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Black Tie White Noise

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Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The cliché about David Bowie says he's a musical chameleon, adapting himself according to fashion and trends. While such a criticism is too glib, there's no denying that Bowie demonstrated remarkable skill for perceiving musical trends at his peak in the '70s. After spending several years in the late '60s as a mod and as an ... Read more in Amazon's David Bowie Store

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Product details

  • Audio CD (3 Jun. 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Arista
  • ASIN: B00002493G
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Audio Cassette  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,056 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Wedding
2. You've Been Around
3. I Feel Free
4. Black Tie White Noise
5. Jump They Say
6. Nite Flights
7. Pallas Athena
8. Miracle Goodnight
9. Don't Let Me Down
10. Looking For Lester
11. I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday
12. Wedding Song
13. Lucy Can't Dance (CD/DCC)

Product Description

BBC Review

In 1993 there was little reason to expect that David Bowie might make a decent record. He’d just given the world, unasked, the sludgy group rock of Tin Machine, which had done nothing to cleanse the listener’s palate after his 80s solo albums, which reached their nadir with 1987’s Never Let Me Down.

But the release of Black Tie White Noise, which reunited Bowie with Nile Rodgers, changed all that. Now it seems that Tin Machine had existed solely to wipe away any memory of what Bowie himself calls his "Phil Collins albums". Job done, Bowie was now free to pick up where he’d left off with 1980’s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), the first of his records to actively look back over his own career and consolidate its many sounds.

Black Tie refers to many aspects of Bowie’s career. Rodgers provides a more considered sound than the crash and glitz of the pair’s previous collaboration, Let’s Dance. Mick Ronson, who’d not worked with Bowie for almost 20 years, plays on a cover of Cream’s I Feel Free, an old Spiders staple (it was sadly their last recording together, as Ronson was to die of cancer that year). Another song covered here, The Walker Brothers’ Nite Flights, is one that directly influenced Bowie’s own work with Brian Eno; and that work is also referenced in the instrumental opener The Wedding, which is named in tribute to Bowie’s wedding to model Iman Abdulmajid that year. And while the title-track (featuring rapper Al B Sure!) considered the recent LA Riots, the darkly beautiful single Jump They Say was a more personal effort, Bowie expressing his feelings concerning the death of his half-brother Terry.

All of this could have been something of a mishmash were it not for Bowie’s immense confidence (his vocals have never been better) and Rodger’s sympathetic production. As an album, it was both a critical and commercial success (number one in the UK). As a statement of the next stage of Bowie’s career, it was perfect. The 90s would be a decade of change and experimentation for David Bowie, and Black Tie White Noise was the first step on his new journey.

--David Quantick

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Strange Angel on 2 Jan. 2011
Format: Audio CD
I remember when this album was released. Apart from the odd single, I was not a fan of post-Low Bowie, and all I owned was on vinyl. Time has passed (and much musical prejudice with it)so I decided to download this album out of curiosity and a sense of completion... sad to say! However, I was pleasantly surprised. It sounded fresh. Both the melodies and the album structure were unpredictable.
I have played it frequently over the last few weeks and have not tired of it. I keep hearing new things in the arrangements. Had I listened to it on release, I would probably dismissed it - not enough jangly guitar! Now I'm trying to think of other artists and albums I side-stepped, through musical snobbery, and give them a chance with my new ears.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Neil Tyrer on 4 Oct. 2003
Format: Audio CD
This special re-issue of BTWN with all the additional remixes, rare tracks and great DVD footage is a really good buy. Another of Bowie's albums that wasn't fully appreciated when it was originally released, it sounds really fresh ten years on, and I've really enjoyed rediscovering it. If you missed out on this first time around, this special edition is well worth adding to your collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Oliver Cobbin on 12 July 2013
Format: Audio CD
Although this is an improvement on his much maligned 80s output it's still not the Bowie we know and love. The album sounds like a producer has taken a collection of a capella tracks and given them a 90s club mix rework. Some tracks have a funky vibe to them that work quite well but some just don't fit with Bowie's voice. There's only one song on the album that breaks the mould: the Morrissey cover 'I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday'. This is quite fitting as it was written as a pastiche of Bowie's earlier work and was produced by none-other than ex-Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson! This is the highlight of the album for me as Bowie's vocal soars in the latter half after deploying his rich baritone croon in the first.

