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David Bowie 1. Outside album cover
3.71 | 177 ratings | 7 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Leon Takes Us Outside (1:24)
2. Outside (4:04)
3. The Hearts Filthy Lesson (4:56)
4. A Small Plot Of Land (6:33)
5. Segue - Baby Grace (A Horrid Cassette) (1:40)
6. Hallo Spaceboy (5:13)
7. The Motel (6:49)
8. I Have Not Been To Oxford Town (3:48)
9. No Control (4:32)
10. Segue - Algeria Touchshriek (2:02)
11. The Voyeur Of Utter Destruction (As Beauty) (4:20)
12. Segue - Ramona A. Stone / I Am With Name (4:01)
13. Wishful Beginnings (5:08)
14. We Prick You (4:34)
15. Segue - Nathan Adler (1:00)
16. I'm Deranged (4:29)
17. Thru' These Architects Eyes (4:20)
18. Segue - Nathan Adler (0:28)
19. Strangers When We Meet (5:06)

Total time 74:27

Bonus track on 2004 reissue:
20. Get Real (2:49)

Line-up / Musicians

- David Bowie / vocals, guitar, sax, keyboards, co-producer

- Brian Eno / synthesizers, treatments, Fx, co-producer
- Reeves Gabrels / guitar
- Carlos Alomar / rhythm guitar
- Kevin Armstrong / guitar (17)
- Tom Frish / guitar (19)
- Erdal Kizilcay / keyboards, bass
- Mike Garson / grand piano
- Yossi Fine / bass
- Sterling Campbell / drums
- Joey Baron / drums
- Bryony Edwards / backing vocals (3,12)
- Lola Edwards / backing vocals (3,12)
- Josey Edwards / backing vocals (3,12)
- Ruby Edwards / backing vocals (3,12)
- David Richards / treatments, co-producer

Releases information

"The Diary of Nathan Adler or The Art-Ritual Murder of Baby Grace Blue (A non-linear Gothic Drama Hyper-Cycle) "

Artwork: Denovo with David Bowie (1995 acrylic on canvas)

CD Arista ‎- 74321303392 (1995, Europe)
CD Columbia ‎- CK 92100 (2004, Canada) Remastered (?) with a bonus track

Thanks to Slartibartfast for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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DAVID BOWIE 1. Outside ratings distribution

(177 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (27%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

DAVID BOWIE 1. Outside reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by ZowieZiggy

The guys who created the great Low (a masterpiece) are back together. Brian Eno joined forces with David again and expectations were high.

Fans got a preview of the album under the release of the single "The Hearts Filthy Lesson". An apocalyptical story promoted by a weird (but artistically excessively well crafted and original) video. So weird that several scenes were edited to fit into the MTV canons.

The video is highly recommended for its strong images but the song as such is not a memorable one. It failed to chart (within David's standards) and clearly indicated that the man was going to surprise its fan database with the upcoming album.

And so did he.

David said: "Nobody would take Outside when we first recorded it. It was held back for a year until we could find somebody to distribute it in America and by that time my enthusiasm was pretty thin on the ground". No comment.

"Outside" which subtitle is "The Diary of Nathan Adler or The Art-Ritual Murder of Baby Grace Blue. A non-linear Gothic Drama Hyper-cycle" (ouch!) is David's most hermetic and experimental album so far.

Electronic, house, techno: you name it. The concept of the album doesn't help to like it either. David wrote a storyboard featuring not one, but several characters. Professor Adler (a detective and main character), Baby Grace Blue (the dissected young girl), Leon Blank (a twenty two years old delinquent), Algeria Touchshriek (a seventy eight years old man) and Ramona Stone (the art terrorist). Each one being the main character of one or more songs.

The tracks I can live with are not many: "Outside", a traditional Bowie song, "I'm Deranged", "Motel" (the second part of the song only), "No Control" and "Strangers When We Met". The last one being my fave. It was actually written during the "Buddha" sessions. It was released as a single but also failed to chart reasonably.

