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DAVID BOWIE

Prog Related • United Kingdom


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David Bowie biography
David Robert Jones - Born 8 January 1947 (Brixton, London, UK) - 10 January 2016

He started making music in the late fifties (saxophone) and eventually played in a number of blues/rock bands, releasing his first single Liza Jane with The King Bees in 1964, he also changed his stage name to David BOWIE to avoid confusion with Davy Jones from THE MONKEES. BOWIE demonstrates several traits that single him out as a song-writer of interest to followers of Progressive music: narrative story-telling & characterisation, non-standard song structures, musical eclecticism and a variety of singing styles that have a wide vocal range and mixture of different tones & timbres to suit individual songs and stage personas.

⭐ Collaborators Top Prog Album of 2016 ⭐

Formative years. The Deram Years and Beckenham Art Labs

From 1966 until 1968 David BOWIE was under contract with Decca's Deram label. In 1967 he released his first album, a psychedelic pop album with music hall/cabaret overtones that show manager Ken Pitt's desire to form BOWIE into an 'all-round entertainer' like Tommy Steele and Anthony Newley when BOWIE's own aims were more Jacques Brel, Bertolt Brecht and Bob Dylan. The album and singles weren't much of a success, but reveal BOWIE's ability to craft simplistic sounding songs that were anything but the whimsical pop they first appear to be, rarely following pop or rock conventions many of these songs are mini-concepts or narratives with dark, subversive, dystopian and 'taboo' themes that he would develop in his later career. Marred by the uninspired addition of superfluous string arrangements the music of this early period has been captured by the Deram Anthology released in 1997 which also contains a number of previously unreleased tracks.

At the start of 1969 David was at a low point in his career. Together with some friends he decided to organise a Folk Club at the Three Tuns. It was an immediate success and soon developed into an Arts Laboratory - attracting talent from all over London and the south east. Musicians who played at the Arts Lab included Peter Frampton, Steve Harley, Dave Cousins and the Strawbs, Rick Wakeman, Tony Visconti and Mick Ronson. There was a lot more than music at the Beckenham Arts Lab. Visual artists created original works, poets gave readings, there were light shows, street theatre...
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DAVID BOWIE discography


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DAVID BOWIE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.38 | 178 ratings
David Bowie
1967
3.35 | 357 ratings
Space Oddity [Aka: David Bowie, Man of Words / Man of Music]
1969
4.02 | 431 ratings
The Man Who Sold the World
1970
4.20 | 578 ratings
Hunky Dory
1971
4.27 | 750 ratings
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
1972
3.85 | 412 ratings
Aladdin Sane
1973
3.03 | 228 ratings
Pin Ups
1973
3.61 | 315 ratings
Diamond Dogs
1974
2.85 | 232 ratings
Young Americans
1975
4.03 | 384 ratings
Station to Station
1976
4.12 | 475 ratings
Low
1977
4.07 | 446 ratings
Heroes
1977
3.48 | 262 ratings
Lodger
1979
4.08 | 401 ratings
Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
1980
3.20 | 284 ratings
Let's Dance
1983
2.30 | 157 ratings
Tonight
1984
2.25 | 90 ratings
David Bowie & Trevor Jones: Labyrinth (OST)
1986
2.28 | 134 ratings
Never Let Me Down
1987
3.08 | 130 ratings
Black Tie White Noise
1993
3.24 | 91 ratings
The Buddha Of Suburbia (OST)
1993
3.67 | 186 ratings
1. Outside
1995
2.97 | 182 ratings
Earthling
1997
3.41 | 151 ratings
Hours...
1999
3.74 | 206 ratings
Heathen
2002
3.32 | 156 ratings
Reality
2003
3.88 | 232 ratings
The Next Day
2013
4.49 | 426 ratings
Blackstar
2016
3.54 | 11 ratings
Toy
2021

DAVID BOWIE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.91 | 70 ratings
David Live
1974
3.90 | 87 ratings
Stage
1978
3.96 | 33 ratings
Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars-The Motion Picture Soundtrack
1983
4.10 | 24 ratings
Santa Monica '72
1994
2.33 | 3 ratings
Rock'n'Roll Suicide
1995
3.81 | 32 ratings
Bowie at the Beeb
2000
3.49 | 26 ratings
Live in Santa Monica'72
2008
4.10 | 42 ratings
A Reality Tour
2010
4.74 | 12 ratings
Cracked Actor (Live Los Angeles '74)
2017
4.76 | 10 ratings
Live Nassau Coliseum '76
2017
4.28 | 8 ratings
Welcome to the Blackout (Live London '78)
2018
3.87 | 12 ratings
Glastonbury 2000
2018
3.93 | 8 ratings
Glass Spider (Live Montreal '87)
2019
3.96 | 9 ratings
Serious Moonlight (Live '83)
2019
4.04 | 6 ratings
Ouvrez le chien: Live Dallas 95
2020

