.

Up to bat first is the super-hit 'Changes'. Although 'Changes' is great, it may be a bit overrated with people placing it among the top Bowie songs. Is it really in the same category as 'Space Oddity', 'Suffragette City', 'Lady Grinning Soul', and '1984'? The "Ch-ch-ch" part is cool, but it's not that cool. 'Changes' may be pretty, but 'Oh! You Pretty Things' is much more beautiful. This is the song that takes a page from the book of 'Changes', using the pretentious "speaking for the generation" lyrics and replacing them with strange evolutionary theories. Bowie deserves to be identified by this song much more than the previous. Next, 'Eight Line Poem' is a deep abyss with none of Bowie's immense talent visible. Does he actually expect us to be interested in such lines as "The key to the city/ Is in the sun that pins the branches to the sky"? I mean, what the hell is that supposed to mean? Come on Bowie, you could do better than that. Are you trying to pull a fast one on us? I suppose we can forgive him, because 'Life On Mars?' positions itself as a supreme song in Bowie's canon. It really takes his pop craftsmanship to a new level.

If the social commentary of 'Life On Mars?' brings you down, then we'll press the fast-forward button and listen to 'Kooks' without a frown. What a happy little boppin' tune. Although it doesn't change your life, 'Kooks' does bring a bit of warmth into it. But next, the mighty tidal wave of 'Quicksand' washes away its featherweight predecessor. One is left mortally crushed by Bowie's musical interpretation of his life struggle with philosophy and self-analysation. Even if his lyrics are a bit confusing, I place this song right up there with 'Life On Mars? in the Pantheon of Bowie classics. I suspect that Bowie wants to bookend his magnum opus with fluff, because he follows it up with a stupid cover that kind of upsets me. I suppose it adds a bit to the weirdness of this album, but so does 'Eight Line Poem', and that doesn't make it good.

Everyone talks about how David's best album-climax is the last three songs of The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, but for my money, I'll take the last four songs of Hunky Dory. They all feature Bowie reaching out and addressing lesser public figures (Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground, and J.R.R. Tolkien). It shows the world that he cares about even those inferior to him. You've got 'Andy Warhol', perhaps the quintessential Hunky Dory song. It's weird, folksy, and has one of the greatest introductions this side of 'Future Legend'. He keeps up his winning streak with 'Song For Bob Dylan', a solid pop-rocker that keeps up the momentum. Regarding another lesser artist is 'Queen Bitch', his tribute to the Velvet Underground. He takes their style and knocks it up to the stratosphere. If Hunky Dory's songs were genocides, this one would definitely be the Holocaust (the best). For my money, 'The Bewlay Brothers' is a better interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien's saga The Lord Of The Rings than the new cinematic trilogy. Sure it's a bit more abstract, but he gets the mood across more than any of that Hollywood trash could ever hope. Bowie's lyrics are at an absurdist epitome, and the surprise ending is such a flash of genius that the entire record-buying public of 1971 must have been expecting a musical equivalent of Hamlet for his next album.

And so Bowie's classic streak begins, for the rest of the decade he dominated the industry. Anything he wrote on paper would be equal to something Mozart would work for hours on. This is the first jewel in the triple crown of Bowie's holy trinity. Overall it deserves a fourteen out of fifteen. Despite its 2 major setbacks, the rest of the album is so great that it more than makes up for them.


Rich Bunnell <> (10.01.2000)

I guess no one's commented on this one because it's so universally commented-on that it would have no meaning to say anything about it. I personally find it not to be an amazing album, but easily the most consistent in his catalogue, and it really, really picks up at the end starting with "Hang On To Yourself." Still...

"There's a staaaarmaaan waiting in the sky!"

"Soooomewheeeere ooover the raaaainbooooow!"

Hasn't anyone noticed the similarity? Or is it too obvious to say? The song rules though, and the album gets a nine. It would get a ten if the whole album were as wonderful as the "aaaaaaaAAAAAWHAM BAM THANK YOU MA'AM!" part of "Suffragette City," but nothing could live up to that.

Ben Greenstein <> (23.06.2000)

I think this album is pretty overrated. The last three songs are the only great ones (but boy are they good!), and the rest is just harmless, old timey, glammy rock and roll. Nothing bad, nothing great - I give it an eight. Hey!

mjcarney <> (24.08.2000)

Ok, so you have probably heard what a great record this is, but you are still unsure whether to buy it do to its glam-rock/androgynous overview.  Well, let me assure you, I felt the same way for a while--I mean Bowie is a WEIRD guy.  I already had his Changesbowie compilation, but an album seemed like it might be a little too weird for me (so as you probably can tell he is not one of my favorite performers).  Yet, once I heard the album, I thought--wow, it is tremendous.  Sure Bowie is still weird, but that doesn't limit him from writing some awesome music--to which every track on ZSATSFM is.  And like George said, screw the concept, it doesn't really make a lot of sense--all I can gather is that the world is nearing its demise and then this plastic adrogynous Ziggy Stardust from Space comes and brings his band there to rise to fame and save the world.  I think they save the world, but in doing so Ziggy let's his fame get to his head, and he ends up depressed conteplating suicide.  I mean, first of all that is a pretty f-up concept that doesn't make any sense, but the music behind it and the lyrics of the album do not need the concept to make any sense.  So, it ultimately works despite the concept's shortcomings.  That is about the only "problem" with the disc however.  It opens with a dire/moody yet beautiful ballad "Five Years".  It starts off so quiet/moody/gentle but by the end it is a roaring piece of music coupled with end of the world lyrics that rush at you with David's frantic/energetic screaming.  It makes for a great piece of music, one of my all-time favorite album openers, and in the top 5 of my favorite Bowie tracks--I can't tire of it.  Next is the rather standard--yet good don't get me wrong--"Soul Love".  By standard here I mean that it fits well on the record, and it is very Bowie-esque, but it is still a great track just not a highlight of a  highlights-only disc.  "Moonage Daydream" is next and it is a rocker.  The track works so well, and is a major highlight, mainly because of the guitar solo--I mean the track is alright, but coupled with the brilliant guitar solo that really will knock you out with headphones--it is just tremendous.  It isn't really because it is technically good, but it just has this larger than life sound and is one of my favorite  guitar solos ever because of the effect it reaches.  "Starman" is next, and I actually like this song much more for its verses than its chorus.  I like the weird/dancy verses, but I feel that the chorus is a bit of a letdown--it isn't bad it just doesn't fit too well with the verses.  Still it is a great song and another highlight.  "Star" and "It Ain't Easy" I will just couple together here because they are the closest this album has to filler--not too poor, but also not too great either.  I am however eager to hear Ray Davies' original, but the cover is alright--great dynamics, but it just sounds too 70's hard rockish to me (which means it doesn't quite have a timeless feel to it like many of the other tracks).  "Lady Stardust" is the best pure ballad on the disc.  It has a gripping melody, and is sung very well by Bowie (given his shaky voice which I agree with).  "Hang On To Yourself" is the proto-punk track.  It sounds very Velvet Underground--meets the Ramonesish, and it cooks.  Then we get the brilliant three closers: "Ziggy Stardust" which is an excellent riff-rocker, that really didn't grow on me until I learned it on guitar--which is odd enough, but it is exceptional; "Suffragette City" was the track off of Changesbowie that made me very interested in purchasing this disc, and it is another exceptional highlight.  Finally, the desparate closer "Rock N Roll Suicide" ends the album almost as brilliantly as it began.  It starts off as a slow/moody/depressive guitar song, then explodes into a plea for someone to not commit suicide.  Nevertheless, it is a classic end to a classic album--Bowie's best (although I have only heard about 6-7 of them and those are the critically acclaimed mind you).  The reissue adds some excellent extras, which although pale to the albums brilliance aren't too shabby either--my favorites are the two demos at the end. This album is one of those which definately deserves all of its hoopla.  I am no big Bowie fan (actually I think the man is a genius because he can change his music and styles so effectively, even if  A LOT of his music does not fit my tastes). Still though, this disc is just incredible.  It deserves a 10/10, it's his best and is easily in my top 20 albums ever.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (14.12.2000)

Woderful album with strong concept depicting a rock star driven to destruction by the expectations of his audience. It's very hard to show the feelings that Ziggy evokes in me but believe that they are true (though, again it's a game, a play and I hardly believe that Bowie is sincere). I almost agree with you ideas about Ziggy except the best song. 'Starman' is surely good but I don't like that childish tune after great chorus. Not that it ruins the whole song but leaves a strange feeling (and not very enjoyable). See, the main melody is strong and serious but post-chorus tune hurts (a little bit, though) the whole serious concept of album. In my opinion, 'Five years' is definitely better. The only Bowie's song that moves me to tears (sometimes). Still as I said before I almost agree with you about the album and give it 10/10, too. Thank you for such a good review.

Ryan Maffei <> (29.03.2002)

This is one of the greatest albums of all time.

Coming down from the creative high of Hunky, tearing down the sexual barrier in rock (so I've heard), and pioneering not just glam-rock but that anarchic, charismatic style of all uncharacteristic (ic, ic, ic) forms of post-era rock'n'roll--alternative rock, perhaps?--Bowie succeeds incredibly with this album, a collection of 11 just-plain-brilliant songs. Landmark qualities aside, I'd like to address how everything is so astonishingly well-written on here, like the cripplingly moving ballad "Five Years", the deservedly long-withstanding title track, the speed-metal/pre-punk "Suffragette City" really can't beat a song list like this; only Rubber Soul comes to mind when considering a perfect lineup. (Hell, even the greatest record of all time--Freak Out!--doesn't have a perfect "song" list.) This record is an undoubted classic, one that still stands stunningly (st, st, st) high amongst other works in the man's canon. Really, you can barely beat it. You think you can beat this? Seriously? Fine. Yeah, you just try. You just try to beat this. Schmuck. (Not you, George...). A 10 for Ziggy Stardust.

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

I don't know, I think the concept makes sense... Even if he didn't mean it to make sense it makes sense... Actually, it makes a lot more sense after watching the film Velvet Goldmine... I guess it just makes more sense after learning a little more about glam rock. I mean, a guy in semi-drag calling out to you, telling your you're not alone and to give him your hands... That's got to be appealing to a sexually confused pubescent young lad in the seventies. It's quite brilliant, really, especially the whole "Starman" thing, all sounding like Over the Rainbow and stuff. The whole album has this otherwordly, lonely outsider to rock superstar thing going on that's tied directly to bisexuality in rock. The bisexuals were once the weird outsiders and then they became the superstars... It all worked out perfectly. This all makes the album become a kind of prophecy or bible, which is what makes it so absolutely fascinating (note: I'm intentionally not comentating on the music because... Com'on... we've all heard and it and we all know it rocks). An amazing, amazing, amazing album. But really... You give the Beatles Revolver a perfect score and Ziggy a 13? Really, George.

Hmmm... I should shut up now because I love this album and everything it stands for way too much and will end up talking all night.

Palash Ghosh <> (28.01.2004)

I realize that Ziggy Stardust is considered a classic album and is the record that established David Bowie's superstardom and guaranteed his immortality -- but, God forgive me, I’m just not that impressed by it!

I have listened to it repeatedly and I come to the same conclusion -- it has just one spectacular song, 'Suffragette City' (probably my all-time favorite Bowie song), and two really good tunes ('Starman' and the title track).

For my money, Hunky Dory was a much better album. If these three aforementioned tracks had substituted the three weakest numbers on Hunky, then an argument could be made that Hunky was one of the greatest pop albums ever.

I also don’t much care for the “concept” of the doomed, alien rock star -- David as “Ziggy” was more of a gimmick (but one that the public eagerly embraced). The songs don't really "tie together" all that well and the lack of consistent quality kind of ruins the continuity of the record.

Still, 'Suffragette City' is a fantabulous song, one of the greatest ever -- has there ever been a more exciting, energetic and exhilarating rocker than this?? Wham bam, indeed.

Adrian Subrt <> (08.07.2004)

Just as Ziggy came from another planet, Bowie departs from his folk-rock leanings to full-blown glam superstardom. David unleashes a thrashing arsenal of ballads, power ballads, and rock classics. After releasing this, there was no doubt that Bowie would be a God of Poseidon-like status on the Mount Olympus of rock.

When has Bowie entered the listener's heart so strongly before this masterpiece. He reaches emotional highs with songs such as 'Five Years' and 'Rock 'N Roll Suicide', which would have been unthinkable on, say, The Man Who Sold The World. And about 'Five Years', what an amazing way to command the full attention of the audience. He guides you through a post-apocalyptic English provincial town forcing you to feel the pain of having just five years. But love still survives, as 'Soul Love' proclaims youthful passions far better than Boccaccio could ever have attempted. Icarus-like doo-wop that destroys the conventions of the genre completes the emotionally devastating pair that opens this virtuosic album.

Next, knowing your emotional exhaustion, Bowie rocks you at a superficial level with 'Moonage Daydream', and he rocks you well. The chorus has become a mild sensation throughout my hometown, and I'm sure it could be a massive hit anywhere in any time period. Your personal favourite, 'Starman', follows it up. It's surely a phenomenal pop song on every level. But giving it the best song award is as preposterous as giving the Cocteau Twins a 3. Nevertheless, it continues the album's .950 batting average. Now, it ain't easy to make a perfect album, as 'It Ain't Easy' proves. Despite being armour-solid in many respects, it doesn't grab you by the neck like many of this record's classics. Speaking of classics, 'Lady Stardust' unveils it's beautiful countenance from Bowie's veil next. If one was to look for a Platonic version of a heart-wrenching ballad, he would find a prototypical example here.

'Star' follows, and it kicks the album into high gear. No more ballads, Bowie says firmly, with the blast of energy that is 'Star'. Then 'Hang On To Yourself' continues the adrenaline rush. It capsulises punk five years before '77. Now comes the holy trinity of this bible-like album. The final three songs on this album speak for themselves, and no one, not even I, is worthy of commenting on them. However, I will say that 'Suffragette City' reigns supreme on the album.

Overall, this album is a fourteen out of fifteen, but it is as close to fifteen as an album could possibly be. In fact, if you get deep into the mathematics, it may actually be a fifteen, but for populist appeal we'll call it a fourteen.

David Dickson <> (24.02.2006)

Adrenaline-raising, huh? Exciting, meh? Energetic, hurm? Well, I agree. But it's quite surprising to see that quite a damn few of our WRC colleagues don't. Can you believe it? I woulda thought that, listening to T-Rex and Mott the Hoople, it'd be obvious, but apparently there's a dirty, nasty lie circulating out there that glam rock is "supposed to be" all loud nasty primitive dirty trashy mashy scrashy rock and roll with guitars giutarts tuigars and nothing else. None of these sissy wissy PIANOS anyway. Most other guys listen to this album and scream in sassiness: "WHERE'S THE BALLS??@@@!" Funny--I always thought glam just meant a mixture of theatrics, bombasticism, irony, '50's rock, and faux-eroticism from the get- go, but apparently our [sic] fellow Americans have a much narrower def. (jam) One slight correction: "Five Years"' lyrics have nothing to do with Ziggy, or the rest of the storyline--they're all about the end of the world coming on and the entire planet breaking out into hysterics and sobbing. Quite understandable reaction, when you think about it.

Overall, it's not nearly as cohesive as one would think for a concept album. But song-for-song, it's a helluva ride, like you said. Every song is a potential classic, bar "Rock and Roll Suicide." I give it the highest rating available. Oh, and one more thing.

Watch out, it's provocative. If you like this album, you WILL like Marilyn Manson's Antichrist Superstar. I will say no more.

Bob Josef <> (27.02.2006)

I also agree with some of your other posters: The concept behind the album is a sham. Like Sgt Pepper's ., the title song is a frame around which the rest of the songs are hung, but there isn't really any "plot." I mean, two of the songs had been recorded before the concept even existed. But the songs are really catchy, energetic and a lot of fun. David doesn't like his super-serious, "artistic" side get in the way, for the most part. I also have this version of the album and love the bonuses, especially "Sweet Head" and the alternate version of "John, I'm Only Dancing," which has some different guitar effects than the single version. The Sound and Vision boxset has another outtake from the sessions, a cover of Chuck Berry's "Around and Around," which fits in sonically (if not lyrically), believe it or not. Agree, probably Bowie's best and most consistent album from beginning to end.