Another characteristics of this album, is that during several tracks one has the impression to revive some old experience. If you feel that way too, don't look further. It's due to Mike Garson and his fantastic piano play on "Aladin Sane" back to .1973.

If this project is called "1. Ouside" it is because there were supposedly another two (or even more) albums to be released from these "Outside" sessions, which comprise in total about twenty-five hours of music. At different times, David mentioned that they would see the light, at others that both Eno and himself didn't have the time to go through the existing material.

There is a lot of hype about a follow-up (2. Contamination). In February 2000, to the question: "What is the one thing your most looking forward to this year? David answered:

"1. Going back into the studio with Tony Visconti (which he will do a little later with Heaten) , 2. Would like to start some rerecording of lots of the songs I wrote in the 60's (which he partially did) and 3. Trying to piece together '2. Contamination' the follow up to Outside".

There was also a plan to produce a rock opera from the "Outside" project. But it never saw the light either. Gérard Mortier, a Belgian who is Director of the Salzburg Festival wanted to produce this but after several discussions he came to the conclusion: "Even my good friend Bianca Jagger tried to negotiate but it seemed to be impossible to get Bowie to work for me for three weeks, even for half a million dollars. End of the story.

There was even once mentioned that the third leg would be called "3. Afrikaan". At the current pace of things, I guess that it will be released in 2412 or so. As far as I'm concerned I'm not too in a hurry to see this happening. I have never been able to enter into this new David adventure.

It is also the start of a frenetic remix disease almost doubling each individual album David was releasing form "Outside" onwards. All these remixes, together with the original albums are comprised in a ten CD set simply called "Bowie Box Set".

Two stars for "Outside". Just outside my reach.

Review by Slartibartfast
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam
4 stars "A non-linear Gothic Drama Hyper-cycle"

"Not tomorrow, yesterday," A grand plan that never materialized.

Though I knew the name of David Bowie for a while, this was the first album of his I actually added to my collection (had a copy of Heroes LP on cassette from a while back) This was the one that really got me interested in the rest of his works. I had become acquainted with Heroes a few years back only and never took an interest in exploring the rest until hearing this one. This one hooked me enough to have try out all his future releases whenever as they come out. The main draw for me - Eno's prominent role. Being a concept album didn't hurt either. It was supposed to be a grand concept with this the first installment of a series of concept albums, which for better and/or worse never materialized, hence the official title on the album: 1. Outside.

There was a music movement called industrial, that was by some, at the time, epitomized by Nine Inch Nails, and no doubt Bowie was influenced by it. Since I was just getting into NIN, this album really clicked with me, and it still does. Might expand your boundaries a little, too...

Review by ExittheLemming
5 stars There's Life in the Young God Yet

Oh, I've got the fondest hopes for the fin de siecle. I see it as a symbolic sacrificial rite. I see it as a deviance, a pagan wish to appease gods, so we can move on. There's a real spiritual starvation out there being filled by these mutations of what are barely-remembered rites and rituals. To take the place of the void left by a non-authoritative church. We have this panic button telling us it's gonna be a colossal madness at the end of this century.(David Bowie)

When I lived in the UK I used to listen religiously to a BBC radio programme called Mixing It hosted by two squabbling DJ's called Robert Sandall and Mark Russell. The presenter's on-air quarrels were reason enough to tune in but more importantly, the music they played was the most challenging and experimental that could be sourced from any major broadcaster at the time. The staple diet of 'Mixin' Gits' was PJ Harvey, Yo La Tengo, Mogwai, free jazz, hardcore, the Residents, Frank Zappa, This Heat, Pere Ubu and countless other shameless reprobates who had resisted manfully the palliative of doped conformity. Imagine my surprise and wrinkled snout therefore when they announced a David Bowie track called A Small Plot of Land from this album. I was gobsmacked. Were these wonderful sounds and textures that emanated from my radio the handiwork of a man who had in my estimation become nothing more than a set of cheekbones his fans could drape their fantasies over?. The last time Bowie had created anything that didn't attract my keen indifference was Heroes some 18 years prior. (Suitable gestation time for the next intake of Thin White Duke students of course) In the barren interim I envisaged the Chancellor of Cool had either patented a mouth brace to give you squint teeth, launched his own credit card or recorded a drum'n'bass album with the help of the dull young thangs in the dance fraternity.