DAVID BOWIE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.61 | 21 ratings
The Best of Bowie
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
A Reality Tour
2004
3.78 | 9 ratings
Serious Moonlight, Live In Vancouver
2009

DAVID BOWIE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
The World Of David Bowie
1970
4.00 | 2 ratings
Images 1966 - 1967
1973
3.63 | 31 ratings
ChangesOneBowie
1976
3.98 | 22 ratings
Soundtrack Christiane F. - Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo
1981
3.91 | 11 ratings
Changestwobowie
1981
4.00 | 2 ratings
Rare
1982
2.05 | 3 ratings
Fame and Fashion (David Bowie's All Time Greatest Hits)
1984
3.34 | 10 ratings
Sounds + Visions
1989
4.62 | 13 ratings
Changesbowie
1990
3.53 | 25 ratings
The Singles Collection
1993
4.40 | 5 ratings
The Singles 1969 to 1993
1993
2.70 | 11 ratings
The Deram Anthology 1966-1968
1997
3.83 | 6 ratings
London Boy
1998
4.67 | 3 ratings
The Best of David Bowie 1969/1974
1998
4.67 | 6 ratings
The Best of David Bowie 1974/1979
1998
4.00 | 5 ratings
All Saints (Collected Instrumentals 1977 - 1999)
2001
3.45 | 35 ratings
Best of Bowie
2002
3.71 | 7 ratings
The Collection
2005
4.50 | 4 ratings
The Platinum Collection
2005
4.03 | 10 ratings
The Best Of David Bowie 1980/1987 (CD + DVD)
2007
4.00 | 5 ratings
iSelect
2008
4.71 | 7 ratings
Nothing Has Changed
2014
4.80 | 5 ratings
Bowie Legacy
2016
3.96 | 4 ratings
Loving the Alien (1983 - 1988)
2018
4.00 | 2 ratings
Mercury Demos
2019
3.08 | 3 ratings
The Width of a Circle
2021