Tim Blake <> (30.05.2006)

Well, here comes an unpopular opinion about Ziggy. Thanks in no small part to your site, I ended up acquiring a crapola load of David Bowie albums. Well, seven to be exact (Ziggy, Young Americans, Man Who Sold...,Hunky Dory, Low, Station To Station, Heroes), and I've been blasting them in some attempt to get into this guy's work. Solely because it is constantly quoted as the 'best' album, I've listened to Ziggy the most recently. I come to Bowie with little to no preconceptions, previously all I've really known about him is that he changes styles a lot and is really popular, as well as somewhat of a showboater.

Unfortunately, in all honesty, this album bores the crap out of me. And here's something that'll go down like a lead-bomb among these 'historical signifinazis'...the majority of this album sounds like a poor man's... ... ...Uriah Heep. :/

Not all the songs mind you, but for a LOT of this album you could substitute just about everything for Uriah Heep and not notice much difference, except maybe David Byron's powerful (though excessively overwrought) voice replacing Bowie's rather unremarkable (uninteresting) semi-croon. And I'm aware that George here HATES Uriah Heep on some principle, perhaps their pseudo-progressive feel, dramatic pretension, limited musicianship, but there are melodies and ideas on Demon's And Wizards and Magician's Birthday, that are wayyy more memorable than anything on Ziggy, period...concept or not...historial significance or not.

Moving on, the songs are simply boring. But I do like bits here and there...the epic opening 'Five Years' does actually give me the big overwrought feeling that it is supposed to give you. The next song, 'Soul Love', sounds like middle of the road classic rock but I still sort of like it. 'Moonage Daydream' is a cool little song, probably the best on the album. But it is at this point that for me it dives from 'noticeable' (and THAT's a shining accolade isn't it!?) to 'neutered Uriah Heep, now with increased boredom'. The song you so praise, 'Starman', is notable to me only for it's supremely dull melody, pocket-box orchestral nonsense and lame lyrics. 'It Ain't Easy' really, really, REALLY sounds like Uriah Heep. It's hard to tell who is ripping who what with the similar time-frame with which these albums were released, but I think Bowie's idea of 'glam' was to inject elements of a band (whether consciously or not) so hated by the reviewer here he has to mention it in every second review. Is that ironic?

'Lady Stardust', a renowned classic, is quite nice actually, but that is about it. Very inoffensive, somewhat innocuous, but a niceish melody. Very classic rock and yes, Heepish. 'Star' is I guess an attempt at a more exciting, rockier song, and is actually reasonably sucessful. It has a very Beatle-ish mood too it. 'Hang On To Yourself' has some lame verses, Bowie talking in an irritating voice and then semi-yell whining, but the chorus is actually the catchiest thing on this whole album, and it has a slightly bizarre surfer rock feel, marking it as one of the more notable tracks amongst so many other bland ones. 'Ziggy Stardust' was known to me before, but only because of the line 'Ziggy play your guitar' or whatever. Listening three or four times through now I struggle to find anything interesting at all about the song. There's not much to it really, it fails to build an impression.

'Suffragette City' is another rockier number, but comes off as typical bar-room boogie, rather than the kickass rockfest it was probably supposed to be. Y'know what, Blue Oyster Cult had recently released their debut. If you want to hear something that really rocks why in hell would you listen this stuff when BOC was pretty much ripping it the s#%t up lyrically and musically. Their soft-songs were farrr more memorable and emotional than what's going on with Ziggy too. And frankly their concept (paranoid alien conspiracy monolithic artsy something-a-rather rock) was way cooler too. Too often Ziggy feels like an impersonation of an actual rock album, but still just an imitation of the real thing. You hear the real thing and you find out how pale this imitation is. 'Rock N' Roll Suicide' finishes things up with a song that, were it not saddled with all these other tracks, might stand-out in some way. At least it has successful orchestration, something not heard since the very first track.

As you may be able to tell (maybe), I don't think this is one of the worst albums ever. I actually like and appreciate a fair amount of it. However, it is almost always with some trepidation, that perhaps all I am hearing is a band-wagon jumper with a big gimmick, performing somewhat appealing but almost uniformly bland music. It's supposed to give you this sprawling vision of this Ziggy character, supposed to paint an epic canvas of, I dunno, outer-space and cosmic rock bands, but all I get is a sleepy feeling. This is previously prepared masses fodder. Tofu salad. Wutever...urgh. Sgt. Pepper is a masterpiece that I can listen to again and again and never get sick of it. Ziggy is an album I can put on three or four times and never get anything out of the experience.


Simon Hearn <> (09.09.99)

I have to confess to NOT owning this album. However, I have heard it many times and I think it is quite a weak effort. I do not agree that it works as an album, George. You need good individual songs to make a good album - of course if they gel even better. As you know I love the Stones and the bastardisation of "lets spend the night together" is too much for me to take - it is ok, but give me the STONES version anyday.

You may think I hate Bowie - I DO NOT. I believe you should have him as a 4 star artist. He was the most important artist of the 70's in my opinion. His influence is massive and cannot be underestimated

Ben Greenstein <> (11.09.99)

I still don't quite understand this rating system. You don't particularly care for this album, but it gets an eleven. Maybe it's just that I stink at math, or anything involving numbers. Anyway, here's my take on Alladin Sane:

Once again, we disagree. I don't get how you always bash records for not having good or original riffs, but you like Sgt Pepper, which hasn't got one riffy tune on it besides the title track and maybe "Getting Better." I, for one, really dig the guitar part at the beginning of "Watch That Man" - I'm not sure if you'd call that a "riff," but it sounds GOOD, and that's all that matters to me. I also don't see how you can dismiss songs like "Time" (parts of that song move me to tears!) as being predictable throwbacks, when they've got some of the freshest melodies I've ever heard, or can think of "Panic In Detroit" as an awful tune - I mean, where have you heard that riff before?

This is a GREAT album. The only stinker is the Stones cover, and maybe "Cracked Actor." The rest is perfectly split between derivative (but still clever) rockers, unusual pop songs, and moody piano ballads. And I LOVE it. I'd give this one a ten - it's got something for everybody. Except, it seems, for George.

Simon Hearn <> (26.09.99)

MMMMmmmm?.. as you know I am a massive fan of Bowie and have his entire catalogue, but this one does not cut the mustard with me. It seems to me it is made up with the rejects from Ziggy??. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing as Ziggy was and is class. 'Watch that man', the opening track, is decent as is 'drive in Saturday' and 'jean genie', but the rest are fillers. I think Bowie should have entered the Philly Soul phase after Ziggy?.. as this was one album too far (Diamond Dogs too of course). Oh and by the way I hate the cover of the stones' 'lets spend the night together'. Now where is hot rocks????.. I want class now!

Rich Bunnell <> (31.12.99)

Oh, come on! This album rules! I'd give it an eight too but personally I place Bowie at a higher level than a three thus making this a much more worthwhile album than you (and especially these other folks) give it credit for. "Panic In Detroit" is sort of stupid but everything else is ace. "Watch That Man" has got to be one of the coolest glam songs Bowie ever wrote, and the Stones cover doesn't start to suck until he starts going into convulsions or something at the end. Then again....I haven't heard Ziggy yet, so who knows? Maybe my opinion of this will change! But for now, I love it!

Jeff Blehar <> (05.04.2000)

"Oooooooh, who'll love Aladdin Saaaane?"

I sure will!  Perhaps the reason I don't care for The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust as much as I used to is because the two albums that bracket it (Hunky Dory and this little gem) are markedly better. While Hunky Dory has the melodies, orchestrations, and pre-theatric interest to make it indelible, Aladdin Sane just RAWKS, and if it's bluesy Stonesrock we're talking about, it RAWKS harder than anything else in Bowie's career.  Throw your metal/industrial Tin Machine/Earthling crap at me all you want, THIS is truly visceral.  In fact, Aladdin Sane doesn't even rock ALL the time (what with those fruity ballads like "Aladdin Sane" or "Lady Grinning Soul"), nor is it quite as consistent as Ziggy (I could name "Let's Spend The Night Together" as being particularly wrong-headed, at least after that horrible spoken-word ending. Can you believe that this made it onto a recent GREATEST HITS?!?), but its peaks are higher, and they're all over the place.

Like, for example, "Watch That Man:" all I needed to hear was the opening chords, that piano clanking to life, and what sounds like a musical engine being started to know that, above all, this album was gonna be FUN.  "Aladdin Sane" is probably the best song on the CD (or at least tied with "Time"), but that wasn't apparent to me until a long time - it's not immediately appealing, being some psychotic potpourri of lounge-lizard-rock-pop-theatrical anthemics, but that piano solo...ooh!  By the way, did you notice the significance of the years cited in the title? (1913-1938-197?)  Each is one year before a World War broke out!  That last date...was Bowie expecting WW3 to bust out anytime soon, perhaps?  And would Aladdin Sane be on the scene?

The three "meaty" rocker songs in the middle are all ace, and that includes "Panic In Detroit" as well as "Cracked Actor" and "Time."  What I love most about "Panic" is that David apparently thought that the inner cities of America's cities were actually like that!  SOMEBODY needs a reality check.  "Time" is smashing, smashing, smashing.  Although my friend John memorably described it as sounding like an outtake from the Les Miserables score (which I can completely see, even if I hate most Broadway shows), what it must be in reality (and this is just my theory, but it's a pretty good one) is a tribute to Jacques Brel.  Anyone ever heard of him?  He was a French composer of the early 20th-century who specialized in Brecht/Weill style songs which focused on the profane aspects of life.  Bowie's certainly a fan, having performed at least two of his songs ("My Death," which can be found on any number of concert recordings, including Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture, and "Port Of Amsterdam," which was the B-side of "Sorrow" and could be found on the Rykodisc issue of Pin-Ups), and having disgustfully dubbed his atrocious live album David Live (in honor of Brel's classic revue Jacque Brel Is Alive And Living In Paris) David Bowie Is Alive And Living Only In Theory(!) 

Okay, the history lesson is over.  Anyway, when Bowie screams out "all I have to give you is GUILT FOR DREAMING" and Ronson busts out in that soaring guitar bit which he cribbed from Beethoven's 9th (anyone else hear that?), it's the single most perfect moment on the album.  The best thing about Aladdin Sane is that, in between all the great rock and pop moments, you barely notice that there's a superhuge enormous #1 hit single in there at the end, "The Jean Genie."  And of course that's wonderful too, being the Rolling Stones rip that it is.  Ziggy get the critical plaudits and the laurel wreaths, but Aladdin Sane is the one which still seems fresh 27 years later.  9/10.

Wicked Nightmare <> (31.05.2000)

Aladdin Sane is in my opinion one of Bowie's best albums, if not the best full stop, and unfortunately one of his most underrated. I don't really understand the buzz about Ziggy (come on ?? it's a good album, but not THAT good at all), but Aladdin Sane is just pure magic, the only song I don't love is 'Jean Genie', cause it's too repetitive. Apart from that, every song is a masterpiece, the title track, 'Panic in Detroit', 'Cracked Actor', 'Lady Grinning Soul', etc. all good !

Sergey Zhilkin <> (14.12.2000)

You failed to see it's purpose? I too but this album was produced in 70-ies by David so it must have it's purpose! I thought much about it and this is what I figured out.

Do you remember the exact name of the title track? It's 'Aladdin sane(1913-1938-197?)'. 1913 is a year before 1-st World War. 1938 is year before 2-nd World War and now I'll ask you one question about 70-ies. Do you remember any conflict that was thought to be the beginning of WW-3? It was East conflict between Israil and Egypt. It happened in 1973 and many thought that it was the beginning of WW-3 because USSR decided to send it's forces there...Though, other songs are not connected with the main idea so it's possible that this album has no purpose...

Now about songs. I find here only one weak song ( 'Lady grinning soul' ) while the others are just close to perfection. And such songs as 'Watch that man' (Ooh! How I love this wonderful hook in the beginning), 'Time' (Bowie is acting so good here that in the middle of the song he takes few seconds to refresh his breath), 'Let's spend the night together' (what a great cover (though, I haven't heard the original)) are awesome. 'Cracked actor' (oh, Bowie's singing about himself?) is very good song, too. Well, Maybe you think that I'm a Bowie's diehard fan who rates most of David's albums too high but I think that such glam albums as Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin sane should get 10/10. Really. REALLY!

P.S. In 'Drive-in Saturday' Bowie mentions Twig the Wonderkid. Later you'll see him with David on the cover of 'Pin ups'.

Wood Family <> (26.01.2003)

First things first. I'm not going to mention puns or world wars whilst discussing this album. Anyway- this is ziggy under a magnifying glass circa; 'the rise of Z. Stardust', not the fall. It examines the extremes of sexual and popularity perversion which comes with fame. 'Watch That Man', seems like an outside observation from a real life party for me. Things like cracked actor allude to real life situations that Bowie is exaggerating into little Ziggy anectdotes. The two REAL ballads; 'Lady', 'Time' and 'Aladdin' are the masterpieces of the album. All showcase his singing voice and melodic panache. 'Lady', being the (most) overtly gay of the three, has Bowie sining in falsecetto one half of a line then normally the next. 'Aladdin' is excentuated by the piano solo. Mind you, not taking anything away from the actual bulk of the song. 'Time' - although alluded to by his Bowieship as a 'Gay' song- seems to only demonstrate itself as a wonderful song with its roots in caberet and with yet another perverted view of fame which Ziggy/David was experiencing at the time. 'Cracked Actor' is my favorite rocker- possibly becaue it fits so nicely in with the theme of the album. But then again it could just be because it sports an aggressive riff from Bowie (WHO WOULD HAVE CONCEPTED IT) and a wonderful idea running through it's lyrics. 'Panic' and 'Watch' also deserve honourable mention. Not that the other songs arent good.

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

I admit, it really took a while for this album to grow on me. I'm still not sure whether I bought it more for the cover or for the music... I'm actually going to say that I prefer the cover to the music inside, which isn't to say I hate the album, because I actually really like it... It's just a really really really great album cover.

But anyway... This whole album seems to be tied together by a boozy, sexually twisted cabaret-type feel. What sticks in my head most is the image of Bowie from the Ziggy motion picture in that one-legged outfit with a feather boa 'round his neck singing 'Time'. Yeah, that image pretty much sums up the album for me. Incredibly decadent and glam, good, but sometimes frustrating. I don't like the way the vocals are so distant on 'Watch That Man', and I don't like the Stones cover, because it sounds really dated and is just a little too silly. Was Bowie sleeping with Mick at the time, or what? The title track is BY FAR the best song for sure, although I like the verses between the choruses better than the actual chorus. Yeah, I bought it for the opening piano bit of the title track and for the great cover. But since then it's really grown on me and I like it a lot... Everything except 'Spend the Night Together'. You're right, I don't know what it's doing here.

Adrian Subrt <> (27.05.2004)

When I look for catharsis, I look for Aladdin Sane. I must conflict with your opinion on the rating of this album (although an album like this cannot truly be rated). This isn't a flame however, I have ample evidence as to why it should be a fourteen out of fifteen. All the songs, save two, on this album are either good ("Watch That Man", "Cracked Actor", "The Prettiest Star", and "Let's Spend The Night Together") or great ("Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)", "Drive-In Saturday", "Time", and "The Jean Genie"). Of the other two, one is an average song (by no means bad), and one is a masterpiece.

"Watch That Man" ravages me with images showcasing the decadence and greed of the 'Decade of Nixon'. In addition, the whole tune is very catchy, and opens up this work of art magnificently. Next, "Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?) is just beautiful, no question about it. The piano solo often brings me to tears. As an amateur pianist myself, I sometimes wonder what genius it took to create that heartbreaking performance of the soul. "Drive-In Saturday" is always the track of choice when my girlfriend and I go to the movies on Saturday. It symbolizes the post-modern confusion of relationships nowadays, and it would easily make my list of top 20 David Bowie songs. Then we come to the low point of the album which would easily be the high point of some albums by other artists, such as The Cocteau Twins. However,"Panic In Detroit" doesn't really get it done for me. If this song had been replaced by some other hit or classic song, such as "All The Young Dudes", this album would easily deserve a 15, and it would be one of the greatest albums of all time. "Cracked Actor" takes us into the mind of the genius. David Bowie's 3-minute autobiography is the Decamoron of rock & roll songs. "Time". Is there any one word that draws out more emotion than time? The same holds true for the song, which is among the most emotional on the album. David singing 'Time - in Quaaludes and red wine" is more emotionally filling than John Lennon's entire catalogue. This song is easily the best non-masterpiece on the album. The next two songs, "The Prettiest Star" and "Let's Spend The Night Together" bring us back to the youthful and innocent fifties, creating a foil to the decadent and cynical seventies. It only makes you pity Bowie's condition even more. One might believe that "Let's Spend The Night Together" has no place on this album, but it has a place in my heart. They just need to dig deeper and uncover the true genius of Bowie. The big hit on this album, "The Jean Genie" transports us to New York's Honky-Tonks and department stores that rip the sky. Some say that he ripped off The Yardbirds, but truly, The Yardbirds ripped him off. And now we approach the orgasm of this downright sexy album. The album ends with the greatest David Bowie song ever. "Lady Grinning Soul" is the definition of passion. Some lesser artists like to show off and put their artistic pinnacles early in the album, but David Bowie saves it for last, like a fine Parisian restaurant saves its classic bundt cakes for the final course.