Luckily I bought the album before I had a chance to read the sleeve-notes:

Tina...what does.. the Ritual Art-Murder of Baby Grace Blue: A non-linear Gothic Drama Hyper-Cycle mean hun?

Oh don't you worry your pretty little head about that, just make up bogus verbose crap like you always do....Have you fed Sparky?

Although there had been feint traces of the type of material contained on Outside on albums like the aforementioned Scary Monsters, Heroes and Low, there is nothing in Bowie's vast catalogue that is gonna prepare you for the sort of sustained tangential departures he frogmarches us through here.

Leon Take Us Outside - As any concept album worthy of the name needs a little curtain raising scoobysnack, this will appeal to the inveterate progger in all of us. This is one of the best in as much as it cannot be mistaken for any of the competition. e.g. it dispenses entirely with thunder and lightning, wooshy wind noises, bird cries or gradually fortissimo random Moog oscillator sweeps etc

Outside (Prologue) - Those expecting the saucy winks of Frankie Howard will be sorely disappointed. A brooding exercise in post punk guitar lattices and pedal point that should have the self appointed architects the Cure, Banshees, Bunnymen and Joy Division squirming in the dock for charges of shoddy workmanship.

The Hearts Filthy Lesson - Bo Diddley resurrected after electro shock therapy with a guitar texture like sandpaper frottage. The latter comes from Reeves Gabrels whose playing I normally happily steer a million miles away from thanks to the execrable Tin Machine debacle. Kudos are therefore way overdue for either his new found sense of restraint and economy in the intervening years or a clandestine but judicious hand on the mix fader. This track was included in the soundtrack for David Fincher's movie Seven (about a serial killer inspired by the seven deadly sins from the gospels) The omission of the apostrophe in the title is deliberate.(Should there be a hyphen in anal retentive?)

A Small Plot of Land - Quite possibly the greatest of all Bowie creations in my admittedly small and dog-eared book. It would be impossible to imagine the impact of this record shorn of the miraculous piano of Mike Garson which percolates delightfully throughout this number. I mean Bowie conspires to sound (gulp) sincere and might even have moved your habitually sang-froid reviewer for the first time in a 50 year career. The ending fade where a bristling tritone underpins the string washes and Gabrels spindling guitar is plain vanilla magnificent. In short: take away a single detail of this pointillist collage and it would disintegrate into incoherent foggy static. Miraculous but unstintingly secular.

Segue Baby Grace (A Horrid cassette) - 24 carat creepy, like hearing a ransom note read by Shirley Temple stoned off her tits into a Dictaphone held by her captors.

Hallo Spaceboy - Bowie appears to take the mickey out of his enduring image of being depicted as the 'rock star as alien' and clearly has great fun in the process. As close as he has ever come to self depreciating humour on a naggingly addictive and brilliant pop song. (Is the 'a' in the expected 'Hello' a swipe at his anointed status by fanboys?)

You're silhouette, so stationary you're released but your custody calls and I want to be free Don't you want to be free? Do you like girls or boys? It's confusing these days

The Motel - Although I haven't the foggiest what this whole undertaking could possibly be about, it does seem to share the sort of dissolute neon grandeur so beloved of the imagery of William Burroughs. This barely rises above a claustrophobic whisper over Erdil Kizilcay's singing fretless bass and even at its relative peak inhabits a down-town Hotel Portishead where a drunken lounge bar pianist regales an empty seedy foyer. Incongruous elements collide, merge, mutate and grow until cut dispassionately short yet somehow Bowie directs such unlikely bedfellows into a celebrated skin-flick orgy of the senses.

