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There is nothing scary or monstrous about an imperative to dance
March 25, 2009 3:17 AM   Subscribe

Osama bin Ladin and David Bowie

The link encourages you to watch this Bowie performance from Oct. 2001.
posted by twoleftfeet (48 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. That Bowie vid is cool.
posted by chillmost at 3:52 AM on March 25, 2009


This article doesn't seem to be too much about Bin Laden, akshully.

Otherwise, interesting read.
posted by aetg at 3:54 AM on March 25, 2009


I have every Bowie album. He's my favorite. However, I only really find myself listening to Ziggy Stardust, Diamond Dogs, Heathen and Reality anymore. I've wondered why I only really dig those two early masterpieces and his last two albums. Reading this article has offered some clues.
posted by sciurus at 4:23 AM on March 25, 2009


I don't think that blog post is going to lure either of them out of retirement.
posted by pracowity at 4:31 AM on March 25, 2009


Bah, I was looking forward to some video mashup involving Bowie music and the bin boy. Not a bad article, but I am still left disappointed.
posted by Bovine Love at 4:52 AM on March 25, 2009


Here's a little test: what was the most recent Bowie song that you liked?

Mine was Let's Dance (1983)
posted by dydecker at 4:58 AM on March 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I LOVE Bowie, but there has something about Bowie that has always seemed overly calculated to his various genres if you scratch the surface. Releasing Space Oddity right as we landed on the moon. adopting glam at the right time (no, he didn't invent it), adrogeny, cocaine, MTV, grunge.... I could go on. Yet still I love him. Ziggy Stardust was sonically about 20 years ahead of its time.

Oh and I saw the Glass Spider tour in Dallas at age 17 and thought it was a bit over the top. I agree with a lot of what it said in the article.
posted by punkfloyd at 4:59 AM on March 25, 2009


Most recent song I LOVED was "Seven" off of hours.
posted by punkfloyd at 5:07 AM on March 25, 2009


Re: the comments in the first link on Bowie's '80s output--if you're interested in this period it's worth looking for a bootleg called The Duke and the Hawk, which is a recording of a rehearsal from his 1983 tour. Stevie Ray Vaughan was the lead guitarist for Bowie's band during the first few shows of that tour, and together they do some surprising things with his earlier work. ("Stay" is a standout on that disc.) The sound quality is muddy throughout, but that can't be helped.

Also, I think that the songs he wrote for Labyrinth are his strongest output during that decade. This isn't nostalgia speaking (much)--despite seeming cheery and bouncy on the surface, those are some weird, disturbing songs for a film with puppets (a film that, when viewed as an adult, actually also seems pretty weird and disturbing).

Re: his recent (lack of) output--I confess to not liking Reality much, and hope that he records one more album to go out on a high note if he's retiring. (Though my answer to dydecker's question above is "Bring Me the Disco King," the last track on Reality.) But the album at least gave him an excuse to tour, so that I could see him live before he called it quits. And he's recorded such a quantity of great music that it seems churlish to demand more.

Finally, if you are a Bowie fan who gave up on him at some point, it's worth seeking out Bowie at the BBC Radio Theater, London, June 27, 2000. This was a legitimate release, the third disc in a limited edition of Bowie at the Beeb, and it's his best live album, far better than David Live and Stage.
posted by Prospero at 5:24 AM on March 25, 2009


Interesting piece. But as a Prince fan, I can assure him that regular releases of garbage aren't all that the author makes them out to be.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:35 AM on March 25, 2009


Finally, if you are a Bowie fan who gave up on him at some point

This is me - I'm one of those many people who stopped following Bowie in the 80s. Actually my pick of 'Let's Dance' as his Last Great Track is a bit unfair as I haven't heard anything at all (until this thread) post-first Tin Machine album.
posted by dydecker at 5:37 AM on March 25, 2009


Here's a little test: what was the most recent Bowie song that you liked?

I really liked Slow Burn from Heathen.
posted by Dr-Baa at 5:46 AM on March 25, 2009


Here's a little test: what was the most recent Bowie song that you liked?

Stay (1976)
posted by fuse theorem at 6:07 AM on March 25, 2009


Here's a little test: what was the most recent Bowie song that you liked?

I kinda like his cover of Something In the Air from the American Psycho soundtrack. It just fit really well, but I'm not sure how it would hold up on its own.