All in all, this album never lets you down, and is entertaining and mind-boggling at all times. Some might fear this album because of its homosexual appearance and sound, as you obviously do, but this is simply a facade for the universal themes below it. If you will simply discard your homophobia and focus on the magnificence of the music, you should realize how amazing this collection of genius truly is, and give it the rating it deserves.


Ben Greenstein <> (24.09.99)

Call me predictable, but I, like most Bowie fans, would rate it much lower. Sure, he covers some good songs, but they're lousy versions! I would rather listen to an actual Who or Kinks album anyday! The only piece that doesn't make me cringe is "See Emily Play" - you're right about that one. It takes Barrett's lovely melody out of the jarring instrumental context that made the original so twisted (but still good!), and turns it into an almost accesible tune. I think it was even a hit single!

Jeff Blehar <> (05.04.2000)

What makes Pin-Ups so atrocious is not that Bowie covers a bunch of old songs (although going by the evidence of his track record of covers on previous albums - "Let's Spend The Night Together," "It Ain't Easy" (the best of them), and "Fill Your Heart" - I nominate that he should forevermore be banned from covering other people's songs.  But nooo, he just HAD to go fuck up "Across The Universe," didn't he?  Thanks for nothing, David), but he does them so badly.  What's most shocking is the SOUND.  Remember that amazing opening *CRRRUNNCHH* of "Watch That Man" from Aladdin Sane?  That was rock 'n' f-ing roll, man!  You'd think that, having figured out how to sound like that, they'd at least be able to duplicate the sound for Pin-Ups.  But no, you won't find ANYTHING remotely like that here, not even on "Where Have All The Good Times Gone" (most people's choice for best song), just this flimsy guitar sound.  There's no meat behind it, confound it all!  So the only really good songs are those that don't rely on guitar. "Sorrow," for example.  Lots of people hate this song, but I quite love it, with a very graceful arrangement and - for once on the album - understated playing.  Other than those two, there's what, "See Emily Play?"  'Tis alright, but I know Syd Barrett, Syd Barrett was a friend of mine, and YOU, David Bowie, are no Syd Barrett!  Furthermore, I thought "Shapes Of Things" had to be the worst song ever written - or at least close - for the longest time, because all I had heard was this version.  Thank God my buddy sent me mp3's of both the Jeff Beck and the Yardbirds versions as therapy, or else I'd hate that song forever.  This is it: the worst studio album Bowie put out in the Seventies: 3/10.

Of course, even then it's still light years better than David Live.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (11.01.2001)

A fatal misstep?!! In my opinion - no. I consider it to be a really wise move. Why? Just look, this album should have felt strange in 1973 but now it doesn t sound like cover album. I ll try to explain. Answer one question do you know anything about Duncan, Farley, Davies, Berns (sorry, I don t know his name for sure polygraph in my inlay is too bad to recognize whether he is Bems or Berns+), Arnold, Vanda, Feldman, Goldstein and etc.? Yeah, me too. Now, in 2001, Pinups sounds just like Bowie s album and it s not bad at all!!! This is just old good rock n roll (sometimes a little bit punkish or psychedelic, though). Yes, there re standouts 'See Emily play' (that s rare case when I like the cover more than original) and The Who s numbers but even they are played in David s style. And as for Mick Ronson, he s in great form here the guitar work is awesome. Plus, don t forget that he plays piano here, too. I wonder why David replaced him by Alomar later+

PS. I give Pinups 8/10 because of there is not a single bad song at all. After all, Brian Ferry was a cover-man and nobody bash him much. So what s the point of disliking this record so much?

David Goodwin <> (28.12.2001)

Just re-listened to this album after ages of ignoring it...believe it or not, it was my *first* Bowie purchase (because I wanted to hear what his version of 'See Emily Play' sounded like). Frankly, I don't think that particular track is all that wonderful--the voices on the chorus really annoy me--but some of the other selections are excellent, especially in the way he rearranges some. 'Friday on my Mind' is naff, as is 'Shapes of Things'...quite nice. But altogether unsatisfying, and some of the other tracks serve no purpose (why cover those two Pretty Things songs, barely rearrange them, and not try to recapture any of the originals' energy?)

A note about the Easybeats, BTW...they were more than one-hit wonders, but aren't remembered terribly well nowadays...hilariously enough, they were yet *another* Australian band that wasn't entirely Australian; George Young (yep, of THOSE Young's...he's Angus/Malcolm's older brother, and very talented, to boot) was one of their chief songwriters. And Shel Talmy produced most of their "classic" stuff, as well.

Stephen Rutkowski <> (05.12.2003)

'Friday on my Mind' is a very popular song here in Australia. Popular meaning it is played at least once a day on the oldies station. A couple of years ago it won some competition for being the best Australian song last century. (Not that it had much competition - 'Eagle Rock' by Daddy Cool? 'It's a Long Way to the Top' by AC/DC? 'Khe San' by Cold Chisel?)


Rich Bunnell <> (12.02.2000)

Sorry to fit into your conception of this record instead of finding the same middle ground you did, but I LOVE this album. The piano ballads may be a little dull, but not nearly as much as the ones before this album (though at this juncture I have not yet heard Hunky Dory)--plus, every other song rules! "1984" especially-- why is it that the funk songs that weren't on Young Americans, the funk album, are the best ones? Anyway, this is a really interesting album despite what some might say. I'd give it a nine. That's out of ten. In fact, let me establish right here that I'm not using the 15-point system in my reader comments-- I tend to switch between the two and it's getting confusing.

Jeff Blehar <> (05.04.2000)

First of all, George, sitting on the fence is a lot more dangerous than it is safe; remember what Hamlet said about poor Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who were caught in bewteen "the pass and fell incensed points of two great opposites?" (Aye, aye, m'lord; remember thee though, what hath befall'n the mighty opposites themselves - G. S.)

Wow. I think we should pause in stunned silence to mark what is perhaps the most pretentious sentence yet published on this web site.  I apologize profusely.

Anywho, Diamond Dogs is one those rare albums that is actually (and not in some jive-ass "professional-critic-looking-for-a-clever-byline" sense) less than the sum of its component parts. For the longest time I couldn't understand why I wasn't so hot on this album, as there aren't really any weak songs, bar perhaps "Chant Of The Ever-Circling Skeletal Family," which curdles my milk.  Taken individually, I like any song on this album, be it the primitive "Diamond Dogs" and "Rebel Rebel" (Rolling Stones songs by any other name, natch) or the "Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (reprise)" suite (one of my favorite moments!) or even "We Are The Dead," which has got some great skin-crawling effects and lyrics.

But man, when you throw them all together into one depression gumbo, Diamond Dogs is just a long bummer.  Kind of like Orwell's 1984: I recognize its quality, and I respect it immensely, but reading it is always a real downer because of the soul-crushing message.  That being said, some moments are damn good. "Sweet Thing," for example. Not really sure why everyone dumps on this one. When Bowie climbs up for those lines "can you SEEEEE, that I'm scared <hiccup> and I'm LONELY," the song soars, the only such occurence on the album. I think the whole suite is very well put together, and I die when that guitar noise at the end of the reprise just growls and snarls and builds, and builds, and then BOOM: orgasmic riffy heaven, as it bursts through to "Rebel Rebel."  Don't tell me that's not a thrilling effect.

Other than that, there's "1984" which is my favorite from the album, and has been for several years.  Looking for the logical precursor to Young Americans and Station To Station?  Here it is, as David "Superfly" Bowie takes on funk and wins, with amazing wah-wah'ed guitar, several wet slaps to the drum set, and one of the coolest ersatz-blaxploitation string sections ever recorded.  So good as to boggle the mind - how could he sound so convincing doing the soul/funk thing here and oftentimes so silly on Young Americans (although that album ain't nearly as bad as everyone says it is)?

Looking at all these high points I've mentioned, Diamond Dogs sure looks like a great album, doesn't it?  And in a sense, it is - a great album of individual songs or small groupings. But I don't listen to songs, I listen to CDs, and I assume most people looking to buy something other than a compilation feel the same way.  Here's where Diamond Dogs falls flat (kind of like The Wall, another album which is impressive when taken on a song-by-song basis but when listened to as an ALBUM just feels suffocating); it's just TOO claustrophobic, bleak, dank, grey, and druggy.  Very few albums I own overdose on atmosphere - here's one. Song after song of pain, disillusionment, drugginess, joyless sex, paranoia, hatred, persecution, and post-apocalyptic terror is too enervating for me to give this anything more than a 6/10.  But that's with the explanation given above, keep in mind.

Ben Greenstein <> (23.06.2000)

No, it doesn't suck, but it's never done much for me. "Rebel Rebel" is the highlight for most people - however, I've always found it way too stupid and repetetive. The best songs for me are the title track, "Big Brother," and "1984." The rest are awfully slow and boring. I couldn't give the album more than a six.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (13.01.2001)

This one is my favorite Bowie's album ever! I've listened to it more times than to even Station to station or later experimental records. Yes, Bowie is really serious here and that sounds good. Finally we see here some songs put in one. I mean 'Sweet thing/ Candidate/ Sweet thing (reprise)', of course. In my opinion, these three tracks are the best moment on the record. Really, I adore 'Candidate' with its changing melody in the middle. Lyrics are very good, too. I enjoy listening to how word 'sweet' changes to 'cheap'...

Other numbers are good, too. 'Diamond dogs' has very driving tune but IMHO it suffers from its length. Indeed, the lyrics end on 3-rd minute and then Bowie is just repeating chorus. The rest songs are just terrific, especially 'Rock'n'roll with me' and 'Big brother'. Not much I can say about this album - there're more feelings. Again feelings! I wonder how David can find a key to your heart...

PS. During the last seconds of record we hear 'Brat-brat-brat-...' which is shorted 'brother'... Well, in Russian language 'brat' means 'brother'... What's my point? Go figure yourself... and don't take it seriously.

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

Okay, it's early in the morning up here in Canada but I'm going to take my time with this one because everything that I've ever read about this album has given it kind of a bum rap. Then again, I'm one of those people who cherishes 1984 and other "soul-crushing" art like Lou Reed's Berlin as the height of creative achievement. I just finished up writing an english essay on nihilism in Beckett's Endgame, too, so I'm kind of in the mood. Really, though, this album is, above all else, just incredibly moving. If it weren't for 'Rebel Rebel' and 'Rock and Roll with Me' it would flow as well as Ziggy. As it stands, it's still a brilliant collection of songs. I disagree, though, about the actual strength of particular songs. I don't really think that any of them are particularly amazing on their own, as is the case with most Bowie albums, which is why his greatest hits collections are always so shitty (does anyone actually buy those? I mean seriously?). I think I read an old Rolling Stone review of this album that criticized it as being nonsensical masturbatory fantasies or something, but then, they also panned Berlin so badly when it first came out that they felt obliged to write a revised review in the next issue. Has that initial bad review dogged the general opinion of this album ever since? Who knows. HMV still doesn't sell any T. Rex albums except Electric Warrior since it yeilded the band's only American hit. But I digress. More time to bash the music industry later. I think the main problem is just that people aren't quite sure how to categorize this album. Is it glam? Well, no, not really. "Philly Soul"? Certainly not. Motivated? Yes. Bowie played close to all the instruments on this album, the only time in his career he did that. If that isn't motivated I don't know what is. This review made no sense, did it? Oh well. I guess you just either like the album or hate it. Or you just buy a greatest hits package with 'Rebel Rebel' right beside 'Let's Dance' (shudder). Oh, right. As kind of a side note, 'We Are the Dead' is also about 1984. It's a line from the book. Also, doesn't the album cover kick ass? Impossible to get as a poster. But wait... Do I REALLY want a giant, naked, half-dog, mullet-wearing David Bowie plastering my wall? Maybe just for shock value.

Brett Collins <> (15.07.2003)

(Call me crazy...but I think Diamond Dogs is one of Bowie's best albums. On your song by song analysis, I pretty much agree, except that I find 'Sweet Thing' to be one of the hightlights. The chorus is just about the coolest thing ever (''s a sweet thing...") and the whole operatic atmosphere really soars. I agree with you on the bonus version of 'Candidate', it's real good stuff. I would have preferred the full version of it on the album instead of the 'Sweet Thing' suite.

Adrian Subrt <> (07.07.2004)

Finally, the moment has come when Bowie comes to his senses and dismisses the hangers-on, or the "Spiders from Mars" as the proletariat fans would have you call them. Although they did have some very high moments (Aladdin Sane, for instance), David Bowie does not need semi-talented back-up instrumentalists, he needs total artistic control over his creations. You can tell from the album cover that this is going to be a newer, more thought-provoking David Bowie (unless it scares you away first... coward). None of the false optimism showcased on Hunky Dory ('Kooks, for example) rears its ugly head here. 'We Are The Dead', Bowie says. Indeed.

Beginning the carousel of brilliance is 'Future Legend'. Now, the vast majority of the world dismisses this song as simply a pretentious introduction, but it is far more than that. Bowie's exposition of his science-fiction fantasies that have been plaguing his mind come out in Siren-like fashion. Personally, I have listened to this song more than any other on the album, but I will not be so audacious as to say it is the best. Neither is the ever-popular 'Diamond Dogs', as about half of the fans this album believe (the other half think it's 'Rebel Rebel', no one gives credit to any other songs). Although the introduction ("This ain't rock 'n roll, this is genocide!") is probably the best moment on the album, the coda of David barking eliminates this song from serious consideration to be the best. Truly, how many times can you listen to Bowie shout, "They call them the diamond dogs!" without getting bored? Next comes the sweet suite, which I'll regard as one song. It's certainly ambitious, and shows that Bowie was on top of the game, wanting to see how far this wave could take him. And he almost rides it to the coast, but falls short at the end. "Sweet Thing" is a noble effort, but it lacks something to take it to another level. After the suite comes 'Rebel Rebel', which is one of the greatest Bowie songs ever (yet it's not even the best on the album!). Few people know that this is also one of the remaining 1984 songs. It's supposed to be the love song for Julia in the novel, and I applaud that creativity.

Next is 'Rock 'N Roll With Me', which is the most underrated song on the album ('1984' notwithstanding). It has a gloriously beautiful chorus, with Bowie pouring out his heart to the listener. This is yet another insight into the enigmatic mind of Bowie. When most people complain about this album as slow and dirge-like, they are probably complaining about 'We Are The Dead'. However, though there may be some truth to that, certain moments on this song nearly eclipse 'Future Legend', such as David shouting "count them!" Finally, we reach the best song on the album. In three minutes, Bowie outdoes what Orwell attempted to do in 300 pages. When I'm at a club, I always insist that the D.J. plays this song, which he sometimes does! And when it comes on, it's a big hit on the dance floor. 'Big Brother' is of course another 1984 product, which fills the ears with Wagnerian bombast that even Hitler wouldn't shy away from. And the bridge is the Golden Gate of rock 'n roll bridges. And finally, we reach the song which you didn't even have the decency to include the full title on your song listing. 'Chant Of The EVER CIRCLING Skeletal Family' is somewhat useless, but that doesn't justify your merciless omission. It may be the least good song on the album, but it's still a Bowie song, which is better than anything Eloy could ever produce.

Overall, your rating of eleven is preposterously low for such a work of magnificence, even if it is too difficult to "label". However, I don't really feel the need to "label" such a timeless work of art. This album deserves a thirteen, and it is definitely one of Bowie's top 5 albums.

Jason Saenz <> (13.08.2004)

Diamond Dogs is pretty good, I'm not much of a Bowie album owner but I found out that Bowie got Aynsley Dunbar to play drums on most of this album so i decided to give it a try. "1984" is the best track here, I dont understand why you gave that place to "Diamond Dogs" but anyway every mind is a planet. At first I wasnt really that impressed with the album because I didnt listen to the 1st track until like after a month, when I did listen starting from track 1 then I came to 1 conclusion: Bowie was really a madcap (in a good way), and he still is but now he loves dollars and cents more than anything.