I Have Not Been to Oxford Town - Call and response techniques have stood the test of time and it's not hard to see why. What we anticipate in primary blues and folk devices is just as satisfying as what is delivered. By way of contrast, Bowie undermines the nursery rhyme limitations of the form with an ironic stadium chorus voicing dissent at collective values:

Toll the bell, pay the private eye, all's well 20th Century dies

No Control - Like an electro Cure covering a Charlatans tune but Mr B has a considerably firmer command of song-craft than his referenced inspiration.

(Segue) Algeria Touchshriek - Great name for a band yes? Why isn't there one? If a lobotomised Quentin Crisp had relocated to Tangiers with Hector Zazou as pool cleaner and broadcast a it is.

The Voyeur of Utter Destruction (as Beauty) - This at least hints at the erm..plot hereabouts i.e. Bowie envisages a future where the murder and mutilation of individuals becomes a new decadent collector art form. Certainly a hideous and repellent scenario but given the serial killer fetish endemic in the so-called civilised world he might not be as wide of the mark as first appears. The modern fashion for piercings, tattoos and ritualistic art for Bowie, somewhat tenuously I think, points towards a millennial neo-paganism. Crime as the new aesthetic? Regardless of such speculative bollocks on my part, it's a juggernaut of a great tune with some bi-polar Garson piano that relegates the spicy piquancy of Aladdin Sane to that of a muesli starter.

(Segue)Ramona A. Stone/I Am With Name - If the Residents had learned English by listening solely to the 'Eastenders' BBC soap opera this 'cyber cockney' is what their communications would resemble. Also appears to contain a sample from a Brian May song? (Dunno...but 'perma perm' did marry one of the soap's leading ladies in Anita Dobson)

Wishful Beginnings - Minimalist interior dialogue with a risible frog croak in the percussion department. Rather too self consciously 'unwitting' for its own good perhaps.

We Prick You - A leisurely paced melodic invention contradicted by the layered junglish beats that for reasons best known to myself resembles a dance mix of something that might have counted as an out-take from the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Has a discernible Gabriel solo groove and sparing ethnic slant that Peter explored extensively on his post Genesis career.

(Segue) Nathan Adler - Couldn't find the name 'Mark E. Smith of the Fall' as guest on the sleeve notes but it sounds uncannily like 'the grumpiest man in Rock' in one of his carefully planned unguarded moments in front of a listening device with a half empty/full bottle of moonshine.

I'm Deranged - As delicious as an airborne phenomenon like music can get. Beautiful mournful singing and melody supported by Gabrels subtle and elegiac guitar and yet more uncanny piano from Garson which seems to inhabit that elusive cusp between tonality, chaos and poly-rhythm only hinted at by Keith Tippet's ivory sedition on early King Crimson.

Thru' These Architects Eyes - Another contender for best track on the album. Circling guitar hooks like birds of prey pick asunder any soft pop song carrion and the mutilated cadaver is either digested, assimilated or jettisoned contemptuously into all manner of unlikely but ultimately thrilling viscera along the way. The whammy bar 'whooping' exclamation marks on the tag chorus are sublime and Garson's piano towards the end is worth the price of the album alone progbuddys: take one humanoid critter armed solely with but 10 digits and 88 possible key destinations and there still ain't anything like this I've heard before or since. The playing seems almost unheeding to the harmonic limitations placed on it by its immediate surroundings yet transforms its neighbours into an alternative realm of key, scale and tonality.

(Segue) Nathan Adler - As if a narrator was speaking from inside a military snare.