DAVID BOWIE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
Liza Jane (as Davie Jones with The King Bees)
1964
3.00 | 1 ratings
I Pity the Fool (The Manish Boys)
1965
3.00 | 1 ratings
You've Got a Habit of Leaving (as Davy Jones)
1965
3.50 | 2 ratings
Rubber Band
1966
4.00 | 1 ratings
Can't Help Thinking About Me
1966
3.00 | 1 ratings
Do Anything You Say
1966
3.00 | 1 ratings
I Dig Everything
1966
4.00 | 1 ratings
Love You Till Tuesday / Did You Ever Have a Dream
1967
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Laughing Gnome
1967
3.00 | 1 ratings
Rubber Band (US version)
1967
4.68 | 9 ratings
Space Oddity / Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud
1969
3.20 | 10 ratings
Memory Of A Free Festival
1970
3.00 | 1 ratings
Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola
1970
4.67 | 3 ratings
All the Madmen
1970
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Prettiest Star
1970
3.00 | 1 ratings
Holy Holy
1971
0.00 | 0 ratings
David Bowie / Dana Gillespie
1971
3.22 | 8 ratings
Starman / John, I'm Only Dancing
1972
3.85 | 7 ratings
Changes / Andy Warhol
1972
5.00 | 6 ratings
Starman / Suffragette City
1972
3.50 | 2 ratings
The Jean Genie
1972
4.00 | 5 ratings
Time / The Prettiest star
1973
3.00 | 2 ratings
Let's Spend the Night Together
1973
3.00 | 2 ratings
Sorrow / Amsterdam
1973
4.67 | 6 ratings
Life on Mars?
1973
4.00 | 1 ratings
Drive-in Saturday
1973
4.00 | 1 ratings
Knock on Wood
1974
4.67 | 3 ratings
Rock 'n' Roll Suicide
1974
4.00 | 1 ratings
1984
1974
3.80 | 6 ratings
Rebel Rebel
1974
4.00 | 2 ratings
Diamond Dogs
1974
4.00 | 4 ratings
Young Americans / Suffragette City
1975
4.00 | 2 ratings
Fame
1975
3.67 | 3 ratings
Golden Years / Can You Hear Me
1975
4.00 | 2 ratings
TVC 15
1976
3.50 | 2 ratings
Stay
1976
3.50 | 2 ratings
Be My Wife
1977
3.19 | 7 ratings
Heroes
1977
3.57 | 7 ratings
Sound and Vision / A New Career in a New Town
1977
4.33 | 3 ratings
Beauty and the Beast
1978
4.00 | 2 ratings
Breaking Glass
1978
3.00 | 2 ratings
Boys Keep Swinging
1979
2.00 | 1 ratings
D.J.
1979
3.50 | 2 ratings
John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)
1979
3.00 | 1 ratings
Alabama Song
1980
2.00 | 1 ratings
Fashion
1980
4.14 | 7 ratings
Ashes To Ashes
1980
3.00 | 1 ratings
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
1981
3.77 | 13 ratings
David Bowie In Bertolt Brecht's Baal
1982
3.04 | 8 ratings
Cat People (Putting Out Fire)
1982
3.00 | 2 ratings
Modern Love
1983
4.33 | 3 ratings
Let's Dance
1983
3.50 | 2 ratings
China Girl
1983
3.00 | 1 ratings
Tonight
1984
2.21 | 5 ratings
Blue Jean
1984
3.00 | 1 ratings
Loving the Alien
1985
4.00 | 1 ratings
Man in the Middle (Arnold Corns A.K.A. David Bowie and The Spiders from Mars)
1985
3.95 | 2 ratings
This Is Not America (with Pat Metheny Group)
1985
3.00 | 2 ratings
When the Wind Blows
1986
5.00 | 1 ratings
Absolute Beginners
1986
4.00 | 1 ratings
Underground
1986
4.00 | 1 ratings
Day-In-Day-Out
1987
4.00 | 1 ratings
Never Let Me Down
1987
4.00 | 1 ratings
Time Will Crawl
1987
3.75 | 7 ratings
1966 [Aka: I Dig Everything: The 1966 Pye Singles]
1989
3.07 | 8 ratings
Jump They Say
1993
3.50 | 2 ratings
Earthling in the City
1997
4.00 | 2 ratings
Little Wonder
1997
3.00 | 1 ratings
Thursday's Child
1999
4.00 | 1 ratings
Liveandwell.com
2000
3.00 | 1 ratings
John, I'm Only Dancing
2012
3.90 | 10 ratings
Where Are We Now?
2013
3.90 | 10 ratings
The Stars (Are Out Tonight)
2013
3.76 | 22 ratings
No Plan
2017
3.00 | 2 ratings
Is It Any Wonder?
2020

DAVID BOWIE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Earthling by BOWIE, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1997
2.97 | 182 ratings

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Earthling
David Bowie Prog Related

Review by sgtpepper

2 stars It's fascinating to see Bowie experimenting with different modern styles in the 90's. He's able to dive in new music trends and often dig the best out of it. Raving and dancing, modern beats, focus on rhytms, bass guitar and textures but also fine aggressive guitar.

You may be quickly tempted to give this formula a high rating as it's original, well produced and not overly long. In my case, after a couple of listens, I could find the needed substance in all songs, the second half, in particular, goes through the motions sometimes. The album actually starts quickly and strongly with "Little Wonder" that matches his voice and has the desired quality. "Battle for Britain" has astonishing production with avantgarde piano soloing. "Dead man walking" feels like a contrasting melancholy melody with dynamic upbeat rhythms. The last 3 songs on the album are more interesting for their sound than actually the musicianship itself.

I have mixed feelings about this one, it will be a hit on the nail for electronica fans and a miss or hit for DB fans. Very little satisfaction for a common progger.

 Reality by BOWIE, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.32 | 156 ratings

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Reality
David Bowie Prog Related

Review by OctopusFive

2 stars I decided to continue my exploration of Bowie's discography, jumping from the '70s to the 2000s, and I cay san here that it's a very average album by DAVID BOWIE, ain't no particular prog element and BOWIE had temporarily lost his intriguing creativity on this opus (before reaching new heights !?), nevertheless some tracks deserve attention.

the 1st hit is a good opening, quite dynamic, catchy the chorus is not bad, it reminds me a bit of rebel, rebel

Never get old (is it a wink to My generation or the wish of Bowie? ) another particular piece, rather ambiguous with grandiose passages, others more furtive.