Sergey Zhilkin <> (10.12.2000)

What a wonderful playlist .... and what awful performance...We all know that Bowie's voice sucks if he sings more than three songs without rest and that he had tonns of problems while recording his albums or singles (just take acoustic version of 'Ziggy Stardust' as an example). That's why the idea of giving a concert is foolish and cranky. Still we face this awful album and I want to make little comment. Firstly, the idea of remaking songs is again foolish. If the first two songs escaped the lot of being remaked, the others (all 18 songs!!!) suffer from it VERY much. What happened to 'Moonage daydream' (at first it seemed to me that Bowie became deaf because his vocal didn't fit song at all!!!), 'Changes' (where's that wonderful hook in the beginning?), 'Aladdin sane', 'Jean Genie' (band plays only on chorus, killing the song by it), 'Cracked actor' (sax? SUCKS!!!), 'Diamond dogs' (lack of instruments), 'Width of the circle' and 'Time'? They are all ruined.... Only song which receives something from new performance is 'Watch that man' (though, wonderful hook in the beginning is deleted). David live is the only live album Bowie had ever produced as I know. Is it going to be called his best live album, I ask you.

<> (29.11.2002)

Awful? No! Unpredictable, brilliant, terrific! Unusual perfomance of these great songs only underlines its charme! Funky, real funky, dopey band, covering classic tracks of pseudo-real Androgyn! Bowie laughs at all these patethic stuff of "Rock-star". Very progressive album! Compare it with Stage. You`ll get, that they both are united by the idea of non-trivial live approach. Try to get, what David wanted you to hear in it and...take a moan!

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

God, I've only heard part of this album, and it wasn't my own doing, since I actually walked into a record store that had it playing. Recognizing Bowie's voice but not the song, I went up and asked what it was. When he told me I realized that I was listening to 'Jean Genie'; it was so mutilated that I didn't even recognize it. I felt pretty bad, too, because it was the guy at the counter who owned it and was playing it and I cringed and went, "Isn't this supposed to be the worst Bowie album ever?" But he liked it, so what do I know. The boys always seem to have very different opinions about Bowie than I do.

I have been tempted to buy it on vinyl just for the pictures. God, does Bowie ever look firghtening, especially on the back. Given how coked out he must have been, I'm going to give him credit that he could STAND let alone sing, let alone re-work so many of his classics into absolute garbage. But boy, is that re-worked 'Moonage Daydream' ever painful. It just grates on me so much... Nearly as much as 'Let's Dance'. Nearly. But not quite. David, how could you?!!!??? Must have been the drugs, right? But then Station to Station was so good...

Alexander Zaitsev <> (04.06.2003)

I made a mistake of buying this album yesterday Ugh, I really lament the wasted money. David Live is so bad that it easily beats Earthbound at being the worst live album ever. I've never seen good songs so ruthlessly butchered and flayed. There are skeletons here, not songs. A graveyard of an album, eh? I don't think I'll ever buy Stage after this one.

Alik Zubr <> (20.06.2003)

And what do I see? I see that Bowie has made a magnificent, titanic, unbelievable job of completely transforming each and every one of these twenty tracks into something completely different from their original status. At the least, you gotta give him credit for that; David Live holds my personal record as 'most original live album ever recorded'. I guess the critics who bashed this record were nothing but a bunch of milk-sucking, brainwashed pups. They'd be much happier off with the studio tracks with overdubbed applause. Sheez! We've already heard 'unconventional' Bowie before; let us now turn around with the man and see how well does 'conventional' Bowie work. The new versions of songs, no matter how much people might hate them, are just harmless fun. Inferior to the originals? Well, certainly so, but the important thing is, they’re different from the originals. Think of them as different songs, if you wish, and suddenly you'll be feeling a whole lot better.


Simon Hearn <> (13.12.99)

This is a great Bowie album. It is one of those rare albums which successfully captures a mood and runs with it from the opening track to the last note of the final song. Obviously 'Young Americans' is the track we all know, but what about 'Somebody Up There Likes Me'? I love this song, but I know George disagrees. (sorry, George!). It is really well put together and has a rolling energy which I find astonishing. In this respect it reminds me of the Stones' 'Sympathy'......... if you get my drift. An 8.

Rich Bunnell <> (31.12.99)

Of course it's stupid, badly-arranged soft soul, but it has its moments. Still....what the hell? "Fame" is his most elaborate arrangement ever?!?!?...I don't get it. The song just sounds like a jumbled, badly-written, plodding dinosaur of an ugly song and I have no idea how it hit #1 at all. The title track's arrangement is much better (Bowie really pulled off the soul sound there), and while nothing else on the album sticks out, except maybe "Fascination" because it has a catchy chorus, nothing else is blatantly awful except for the horrible "Across The Universe" cover. I doubt that I'll ever throw this on much, and it's not a great album by any means, but it's still okay. Somewhere between a six and a seven.

Ben Greenstein <> (23.06.2000)

A lot of people defend this album vehemently, but I still think that it's not very good. The title track and "Fame" (why does Rich hate that song? It's one of the coolest funk tunes ever outside of P-Funk!) are both very first rate, but the rest is the sort of soft rock that everyone would bash were it on a Tina Turner record or Dark Side Of The Moon (oh, yeah - I'm the only one who hates that album). I give it a four.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (14.12.2000)

I don't care much for this one but nevertheless I rate this one a little higher than you. In your review you talk only (well, better to say: 'praise only two songs') about 'Young Americans' and 'Fame' forgetting little gem called 'Fascination'. This is a quite strong song with good rythm and lyrics, too. Out of other 5 songs I liked only 'Across the universe' and maybe 'Win' (though, I can't remember the melody right now (only thing I remember about it is that I liked it few weeks ago)). Others are completely forgetable and boring. But because of mentioned songs I give Young Americans 7/10.

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

This album really sucks. Who wants MORE David Live? No one. It's stunts like this that sometimes make me embarassed to be a Bowie fan.


Simon Hearn <> (13.12.99)

Yeah, I agree, this is indeed a transitional album and what a whopper it is! 'TVC15' is a really cool and catchy song, reminiscent of those on Young Americans and the bass playing on 'golden years' is to die for. My favourite track, though, is 'Wild is the Wind' - this contains Bowie's best vocal of all time and has recently been covered by George Michael. Depending on your opinion, this is high praise or a slap in the face - I go for the praise! A 9.5

Richard C. Dickison <> (13.12.99)

When I first started really listening to this guy, when I first heard something that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

'TVC-15', what is it about this song? Why did it make me stop and take notice that something was changing in music? It had an strange tang to it, sort of like the smell of Remember, these were the halcyon days of disco, There was a change coming over from Germany and David announced it loud and clear.

The only other revelation I can remember from this far back was Laurie Anderson and Oh, Superman. 'Golden Years' was a throw back to Young Americans and this album was still not quite there as far as David's new style. That comes next

Rich Bunnell <> (10.01.2000)

Umm erm can I explain this album....I know. How about this fact. I bought it two days ago and I've listen to it five times, with no other albums inbetween. How's that for you? In contrast, I got Young Americans on Christmas and I've only listened to it twice. GODTHISALBUMISFRICKINWONDERFULANDILOVEITANDTHEREISNOTHINGBADATALLTOSAYABOUTIT!!!!!

......there we are. Two transcendent ballads, two EXCELLENT disco songs which you can actually listen to consciously (Why couldn't he have made a disco song as meaty and wonderful as "Stay" the last time around?), an epic title track, and of course, "TVC15," which simply can't be described in less than fifty words. I love how it starts out like a filler piano ditty, then....WHAM! Honky-tonk-sci-fi heaven. God, this album rules. I give it a very high ten. Out of ten. Not fifteen. Ten.

Jeff Blehar <> (05.04.2000)

It's not the side effects of the cocaine; I'm thinking that it must be Bowie's best album ever.

Of all the Rykodisc Bowie albums, this one took me the longest to find (even longer than Hunky Dory - if only I'd had access to eBay this all would've been easier.  Then again it wouldn't have been nearly as fun), and ironically (or naturally?) enough, it's Bowie's best album ever, and one of the few CDs I own, out of about 1000, which is absolutely, completely, all-the-way-from-memphis-to-moscow PERFECT.  No duffers.  No weak tracks.  You take an enormous risk when you only put six songs on an album, because if even one is crappy, well that's 1/6 of the disc down the hole, but Bowie pulls it off in grand style.  Funny, I had never considered the symbolic meaning of the title Station To Station before reading your review, George, but now it makes perfect sense: an album of transitions indeed, it begins in Hollywood soul, and journeys through a transatlantic odyssey to arrive in Berlin.  By the way, it was recorded in RCA Studios in Hollywood, while Bowie was working on The Man Who Fell To Earth. Both the covers of Station To Station and Low use stills from the movie for their album artwork.

I'll try not to do a song-by-song review, if only 'cause that's just numbing, but let's talk about two tracks, my favorites: "Word On A Wing" and "TVC-15." "Word On A Wing" is GORGEOUS, George, and not overlong by one single second.  It's one of the most personal moments in Bowie's entire discography - he's said time and time again that he MEANS what he says in that song, and it's really a powerful cry for help.  Bowie, lost in a blizzard of cocaine and decadent stardom, losing control of his sanity and surrounded by the perversions of fame and the corruption of Hollywood, making a desperate and wholly sincere-sounding plea for some sort of divine grace to lead him out his little insular hell, his age of grand illusion.  The best lyric on the album might be the one I cited at the top of my review (for sheer bizarro value), but the most probing ones are here: "Just because I believe don't mean I can't think as well/Don't have to question everything in heaven and hell/Lord, I kneel and offer you my word on a wing/and I'm trying hard to fit among your scheme of things."   "Word On A Wing" isn't even the best song on the album, but it's certainly the most heartfelt.

The BEST song on the album has to be that slice of honky-tonk-sci-fi heaven (GREAT phrase, Rich!  That sums up the song better than I could ever hope to.) called "TVC-15."  I remember the first time I heard this song (it was on a greatest hits compilation) I was like "what the FORK is this?  Barroom piano?  Why are they beating those guitars against a wall in the background?  God, how drugged up IS this guy?"  But soon I realized that it was just your average, run-of-the-mill song about a girlfriend-eating television set.  Really, this song is like some sort of brilliant machine: piano trills roll commanding onward, drums pound out a funk-industrial rhythm, guitars wail like metal crunching, and the chorus vocals rotate endlessly (and dazzlingly) like gears going round, and round, and round...let's just say that the greatest idea Bowie had on this song was letting that ending run on as long as it does.  Pure heaven.  Maybe my favorite Bowie song ever ("Teenage Wildlife" is somewhere close, too).  Anyway folks, look at my review.  Look at Rich's, and the guys above him.  Notice how unanimous we are?  Now go buy this album today.  Call it a transitional album if you wish - it most certainly is - there have still been fewer musical statements more complete in both their maturity and musical perfection.  10/10.   

Ben Greenstein <> (23.06.2000)

I don't like this one as much as most do, but I still think it's a really great album. The more soulish stuff is actually memorable, and the more expirimental songs are really good, too. "TVC 15" is my favourite, followed by "Stay." A really, really high eight. Maybe a high nine.

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

More than any other rock concert in the entire world, I wish I'd seen Bowie live on the Station to Station tour. Wouldn't it be great? It would be a moment in his life that I remember better than he does... Hm. I like that. That was clever.

Anyway, yeah. It's good. Doesn't it seem dark, though? Bowie has since said that he finds it his darkest album. 'Stay' is especially creepy, as though there's just this disco guitar wailing away forever in the dark to the same old tune and its raining and nobody's dancing. I don't know what it is. Is it echoey, or something? That song just scares me so much. It really doesn't make me want to dance, it makes me want to curl up in a ball and hide. But that's probably just me. The title track and 'TVC15' and, of course, 'Golden Years', even though I've heard it way too many times, are all fabulous. 'Word on a Wing' is the weakest track even though it is sort of touching.

The concert, though. It's dark, it's quiet, and Salavador Dali's... oh christ... I can't spell it... That creepy surrealist movie Dali made where they cut the eyeball. Anyway, that's playing on a big screen during the opening of Station to Station and then Bowie starts singing under this single blueish light wearing this black three-piece suit with his orangey-blond hair all slicked back, all coked-out and shit and probably believing he's Hitler or something. And smoking. He would have to be smoking. Wouldn't that be cool? Again, I'm probably alone on that one, aren't I? I wouldn't even be born for another 8 eight years so what do I know.


Jeff Blehar <> (08.02.2000)

The first time I heard this I was absolutely convinced it was a 10/10 and possibly Bowie's finest album. With a little perspective it's managed to drop a bit, down to a 9, but it's still remarkably formidable and Exhibit A in any case being made for Bowie the artist. But before my comments, here's a lot of important background, since George seems to be lacking it and since I'm the first to post on it.

1976 was a huge mess of a year for Bowie; while his tour has generally been hailed as his finest ever, he was consuming so much cocaine that he now claims he can remember little to nothing from the Station To Station era. Even worse, off-stage he faced a concerted media backlash in the wake of his alleged Nazi salute at Victoria Station (where, deep in the throes of a drug-addled identity swap, he was the Thin White Duke and saluted the crowd with a "Sieg Heil!"), and some perversely inappropriate statements about Hitler and the need for a new right-wing government to seize the reins of power. (This during a period of neo-fascist resurgence in Great Britain, no less.) So in this light, Low is an attempt to retreat from the excesses and pressures of this very stardom. At a time when punk rock was noisily reclaiming the three-minute pop song in a show of public defiance, Bowie almost completely abandoned traditional rock instrumentation and embarked on a kind of introverted musical therapy. One of the most unusual features of the recording process for "The Berlin Trilogy" was the use of Eno's "Oblique Strategies" cards. They formed a sort of musical tarot ("over one hundred musical dilemmas," says Eno) and contained directives on how to work in the studio such as "Listen to the quiet voice," "Fill every beat with something," "Emphasize the flaws," "Mute and continue," and "Use an unacceptable colour." Great stuff, eh? As you can imagine, Low ended up as Bowie's most challenging album, but also one of his best. Apparently the RCA suits had a collective coronary when they heard the four instrumentals on side four, and one even went so far as to suggest to Bowie that he should move back to Los Angeles to record some more Young Americans-ish soul material! Incidentally, the cover was intended as a punning statement on Bowie's new solitude - his Low profile! Har! Hardly corset-snapping humor to be sure, but not bad from someone who only a year before had been storing his urine in a refrigerator. Allegedly.

As far as the music itself is concerned, it's initally off-putting, but after two go-rounds, it's indelible. That singing that George dislikes is what gives the first half of the album so much charm! It's SO coked-out as to be unbelievable - far from having too much phony soul-style "emotion," it has none whatsoever. Bowie sounds more like a robot than he ever would (and it's a great sound!), except on the sighing "Always Crashing In The Same Car" (a touchingly honest metaphor for one's repeated inability to deal with one's failings) or the yearning "Be My Wife." Most of the "lyrical" songs are peripheral (case in point: the brilliantly half-finished "Breaking Glass") to the instrumentals, however. The two fast ones on side one are great, great fun; in fact, "A New Career In A New Town" is my favorite of his instrumentals bar none. It's strangely moving, almost as if Bowie's on the verge of spilling over with emotion but restraining himself. Built around the clash of "European" synths and beats and the "American honesty" of the harmonica, it has the most peculiar questing spirit to it - it's really, really indescribably wonderful. I think I'll go put it on right now, matter of fact! Side 2 is stunning when considered as a whole, an ode and tribute to the Communist destruction of Eastern Europe and Berlin specifically. "Warszawa" is the best of them, (but that's my opinion, mind you) themed around Warsaw, of course. It's really an amazing evocation of the grey sadness and desolation of its inhabitants. Funereal for a reason: when Bowie booms out with those nonsense syllables midway through, it marks the furthest he ever got from the mainstream.

The last three songs - "Art Decade," "Weeping Wall," and "Subterraneans" - all pick up on certain aspects of postwar communist-dominated Berlin. Sorry, George, you're very, VERY wrong on this one: "Heroes"'s instrumentals have nothing to do with Berlin, and in fact both Bowie and Eno have confirmed that they're not related to each other in any way whatsoever , German in spirit though they are. It's Low's instrumentals that are about Berlin (both halves), and whoa are they downers all. We begin with Communist-controlled East Berlin: "Art Decade" is the most unsettling of all of these ditties, stark, unnerving, and calm, according to Bowie it represents "East Berlin, cut off from the world of art and culture, dying with no hope of retribution." The we travel to the dividing line: the "Weeping Wall" which is about the Berlin Wall, of course (c'mon George, that one was OBVIOUS!). My least favorite of the three; does anyone else think they hear "Scarborough Fair" in there somewhere? Now we move to West Berlin, with the haunting "Subterraneans" (my favorite of the Berlin three). Bowie: "It was about people who got caught up in West Berlin after separation - hence the faint jazz saxophones representing the memory of what it was."