Strangers When We Meet - A much more conventional song to close the album but given the startling innovation that preceded it, this ain't such a bad thing. Even on material that Bowie could produce in his sleep, (circa 75% of his entire recorded output) he is in complete control of every variable of his chosen style or genre. This was probably the obvious shoo-in contender for a single from the album but he perversely resisted the temptation to appease his more reactionary fans. (You know who you are) Way to go Davo.

No, I'm not going to guess what the whole can of worms is about cos I ain't got a clue. What is more relevant is that Bowie can, when the mood and muse takes him, still produce work that carries the indelible imprint of true greatness or genius. There were tentative plans to produce a series of albums in a similar vein to Outside (hence the prefixed '1' in the title?) but these projects appear to have been shelved. Whether this was due to the lukewarm response his diehards afforded this record or whether his interest waned in the aftermath of 'millennium fever' is a moot point. Either way, it does give me some cause for optimism that all things being equal Bowie should issue something I might again be remotely interested in by 2013.

If I can wait for that, then Sparky will just have to wait for his supper.

I've given Sparky his supper, but you ain't gettin yours smart-arse...

Review by tarkus1980
3 stars While Bowie had made a career out of genre-hopping and fairly unpredictable twists, it had been a little while (aside from the Tin Machine detour, though I don't think that career move was as abnormal as people made it out to be) since he'd made an album that totally came out of left field. It was one thing for him to collaborate with Brian Eno for the first time in more than fifteen years: it was quite something else to make what's essentially a 90's version of Diamond Dogs. This, unfortunately, is a case where a concept album is done a major disservice by the concept, centered around a fairly incoherent story Bowie wrote in the liner notes related to the end of the century (one of the obvious parallels with Diamond Dogs is that both albums were largely centered around a specific year: 1984 for DD, 1999 for this). The album is littered with "segue" tracks (and they take up more time than you'd think in aggregate) that highlight different characters in Bowie's tale, and they're as obnoxious and as disruptive to the album's flow as possible without making any coherent sense. This is one of the worst presentations of a concept album's concept I've ever come across; it kinda reminds me of the Peter Gabriel album OVO from a few years later, but at least Peter had the good sense to put everything explicitly related to that album's concept into the opening track, thus containing the badness in one place. Ideally, I wish somebody had been able to persuade Bowie to strip out the album's concept completely, but I guess the story meant something to him, so no dice.

Once I disregard the conceptual aspects of the album, though, I find it rather enjoyable. The album's two most notable aspects on the music side are (a) the aforementioned reunion with Brian Eno and (b) Bowie's embracing of "industrial" music in his latest attempt to stay relevant and hip. Well, sort of; only a small number of tracks come close to industrial, but the album was promoted in such a way as to emphasize them, so it's hard to ignore them. I actually think, based on this album, that industrial suits Bowie rather well; after all, Bowie had always shown a talent for making music that's both ugly and attractive, and both the dancable single "Hearts Filthy Lesson" (I don't know why there's no apostrophe) and the noisy "Hallo Spaceboy" entertain me plenty. I can't remember more than a little bit of each of them, but every time I listen to them I find myself sucked in (especially when some of the noisier guitar lines in "Spaceboy" appear), and that counts for something.

The rest of the album is more Bowie and Eno (who makes his presence known through his various "treatments" and little tricks like "spooky" piano lines popping up pretty frequently) than Trent Reznor, and it follows a similar pattern of songs that have interesting moments when on but don't really leave a significant lasting impression (other than, "hey, I remember kinda liking that when it was playing"). Aside from a remake of "Strangers When We Meet" to close the album (except that the reissue contains a decent upbeat single called "Get Real"), only a couple of tracks really stand tall on their own. The first is the title track (immediately following the brief opener, "Leon Takes Us Outside"), which establishes the album's stylized melancholy by combining tasteful synth and guitar parts with lyrics centered around two phrases: "Now not tomorrow/it's happening now/not tomorrow" and "The music is outside/it's happening outside." The second is "The Motel," a largely directionless ballad that's nonetheless able to get by just fine on atmosphere, especially in the "chorus" that says "There is no hell/there is no shame/there is no hell/like an old hell/there is no hell." It's powerful stuff, no question about it.