Then comes a quiet lament after the energetic tracks, the fact that Bowie has aged in the meantime has made his voice softer, more etheric too, and I think I prefer this song with his 2003 voice than the more snarling one of Ziggy Stardust. Good use of his renewed musical potential.

Looking for water is for me a failed intrusion in a more electro prog register of the 2000s.

She'll Drive The Big Car is rather lackluster, despite the presence of choirs.

Days is a nice ballad but it's too much pop for my taste, we're not in the prog or in a daring register that Bowie had used to.

Fall Dog Bombs The Moon is a reference to 9/11, a mere tune that speaks for itself.

Then Bowie takes over Harrison's song with rather heavy production, I'm quite disoriented by the song, the original version, and the one of Spektor had also the heavy hand. As for the Bowie version, I don't think it's indigestible but it's unfortunately not original enough to me.

Reality raises the level a bit and sends energy around, after all, this track has little to do with glam rock or prog.

Finally, Bowie delivers us a track more jazz-oriented. A pleasant track which is for me a little the surprise of this record, I did not expect to hear a pseudo-jazz with Bowie.

All in all, I'm quite disappointed with this opus, I didn't have many expectations but I was waiting for a Bowie record, here we have a rather aseptic album, quite flat than what Bowie made us discover earlier in his career. Finally, I searched but I didn't find many musical elements related to prog.

I'm giving this album 2.5/5 knowing that he did way better in his life, surprisingly TONY VISCONTI is also playing on this album, and producing it.

 Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) by BOWIE, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1980
4.08 | 401 ratings

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Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
David Bowie Prog Related

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

2 stars Other than his Columbia Record Club's "Selection of the Month", Changes, this was my first purchase of a David Bowie album. I just never liked his music. I thought his act, his persona, his shtick was cool, I just never felt any affinity to much less appreciation for his music. To my ears (and brain), It was just standard three chord rock with some lyrics that remained occluded from my comprehension by my disability (and, I must admit, lack of interest). Even with my love of "Space Oddity" I couldn't find myself even mildly interested in any of his albums--until Robert Fripp joined the band. Then I got interested.

The song "Ashes to Ashes" was all over the radio during my studies at the UEA in 1980, and I liked it. So, when I got home to America in the winter of 1981, I "took a chance" and picked it up. While it never won me over, it was at least interesting music. By this time I had become pretty much a devotÚ of M. Fripp, so therein lay my focus. I liked the transitional "growth" of Bowie's music (from the poppy stuff of the early 70s--though I did have a kind of perverse love for "Fame" despite the fact that it was played to death in my high school's lunchroom jukebox). In the end though, this is an album that I never go back to, can't name a single other song from (other than the hit), and, frankly, have little or no interest in ever doing so.

 Hunky Dory by BOWIE, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.20 | 578 ratings

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Hunky Dory
David Bowie Prog Related

Review by Necrotica
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

5 stars Even before Hunky Dory was released, the British public got a nice glimpse of what direction David Bowie would take his career in: the alternate cover of The Man Who Sold the World. Whether or not they were aware of it at the time, they were witnessing the birth of the androgynous, glammed-up persona that Bowie would experiment with for the rest of the 70s. The long blond hair, the satin dress, the expressive pose? it all creates a definitive link between the formative Bowie of the past and the idiosyncratic Bowie of the future. And with the artwork of Hunky Dory, the transformation was complete: the singer-songwriter pulling his long locks back in a pose inspired by Hollywood Golden Age actresses Greta Garbo and Lauren Backall. This was a new era for Bowie, and his image certainly wasn't the only thing that changed.

After all, Hunky Dory also serves as the true launching pad for his classic glam/art pop sound, something the Thin White Duke would soon become synonymous with. Gone are the heavy guitars of The Man Who Sold the World, now replaced by Rick Wakeman's elaborate piano melodies and Ken Scott's orchestral synths. In fact, the subject matter of the opening track "Changes" pretty much says it all: Bowie gives us an autobiographical account of his intentions to distance himself away from the typical rock music of the time, as well as being able to finally call his own shots. The peppy piano work is simply infectious, and Bowie sounds much more confident behind the mic than on past efforts; you can really tell he was putting a lot of passion into the finished product, something that continues on the rest of the songs.