Well that was a lot of text, wasn't it? I'm only saying this much because Low is an album that requires a lot of explanation and context to appreciate fully; I certainly know that my knowledge of this background enhanced my pleasure. So go buy it - it's not quite as good as Station To Station nor as developed as "Heroes", but it's one of the most moving musical experiences you'll have heard in quite a long time. 9/10.

[Special author note: a very well put together comment from Jeff here. I would just like to set two points straight:

1) The problem that I find with Bowie's singing on Low doesn't actually have anything to do with the man sounding 'non-emotional'; I don't have any problems with that - actually, Bowie sounding 'emotional' is a rare thing, and I do agree that most of the time it's just phoney. I do happen to think, though, that Bowie does not sound like a robot here - he would sound like one on songs like 'Beauty And The Beast' and 'Joe The Lion', and that, ultimately, gave these songs a feeling of totally unmatched power. On Low, his singing is way too unassured: he hasn't yet found a distinct vocal style and ends up borrowing much of it from as far as Young Americans or even the glam period.

2) As for the interpretations of the instrumental pieces, they are, of course, mine and mine only. While describing the Heroes suite, I specially made the correction that this is all made from my subjective perspective. If I didn't have one worked out, 'songs' like 'Sense Of Doubt' or 'Moss Garden' would just be perceived as atmospheric sound collages, nothing else - the way that most reviewers on the Web actually perceive them. Associating them with the actual World War II and the Cold War thematics helps tremendously to raise the tunes' significance. So, while it's an interesting trivia detail that Bowie and Eno never thought of that suite as Berlin-related (although I can hardly believe it - it's so similar in the general construction pattern to the Low suite), it doesn't exactly enlighten us on how to interpret it. Not that my interpretation is the only possible one, of course - but I think it works.]

Rich Bunnell <> (12.02.2000)

I agree that this isn't nearly as catchy as Heroes, yet the song-based side of the album is more intriguing and Eno-ish. Especially "Speed Of Life"--what a cool instrumental! Gotta love that descending synth. Anyway, I enjoy this album quite a bit, even though the ambient half, like you said, doesn't deliver the -ambience- of the Heroes ones-- nothing's as airy as "Moss Garden" or as spooky as "Sense Of Doubt" here. A very high eight for this one, nevertheless.

Still, that percussion that you praised in "Sound And Vision" in my opinion really detracts from what is otherwise a really infectious synth-funk song. I love Eno, but sometimes some of his little tricks don't work.

Ben Greenstein <> (23.06.2000)

Instrumentals are cool, but the expirimental "pop" songs are sort of half-baked. They still aren't bad, though - I particularly love "Always Crashing In The Same Car." I've never been a fan of "Sound And Vision," though, and the entire album just sounds a little unsure of itself. A high eight.

<> (20.12.2000)

He's lived all over the world, he's left every place, and he's always crashing in the same fucking car!  What a guy!  Low is one of Bowie's most beautifully crafted albums, despite Eno's tendency to go a little overboard with the latest technology of the rising New Wave craze.  For instance, he could have toned down a bit with those stupid  Intellivisionesque bubble effects on "What in the World" and the twisty-twirly noises in "Always Crashing in the Same Car."

But, I can't be too critical considering the fact that Bowie makes boredom and idleness sound (and look) interesting...a feat that many of his latest imitators (Brett Anderson, Jarvis Cocker, etc.) haven't been able too pull off too well (in my opinion).

Unlike most Bowie fans, what I loved most about Low was his vocals.  We all know that he could have sung much better and he knew so too, but the point of the album wasn't to show how wonderful a singer he was.  His soul-less yet somewhat appealing croon meshed perfectly well with the overall mood of the album.  When he sings about "drifting into [his] solitude over [his] head" in "Sound and Vision," there's a nice sensation of disillusionment and all-out laughable self-pity.  I'm a big fan of disillusionment and self-pity, especially when it's done in a fashion as ingenious as Bowie's.  A guy like Jarvis Cocker (of Pulp) has the wit and the ability to go through the Bowie-like motions, but there's nothing introspective behind his oohs and ahhs.  "Sound and Vision" is a poppy sort of song with a post-modern theme that few today can top.

My favorite song on the track is "Be My Wife."  It's a sappy little number and the chords are predictable but it sounds good and the concept is great.  Few artists write openly loveless songs about domestic resignation.  It's all about the narrator's lonliness despite having everything.  Warren Beatty would like this song.

All in all, Low rules...

<> (10.03.2001)

When I first heard this album, I thought Bowie must have seriously screwed up, and this crazy Eno guy must be largely responsible. Bloody Germans and their crappy electronica. I mean, starting the album with an instrumental? But, wait...oh, there's a nice melody in it, and if you concentrate the backbeat is kinda nice. Anyway, then there's this "Breaking Glass." The opening notes sound BAD! I turned down the volume the first time I heard those nasty chords. Then the voice and everything else kicked in, and I realized that that was the point. The other vocal on the first side, "What in the World," and "Sound and Vision" were interesting pieces of synthpop. I liked "What in the World" especially. It's probably my favorite track on the album, followed closely by "Art Decade." (Funny thing...My favorite track on heroes is "Beauty and the Beast," followed closely by "The Secret Life of Arabia." Ho hum.)

"Ambient landscape" is a good way to describe the second half. The whole "synthpop" concept of the first half of the album completely drifts away, leaving the listener in a stream of innovative sound. My only complaint is that on some tracks...especially "Weeping Wall," I was apt to fall asleep. And "Subterraneans" was not, in my opinion, the best way to end the album.

It's been said that Bowie's singing is pretty bad on this album...great. I mean, would you want to hear a nice clear falsetto chord on "Breaking Glass?"

Mark Neil Patterson <> (21.03.2001)

First, I'd just like to say that I really respect and admire this site. I disagree with a lot of your opinions (and I genuinely believe you're wrong about post-70s music and it's apparent 'lack of worth', as you seem to see it. There's been some fabulous music produced since then... of course a group like the Pixies or R.E.M. aren't seriously going to rival Dylan's best works, but I'd take a good album by either of those groups over at least a third of Dylan's output, and the same could be said for post-1972 Stones. Anyway...

I think your review of Low definitely raises some interesting points, and I'm amazed at how you seem to have made almost exactly the same interpretations of the 'ambient' tracks as I did at first. I suspect that as you listen to the album some more, you'll draw out some more subtleties, as you seem to be doing already - some of the orchestration is extremely sophisticated, especially considering the relatively primitive equipment they were working with... the intelligence at work here (be it Bowie's or Eno's) certainly puts to shame much of the electronic 'music' produced with far more advanced technology in the '80s and '90s. I would suggest that the first truly worthy successor to this radical technological innovation has been NIN, but I know how you feel about them...

The only other point I would make is to correct an assumption you seem to have made about Brian Eno's involvement on this album. His experience and ideas were certainly very important to the development of Low. However, Eno himself, as well as the producer, Tony Visconti (it wasn't produced by Eno, as many critics seem to assume) have stated on record that the true creative force at work here was definitely Bowie himself, and that many of the ideas developed during recording heavily influenced his own later career.

That's not to denigrate Eno's importance to the 'Berlin' trilogy, but it certainly casts a different light on your theory that Bowie was never truly experimental or innovative, wouldn't you say? In general I agree with you about Bowie, although I would probably have rated him a 4 on your scale... he certainly has more going for him than some of the artists you rated at 4.

That's all I can think of to mention now... hope it's constructive.

[Special author note: well... we all know that the 'Berlin trilogy' was Bowie at his most experimental, indeed, but even so, I think it was more of a "popularization of Krautrock" than an independent breakthrough. If it's not Eno, then it's Kraftwerk and Can. Also, I never stated that post-Seventies music has a total 'lack of worth'! Not at all!]

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

This was one of the first Bowie albums I bought. I went in a messed up order, sort of. I bought Ziggy then Heathen and then this one. When I was buying it I had the only good HMV experience I've ever had. The guy at the store raved about the album when I asked if they had it, saying how he had it on vinyl and everything. Of equal note, he was the only person over 17 working there. I've since gone back and asked if they had any Lou Reed albums only to have the girl at the counter ask me who he was... Like, com'on. It's not like I was alive for this stuff either but I at least know about it!

Okay, enough HMV bashing. I try not to shop there anymore. The point is that it sort of surprises me that I liked this album right away. I keep thinking that it should have surprised me or something, but it really didn't. It was just really good. But I guess I was still heavy into Radiohead at the time so this seemed pretty normal. Is it weird that my favourite musicians are Bowie and Radiohead? Some people find that strange. But wow... There's really not much I can say about this album that hasn't already been said. My sister put it down because she said Bowie looked ugly during the Berlin period. I just included that 'cause I thought it was funny. We're just such silly girls... All we care about is how the rock stars look...

Yeah. I was joking. I love this album to no end. I've owned it for six months and still listen to it three times a week. I always found it incomprehensible that someone could love an album for thirty years but I can't see myself EVER hating this. Emotional, powerful, beautiful, entertaining, devastating... There are so many adjectives for this album. And has anyone heard that live album Stage? It's pretty good except that the songs from Low just didn't seem to work. I think it was because Bowie actually sang them WELL as opposed to the way he sings them here. They didn't sound good like that. I mean, it's sort of an anti-performance thing and Bowie sort of tired to make it performance. The instrumental on Stage, though, are almost better than the originals. You can hear the crowd cheer when he sings that bit from 'Warszawa' and it's the best moment on the album. Very moving. I wish I went to more concerts where rockstars sat down and played instrumentals (GOOD ones-there's a difference).

Palash Ghosh <> (27.01.2004)

As a dedicated enemy of avant-garde music (metal, industrial, techno, electronica, etc.), I viewed David Bowie's Low record with trepidation - but, since Bowie always intrigued and fascinated me, I figured I HAD to listen to this record. And "low" and behold, I loved it. but with a proviso. I have never (and probably never will) buy any record put out by such acts as Brian Eno, Kraftwerk, Chemical Brothers, etc.; but David Bowie experimenting with these kind of sounds is something else entirely. He had already (arguably) established himself as an enormously talented and successful mainstream rock-pop musician -- for him to dive into the weird unknown of Berlin-imbued techno sounds was very admirable and nothing short of revolutionary. While Low will never rank as my favorite Bowie records, it is a testament to his evolution and willingness to reformulate himself.

I must compare Bowie's "experimentations" with the avant-garde experimentations by John Lennon and Yoko Ono several years earlier. Here we had the leader of the greatest pop music entity in history completely destroying his glamorous pop-star image and subjecting the public to un-listenable avant-garde crap - forever cutting himself off from the comfortable melodious aura of The Beatles. But, the sad thing was that John and Yoko failed miserably. They had no clue what they were doing. Their records like Two Virgins and Wedding Album were nothing more than bizarre publicity stunts with ZERO musical substance. Moreover, John's "dedication" to the avant-garde was tenuous, shallow at best and short-lived.

But Bowie did it right. He immersed himself into the Berlin alternative music scene and partnered with the very capable Brian Eno to create a very memorable record. Low is NOT for everyone and even the most devoted Bowie fan will not like it immediately. And it in infinitely more enjoyable than listening to Yoko Ono's mindless shrieking.

I would love to see David Bowie appear on "The Simpsons" TV show. As David starts to perform some numbers from Low I can hear Homer complaining, "Aw! I wanna hear Suffragette City!!"


Richard C. Dickison <> (28.08.99)

This thing just peaks all over the place, David Bowie knew he had found something interesting in the early electronica and went on to produce an epic and he did just that. You have got the big 70's three going all at once here, Robert (watch me total this bassline) Fripp, David (Sound and Vision) Bowie, and our father of techno, ambient, electronica, Eno. It's just makes you want to see these guy's in concert. Anyway this really is only part two (and the best) of the three albums that make this Bowie period exciting. I personally did not like David in his glam role as much as I love the Berlin trilogy. I've always felt his helping with Mott the Hoople, All The Young Dudes proved he could produce better than doing it himself. He left the hollywood style and began his experimentation of crossing the German electronic movement with the american rock which I found much more entertaining. Anyway even David said that Hero's was a bow to what he saw as the end of the 70's rock age, and here is the start of the electronic age with David firmly in the lead. Ziggy and Diamond Dogs was only the rough begining, this was the real meat of Mr. Bowie's career. This wonderful ride would'nt end till the last note of Scary Monster's.

Ben Greenstein <> (28.08.99)

For one, I could not agree more. This is his peak for me - I only rated Changesbowie higher in my reviews because it's more accesible. But this... hoo, boy, this one takes the cake. And eats it, too.

It opens with "Beauty And The Beast" which I would gladly take a bullet for. The tune is amazing! The DEFINETIVE expirimantal song. That cool piano intro, the synths, the guitars, the little rap at the end - all it needs is a Laurie Anderson violin solo. Then, we have the equally mind-blowing "Joe The Lion," which seamlessly merges two awesome Fripp guitar riffs, as well as nifty drumming and that cool "you can buy God" line. I actually like the remix better, but that's just me. Then, saint Bowie gives us the marvelous title track. Best song ever, perhaps. Emotional and inspiring, and noisy to boot. In America, it's criminally underplayed, and instead we have to put up with that crappy Wallflowers version.

Those three make the album for me. The rest is awesome as well, but if this had been a 3 song EP, it would still get a ten. Awesome. And impossible to find over here. Took me a year.

And since you were wondering - "V-2 Schnieder" is a reference to Dorian (I think) Schnieder of Kraftwerk. In all honesty, I cannot see how anyone can listen to that group. Their music is so long and repetetive, it puts me to sleep. I returned Trans-Europe Express the day after I bought it.

Mike DeFabio <> (28.08.99)

I agree totally. Almost totally. I don't agree that this is his best album (that award goes to Ziggy Stardust) or even his second best album (that award goes to Station to Station) but this is definitely his third best album. Most of side one is great, but 'Sons of the Silent Age' never really grabbed me that much, and the live version of 'Blackout' is much better than the studio version. And I even like the ambient stuff. I'm usually not too crazy about background music, but this ain't background ambient music. This is ambient music you LISTEN to. And parts of it are dang creepy.

And I think the 'Schneider' in 'V2 Schneider' is Florian Schneider of Kraftwerk, if I remember right, and the V2, I think, is a kind of rocket, so I guess it's kind of a metaphor saying Kraftwerk's music is like a rocket, taking off and exploring new worlds or something. Which puzzles me, because in my opinion Kraftwerk's music doesn't go anywhere at all. It just kinda sits there and bleeps and bloops.But I guess Bowie liked 'em.

Richard C. Dickison <> (29.08.99)

PS... I was trying not to get into the Kraftwerk connection because it is controversial, yes they could be boring guys, but look at who and what they influenced. Talk about your underdogs. Actually David and Eno admitted being heavily influenced by guess who, Meroder and that little single 'Love To Love You', remember Dona Summer? IIIIIII Looove to looove youuuu baaaaby, oh sorry. Anyway, those gnomes of electronica were there slowly bleeping away even in this epic, then take another look at Blondie and their Parallel Lines album. hmmm the bleep goes on.

Simon Hearn <> (09.09.99)

I'll keep this one short. For me this is his best album of the seventies. Much more interesting than Ziggy and Hunky Dory. He was on such an experimental roll here, he must have known that he could not keep on with the quality of material he was producing (obviously not, as he would have quit on top!!!!!).

'Heroes' is one of the most celebratory love songs ever and I love 'beauty and the beast'.

A 9, I think.

Ps. Let's Dance is my personal fave album - controversial, but a reminder that Bowie can come back and surprise the most harsh of critics. I think Ziggy is so overated. Hunk Dory is good though.

Rich Bunnell <> (19.11.99)

I agree 99%, the 1% residing in the fact that I'd give it a 13 instead of a 12. No wait, make that 90%, because I love "Sons Of The Silent Age" and "Blackout," unlike you. Yeah, Bowie's "rapping" in the latter is a bit awkward but the rest of the song more than makes up for it! In fact, I love all of the songs on here. Why, then, does it not get a full 15? Well, I'm sure that Bowie has done better (I still need to get the rest of his work) and while I love each one of these ten songs, they're not completely mind-blowingly great. They're just consistent. "Beauty And The Beast" is particularly great; an awesome pomp-synth-disco rocker if there ever was one.