And while it may not be a good song, playing this to women aged 25-36 will cause massive group knee-melting. I have tested it in controlled conditions.
posted by The Whelk at 6:10 AM on March 25, 2009


Actually, Bowie does good covers overall.
posted by The Whelk at 6:12 AM on March 25, 2009


I LOVE Bowie, but there has something about Bowie that has always seemed overly calculated to his various genres if you scratch the surface. Releasing Space Oddity right as we landed on the moon. adopting glam at the right time (no, he didn't invent it), adrogeny, cocaine, MTV, grunge.... I could go on.

It's true. There is something calculated about it all. But to be fair, if his genre hopping was lacking in any truly creative insight, he would have released a punk album in 1977 instead of Low. But he didn't. He released Low (and basically The Idiot). No one was asking for that. The studio was like, "Ugh, David, just make another Young Americans."

There's something also unfair about the "oh Bowie sucked in the 80s." He did, definitely. But so much of that decade was a bastardized version of Low and Scary Monsters. Hell, Joy Division's original name was Warsaw after Warszawa. Of course Bowie had his influences too, Conny Plank, NEU!, Eno, etc. (But, of course, Eno was influenced by Harmonia and so on.) Bowie collaborated with so many music heavy weights: Pop, Eno, Fripp, Belew, Rogers, Vandross, Ronson, and on and on. But it seemed that almost always, these people produced some of their best work with him. I mean, "Heroes," Lust for Life, Young Americans. The list goes on.

The fact is, there are very few musicians who can dominate during two separate decades. Think about Prince in the 90s. Eww. Wu Tang in the 00s. Double Eww. Sure Bowie fell off hard, but his output in the 70s was amazing. Just like Prince's and Wu Tang's output was amazing in their decades. There are bands and musicians that can keep the veneer of musical relevance going through the decades (e.g., springsteen), but few can and even fewer actually keep producing good music rather than just float on the inertia.

Oh, and the last great Bowie song is "I'm Deranged."
posted by milarepa at 6:19 AM on March 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Little Wonder (1997) , never seen the video before but this is the studio track. I have hours... but I haven't made the time to listen to it yet, and now it looks like there are two more albums on my to do list. Thanks for the Beeb '2000 plug, Prospero, I will have to check that out..
posted by cavalier at 6:21 AM on March 25, 2009


I'm also a massive Bowie fan. I was in high school in the mid to late 80's, and fell in love with his pop persona at the time (and his turn as Jareth in Labyrinth certainly had an impact on my burgeoning sexuality... those tights, that vaguely sexual malevolence... yum). But then I saved all my money from my part time job to buy the Sound and Vision box set, and wow... that really blew my mind. I was able to spend my young adulthood exploring the Bowie back catalog, and found that every few years my favorite album changed as I matured in my musical tastes. I like Tin Machine, and forgive his less than stellar moments, because there's just so much to enjoy.

I'm slowly finding myself turning to the more recent albums, specifically Heathen, and occasionally Outside and Earthling. I've had the rare privlege to see him many times live, and in small venues, and I even "accidentally" bumped into him backstage after a Pete Townshend gig (I'm so lame, I was too chickenshit to say hello).

Would I like more music? Absolutely! But ya know, there's a lot there to enjoy and I won't fret if that's it. He's 62, had heart surgery in the not too distant past, and has a young child. Maybe his priorities have shifted.
posted by kimdog at 7:04 AM on March 25, 2009


Meh, until there can be something that tops Art Decade, leave Bowie to do whatever he feels like.

I liked his appearance in Extras.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:04 AM on March 25, 2009


The last album of Bowie's that I listen to with any regularity is Station to Station...but I usually just listen to Hunky Dory.

That America cover in the linked video was really awesome, one of my favorite songs covered well.
posted by schyler523 at 7:13 AM on March 25, 2009


Bloggers can foam at the mouth all they want to, but Bowie's earned the right to rest on his laurels and ignore the starmaker machinery behind the popular song. I can imagine him chuckling at the pitchfork brigade much like Gulliver might have chuckled at the Lilliputians.

Here's a little test: what was the most recent Bowie song that you liked?

"This Is Not America."
posted by blucevalo at 7:13 AM on March 25, 2009


He's 62,

I for one am glad that he's finally showing signs of aging. Otherwise we'd find some monstrously deformed painting in the near future and we all know how that goes.
posted by The Whelk at 7:23 AM on March 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I once appeared on a tacky afternoon TV talk show alongside the Ex Mrs David Bowie (mother of Zowie) - the tacky theme was "knowing stars before they were superstars...".

