Let All the Children Boogie: Bowie Returns


new david bowie

Bowie is back! His new album The Next Day is scheduled for official release March 12 in the US (and is streaming for free now) and for millions of fans, it has been a long wait.

David Bowie has gone through numerous “phases” of his career.  In the 1970’s  he changed  musical genres and personas on a yearly basis.  Ziggy, Halloween Jack  The Thin White Duke etc.  His mainstream  fan interest peaked around the “Let’s Dance” album, when Bowie went  commercial and dominated the charts  and MTV with catchy, dance pop tunes.  When he left commercial music behind  the casual fan may have faded away. Yet there is tons of great music that didn’t get radio play. If  you missed any of it, here’s a quick primer to bring you up to speed.
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The Eighties

After “Let’s Dance” Bowie released “Tonight” (1984) and “Never Let Me Down” (1987), and went on  The Glass Spider Tour (1987).

After Let’s Dance, Bowie admitted that he was being the rock star and was concerned with recreating the spectacle of the 70’s. That culminated in the Glass Spider tour which was Bowie’s attempt at recreating the magic of the Diamond Dogs tour. He had an elaborate set and even brought back Toni Basil to choreograph it.  He toured stadiums and played to over 3 million fans, but the tour was not considered a critical success.  Peter Frampton appeared as the lead guitar player and backup singer which led to some great moments, most notably when Frampton dueted with Bowie on “Sons of the Silent Age” from Heroes.  

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Both of the albums from this time featured co-writing and studio work with Iggy Pop, including some Iggy covers.

Tonight featured  hits “Blue Jean” and  “Loving the Alien” which predicted the religious conflict that would arise years later.  An interesting track written with Iggy is Don’t Look Down.  Order Tonight now.

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Never Let Me Down included the song for which the Glass Spider tour was named and also a cover of Iggy’s Bang Bang. Time Will Crawl (Frampton appears in the video).  Order Never Let Me Down here.

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The Nineties

The Release of “Black Tie, White Noise” (1993), “Buddha of Suburbia” (1993), “Outside” (1995 ), “Earthling” (199 7), and “Hours” (1999 )

Bowie took some time off and married his current wife Iman in 1992. They visited Los Angeles on the day of the Rodney King verdict and witnessed the riots. His album Black Tie, White Noise came out of that experience. The title track was his attempt to vocalize his feelings about race relations, and he has stated that he consciously did not want to create an “Ebony and Ivory” for the 90’s.  Order Black Tie White Noise here, now.

Black Tie, White Noise:

Black Tie White Noise.

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Miracle Goodnight.

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Jump They Say.

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Next, Bowie was tapped to write the soundtrack to a BBC miniseries, set in the 70’s, about a South Asian kid trying to live in a white world. The actual soundtrack was not released.  Bowie continued to work on music influenced by the project and this album was the result, with some great sounds harkening back to the Ziggy days. Listen to the title track all the way to the end, old Bowie fans will recognize a familiar guitar riff and lyric from way back in the day.

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Buddha of Suburbia.  Order Buddha Of Suburbia here.

Buddha of Suburbia.

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In 1995, Bowie reunited with Brian Eno to produce Outside,  a concept album based on a futuristic Dystopian society. It also was the first album that brought Reeves Gabrels over from Tin Machine.  A few of the tracks from this album got attention in rock circles, and features a beautiful mid-tempo “Strangers When We Meet” that spotlights the soaring beauty of Bowie’s voice.  Order Outside now on Amazon

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Outside.

Hallo Spaceboy (version remixed by Pet Shop Boys).

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The Heart’s Filthy Lesson

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Strangers When We Meet

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With Earthling, Bowie and Gabrels wanted to pay tribute to the electronic movement happening in the late 90’s from bands like Prodigy. They also worked on a remix and video with Trent Reznor  on “I’m Afraid of Americans.”  Order Earthling now.

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Another standout is  Little Wonder

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Hours was released in 1999. A lot of the material that ended up on ‘Hours…’ was originally used, in alternate versions, for the video game Omikron: The Nomad Soul, The standout of this album, and potentially the most beautiful song of Bowie’s career, both lyrically and vocally,  is Thursday’s Child.  Buy Hours on Amazon.