Simon Hearn <> (13.12.99)

A magnificent, sprawling and diverse album. In terms of an intro to Bowie's work in the 70's, this is the album to get. 'Heroes', of course, is the standout track - it's hopeless romanticism taking your breath away, but I do have a soft spot for 'Joe the Lion'. A stupid title for a song, but WHAT a song. I disagree with George and think that 'Sons of the Silent Age' is a great, moody and dark song and should be appreciated more. The Eno contributions are good -a vast improvement on those in Low. A 9.5

Jeff Blehar <> (02.02.2000)

While Heroes isn't my favorite Bowie album, it's rapidly risen to near the top of the heap (behind Station To Station and Scary Monsters) based on its own unique ambience. What makes this album and Low so special is that they're beautiful haunting mood pieces. George is dead-on when he pegs the instrumental tracks on Heroes as being a sound collage; whereas Low's (utterly breathtaking) instrumentals were chiefly melodic, these are ambient works more in the vein of Eno's Music For Airports than his Another Green World. Of the four of them, only "V-2" Schneider" has any melodic interest, and that's chiefly offset by the remarkable syncopated "off"-beat of the song - it's harder to hum along to than you'd think, because the chord changes come at all the wrong times. Brilliant! By the way, "V-2 Schneider"'s name is a nod towards Kraftwerk's Florian Schneider, of whom Bowie was a big fan.

As for the lyrical songs, I disagree with our man in Moscow; I think that - "Sons Of The Silent Age" excepted - they're ALL triumphs. "Beauty And The Beast" is one mofo of an opener, emphasizing what Bowie's really great at, namely slow, tension-building beginnings. "Joe The Lion" is an AMAZING song, made indelible by those two guitars playing simultaneously at completely different speeds. It sounds fast, but it's really slow as hell! Or rather, it sounds slow, but it's really fast as hell! Also, according to Bowie, the guitarwork on that track was Robert Fripp's attempt at playing the blues. The BLUES!! Ha! That alone makes it great! And the song isn't about a robot, it's a tribute to performance artist Chris Burden, who liked to perform stunts such attach electrodes to his nipples and suspending himself over open water, tying himself in a bag and hanging over a motorway, and yes - being nailed to his car. Ouch. "Heroes" is of course an absolutely wonderful epic, but I just want to point out that the song (and the album title as well) has always had quotation marks around it, which most definitely implies SOME sort of ironic distance. I would also like to take a moment to speak up for my favorite dark horse track, "Blackout." I simply don't understand George when he knocks this one; the opening synthesizer/guitar interplay is striking, but even so, not NEARLY as striking as his long spurt of words right before the second part of the song. "Getmetothedoctorsi'vebeentoldsomeone'sbackintown thechipsaredown," etc. It's one of the most memorable moments on the album, and the psychotic, desperate tone of the song is perfectly representative of the album as a whole, which is gripping, memorable, and frankly, frightening as hell. And highly recommended.

It's worthwhile to note that while Bowie's collaboration with Eno is often referred to as a Berlin "Trilogy," there are many good reasons to view it rather as a duo, consisting of Low and "Heroes". First, the two function dyadically, Low's anti-emotional spirit being inverted by "Heroes"'s freneticism. Secondly, both are split into similar formats: one side chiefly of lyrical songs, one side chiefly of instrumentals (and while Low breaks that format by having two instrumentals, "Speed Of Life" and "A New Career In A New Town," bookend its first side, "Heroes" returns the favor by closing its instrumental half with "The Secret Life Of Arabia"). More importantly, both were recorded in the same year (1977), the same studio (Hansa), and in Berlin, while Lodger, the nominal third in the trilogy, was recorded two years later (1979, with an intervening live album, Stage, being released in 1978) in Switzerland, and featured NO instrumentals. Viewing these two albums as two sides of a coin greatly enhances their meaning.

Jeff Melchior <> (26.12.2000)

Frustrating album. Here, on what is supposed to be one of his least commercial albums, Bowie has recorded half a record full of his most compelling, accessable and down-damnright catchy music. So, to be honest with you, all the Eno-onics on the second side don't do squat for me when I'm clamoring for more of what was on the first side. To be fair, maybe this was all Bowie had in him when it came to making actual music rather than evocative sould palettes.

Having said that, 'V-2 Schneider' is a great instrumental - almost Motown-esque in a futuristic way. The whole album sounds at least a good 10 years ahead of its time, for some reason evoking the same feelings as The Joshua Tree - not surprising considering Eno's involvement in both albums.

Bob Josef <> (23.12.2002)

I 'll agree with Mr. Greenstein -- The title track is his most powerful song ever. One of the few Bowie songs that is emotionally powerful and resonant. Which was a problem when I first heard the rest of the album, which just can't touch the song. It's weird, and full of Dave's usual artsy detachment.

But it has grown on me considerably. The instrumentals have a lot more variety than the last album, and "Beauty and the Beast" is a great stomper which really isn't that much a departure from his earlier work. Replace those atmospheric effects with some electric guitars and and it could have found a home on Ziggy. Still, overall, the title track seems to be more like an anomaly of greatness here than the centerpiece of a classic album.

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

Going to keep this one short. I took the time to read the other reviews and no one wrote anything especially objectionable, so... I'm not too inspired to tell everyone who already knows (or at least SHOULD know) how great this album is. But if you ever read this, George, you should know that I actually bought this album on YOUR say so. Seriously. It was the next to last Bowie album I ever bought because I was told it sounded all "eighties", which I knew was CERTAINLY something to avoid. I've said it once and I'll say it again. I don't own a single album by ANYONE from the years 1981-1993, except for the Ninja Turtles soundtrack which was given to me as a joke.

But this album certainly doesn't sound eighties. It's tremendous, and yeah, I do wish that the first side went on longer, because he never really did anything like it again, but that's not a complaint against the album. It's a regret that Bowie needs to change so quickly that he only gives you five songs of a certain style. Sigh...

Just one last thing, though. How come you give a perfect score to a bazillion Beatles albums but can't make with the 15 for something like "Heroes"? Is it the "strong melody" thing that you're always on about? Whatever. I mean, I like the Beatles, but its too inoffensive for me to really fall in love with. I like Sgt. Pepper, but... Never mind.


No reader comments yet.


Ben Greenstein <> (15.09.99)

You must be joking. Lodger is a sellout? Have you even heard Let's Dance? I mean, sure this stuff is dancey, but it's not mainstream in the least! There are still wierd, Eno-fied synths all over it, and the cliches of song construction are still being ripped wide open.

That being said, I can see why you wouldn't like it. It's NOT a great album, and it certainly has a lot of songs that seem like filler. In my opinion, these songs really grow on you - "Red Money," for me, is the best tune on here. I don't understand how anyone can no tlike that one - the bass riff is so awesome. Simple, too, like the most memorable ones always are. And I realize that it's just a rewrite of the Bowie/Iggy Pop collaboration "Sister Midnight," but that song sucked! Here, David does something really interesting with that cool backing track and the neat keyboard sounds.

I agree, though - great tunes like "Look Back In Anger" and especially "D.J." overshadow almost everything else on here. And it doesn't hold a card to Heroes. But it's still a monstrously superb album, and one of his last good ones ever.

Simon Hearn <> (13.12.99)

A massive let down and one of the lowest points in his career. After Low and Heroes, he could do no wrong and then he came up with this!! aghhhh! The only decent track on this record is 'DJ' - and that is not a Bowie classic. Do yourself a favour - give this a miss and get Low. It is far superior. A 6 and that is being kind.

Rich Bunnell <> (22.01.2000)

This is an okay album...nothing bad, yet nothing which comes close to anything on Heroes save "Look Back In Anger." "Red Sails," "Fantastic Voyage," "Boys Keep Swinging," and "D.J." are very well-written songs, but how come Eno didn't produce them like he did on the last album? You know, the chaotic full wall-of-sound vibe which made "Beauty And The Beast" and "Joe The Lion" such a treat? Some of these songs could've really used it! I honestly would've preferred another side of ambient soundscapes instead of four or five songs which don't work very well, making this the definite weakest of the Berlin trilogy. Still! Despite its fallacies, I'd still rate this much higher than you did, somewhere around a high seven or a low eight. Plus, I agree with is this a sellout?

Florence Gadeyne <> (16.05.2000)

This record is a little bit rambling. there are good stuff here but it doesn't work as an album. Bowie travelled a lot before doing this record and you can hear it maybe in a too obvious way. Almost each song can be associated to a different country. Did you know that 'Move on' comes from a mistake of handling in the studio? they were listening old tracks and one of them has been played 'à l'envers'  (contrariwise). This song was 'All the young dudes'. Try the experiment if you can. It's disturbing how true it is. And after that, you will always hear 'All the young dudes' in the backing vocals of 'Move on'.

Zhora <> (22.05.2000)

It is our deep persuasion that the most significant number on the album is "Night Flight". An astonishing song, stylish and spooky. As for the much praised "D. J.", it's just an absolutely ordinary, unsuccessful number. Thank you. [Translated from Russian by yours truly - G. S.].

Pirjo Kling <> (25.05.2001)

I gotta say that I really like tis' album. I use t find it very very colourful. A Travel book of David's fantastic voyage thru' the seventies, wild summarium about the feelings of the decade, full of all kinds of songs -mos of them quite more reduced than the ones in "Heroes" but also more interesting than those one's.

I think that "Fantastic Voyage" is just a great openin' track t tis' theme album. It just sways on and on and you never get bored with it.

And the great "african Night Flight" is really moody, I mean the lyrics kinda ROCK and the voices are SPOOKY. Imagine yourself on a nite flight over the dark jungle -allthought I think this isn't how DB. ment it, I have heard that the song tell's about German(?) pilots in Africa who spent their times in bars during the war -sumthin' like that).

"Move On" is a good song and it appeals on ma feelin's even more when I think about how succesfully Bowie's been able t recycle "All the Young Dudes".

"Yassasin" remins me of "the secret life of Arabia" =very listenable.

"Red Sails" captures me allways, a tight rocker with exact playing/exact programming -the lyrics are almost cyberpunk... in seventies.

Then there's the weak track, "DJ." both, the music and the lyrics aren't a great innovation, "DJ." has it few moments but mostly it's like "TVC15" -stuff you may do in a bad hangover. If I listen it really carefully I might be able t like it a bit.

"look Back in anger" almost funny, theatrical performance. But it has also that rage.

"Boys keep swinging" is a jolly, good ole fashioned pop-parody, almost like Frank Zappa.

And then come's "Repetition" a lovely dark ditty, taht like "Voyage" goes on and on.

But what can I say about "Red Money" I must say that I Really REALLY like more "I pray Ole", well, it's just so bad you gotta listen it.

By the way, the cover really is strange. Old BowWow was lifted on somekinda holder over the backround fabric spreaded on the floor. So much trouble and the picture doesn't make any sense. The most remarkable DB. cover since Diamond Dogs

REALLY good album, no more no less

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

I was VERY hesitant to buy this one since it's been almost universally panned. But that's probably just because Low and "Heroes" were just SO good. This album isn't really bad on its own. It's not GREAT, either, but... There are a few highlights. DJ's good and so is 'Boys Keep Swinging', even though the video's better. Oh yeah! That reminds me. Just this evening I saw about 20 minutes of that movie Victor/Victoria. You know? That one where the girl pretends to be a man pretending to be a woman? Anyway, there's this bit where she takes off her wig and everyone is supposed to "realize she's a man" and so she does it and she's got this kind of reddish slicked back hair underneath and my dahling mother remarks, "She looks like David Bowie." Isn't that precious? And it was just great because she really did; I was thinking the exact same thing. Just like at the end of the 'Boys Keep Swinging' video when he pulls off the wig. That was what reminded me. Why is it my reviews always turn into anecdotes? Whatever, though. I would give this album a much higher rating. It's better than Scary Monsters (which DOES start to sound a little too eighties for my liking) and better than most of Bowie's 90's stuff. At least it's interesting to listen to. An album like Hours might be less offensive but its just too boring. I'd give this album at least a 7. I really like his vocals on here for some reason.


Richard C. Dickison <> (04.09.99)

Scary monsters, and supercreeps, keep me running, running scared (boom boom boom). The last scary Bowie to really howl, it's all over baby blue from here on.

As I said before David had New Wave pegged before it really started. 1980 and he was already showing it for it's best and worst and you're right bumbling U2 was no where to be seen yet. Robert Fripp's apearance on 'Fashion' was an all time peak for him, I have never heard his sound used with such ferosity and made so catchy. Fa-Fa-Fa-Fashion. David was the master production artist blasting away in a style that was still mostly dominated by early plinky keyboards and men in plastic shirts. No one was making such dark statements and with the rock edge to carry it off. Way before our men of industrial would take up this form again and add the Glam rock he had shed back into the mix. It is really fasinating to see how out in front of the scenes to come he really was, or was he really the lead influence for it all? Funny how the next album is either his greatest commercial album or the end of David as an intelligent artist. Ashes to ashes, Funk to funky, We know Major Tom's a junky. I hate to write off an artist who created music like this. I just don't like him anymore, it's so irritating when they disappoint album after album as he does now. Hitting an allll tiiiime looow. Sort of like Pink Floyd only nobody can be blamed for leaving if your the only artist in the band. My mama said to get things done, You better not mess with Major Tom.

Ben Greenstein <> (08.09.99)

In response to Richard C Dickison - "new wave" was already a music term used in 1977, a full three years before this album. So Bowie did not "peg" new wave before it started. Talking Heads had done it years before.

Bowie did put out a heap of great albums, though, and Scary Monsters proves it. In fact, the only reason I gave this an eight when I reviewed it on Mark Prindle's page is because his rating system is so diefferent. I would award it a nine, because it's just so damn ggod, and the last truly creative work that we would EVER hear from the guy, despite what some people would have you believe about his '90s work.

In my ipinion, "It's No Game (Part 2)" is loads better it's ugly brother, which opens the album. The way it is, the album starts out kind of weak. However, it soon catches up with a bunch of great edgy rockers and expirimental ballads and ironic, funky things. And if you can't tell what songs in particular I'm referring to, then you haven't listened to the album. And I'm glad to see that somebody besides me realizes that "Teenage Wildlife" is a rewrite of "Heroes," only not nearly as good. It was as if David said "y'know, I like that song, but it's too repetetive. I'll add in a bunch of complex new sections and change the lyrics." It almost worked, and the new song is kind of interesting, but the original still suceeds simply because it's a classic.

I agree about the last couple of songs (mostly), but feel that "Because You're Young" is really catchy. Perhaps because I'm young. And I disagree about the remake of "Panic In Detroit," particularly because it was the first version of this awesome song that I heard. You're right about the cover of "Alabama Song," though - it sounds awful! No wonder it's an outtake!

And I feel that it was incredibly ironic that Bowie started bashing fashion and voicing his fears of becoming a passing trend right before he went overboard and completely sold out. This album is the last time he would EVER sound fresh, as much as I like "Modern Love" and "Blue Jean."

Richard C. Dickison <> (12.09.99)

Ben, The Talking Heads did not integrate their World Beat sound till the year of this album. I am refering to 'Remain in Light' which was based on the work done for the album My Life In The Bush Of Ghost by David Byrne and Brian Eno which came out the next year which contained samples and set the tone for keyboard and syqencer beat driven music to come. Much of the keyboard or guitar driven music before this album was Kraftwerk and Ultravox what I term primitive New Wave/ Electronica and 1980 gave us Peter Gabriel's Third album the one with 'Games Without Frontiers', Devo's Freedom Of Choice, and The Pretenders first album. Yes, the term New Wave was used before Scary Monsters and we have Blondie and their Parallel Lines (1978) album to thank more than those Talking Heads, thank you very much Debbie. But it was this year that Electronica started to mature and it was highly influenced by Brian Eno who had already completed his work with David Bowie for the Berlin Trilogy (1976-1978). Yes, you could say that someone else created New Wave but David Bowie was highly involved in making it what it was to become.

Simon Hearn <> (13.12.99)

I really cannot understand why this album is given (albeit halfhearted) praise. It is really one dimensional and continues the unimaginative songwriting which Lodger started. THe title track is not that good and most of the other songs are fillers. Not my favourite Bowie album by any stretch. He did come back with Let's Dance, though. A 5.

