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Strange Fascination: David Bowie - The Definitive Story Paperback – 8 Jun 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Virgin Books; Revised edition edition (8 Jun. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075350457X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753504574
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13.1 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 431,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

As pop culture spirals into a banal, self-replicating, self-referencing morass, we seem increasingly to look back to the days when it meant something--when a new LP (ask your parents) might not only mean 30-odd minutes of music, but a whole new way of looking at the world and at yourself. Those were the days of David Bowie, whose near five-decade career is now the subject of David Buckley's new "definitive story".

Strange Fascination started life as a PhD, but it happily lacks the professionalised jargon that might bring with it. Where its critical credentials show is in Buckley's careful attempt to separate out the media "fictive" version of David Bowie--a version which, as he rightly claims, has been wilfully conflated with what Bowie's "really like" by past biographers. Mind you, that's hardly the biographers' fault: Bowie was, and remains, one of the most adept of self-inventors, whose legacy of fully formed personae reveals Madonna's much-vaunted image changes for what they are--"looks", superficial fashion tweakings that never aspired to the wholesale self-fashioning Bowie went in for. (Buckley is strangely unfascinated by recent rumours that Bowie's latest remodelling is more than skin-deep).

Buckley's passion for the man is undeniable, and perhaps misleads him on occasion. While there's no doubting Bowie's past popularity and influence, Buckley might not find many takers for his pronouncements that "Bowie is once again one of the most revered artists in contemporary music" and "nothing short of the first anti-hero of the 21st century". In fact, what comes across most strongly from Buckley's own account is the sheer length of Bowie's career, which means that his most marked influence was on a generation of artists who are themselves now approaching middle-age.

Nicely illustrated, and with some useful "documents" to encourage further study, Buckley's book won't please all Bowie fans, but it's an intelligent and thorough addition to a field that will grow and grow; Serious Bowie Studies. Watch this site. --Alan Stewart --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

A fantastic celebration of Bowie's life and work
The motivation behind Strange Fascination was a simple one: sick and tired of Bowie being publicly mangled in the press in the years of his creative decline in the Glass Spider/Tin Machine era, and of Bowie being written out of pop history too many times, I wanted to write a book that told the story of his music, and what it was like being a David Bowie fan. I wanted to try and make sense of it all for myself, and to articulate for others what it was really like to be a member of one of the biggest pop cults of them all. For, at his best, Bowie was far more than just a style icon: he was a symbol of our times, his work the very essence of late-twentieth-century culture.

I never did get to meet the great man, but along the way I got to have tea and cake with John Peel, listen to pianist Mike Garson perform an impromptu version of ‘Life On Mars?’ down the phone from LA, and wonder at Carlos Alomar’s hilarious anecdotes and Hugh Padgham’s tale of woe that was the making of Tonight. Without exception, all my interviewees were full of admiration, respect, and - in some cases - love for David Bowie, and I tried not to lose this in the translation. There were also some serious moments too, plenty of ‘em actually, and in the writing and rewriting of this book I constantly fought to try and accommodate all views, to give all the players in the Bowie story as fair a hearing as possible. I was aided and abetted in this by dozens of fans, academics, writers and publicity people. My thanks to all of them.

Despite the fact that the book is (semi-) affectionately known by me and Virgin as ‘the doorstop’, such is its spine-snapping size, it was originally planned to be even longer. There was a wealth of material on the making of the albums that my sage editor, Ian Gittins, a man who thinks Eno a ‘ponce’ and tragically doesn’t even like Outside (that section was cut by two-thirds!), thought of interest only to about three members of the BowieNet chatroom. He was absolutely right, of course, though I still think my suggestion for the book’s cover artwork (the mask from the 1975 Omnibus Cracked Actor documentary) was at least as good as the cover snap we got (my idea was dropped after a straw poll at Virgin found that only four out of ten of those asked recognised it was David Bowie!).

This paperback version has a new preface and a new chapter on the fifty-something Bowie. I’m sure that there will be glorious moments ahead for Bowie, especially if concentrates on the music. And if you are a fan, or perhaps a lapsed one, then I’d like to think Strange Fascination might make you want to listen to his records again. It really was the best pop music ever recorded, you know.

David Buckley, 15 June, Munich

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 13 Oct. 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a long time fan I've read just about every Bowie book ever published and without a doubt I would rate this as the best I have read so far. I really liked the author's approach of writing from a fans perspective - about the music - rather than simply focussing on Bowie's colourful life (as others have). Buckley writes with much passion, knowledge and insight - so much so that the real genius of David Bowie shines through. His obvious excitement about Bowie's music is contagious - I would often get up and put on the discussed album and songs to reflect further on and enjoy on his comments. Plus he sprang quite a few surprises on me (lots of information and insights I did not know or consider). As a long-term Bowie I thought I knew it all! In particular I found Ken Scott and Mike Garsons perspective and testimony were effective and enlightening additions to Bowie-lore. Finally this is a very well-balanced book with Bowie's latest output (1980s and 90s) well covered. Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Oct. 1999
Format: Hardcover
Believe me, I have read most of them. You can trust me: this is the best Bowie biography ever published. The only drawback is that his pre-1969 years are described rather superficiously. But once you get to "Space Oddity", you realize you're reading a worthy tome by a knowledgeable writer. Buckley is a long-time Bowie fan, so he knows what to ask his interviewees. But unlike some fans you may have met, he has a critical, non-biased view of Bowie's life. Whether you're a diehard Bowie fan or a newcomer looking for information, this book is for you!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Dec. 2001
Format: Paperback
As comprehensive a biog on Bowie's career as one gets without actually talking to the subject himself...One feels the author is a genuine fan, but does not treat his subject with discernable sycophancy, thus enabling readers to form their own, more balanced views on the man they called 'TS Eliot to a rock'n'roll beat'...As a negative aside, there are a couple of incorrect details in the book, but these are minor.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By nigeyb on 13 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
David Buckley really knows his stuff and has interesting, and new - to me, a reasonably knowledgeable fan - observations to make about the myriad twists and turns of David's career.

As a teenage Bowie freak I finally lost interest during the 1980s when David seemed more interest in making money than art. Reading this book stimulated me to revisit his 1970s glory years, and to better understand how and why his career played out the way it did. I enjoyed reading the book with my iPod on, and listening to each track/album as David Buckley brought his expert analysis to bear. If you're reading this, you probably don't need me to tell you that David has enjoyed a musical renaissance since the mid-1990s which - his heart attack aside - gives the book an upbeat ending and a certain symmetry.

Some very random highlights:

- the impact of the Ziggy era and its contribution to Punk a few years down the line
- Mike Garson - keyboard maestro - who is asked at least once a week (1973-present) about his keyboard solo on Aladdin Sane
- David's prodigious mid-70s cocaine intake not getting in the way of creating the majestic Station To Station
- David's more bizarre duets
- how Glam kicked the crap out of the hippy dream
- and oh so much more

I think David Buckley is to be congratulated on a great achievement: a fascinating book that does its subject justice. Weighing in at nearly 700 pages it's more for the fan than the casual reader. And you don't need me to tell you that David Bowie is one of the late 20th century's most significant musical figures.
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