Another development found on Hunky Dory is the increased complexity and eclecticism of Bowie's songwriting, both musically and lyrically. Some of these tunes are simply impossible to even predict if you haven't heard them before; for instance, "Oh! You Pretty Things" is never content with staying on the same key for any given moment. Then there's the sweeping, cinematic ballad "Life on Mars?", a song whose harmonized guitar leads and dramatic vocals act as a precursor to what Queen would do a few years later. In fact, there are quite a few parallels you could draw between Hunky Dory and Queen's future musical direction: the latter's love for pastiche and camp can be found in songs like the light folk rock romp of "Kooks" and the Velvet Underground-inspired ode to drag queens "Queen Bitch". Still, the way Bowie approached that element of his work on Hunky Dory set him apart from his other glam rock contemporaries. Not only was he paving the way for most of those artists, but he was also turning his quirks and idiosyncrasies into a singular style and approach he could only call his own.

I don't think I'll be breaking any hearts when I say that Bowie was never one of the best singers on a technical level, but the amount of energy and personality he puts into these performances pretty much renders that point moot. Going back to "Life on Mars?", much of the reason that song is so celebrated is because of how Bowie delivers his surrealistic lyrics; the song tells the story of a girl who wants to escape the doldrums of reality, but the [%*!#]ing gusto Bowie puts into that chorus is enough to make one swear by every word he sings. There's a certain conviction in his voice that's infectious, even on something as silly as the brassy swing of "Fill Your Heart", in which he puts on a strange over-the-top voice. Perhaps the best example of his unique vocals and penmanship - apart from "Life on Mars?" - comes in the form of the lovely folk rock ballad "Song for Bob Dylan", which is obviously about the legendary singer-songwriter of the same name. The genius of the tune lies in the fact that no one seems to know whether Bowie was being reverent or sarcastic with his appraisal of Dylan; somehow, his vocals and obtuse lyrics could tiptoe that line perfectly.

"Idiosyncratic" is the word of the day, ladies and gents. Hunky Dory was the true birth of David Bowie, and serves as an incredible glimpse into his beautifully unusual style; this was the first time that he was given full creative control, and he had immediately proven why he should have been given the reins from the beginning. Hunky Dory wasn't just Bowie's creative breakthrough (his commercial breakthrough would come with the next album), but an absolute classic in its own right. If you're new to his work, this is a fantastic starting point that embodies everything that made David Bowie an incredible artist.

 The Man Who Sold the World by BOWIE, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.02 | 431 ratings

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The Man Who Sold the World
David Bowie Prog Related

Review by DangHeck

4 stars Bowie's third solo album, The Man Who Sold The World, was actually the first to feature later Spiders From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson and drummer Mick Woodmansey. 1) Woodmansey?! What a name... and 2) Two Micks?! haha. Whatever. I recall feeling strongly about this album back whenever I first listened, but I frankly never go back to it. Maybe this listen will change that...?

And right off the bat, in for a wild ride with the now-mini-epic, the 8-minute "The Width of a Circle"! This song shows the colors of the album it kicks off: heavier and bluesier than what came before. But undeniably, this is classic early Bowie, with beefy guitar, grooving rhythms and softly jangling acoustic guitar. This track is just... awesome. Just having listened to Black Sabbath's Vol. 4 (released two years later in 1972), I can't help but think this song, in its hard-edged Blues Rock style is also representative of early Heavy Metal. Certainly then, being 1970, they were not referencing Sabbath here; perhaps Deep Purple, then. With glints of something other just prior, around minute 4, all is stripped away to a spacy, ethereal soundscape featuring acoustic guitar, laxed drums and sweet lead guitar melodies. This is quintessential early Prog/Proto-Prog. It ends as it starts: Excellent.

"All the Madmen" is an eerie song that is more reminiscent of what came before for Bowie, but also feels as though it were some queer homage to King Crimson, I'm surprised (though delighted) to say... Damn... I'm just soooo taken aback by its awesome. And the very of-the-time bass playing is so delicious. Wow. Around 2:30, all falls away to the madness. Creepy voices surround David's otherwise solitary vocals and then we return, now met with lovely Baroque reeds work. Epic! Prog-lovers welcomed, assuredly!