Rich Bunnell <> (22.01.2000)

Lots of neat, poppy songs litter this album, in particular "Ashes To Ashes"...not as grandiose a song as "Space Oddity" but more catchy. The same goes for "Teenage Wildlife" as compared to "Heroes"-- it's not as good but manages to hold up on its own anyway. There isn't really a bad song on this whole album (even though my first listen left me less than impressed) so I'd give it a nine! I'm not sure if you said that "Fashion" is a "Fame" followup or not (I don't have the review in front of me at the moment) but let me say this's easily fifty quadrillion times better!

Florence Gadeyne <> (16.05.2000)

He must have broken one or two vocal cords on that 'free step to HEAVEN' or 'SITUATION' ! To me, 'It's no game- part 1' is kind of a revolt song by opposition to 'part 2' which is a fatalist one. I highly prefer 'part 1'. I like the 7/8 bars intro and outro of 'Up the hill backwards' and also the bicycle bell. But it's a strange song, yes it sounds catchy but listen to the drums they really seem to slack. And the title track! Gee! my dog must be a scary monster 'cause he barks just like that! (except he doesn't do it in rythm). I agree with you, George, about this album. The beginning of 'Because you're young' sounds like a 80's Iggy Pop's song. 'Space Oddity' is not a really worthy bonus track but I like the silences on it, especially the interesting 12" blank where the rocket 's supposed to lift off. And it shows how beautiful is this song even without orchestration. But contrary to you, I like 'Kingdom come' and its 'boom - tchac boom boom - tchac boom boom - tchac boom boom boom tchac boom boom - and also that very bowish thing : 'wall's a mile hîîîîîîîîîgh'.

Greg Pringle <> (21.08.2000)

The Japanese woman is not reciting something in Japanese 'over and over', she is reciting the lyrics to the song in Japanese.

Secondly, 'Crystal Japan' was written for a Japanese TV advert for a brand of liquor.

Bob Josef <> (08.01.2003)

I was a bit prejudiced against this album because of his attempts to follow up two of his greatest songs, especially "Teenage Wildlife". WAY too blatant a clone of the classic"Heroes", I must agree. But I only have a problem with the lyrics of "Ashes to Ashes". How could Major Tom become a junkie out in space? Dumb. But the weird music is pretty cool. The weakest track, though, is the Tom Verlaine cover "Kingdom Come". Verlaine was an obscurity who only really appealed to snooty rock critics or artsy types like Dave.

But the balance of the album is really enjoyable. I don't find it all that different from the previous two, really -- he's just taken some of the "Berlin" ideas and made them more guitar centered. Sort of a return to the Station to Station sound, although "Fashion" gives a clue what he would be up to on the next album. I also like the second "It's No Game" better than the first -- a lot more catchy without that super-heavy guitar of Part 1. Final verdict: not instantly grabbing with tons of hooks, but worth the effort after a few listens.

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

I REALLY didn't go for this one first time around. I mean, I'd heard that a lot of people really cherish 'Teenage Wildlife' but I couldn't for the life of me figure out how that song worked. It just seemed to mish-mashed, like a thousand different sections all pasted togather. I've since come to like it, but I'm almost embarassed by the fact.

'It's No Game Part 1' is amazing, though. Well, actually, it seems as though the song sort of loses its legs 3/4 of the way through, but... It's still great for the way Bowie screams at the beginning. I really didn't think he had it in him. Was it all those decades of cigarrettes? Hell, he'll probably sound like that all the time in a few years.

'Scream Like a Baby' reminds me of... Billy Joel. The harmonies are very reminiscent of Billy Joel (I used to listen to Billy Joel when I was a kid because I liked a guy in my class called Billy). He does sound really angry when he says "faggots", though. Maybe he means it. I mean, he did get punched in a bar and ridiculed when he first took Ziggy to the States, didn't he? 'Kingdom Come' is really irritating, though, definately the worst song on the album. It's corny and... I don't know. It sounds like it should be featured in a car advert, or something. In fact, if it werent' for 'Scream Like a Baby' and 'Kindom Come' I might enjoy this one a whole lot more. The rest of it's quite good, and I enjoy the stripped-down 'It's No Game Part 2'. 'Ashes to Ashes' shouldn't be taken literally, I don't think. He's talking about his own drug problems, isn't he? Yeah, and in the chorus of that song does he sing, "Ashes to ashen, fun to funky..." and then "Ashes to ashes, funk to funky", because I'm almost sure but that's not what the printed lyrics say. I'm not a huge fan of 'Fashion' because the first time I heard it was when I saw the video and the video is so stupid and eighties it really turned me off. Anyway... I only like parts of this album and that bothers me because it would be a long time before Bowie would write anything else I'd want to listen to.

<> (11.05.2004)

One of Bowie's best, a 10.

Start with Bowie himself. We get a great contest of vocal styles and feel on the bookends "It's No Game" from the psycho screams of the opener to the resigned murmur of the close. "Up The Hill Backwards" has one of the great Bowie lines, "I'm OK, you're so-so." Side One ends with two brilliant "remakes" in "Ashes To Ashes" and "Fashion" - "Ashes" is really moving with Major Tom having become a junkie stuck out in space, while I actually like "Fashion" better than its predecessor "Fame."

Robert Fripp....what can I say? The solo on "It's No Game" is one of the best, just a crazy disjointed work that sounds like it's in a unique scale and compliments the vocals and lyrics perfectly. Also that entrance and middle solo on "Up The Hill Backwards" with that right hand going 90 mph. I didn't get the connection of "Teenage Wildlife" to "Heroes" at first, but if I can see a "Heroes" reprise in "Slow Burn" than why not?


Richard C. Dickison <> (25.09.99)

Well, I guess you better start looking to Peter Gabriel for intelligent music after this album. David Bowie knew how to throw a damn catchy wake. Yeah, let's call this album the celebration of the end. So put on your red shoes and dance the blues. Sometimes moments of greatness show through but David really made his money on this album. He even made an Iggy Pop song sound important and interesting.

Got to give him credit for that, right? You should buy Let's Dance to complete your David Bowie collection but stop here. The End

Simon Hearn <> (13.12.99)

I find this record to be one of this best. It shows his adaptable qualities, he could still write classy material and he was in control of another musical genre. 'Modern Love', 'China Girl' and 'Lets Dance' are giants of tracks and I can't think of many other albums by anyone that start off with three such massive hits. Don't lets forget 'gasoline' and 'shake it' - two fantastic funky and uplifting tracks. This record is vastly underrated. A 9.5

Florence Gadeyne <> (16.05.2000)

It's hard to rate this album. The 3 well-known singles are brilliant (for 80's songs), I'd give them a 8/10; one song is ok: 'Cat people' (even if the gloomy version he made for the movie is more valuable), I give it a 6; and the rest is ... well?... 4      So let's see: ( 3x8 + 6 + 4x4 )/8 = 5.75. We agree, it's a 6/10.

Ben Greenstein <> (23.06.2000)

Okay, so "China Girl" is a great song. Whoopee. He wrote it in 1977, back when he still had ideas. The rest of the music is either passable (the title track) to boring and pointless (why he had to cut off the intro to "Cat People" that was on the sountrack version is beyond me). Oh, and I have no idea how a man responsible for a piece of crap like "Shake It" could put a fantastic song like "Modern Love" on the same album. And "Under Pressure" rules, so don't knock it anymore. A five.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (25.12.2000)

Of course, it's a letdown to Scary monsters but not so big as some people think. Let's start from the fact that album has no real purpose (exept making you dance) and here we have only 8 songs. I don't want to say that number of the songs describes the quality of the album (example: Thick as a brick) but agree that the number of songs here isn't usual for David.

I usually don't like dance albums but, thanks God, we have good melodies here at least. Songs suffer much from arrangements and from David's manner of singing (I don't know what happened but I feel it). Almost all songs are strong, but again I'll take one or two points off for dance orientation. Unfortunaly, the lyrics are no good, too. They lost Bowie's style and if I could define David's 70-ies lyrics, now I'm left doubted.

As for me, I tend to like majority of these songs. 'Majority', because to me 'Let's dance' and 'Without you' are pointless and dull tracks. 'Modern love' and 'China girl' (it was written long time ago before 1983 and then (in 1982) it was transformed to pop-version) are very good ones and they almost made me stand up from the chair and dance. Other songs are okay.

You know, I was placed between hammer and a hard place while giving ratings. I enjoyed this record and don't want to bash it. But, on the other hand, it deserves bashing cause this is only half of music (I don't really connect dancing with REAL music). Hard case... But even you said that it's worth buying so why don't we give it 10/15? At least it's not Black tie white noise...

<To the comment from Florence Gadeyne>: In my opinion, it's not right to rate album in such way, Florence. If you do so with All things must pass (sorry for such example, but it's the most obvious, I suppose), then you'll get something around 7 or 8 because of 'Apple Jam' which will spoil the rating.

<Again to George>: Well, if I started talking about mathematic way of rating, I want to say some words about your explanation of artist's general rating. IMHO, it's not quite right to rate artist by summing up all his scores and dividing the sum on four because you give your general rating according with your feelings and you know this old fact: feelings cannot be explained by math. Though, I understand that you don't RATE him in such way - you try to EXPLAIN your point of view, but still as I said before...

Bob Josef <> (27.12.2001)

It seems David was a bit strapped for material at this point, with two remakes ("China Girl" was originally on Iggy Pop's The Idiot, I believe; the first version of "Cat People" was produced by Donna Summer disco guy Giorgio Moroder for the soundtrack to the movie) and a cover ("Criminal World" was recorded by a group called Metro). But it's just a fun record, with a lot of variety, very solid rhythm section playing, and great guitar work. Vaughan's work, placed in this rather weird context, is really marvelous to hear. His vocals, too, show a lot of diversity, from the falsetto crooning of "Without You" to the weird Gestapo shouts of "Ricochet." I agree that "Shake it" is nothing but filler, and "Under Pressure" should not be a bonus track -- it's just doesn't belong. On the whole, though, the album straddles well the line between David's usual arty pretentiousness and commercial pop accessibility. Unfortunately, he couldn't repeat this formula successfully.

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)


Fuck art, Let's Dance. That's what it should have been called. There isn't a track on here I can stomach. Hearing people praise this album is almost as incomprehensible to me as hearing people tell me that they liked the Labrinyth soundtrack... Or, worse yet, that they loved Labrinyth the movie. Till the day I die I will never understand that. You know when your watching something and you just feel SORRY for the movie?

<> (13.05.2004)

Amazing how people can get so polarized on this one. Well, I'll take the side that it's a great record, while noting how it sort of stands by itself when considering the entirety of Bowie's work.

Bowie had this formula of pairing funk rhythm guitar with blazing lead guitar. It went back at least as far as Station To Station with Carlos Alomar and Earl Slick. Then there was the great Scary Monsters with Alomar and Robert Fripp. With Let's Dance Bowie gets most of the Chic rhythm section (Nile Rodgers and Tony Thompson, with Bernard Edwards present on "Without You") and then throws Stevie Ray Vaughn on top. The guitar team of Rodgers and Vaughn is just devastating. Take "Criminal World" which begins with an unassuming Chic-Rodgers riff, then an intriguing out-of-nowhere rhythm arpeggio while Stevie Ray lets it rip. Or how about "Cat People" where Rodgers cranks up the distortion and then pauses, and then Stevie Ray just burns his solo on top of Rodgers' crunching chords.

Chic was a disco band, and I don't have any of their LPs as a result, but I have to say that while some of their songs could be insipid there was solid musicianship and arranging underneath, and the pairing with Bowie and his weird visions and vocals was inspired...and then Stevie Ray Vaughn to boot!

I'm not forgetting side one either, I'll just echo the praises of your earlier comments. I will say "Without You" is a nice shift into cruising speed after the pyrotechnics of the title cut with that echoey reverby sound. Similarly "Shake It" is a mindless but fun piece of ear candy that works coming after the grim and explosive "Cat People." Actually the only thing that doesn't work for me is "Ricochet" which sounds like aimless thrashing about.

I'd give this a 9/12 rating at least.

It's a mystery why, after the success of this record, Bowie turned around and put out the disappointing Tonight. After that I didn't get a new Bowie album until Heathen. (Just bought the old ones instead.)


Ben Greenstein <> (22.09.99)

Hard to believe it, but "Tonight" used to be a really good Iggy Pop song. But, being the bastard that he had become, David just HAD to take that one (and two others that were pretty good, as well), and turn them into lame, mindless, 80's "R &B," and I will never forgive him for it. Not even if his next album is as good as Rolling Stone claims it is - which, given their history of being wrong, is not very likely.

As for the album, I really like "Blue Jean" and maybe "Loving The Alien." The rest is just completely faceless. The covers flat out SUCK, and I'll be the first to tell you that it's possible to ruin a really good song. Ever hear Annie Lennox's take on the Clash's "Train In Vain"? Don't!

And don't buy this album, either. I actually like the bonus tracks - the "Labyrinth" tune is really swell - but the album is almost a total snore. Though I could see how you might feel a need to rate it above a bad Rod Stewart album.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (25.01.2001)

Maybe I'm the only person who loves this album. Well, 'loves' is a too strong word, better to say: 'likes'. In fact, David isn't wasshed-up here. He's still a boy with guitar from backyard (in Bowie's case - saxophone). Songs are alright, too. There're only two weak spots - Beach boy's cover and 'Dancing with big boys'. Others are just fine. I have no kick against title track (and Tina Turner, too) or even 'Tumble And Twirl' (which, in my opinion, is great!).

Well, no doubt that David lost the atmosphere and this fact scared me but, in the end, I could pass through it. Lieber & Stoller's cover (who could have guessed!!!) brings here something from 60's (by the way, why didn't you correct my comment on Ringo's Old wave? I REALLY thought that it was Ringo's song!). Actually, you can never tell that this album was released in 1984 because it doesn't fit it's time well. Whew... Strange case... Well, I tend to like this album more than hate so a suitable rating for me is 7/10.

PS. As for bonuses, they suck. But, for some strange reason, the list of bonuses on my edition is completely different. I have 'Ching-a-ling', pop version of 'Sell me a coot', awful 'When I live my dream' and vocal version of 'Space oddity' (you know, David's vocal always sucks on demos). These songs SUCK! Though, it's a good tradition


Ben Greenstein <> (22.11.99)

Five? That's a joke, right? This album is awful! And not because it's eighties pop - no, because it's bland, tuneless eighties pop. Sure, there are slight differences in between the songs, but if you have to listen "really close" to hear them, then they haven't really suceeded, have they? And you've got to listen to hear the melodies, too. I guess some of the riffs are okay, but you can come up with an awesome riff and still have a shitty song.

The only numbers I can stand at all are the classic, Lennon ripoff title track and "Glass Spider." That song is just SO bad, it cracks me up. Did he really think he could recall his eno-trilogy glory days with a song about baby spiders? I give the album a two - it's only worth buying because you can get it for 25 cents.

[Special author note: for my money, I think that I have to listen "really close" to about every Bowie album to hear the melodies, Ziggy and Heroes excluded. And I really don't see what makes this record any worse than Tonight.]

Sergey Zhilkin <> (21.12.2000)

This one is a little better than Tonight. Though the idea of going back to roots doesn't sound good. This should be called the most average album ever produced. Really, nothing here can be dismissed as crap but these songs don't touch your heart either. Nothing to praise for, nothing to dismiss for. Well,maybe except only one song. I mean 'Zeroes' (going back to 'Heroes'?). I like it only because of the fact that it reminds me instrumental 'Greece' by George Harrison (actually, they have only one thing in familiar, actually. I mean the wonderful guitar chord that occurs only 3 times a song). To me it's just VERY average album. Very strange and interesting case, indeed. 6/10.

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

I previewed this once at the CD Exchange and couldn't make it through a single song. Really, George. A five? Do you really think this is fifty percent good?


<> (26.08.2000)

Now I am truly impressed! I could read your sight for hours, and I have and I will.

I am so happy to finally see a positive review of Tin Machine!

I loved this album when it came out. I consider it his best work of the 80s, and maybe the 90s but I'm still thinking about that. Everything else he did around this relied too much on production sheen and modern dance rhythms; I don't dance, and I won't, so Tin Machine is simply great because they ROCK. If this sounds juvenile forgive me, but this is simple, stark, angry Bowie, with no frills but the strange way Reeves Gabrels uses metal vibrators (yes, t hose kind) for his sound. (And the lyrics: "Right-wing dicks in their boiler suits"? You can't pay for that kind of comedy!) I missed the tour which apparently was all black suits and white lights, which is perfect for these songs. The only tune that misses for me is "Working Class Hero", and I didn't like Marianne Faithfull's version either. So many great tunes here I'll leave it till later to disect.