I thought, prissily, that she was going to be appalling - she certainly looked as bold as brass.

In fact she was huge fun - smart as a whip, trotted out stories about being pissed off finding your man in bed with Mick Jagger with great self-mocking gusto - and generally dazzled the socks off a jaded studio audience.

Ever since, I've liked Bowie more too...
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:27 AM on March 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


As one of the commenters in the original post noted, the blogger fails Bowie 101 by not realizing that having a heart attack on tour might possibly cause a person to slow down a bit. He's 62; he's done plenty of work. And the last song of his that I listen to regularly is probably "I'm Afraid of Americans", but I also thought that Black Tie White Noise was a good album, and he also did a very solid set that appeared on the bonus disc of the Bowie at the Beeb set.

As you might guess from my nom de MeFi, I'm a major Bowie fan.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:37 AM on March 25, 2009


I think it's been suggested that his 2004 mid-tour heart attack left him a lot more frail than he cared to publically let on, and is the reason for the lack of any new recording or live work. But I think his appearance on Extras makes up from his absence in any other area.
posted by anazgnos at 7:41 AM on March 25, 2009


Here's a little test: what was the most recent Bowie song that you liked?

1997, "I'm Afraid of Americans" from Earthling was pretty tremendous.
posted by bclark at 7:43 AM on March 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Halloween Jack and I are sharing a brain cell!
posted by bclark at 7:44 AM on March 25, 2009


I have a soft spot for Real Cool World cause my Mom, in her mad rush to get us to shut up for seven seconds, got me and my brother a VHS of "Cool World" when we were tots. Cause hey, it's a cartoon! it must be for kids, right?

So now all my fond childhood memories have "Sex On Wheelz" in the background. Man, it was hard to find music that pissed her off.
posted by The Whelk at 8:02 AM on March 25, 2009


Wow. That Bowie vid is cool.

The vid was cool, but I was surprised to see that he's still doing his Anthony Newley thing.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:28 AM on March 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


This may seem utterly random, but I have absolutely no idea how anybody (schyler523 and fuse theorem, looking at you) can say the last song or songs of Bowie's that they liked were on Station To Station. I love that record, but saying that was the last one you liked is like saying the last Beatles record that you liked was Revolver - 'you know, the one that came right before Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band'.

Also, somehow I've never been able to stand 'Let's Dance' (or 'China Doll,' for that matter) but really like 'Modern Love.' Catchy. I never wave bye-bye either, though I can't say I've tried.

Okay, that wasn't random. This is random: I really like David Bowie's stuff from his heavy metal period.
posted by koeselitz at 8:33 AM on March 25, 2009


2
posted by koeselitz at 8:34 AM on March 25, 2009


what was the most recent Bowie song that you liked?

The Thin White Duke at his Thinnest and Whitest.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:47 AM on March 25, 2009


That video of him performing Young Americans on Dick Cavett is great Peter! That David's voice is so hoarse that he can't hit all the high notes only makes it better. And Luther Vandross singing backup. Awesome!
posted by ericthegardener at 9:27 AM on March 25, 2009


what was the most recent Bowie song that you liked?

"I'm Afraid of Americans" (1997) and "Thursday's Child" (1999), so it's been about a decade. But I haven't given him a fair shot. I haven't sat and really listened to a Bowie album since those days.

In any case, some of his earlier albums (Low and Heroes in particular) are so good that he is fully entitled to record and sell fart noises for the rest of his days. If I were him, I might try the covers route. If he still has the chops but he can't come up with the material, he could go in and record a few dozen covers, get a few hits, and keep his name in the news. Or have guys like Rod Stewart poisoned those waters?
posted by pracowity at 9:50 AM on March 25, 2009


My very favorite episode of Extras will always be the one where Osama Bin Laden plays the piano.
"See the fat infidel with the pug-nosed face... pug pug pug pug! We all wish he'd die..."
Good tv, that.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:57 AM on March 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's been twelve years since "I'm Afraid of Americans?" Christ, I still think of that as "new" Bowie.
posted by malocchio at 11:11 AM on March 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


David Bowie: Unplugged and Seated?
posted by stinkycheese at 11:21 AM on March 25, 2009


I love Buddha of Suburbia
posted by limeswirltart at 11:39 AM on March 25, 2009


1997, "I'm Afraid of Americans" from Earthling was pretty tremendous.
Oh yeah, I forgot about that one, even though I've got it on my mp3 player...
posted by fuse theorem at 12:29 PM on March 25, 2009


The only David Bowie song (and video) that matters is this one, which I never get sick of.
posted by wittgenstein at 1:37 PM on March 25, 2009


I dunno, "Fashion" is still an amazing jam.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:55 PM on March 25, 2009


what was the most recent Bowie song that you liked?

