Review: THE NEXT DAY by David Bowie
I’ve learned to not review music because since I can’t carry a tune I will end up giving tribute like “this album (hell I’m not even sure what to put there) is really, really good” or “it sucks” or something equally inane. But Mr. Bowie’s latest helped me quite a bit over a long Memorial Day weekend and if I begin by saying this isn’t a musical review but a post for like-minded fans who may not have picked up his latest assortment of songs—then that would be ok, right? So with that aside, and since I can’t see you nodding, here we go:My first two CDs I bought was Rewind by the Rolling Stones and ChangesBowie. I was working at Ames Department stores and this had to be 1989/1990 or thereabouts. I had been a fan of David Bowie, like everyone else of my generation with the Let’s Dance (1983) LP. And yes, that was bought as an album. (But CDs were the new rage and, let’s digress even farther, I remember they came in these long cardboard cases that were eventually declared a waste of tree and eventually shrink wrapped in nothing but plastic. So I purchased them with my pathetic pay check and once I got off the swing shift and headed home around 9:30 and played “Changes,” “Suffragette City,” and “Heroes” to… well not death because this was a CD after all the new music form was billed as indestructible. )
Out of all the phases of Mr. Bowie’s career it was that late 70’s period referred to as the Berlin era that cut the deepest with this fan. Though I appreciated the earlier glam and later 80’s pop it was the 1976-’79 era that I related to the most. I just checked Wikipedia to find this sentence, “Like Low, "Heroes" evinced the zeitgeist of the Cold War, symbolized by the divided city of Berlin.” Yeah, that and I thought the songs were really, really damn good. Since ChangesBowie I have bought every release hoping to find an album that returned to that style but Bowie, like Dylan, doesn’t retread and instead created new landscapes with Heathen, Hours, Reality, and now The Next Day.I played his latest (bought on the Kindle Fire) in an endless loop for three days. Days of long, long deliberations on my part and where Mr. Bowie’s vision of the now came through on a wave of pulsating positive rhythmic beats.* My favorite is “The Stars (Are Out Tonight” with the heavens bustling with activity: "We will never be rid of these stars,” Bowie sings “But I hope they live forever."
What keeps David Bowie relevant to me is he continues to write adult lyrics that doesn't resort to entertaining the teen set or fall in the overly wrought sugar sentiment of the adult radio scene. Bowie writes for the over forty set who still appreciate the guitars and drums of our youth. With the release of his latest his website stated “David is the kind of artist who writes and performs what he wants when he wants ... when he has something to say as opposed to something to sell.” Working on this not a review I see that Tony Visconti who produced those Berlin era LPs worked on The Next Day. Well there you go. No wonder it hits the mark so well.The New York Times called the album "Bowie's twilight masterpiece". Well he’s only 66 and I’m hoping he’s productive for another forty years. So were halfway there.
*no clue where I was going there.