Next, we have the comparably short "Black Country Rock", a swelling Hard Rock number with plenty of earworm/ear candy goodness. I'll say it now, as though I wasn't already experiencing it: I'm swimming in frisson and euphoria. Not a feeling I get, let alone expect, from this subgenre. Good-ness. Couldn't be a starker juxtaposition than "Black Country Rock" to "After All", the latter an acoustic number with some interesting instrumentation and very interesting backing vocals. Cartoonish, even. Also, sax! And then it's a... circus-like waltz? The lead guitar melody line at the end is very nice. I don't feel a lot toward the whole of the song, though.

A different sort of quirk continues on "Running Gun Blues". But when it gets in it, it is booming. Helluva song, eh? Homicidal Bowie haha!? "G**ks"?!?!?! What the actual f*ck is this, David?... I hope this is just 'Nam commentary... Oh, yeah. That's literally how it's considered haha. Still not sure that justifies the use of a very outmoded slur... Next, "Saviour Machine"! This is a very classic early-70s Bowie tune, through and through, featuring some tension amidst forward-driving rhythm. Overall, it's pretty good. On "She Shook Me Cold", this feels a bit more confident and even more of the time. I think the Led Zeppelin comparison that's been made here is apt. But also evident is their supposed emulation of Jack Bruce. It's a booming song.

Finally culminating to this moment, next is the title track, "The Man Who Sold the World", made somehow more famous by Nirvana, thanks to their covers-heavy MTV Unplugged performance in 1993. I think it's iconic and though it's, to me, an excellent song, there are many other Bowie songs [especially from this era] that I would deem more "classic" and more essential. Regardless, it is classic for many a reason. Finally finally, our closer is "The Supermen". This is a great track. The vast and apparently numerous, even thunderous, backing vocals are wonderful. Another classic in the Proto-Prog Pantheon.

Love it. Helluvan album. Sorry I neglected it for so long, especially given the extraordinary strength of the first three songs.

 Toy by BOWIE, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.54 | 11 ratings

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Toy
David Bowie Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Toy was a project Bowie recorded in late 2000 before shelving it, in which he took out a clutch of his old 1960s singer-songwriter material for a spin. Not only do these songs largely predate his glam era, but a clutch of them even predate the hippy folk which filled out his 1969 self-titled album (much to the confusion of people who bought it largely on the strength of Space Oddity).

Not that we're going back to the Anthony Newley mimicry of his 1967 self-titled album (the debut nobody likes to talk about) and its preceding singles - even though some of the same songs are here. (Welcome back, Silly Boy Blue and The London Boys!) Rather than just doing a straight-up rerecording in the same style, Bowie takes the opportunity to radically rearrange and re-cast the songs, as well as providing a wistful vocal performance which adds some thirty years of life experience to the mix. This adds a new dimension to songs which in their original forms were na´ve juvenilia, as well as a surprisingly modern one; at points I'm reminded of Suede, especially the quieter moments of the post-Bernard Butler incarnation of the band.

In terms of musical style, this provides a welcome bridge between ...hours and Heathen, with the centre of gravity being somewhat towards the latter; Toy doesn't rock as hard or go as dark as Heathen does, but it certainly manages a directness which eluded ...hours. This particular backing band had also supported Bowie on his all-conquering Glastonbury appearance in 2000, as well as the intimate BBC Radio Theatre gig a few days later, and it makes sense that Bowie would have tried to keep hold of them, because those gigs revealed a band thoroughly in tune with the great man's intentions.

Whilst in his lifetime Toy languished in the toybox (bar for an unauthorised leaked version), the Bowie estate would eventually release the album alongside the Brilliant Adventure boxed set, as well as putting out a 3CD "Toy Box" with additional takes. That might be overkill - but Toy itself is surprisingly good, its shelving only explicable by the fact that a) Bowie may have been justifiably nervous about digging up this old material in public, given the tendency of Decca/Deram to regularly rerelease the original recordings of these songs for a quick buck, and b) he may well have already been inspired in the general direction which yielded Heathen. Still, it's a solid album which I am glad has now emerged, since it's certainly a more successful take on the same sort of wistful atmosphere as ...hours.