And I didn't hate Tin Machine II either.


<> (16.11.2002)

Is this just a legend, or was this an actual album put out by bowie&co.? He has done his best to hide it. Sometimes I think it is funny how many albums he has put out that is not in print anymore. But the man is filthy rich by rock star standards. Can you say damage control, kiddies?!


No reader comments yet.


Ben Greenstein <> (23.06.2000)

Believe it or not, some people actually consider this his comeback. THIS? Bland, overproduced, soft jazz? Not for me, no sir. It has "Jump They Say" on it, and that's a great song, and the bonus track "Lucy Can't Dance" is a song that I really love for no reason, but the album stinks. A Morrisey cover? Instrumentals? A low four? Sounds right to me.

Greg Pringle <> (21.08.2000)

George, you must have been tired when you wrote this. How many times did you listen to the record, and by this I mean the music and not the background percussion machinery? (The required three, and I'm NOT going to have a fourth - G. S.). Not knowing anything about 90s dance music, I approached the album with a relatively open mind - as open as you could expect from a Bowie fan. And I have to say, I actually like this album. Why? Mainly for its sound and its atmosphere. I love 'The Wedding', 'Jump They Say', 'Nite Flights', 'Pallas Athena', 'Looking for Lester', and several other tracks. The bonuses are fantastic. The throbbing bass sounds are depressing (nothing like a deep menacing undertone to raise the tension level) and the repetitive nature of the songs is hypnotic and tense. Even the exultant 'The Wedding' is happiness a la Bowie, which is a kind of impacted, insecure happiness. On the other hand, the album is let down by precisely the songs that you prefer: 'I Know It's Going to Happen Someday', 'Lucy Can't Dance', and 'I Feel Free' are all quite terrible.

This album doesn't need any gimmicks. It stands on its own. At least 7 out of 10.

Sergey Zhilkin <> (14.12.2000)

Oops... Actually I was waiting something more entertaining than this one even after reading you review. Why? Because I read some positive comments (on your homepage, too) on the net and even in Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 97 (really! Don't laugh - it's 100% true!). Besides, I know that it topped the chart. And what a disappointment!!! Actually, 'Black tie, white noise' is the third album in my hall of 'most unlistenable' albums. The first place took Electronic sound (George Harrison) and Sentimental journey (Ringo) is the second by now. Good company for David....Err, let's return to the album. Out of 14 songs I like only ONE ('like' here means 'can listen without throwing a cup of tea in my player') - it's 'The wedding'. Others are ruined by (can you imagine it!) David's vocal. Plus, as you've already said, Bowie invites you for a dance but do you need it? What if you're in bad mood and want to listen to some sentimental songs? And what if you NEVER want to dance? Ah, I'd give it 1 or 2... On overall scale. Awful album and awful stuff, too. Bowie fans! Go and buy Jesus Christ Superstar instead of this crap... Why JCS? Because it doesn't invite you for a dance. It MAKES you dance.

P.S. Though, the cover is great. What a wonderful and mysterious look...

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

I can at least stomach some of this so that's an improvement. I actually LIKE 'Jump They Say' so that, for me, rates this higher than any of his eighties output.


No reader comments yet.


Rose Littlehales <> (13.04.2000)

Well yet again you've disapointed me,though I have to admit like David Bowie said on his 3 hour talk on BBC's Radio 2 for the last 3 weeks this would of been better on 2 seperate albums, but ather than that this is a catchy Album from 'Hot Filthy lesson' (sic! - G. S.) to 'We Shall Prick You'!  

Yet again alot of critasism just because your not a Bowie fan like some of us out.

Who's with me *Smiles*

From Ellie/13/F/England

Ben Greenstein <> (23.06.2000)

It's pretty good if you can stomach Nine Inch Nails industrial garbage. You admit to hating NIN, so I can't see how you like it. I don't like NIN too much either, but I think that a few songs on there stand out from the blur. The title track has a cool melody, "Strangers When We Meet" is pretty, and "The Heart's Filthy Lesson" is just fantastic. I'd probably give this a seven - it's a type of music I don't much care for, but it's done well.

Greg Pringle <> (21.08.2000)

George, you're not being fair again. Perhaps you're fed up with listening to too many albums. This may not be a record to 'rave' about, but it's very listenable. Most of the songs are quite good, some very good, and I can't think of any that are 'bad' (the definition of 'bad' being that I suffer an uncontrollable desire to press the fast forward button). Compared with his 80s offerings, this is an excellent album. Also, you should have read the liner notes; it would have added something to the experience.

Anna Peppard <> (02.03.2003)

Yeah, you should have read the liner notes. And although I admit the little seques wear on me after a while, I do like this album. Although, I wouldn't have bought it if it weren't Bowie. Isn't that honest of me? It sounded interesting, though, Bowie and Eno and concepts... And yeah, 'Hallo Spaceboy' is pretty awful. But I will say that it fits into the album. After the seque the drums sound really manacing. I usually just listen to the first drums to get that menacing tingle and then skip the rest. There's a lot of good stuff here, though, and I disagree that it should have been two albums, because then it just would have been more of a pain to skip through to the songs I actually really ENJOY. Like 'I Have Not Been to Oxford Town', or 'The Voyeur of Utter Destruction (As Beauty)'. Solid. I ENJOY these songs. Honestly.

But George... 'Stranger When We Meet' is a horrible, horrible song. Not only is it completely at odds with all the other material, feeling tasked on at the end simply as a cheap way to end the album (and it probably was), but it's SO corny. "All my tear raing violence upon the sheets?" What is that? That's pure Phil Collins. God, I hate it when Bowie is cheesy like that. Notice how the lyrics to his love songs changed over the years? On Diamond Dogs it was "I love you in your fuck me pumps" and on Let's Dance it was "If you should fall into my arms tremble like a flower". Awful. Just awful. I don't understand how you or anyone could enjoy that song. Pure cheese. This might be a little harsh but I'm going to say it anyway: that single song really wrecks an album that might have been a nice concept piece.

apple555 <> (24.04.2003)

Hello, George.

First, your site is absolutely great, and the profundity and validity of your views is above anything I met before. But, as for your comment on Outside, I was really surprised. I'm not a Bowie's (nor anybody else's) fan, just amateur. Maybe, you will find my opinion of interest too.

Outside is a _literally_ unique record. "Unique", I reckon, doesn't mean "very good", but "the only, and nothing to be compared with".

And that's why:

The purpose of art (I apologise for all platitudes and longitudes), is to create beautiful things. Those can be condemned in the artifact itself, and then you can enjoy the art (say, a sculpture) only during the immediate perception. Or, in case it is a real chef-d'oeuvre, the aesthetical rules built into it may imprint in your mind, and you start to permanently conceive a specific kind of beauty just in the everyday life. I suppose that most of great rock music posesses this property. It resides in the head and makes you feel the life in other way. Much like a filter, emphasising some details in a picture and thus suddenly creating (or making visible) a different outline, which you enjoy.

And while the most music I heard acts just like a colour filter, Outside could be estimated as a penetration into the parallel dimension. Indeed it's a sight into another (artificial) world. That parallel reality is created from scratch, and the aesthetic laws which are in force there, are brand new.

I feel thet I got a bit obscure.

Well, in other words, the other albums I heard, they have a substance like: "these are colors of life you probably didn't notice around you; but now you're aware of this side of reality and you can see life as a picture painted in these tints, and enjoy it in a new way; the world around you _does_ have this kind of beauty".

And as for Outside: "a perfect artificial world presented, it is constructed by the imagination (or just visioned?), and only the aesthetical rules thought up by us, authors, apply to it".

The universe of Outside has nothing to do with a real world. It is fantastically beautiful, it is immaculate, completely extraterrestrian, but it is alive! It is not a lifeless abstraction.

This is a record where Bowie actually realized his cosmic ambitions, while pretending Major Tom was merely a game. As though that half-real Tom was thrown out to space, then forgotten by his creator, and now that imaginary character (to the utter astonishment of Bowie himself), suddenly appears to be real, and he finally landed in some distant world, and was reporting what he was watching around. Bowie's artistic feat is somehow alike that of Tolkien. But Tolkien's universe, though completely perfect and surely alive, after all has something to do with the real world. And Bowie's doesn't.

And of cource, he hardly could express the world of Outside without Eno. The latter, in my opinion, is the greatest master of form (but not of substance). I think Eno could express any idea of any artist in an ideal way, with a maximum perfection possible for human being. Yes, I agree with you that Before And After Science, is a brilliant work, far more consistent than the Berlin trilogy, but it lacks the core: the sense. What did he want to say? to express? what feelings or thoughts? And Bowie/Eno tandem is, I think, the most wonderful symbiosis in the modern music. By the way, I didn't like Outside from the first listening. It took some time to dig it.

And the last thing: I disagree with your estimation of Scary Monsters. Just beacuse of 'Ashes To Ashes' (both song and video). This is surely of genius.

So, thanks a lot for your attention and patience, if you got here.

P.S. Maybe, My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts has any similarity with Outside in what I've been talking about. But My Life is a simply notion of another world, whereas Outside is a quite full picture.


Rich Bunnell <> (19.10.99)

Since Bowie's albums were mostly out of print when I really tried to get into him about a year ago (now they're finally back in print on EMI so I'll make another attempt) this is pretty much the only full album of his I've heard. I'd give it the same rating as you once again (I have a feeling that I won't get into any major disagreements with you until you tackle the Police)....but "Dead Man Walking" his worst song ever?!?!? I can imagine if you wouldn't LIKE it, but worst song EVER? That's taking it far too far too far! I found it to be one of the only concise songs on the album! #1, of course, is "I'm Afraid Of Americans," but I rank that song right behind it!

I'm not, of course, saying that concise necessarily means GOOD, but on this album, when the songs that aren't sound like random fragments of songs spliced together without any cohesion, it pretty much does mean that. I also like "Seven Years In Tibet" and "Little Wonder" a bit, but nothing's really that memorable to me except for those two songs mentioned earlier.

Ben Greenstein <> (23.06.2000)

Yes, I hate this crap. I agree with you on the five. This sounds so dated even three years after it's release - all those drum machines and schreeching guitars. A few songs stand out, but not much. "Little Wonder" sounds like a sort of half-assed Bowie song given trance arrangement (and it works, surprisingly!), and "I'm Afraid Of Americans" is a good song, for whatever reason. Somehow, it's become known as a collaboration with Trent Reznor (because he was in the video) instead of with Brian Eno (who actually cowrote it), and that pisses me off. Some of the other melodies are okay, but I don't drive myself nuts over them.

Elizabeth L. <> (03.11.2000)

For one thing, I think Earthling kicked ass. I love techno and Bowie took the genre and made it his own for as long as his attention span held out with it. Of course, I should also note that the first thing I ever heard of his was "Dead Man Walking" off The Saint soundtrack, so I guess I'm not what you'd call a bowie purist. I do like a lot of his earlier stuff though, sans the 80's.


Florence Gadeyne <> (16.05.2000)

I really like 'Survive', 'Seven' and 'Thursday's child'. But the rest sounds like an average soundtrack (which it is in fact). Have you ever noticed that 'Brilliant adventure' was a rewritting of the saxophone line of 'Untitled n°1' (from The buddha of suburbia)?

Lady Storm <> (21.06.2000)

Hi! I must say that I like this album of DB very much. Most of all I like songs: 'Seven', 'Something in the air', 'Survive', 'If I dreaming all my life'. In texts of songs before the song 'Seven' there is a word “July”. What does it mean? Who knows? I’m very interested, but I like to live a real life and not to dream my life.

Elizabeth L. <> (03.11.2000)

Hours scares me. It has modern production values, but it could have been ripped off of some early 70's BBC sessions and no one would notice the difference. That's not a good thing. If Madonna did that we'd accuse her of being unoriginal, but you're just like "hey, he's an old fart now, why not?" Why not? Okay, I'll admit that his long hair and hoodie on VH1's Storytellers made him a less convincing teenager than makeup and Japanese-designed theater costumes made him a convincing alien twenty years ago. But still! He has the ability to make some roof-raising music, and three years is not that big an age difference since Earthling. And you contradict yourself in your reviews: you say he's too much of a changling during your Earthling review and in your intro paragraph. And now you say that he's not changing enough? Make up your mind.

dasha <> (28.01.2001)

Well, as for me, I like all the songs from the Hours album. They are all just as great and, gorgeous, I think, like always! Well, boy - IT'S DAVID BOWIE!


lera <> (27.01.2004)

It's one of my favourites, and one of the most serious and profound. I would be your slave - song-prayer - the best thing I've ever heard. "Give me peace of mind at last...and I would be your slave..."

<> (18.05.2004)

Now this is a comeback if ever there was one.

The two best songs to my ears are "Slow Burn" and "5:15 The Angels Have Gone" which may show I'm a Who fan. "Slow Burn" is a brilliant update musically to "Heroes" with that guitar sustain and the piano riff backing it up. "5:15" has a spacy sound not unlike "Space Oddity" itself. In fact several of these tunes have that sci-fi feel, such as "Sunday" or "I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship." ("Gemini" lyrics are a riot about taking a spacegun and all that.) Really solid and consistent all the way through though. Good guitar, strong rhythm backings, a little of the synth special effects but not enough to overwhelm everything else. Bowie's singing style has aged fact I like it more than the punk tone he sometimes used in his Ziggy Stardust days. 9/12 sounds about right.


<> (26.04.2004)

I rank it the same as Heathen actually. More of a twin brother than a kid brother.

The title cut is one heck of a headbanger - just the kind of thing you wouldn't expect from an artist who's been around as long as Bowie. I like the big sound the bass is getting; try just focusing on the bass when you're listening.

"Pablo Picasso" is hilarious, but I guess that's what Jonathan Richman was good at. Makes me want to hear his original.

"Days" is another fave. I like the bouncy rhythm, for some reason it reminds me of a track from one of Bowie's cronies, Adrian Belew: "Looking For A UFO."

"Bring Me The Disco King" is one of those end-of-an-album tracks that tries to go in a different direction from what preceded it. So it has the spare martial drum sound (like Paul Simon's "50 ways to leave your lover") with piano as the main accompaniment. But it doesn't remind me of soul music at all.

"New Killer Star" has an anthemic-style chorus that Bowie's good at writing when he's at the top of his game.

"Looking For Water" adds some pep after the temporary downer of "Loneliest Guy."

I don't claim to have read all the lyrics - my eyesight isn't what it used to be, and it's hard to make them out in their tiny print fading in and out of the background. I think "New Killer Star" has some 9-11 allusions in it, and I suspect there are other songs on this and Heathen with those references. Bowie lives in New least that's one of his homes isn't it? Anyway, I don't have a problem with lyrics...usually don't unless they're really bad, which these are not.

It's good to see Bowie back on a winning streak with Heathen and now Reality.

Ilya Nemetz <> (27.04.2004)

Interesting. I suppose I do agree with your review for the most part, it's just I'm much more impressed by Reality on general level than by any other Bowie album (both Heathen and classic period records included). Still, it's not easy to formulate my attitude towards this album verbally. Start with its being extremely consistent and totally even for the duration of first ten tracks. Objectively, I cannot name any highlights or, on the contrary, any low points here. Sure enough, personally, I tend to dislike 'Pablo Picasso' (alas, for no particular reason) while being quite fond of 'The Loneliest Guy' (the vocals), 'Looking For Water' (the lyrics/the atmosphere) and 'Days' (huh... the Bowieness), but then again, these are just my preferences. Now, in my opinion, 'Bring Me The Disco King', that monster of a track, done with such incredible taste and, I daresay, brilliance, overshines the rest of the material, de! cent as it is, completely. And I don't see it as overlong. I mean, it is overlong, but that's exactly the point. It also impresses me much as Mr Bowie at his most confessional, sincere and, well, resonant. It took him some time to become resonant, I'd say. Then again, maybe it's just a brilliant disguise? Well, who cares. Plutarch once said one can acquire virtue by means of imitating it.

As for the numerical rating, I'm willing to give Reality a ten. Yup, a best-of-artist rating. To be honest, it would be a 8 (or even a very high 7) without 'The Disco King'. Now, as I'm inclined to see Bowie as a 3-star artist (somewhat low three stars, admittedly), that adds up to a nice solid 13. Congratulations, Mr Bowie.

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