Elsewhere, I definitely like the upbeat (relatively) "I Have Not Been to Oxford Town" (what does it say when one of the happiest songs on an album is centered on the phrase, "All's well, twentieth century dies?") and "The Voyeur of Utter Destruction (As Beauty)" has a rather attractive guitar line that could have made for a best-song-candidate if paired with a better vocal melody. And ... uh ... well, I remember liking "No Control" a good amount, and the "tellllllll the truth/tellllllll the truth/we prick you we prick you we prick you" chorus of "We Prick You" is definitely a memorable moment. Going through individual songs, though, is rather pointless; the album works far better in aggregate ... which is what makes the segue tracks all the more aggravating, but let's not focus on that. Every time I listen to this album, I find myself glad that I listened to something that entertained me in the past while, but it's frustrating to have little idea why once I'm finished. Still entertainment is entertainment, and a concept-free version of this album (reduced to about 55 minutes from 75) would get a higher grade. Anybody interested in 90's Bowie should start with Buddha of Suburbia, but this should be stop number two. I'm kinda glad the planned sequel (2. Contamination) never happened, though.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Bowie and Eno get back together and fiddle about with a Nine Inch Nails aesthetic applied to an electronic dance-rock presentation that takes the experiments of Black Tie White Noise and The Buddha of Suburbia into dark new territory.

On paper, the idea of 1. Outside - and the two proposed sequels that never appeared, 2. Contamination and 3. Afrikaan - sounds amazing. A trilogy, just like the Berlin albums, only this time they're linked narrative concept albums. Not only that, but a murder mystery too! And not just a murder mystery, but a post-modern post-cyberpunk New Weird tale about a detective tracking down a serial killer murdering people in the name of art in a world where such brutality has become so cliche there are entire police departments devoted to investigating such crimes! And Bowie uses different voices for all the characters! And it's all improvised in the studio!

Well, yeah, there's the problem. Bowie and Eno had an ambitious plan for these albums, but didn't really back it up with sufficient compositional planning; instead, the music here is cobbled together from hours and hours of improv sessions. This attempt to create developed songs from recontextualised improvisations isn't unprecedented in Eno's own work - and indeed Frank Zappa did it a lot with his "xenochrony" technique - but in this case the results don't quite hit the level of the classic Berlin trilogy. You could get one good album out of this stuff - Outside itself - but the fact that Contamination and Afrikaan were never completed says it all.

On top of that, the attempt to latch onto a modern industrial rock sound can feel half-hearted if you are expecting this to be the sort of Bowie take on Nine Inch Nails which the aesthetic presentation suggests. It's somewhat less jarring if you have digested the Bowie albums led up to it, though, which it is a fairly impressive development of.

Still, the fact is that the best song on here, I'm Deranged, works much better in the context of NIN main man Trent Reznor's soundtrack selection for the David Lynch movie Lost Highway, in which judicious editing transforms it into a powerful bookending piece.

Latest members reviews

3 stars An ambitious and lengthy album of neogothic electronica, Outside is a patchy album. There are cringeworthy moments in the same package as brilliant industrial masterpieces. Leon Takes Us Outside is a voice collagey thing to introduce the album. Outside isan average pop/rock track. The Heart's ... (read more)

Report this review (#185487) | Posted by burtonrulez | Monday, October 13, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Undoubtedly Bowie's most experimental album since 1980's Scary Monsters, Outside is an ambitious and genuinely Progressive fusion of Art Rock, Electronica/Dance, warped Lounge Jazz and Industrial musics. Reeves Gabrels has never played better (creating a sound that combines the edge of Fripp wi ... (read more)

Report this review (#174918) | Posted by Burning Shed | Monday, June 23, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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