 Loving the Alien (1983 - 1988) by BOWIE, DAVID album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2018
3.96 | 4 ratings

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Loving the Alien (1983 - 1988)
David Bowie Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If you are going to get into Bowie's 1980s pop period - after Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) brought a majestic end to his art rock era, before he recharged his creative juices with Tin Machine - this boxed set is as good a way to do it as any. The latest in the series that includes Five Years, Who Can I Be Now, and A New Career In a New Town, Loving the Alien is named after Bowie's most artistically interesting composition from this period, and out of all four boxed sets this is the one where the original studio albums from the era are almost the least relevant.

There's only three of 'em, for one thing - the pop perfection of Let's Dance, the mixed bag (with some absolute gems mixed in with some rather pedestrian numbers) Tonight, and the godawful Never Let Me Down. They're actually overshadowed by the material that's debuting on (or exclusive to) this box. As well as yet another installment in the Re:Call series - highlights of this one include Bowie's contributions to the soundtracks for Labyrinth and Absolute Beginners - you have Dance, a mooted but shelved collection of 12" mixes of Bowie's most danceable songs of the era. The 1980s were, after all, the absolute peak era for 12" mixes, and in some respects Dance may be the perfect dilution of Bowie's essence of the era.

But wait, there's more - as we've come to expect from these boxes, you have some juicy live sets here, and this time around they really help tease out the most interesting and entertaining aspects of this phase of Bowie's career - representing, as they do, the Montreal stops of his two major touring shows of the period. The famed Serious Moonlight incorporates a surprising amount of late-1970s art rock material from Station to Station and Berlin eras whilst packaging everything in a slick, energetic performance that makes all the material sound like it belongs together; conversely, Glass Spider is revealed as the rather intriguing prospect it actually is, a veering back towards art rock and theatrical presentation which weaves its various components into an unexpected new mosaic.

Let's keep perspective; this box doesn't focus on one of Bowie's stronger periods, like the Five Years, Who Can I Be Now?, or A New Career In a New Town boxes did. Instead, it begins on a high and ends with him in a creative slump. But if nothing else, Glass Spider and the welcome 2018 remix, rerecording, and overall re-jigging of Never Let Me Down, conducted according to Bowie's intentions for how such a project should be approached, go a long way towards framing that as one of the most fascinating and worthwhile creative slumps you could explore.

 Toy by BOWIE, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 2021
3.54 | 11 ratings

BUY
Toy
David Bowie Prog Related

Review by sl75

3 stars I'm probably rating this a bit generously, since it is really a collectors/fans release, and not a particular prog-adjacent one at that.

Toy is a lost album from 2000, consisting almost entirely of new recordings of songs Bowie had written and previously recorded in the 1960s. Recording with the band from his Glastonbury appearance, the songs sound contemporary to the time they were recorded, they would have fit in well in the indie scene of the time. They're not that interesting to the ears of a prog fan, and even to the more pop-leaning fan, not really his most interesting songs. They're of most interest to committed fans interested in hearing some of his early writing, at least if they can't track down the original recordings. I don't think the new arrangements necessarily sound like improvements on those original recordings, except possibly for "Conversation Piece"

The CD release comes in the form of a 3 disc box set (sometimes referred to as Toy Box). The second disc is two additional songs, and 'alternative mixes' that on initial hearing didn't sound that different. The third disc consists of more acoustic alternative performances, and is more interesting to listen to.

 Hours... by BOWIE, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.41 | 151 ratings

BUY
Hours...
David Bowie Prog Related

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Bowie had spent much of the 1990s exploring various electronic-drenched genres, with the industrial toxins of Outside and the alt-dance music of Earthling representing the peak of this. On Hours..., he begins to chart his course back to more unambiguously rock territory, with enough off-kilter production techniques to keep things weird as he crafts a set of mellow, melancholic pop-rock numbers.

Some of this comes across as mellow, chillout-Bowie, as on album opener Thursday's Child or Survive - numbers which offer pleasant background listening (much as the material on Black Tie White Noise did) without being too challenging but with enough guitar soloing and keyboard textures to keep things interesting if you choose to pay attention. Some material, on the other hand, has more bite - Something In the Air sounds downright foreboding, for instance, and kind of points the way to the territory Bowie would enter on Heathen. (This is not the only pointer to future projects here: on The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell, there's a sort of 1960s garage rock air to things, suggestive of Bowie's increased interest in revisiting the past which would culminate in the shelved Toy project.)

There's a few too many moments where the album slackens off for me to call it an unqualified success, but it's certainly better than the absolutely dreadful cover art would have you believe.

