Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
David Bowie - Black Tie White Noise CD (album) cover


David Bowie


Prog Related

3.08 | 117 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Easy Money
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars It may be hard to believe that an overexposed artist such as Bowie could have a severely overlooked and underrated album, but Black Tie White Noise is that album. David has put out so many great albums, The Man Who Sold the World, Low, Scary Monsters and so many others, but if I had to pick a favorite it would be this great mid-90s comeback. Describing what is so unique about this is difficult, like so many Bowie albums what is great on here can be very subtle. Black Tie is typical of a lot of David's work in that it is not only strongly connected with the cutting edge music of it's time, but it also expands on those styles by introducing timeless elements that lift his music above the current trends and points toward possible futures in music. Black Tie is smart and hip in it's use of mid-90s contemporary hip-hop and acid jazz rhythms, but it also has a deep emotional content and flavor that can best be described as vaguely optimistic melancholy. There is no filler on this album (except for the two dance re-mixes on the CD re-issue version), each song contributes to the strange world-weary, yet upbeat sadness that permeates this album.

If I had to pick one stand out track it would be the song that bears the name of the album. Inspired by the horrific riots in LA that happened after a racially charged trial verdict that many saw as unjust, and inspired as well by his own mixed marriage, David takes on the emotionally charged issue of race relations. In this brilliant pop masterpiece, David and RnB crooner Al B. Sure sing heavy lines such as 'There will be blood no doubt about it' and 'I look into your eyes . and I know you won't kill me . but I wonder sometimes' to pretty uplifting melodies with tacky vocoder voices in the background. It's that juxtaposition of serious and light that makes David so great.

There are a lot of excellent guests on this album, but one of my favorites is jazz trumpeter Lester Bowie. Lester's quirky and individualistic approach to the trumpet help humanize some of the more mechanical dance rhythms on this record, and he makes a great compliment to David's strange almost out of tune saxophone playing. When this record came out it had been a long time since David had been recorded playing sax, but his return to that instrument further showed how this album was trying to tie together a lot of Bowie's past work and put it in a present context. All through this album there are lyrical in-jokes and musical references to the different phases of Bowie's career.

David was in his mid-40s when he recorded this album, an age when a lot of us know there may be at least one last shot at some kind of youth, a fact that can bring a sentimental longing because we also know this opportunity will pass soon. Although David still put out some more good music after this, I think in a lot of ways this was his last really strong emotional album, his swan song to a passing youth.

Once, while walking through a difficult part of San Francisco, I walked past a particularly seedy x-rated movie theatre that was blasting an acid jazz track (Looking for Lester) from this album out of it's sidewalk speakers. I guess the proprietors of this tacky establishment liked the hip upbeat dance rhythm, but probably didn't notice the weird horn playing or the atonal piano solo. I think David would have been very pleased with this ironic setting for his music.

Easy Money | 5/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this DAVID BOWIE review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.