The album is bookended by two tracks dedicated to his newly-wed wife, Iman: 'The Wedding' and 'The Wedding Song'. They have a mix of eastern and western music qualities to signify the marriage. The track works quite well but isn't really needed twice on the album, once in instrumental form and a second, slightly shortened with a vocal. There is a special edition of the album with two bonus songs: 'Jump They Say [Remix]' and 'Lucy Can't Dance'. They're not worth paying extra for and I only got this edition because it was the same price as the normal version. The remix is inessential and doesn't really add anything to the original. 'Lucy Can't Dance' is ok but is fairly repetitive in it's 6 minute run. This sums up most of the album songs which overstay their welcome with not much change throughout. Some people may enjoy this style but it's not for me. I appreciate that Bowie likes to experiment and explore new sounds but some experiments work (Berlin Trilogy, Outside) and some don't, like this. Maybe this sounded fresh and exciting in 1993 but it sounds fairly dated 20 years later.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alonzo Mosely on 28 Jun. 2012
Format: Audio CD
To say this album is a work of genius, would be stretching things, but like all of Bowie's albums after his dreaded 80's period, experienced listeners will find his later music incredibly rewarding.

I'm a fan of Bowie's early 70's output, but as I have grown older, my tastes have matured, and I tend to find that it is Bowie's more recent output that draws me back, time and time again. `Black Tie White Noise' offers the listener something very different to anything Bowie has done previously, making it not an easy album to describe. The best way to judge it is probably track by track...

`The Wedding', 'You've Been Around', 'Jump They Say', 'Pallas Athena' and 'Miracle Goodnight' are the type of strong melodic songs that you have come to expect by Bowie, all laced together with some stunning synthetic arrangements. 'Jump They Say' literally explodes out the speakers in a hail of synthetic drum beats. Fantastic stuff! Also, if you have never heard Bowie's cover of Scott Walker's 'Nite Flights', then you are really missing out on one of the finest cover songs ever recorded. It remains, to this day, one of my all time favourite tracks.

The thing is, like with all Bowie's 90's output, it is full of hidden depths, and is more rewarding after multiple listens. Definitely something for the more experienced listener.

However, sad to say, that not every song on this album is pure gold, there are three tracks on here that I would happily throwaway, especially the cover of Cream's 'I Feel Free'. But all in all, if you are a big Bowie fan who's looking for a few tracks to put on a compilation, then there are some real gems worth discovering on this album.

P.S. also, check out the video to 'Jump They Say', it has barely dated.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mr. R. Rogers on 18 Aug. 2003
Format: Audio CD
By 1993, David Bowie was considered washed up, a has-been, a complete irrelevance. Since his greatest commercially selling album, "Lets Dance" in 1983, he had produced two criminally dire albums in "Tonight" and "Never Let Me Down" and three albums with rock dirge group "Tin Machine". Who would have guessed that his marriage to Somalian model Iman Abdul-Majid would have helped kickstart a creative process that would produce his best album in over ten years?
Although the album was said by Bowie to have been inspired by his marriage to Iman, only two of the tracks featured appear to have any reference to the event. "The Wedding" features wedding bells as the an album opener, and "The Wedding Song" is a gushing, swooning and deeply romantic paen to his new bride. The rest of the album however is classic Bowie; full of darkness, paranoia and more importantly - killer tunes.
Lead-off single "Jump They Say" is a stunning breakneck hard-edged dance track packed with gorgeous sax work from Bowie and excellent trumpet work from Lester Bowie (no relation). Second single the title track is a laid back funk/soul duet with Detroit singer Al B Sure! (Yes, that is his real name) that surely deserved higher than it's number 39 chart placing. And third and final single "Miracle Goodnight" is possibly the catchiest song Bowie, if indeed, anyone has ever written. But aside from the trio of excellent singles, there is much more listening pleasure to still be had. The whole album is filled with funky and soulful dance percussion, Bowie's voice is on the finest form that it has ever been in, and the lead sax and trumpet playing from the two Bowies is dynamism perfection.
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