 Low by BOWIE, DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.12 | 475 ratings

BUY
Low
David Bowie Prog Related

Review by Hewitt

5 stars Bowie was the Beatles of the 1970s, constantly reinventing himself, always one step ahead of the competition and fastening onto emergent trends with such alacrity he appeared to have invented them. From 1972 onwards Bowie was a major pop star but one fuelled by the marginal and esoteric strands of music and culture. He was major league pop star as cult artist, drawing arcane ideas from the periphery to the centre, and making them mainstream. The Beatles had performed a similar role in the mid to late '60s, but they never made an album as radical as Low.

Low was Bowie's first collaboration with Eno and, supposedly, the first part of the Berlin Trilogy. I say supposedly because 'Berlin Trilogy' seems to be something of a misnomer or journalistic construct. Bowie was living in Berlin during this period but only "Heroes" was completely recorded in Berlin (Lodger was recorded in Montreux and New York and most of Low was recorded at the Chateau d'Herouville in France and then completed in Berlin). And while I'm in the mood for tedious nit-picking here's a bit more: Low does not consist of a songs side and an instrumental side (despite the fact we've been told it does countless times). There are two instrumentals on side one, the album starts with one of them, and three of the four tracks on side two feature vocals.

Bowie had been fascinated by Eno's solo albums, including Another Green World, which with its mixture of punchy songs and atmospheric instrumentals, shares a good deal in common with Low. Eno arrived at the Honky Chateau with his trusty portable synthesiser in a briefcase. What else did he bring? A profound knowledge of avant-garde artistic traditions, a love of deconstructing conventional song structures, a non-musician's conceptual approach to music making, an irresistible itch to do things differently for the sheer mischief of seeing what happened. And his pack of cards, naturally: Oblique Strategies, 55 instructional cards - a sort of I Ching set up designed to aid creativity and even constructively disrupt it. Bowie and Eno played card games a great deal while making Low. He may only get one songwriting co-credit on the record (for Warszawa, an Eno tune to which Bowie added vocals), and according to Tony Visconti, who co-produced the album with Bowie, about half of the record was recorded before he even turned up, but Eno's maverick sensibility is nonetheless stamped right through Low like Blackpool through a stick of rock.

Bowie's genius lay in creating something new by fusing apparently disparate elements. Low draws on the German electronic bands of the period and New York Minimalism but is equally indebted to funk and disco (both Bowie and Eno were quick to spot the importance of disco at a time when their less open-minded, not to mention cloth-eared rock contemporaries we're dismissing it as commercial garbage). Like most genuinely original music the album was not universally welcomed on its release. The New Musical Express took the extremely unusual step of printing two reviews of it - one full of praise and the other dismissing it as the self-indulgent ramblings of a man at the end of his tether. Even its admirers tended to describe it as gloomy or depressing. They had a point, of course, Low is not exactly a party album, but listening to it all these years later what strikes the listener is something very different - the almost gleeful sense of risk-taking and adventure. The songs on side one might be about alienation, psychic withdrawal and loneliness, but they are also possessed of a febrile energy, sweeping synthetic strings, a jaw-dropping, revolutionary drum sound and sheer funkiness. Bowie's working title for the album, New Music Night and Day, better captures its innovative and exploratory spirit (mind you, the cover, a profile shot of Bowie under the word Low, should have been clear evidence that his sense of humour was still in full working order).

In The Man Who Fell to Earth, Thomas Jerome Newton, the alien played by Bowie, makes an album but we never get to hear what it sounds like, but then we don't need to - it sounds like side two of Low. These pieces, which feature some of the most startling vocal performances of his career, (but look, Ma, no words! A trick Bowie may have stolen from Meredith Monk), radiate with an otherworldly and glacial beauty. Bowie apparently intended at least some of them for the soundtrack of the film but perhaps it's no bad thing they were turned down. On Low they provide the soundtrack for an infinite number of interior movies, daydreams and nightmares.

Low was released in January 1977, just at the time the punk revolution was gathering steam. The album bypasses punk entirely and, rather astonishingly, creates the sonic template for post-punk. Bowie never went quite this far out again, not even on the excellent follow up "Heroes", but the extraordinary thing is that he had the imagination, and indeed courage, to make an album as creative, and also as challenging to the expectations of his audience, as this one at all. Very few world famous pop stars would have done - not even the Beatles.

Thanks to micky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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