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The Aughts

The Release of “Heathen” (2002), and “Reality” (2003).

Heathen came out in 2002 and is considered his “comeback” album in the US, charting highest since Tonight in 1984. The album was completed after September 11, and although Bowie denies that the attacks influenced the songs, some of the themes do deal with general anxiety and fear for the future of mankind. The album contains covers of Pixies, Neil Young and Legendary Stardust Cowboy. By his choice, there are no music videos from this album.  Buy or Download Heathen on Amazon.

The last album, Reality, released in 2003. The tour of the same name was wildly successful;  he was in the middle of the European leg when he suffered his heart attack.  Reality was more of a traditional album, and a standout here is New Killer Star.  Order Reality
on Amazon.

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Check This Out

If you’d like some insight into Bowie’s view of his career, listen to the digital-only album called iSelect Bowie. This was put together in 1998 for the Daily Mail on Sunday newspaper and was only available as a free giveaway with the newspaper. David chose his favorite tracks through his entire career:

  1. “Life on Mars?” (from Hunky Dory) – 3:49
  2. “Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise)” (from Diamond Dogs) – 8:47
  3. “The Bewlay Brothers” (from Hunky Dory) – 5:23
  4. “Lady Grinning Soul” (from Aladdin Sane) – 3:51
  5. “Win” (from Young Americans) – 4:44
  6. “Some Are” (bonus track on the 1991 re-issue of Low) – 3:13
  7. “Teenage Wildlife” (from Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)) – 6:51
  8. “Repetition” (from Lodger) – 3:01
  9. “Fantastic Voyage” (from Lodger) – 2:54
  10. “Loving the Alien” (from Tonight) – 7:08
  11. “Time Will Crawl (MM Remix)” (the original version is on Never Let Me Down) – 4:54
    • Contains 30 seconds of silence at the end of the track.
  12. “Hang on to Yourself (Live)” (from Live Santa Monica ’72) – 3:06

Order iSelect on Amazon now.

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Need more Bowie? Check out this YouTube playlist of 100 Bowie videos and our own Tribute to David Bowie on his 65th Birthday.

 

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The new album, The Next Day, officially drops March 12, 2013 but you can stream it now, for free on itunes.

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Sharon grew up in, and continues to live in suburban Philadelphia and has been a music and comedy fan forever, cutting her teeth musically on Bowie. Monty Python and other British comedies were her earliest passion - the Goodies, Young Ones, Fawty Towers, on and on. She was a regular at the Comedy Factory Outlet in Philadelphia and once did 20 minutes onstage with Harry Anderson. Right now she's loving @midnight for a daily TV fix of comedy (and nerds).

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10 Comments

  1. James de Queens

    March 3, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    I had much interest in post 70s Bowie. He himself disowned some of his work from the 80s. This article was a real eye opener for me and Ill defintely give a listen to the new album. Thanks Ibang.

    • James de Queens

      March 3, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      Never* had.

  2. mistawag

    March 4, 2013 at 12:47 am

    I think it’s cool he always seems to have the latest lesbian hair cut no matter what decade.

  3. Binary Daoist

    March 4, 2013 at 2:32 am

    Pilgramage.

  4. Binary Daoist

    March 4, 2013 at 2:32 am

    Pilgrimage.

  5. Brian_Baker

    March 4, 2013 at 3:11 am

    One of many of my favorite Bowie moments was his appearance on SNL in 1997 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFyye1Kq03I

  6. CamfromToronto

    March 4, 2013 at 9:16 am

    see his pug-nosed face (pug pug…pug pug)

  7. shrekkalove

    March 4, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Why did I do anything else this weekend? I should have just been listening to this.

  8. Vickroy

    March 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Was just watching “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower” which takes place in the early nineties and it’s amazing to think there was a time if you heard an old song on the radio (like they do with Bowie’s “Heroes”) that it actually took some work to locate it on your own, purchase it and share it on a mix tape.

  9. Roefmli

    March 6, 2013 at 8:57 am

    I really loved the new album. Bowie is back!..& Ron better get an interview!