I'm Afraid of Americans.

I LOVE Bowie, but there has something about Bowie that has always seemed overly calculated to his various genres if you scratch the surface.

Sure, but a huge amount of pop is calculating. Hell, a large chunk of punk, or any other form of popular music is calculating. Bowie is smarter than the average bear about managing his own career and glomming onto what is (or is about to be) popular than most artists.

Also, while he may be calculating, he puts on a hell of a live performance, which I generally take as athe sign of an artist who actually gives a shit about what they're doing.
posted by rodgerd at 2:56 PM on March 25, 2009


All right, I am going to go on record defending some of Bowie's 80's output. This article basically discounts everything between Scary Monsters (1980) and the Tin Machine albums (1989). I'm going to make a case for ten tracks in between those albums. Yes, this is well into GYOFB territory. My profound apologies.

In no order, but numbered for your convenience:

1) Cat People (1982) - The original Giorgio Morodor version, not the poppy Let's Dance version. An exercise in controlled burn and maybe Bowie's finest lyric of the 80's.

2) Criminal World (1983) - Bowie had excellent taste in covers - this one is of a 1977 song by Peter Godwin's band, Metro. Drawback: one had to have the Let's Dance album to hear it in the 80's.

3) Under Pressure (with Queen) (1981) - Ignoring for the moment (and, perhaps, for the rest of time) Vanilla Ice, this post-Scary Monsters collaboration with Queen is surely one of Bowie's best loved songs. Bowie wasn't always able to produce great tracks in the 80's, but he managed to do so several times in collaboration with others.

4) Loving the Alien (1984) - One of the two highlights from the otherwise forgettable Tonight album, Bowie picked it as one of his personal favorites for his ISELECT compilation. Its really just about his best self-written song from the decade.

5) Underground (1989) - Bowie's contribution to the Labyrinth film was a mixed bag, but this track is memorable without being cutesy (which is what ruins "Magic Dance" for me).

6) Time Will Crawl (1987) - The only track that keeps Never Let Me Down from being a complete disaster. While I freely confess it doesn't stand up to his very best work, it is actually quite catchy and - talk about damning with faint praise - isn't painful to listen to like the rest of its parent album.

7) Baal's Hymn (1982) - Bertolt Brecht tune and, thus, a cover. Still, one of Bowie's best vocal performances.

8) When The Wind Blows (1986) - David Bowie's contribution to this classic (and moving, albeit depressing) animated film. Bowie has said that he frequently went into the studio with virtually no passion for what he was doing in the 80's. Perhaps he did actually care a bit about this one.

9) This is Not America (1985) - with the Pat Methany group. Again, working with somebody else brought out the best in Bowie.

10) Tonight (1985) - The other decent track from Tonight was an Iggy Pop cover. I don't think Tina Turner would let Bowie get away with phoning it in. Interviews at the time suggest that she called bullshit on people when she smelled it. This reggae tinged number was not a big hit and was substantially watered down from the Iggy Pop original, but is still a decent performance.

That all said, nothing Bowie did in the 1980's will ever make me forgive him for this. I'm a huge fan of his, but I don't think he (or anyone) released anything even remotely as appalling as that in the entire decade - perhaps in the entire rock era.

Yes, it still hurts.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:41 PM on March 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, as far as recent Bowie tracks that I've enjoyed go, if we're allowed to expand this to songs where he's a featured singer and not necessarily the composer, his vocals with Arcade Fire on their track "Wake Up" on the Fashion Rocks EP are actually pretty spiffy.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:45 PM on March 25, 2009


Oh for Pete's sake, Joey Michaels...it was for charity.
posted by punkfloyd at 5:10 PM on March 25, 2009


All the more reason that it shouldn't have been as horrible as it was.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:47 PM on March 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bowie in video game form.
And the opening song also written by bowie

also:
------
  • Omikron
  • Bowie-mullet
  • Bowie and Trent Reznor FTW.


    And with that said. Bowie will always be cool. Always.

  • posted by 5imian at 2:28 AM on March 26, 2009


    Oh damn. Almost forgot this.
    posted by 5imian at 2:29 AM on March 26, 2009


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