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Not as Good as Outside
on 10 September 2003
This album sees a continuation from "Outside" of Bowie's experimentation with industrial beats. Admittedly, "Earthling" is not as good as its predecessor but still marks an interesting point in Bowie's 1990s creative revival. Indeed, it is fair to say that "Earthling" is somewhat more accessible than "Outside", free from the latter's complex structure and obscure concept. Nonetheless, it still takes more than one listen to truly appreciate and grows slowly in stature with each play. Yes, some tracks play a bit too long at times (all are over 4 mins, with a third around 6 mins) but there are some good additions to the Bowie canon.
"Little Wonder" is fairly melodic with infectious piano and crunching guitars, somehow enhanced by its industrial surroundings.
Then there is "Dead Man Walking", a fairly funky track that bears more than a passing resemblance to "Lucy Can't Dance" from the "Black Tie White Noise" sessions. Indeed, a case could be made for this being one of Bowie's most commercially pleasing tracks of all-time. A nice touch, also, is the avant-garde jazz piano that rounds the track off.
Of course, though, the album is not always as accessible as these tracks but no less interesting as highlighted in "Law (Earthlings on Fire)" which creates a fairly dark, post-apocalyptic mood to good effect.
It can be said, overall, that the album is sometimes warped by the quasi-jungle music experiment of Bowie but that it also plays an enhancing effect at times. Regardless, though, there is enough quality that shines through to make this a fairly good album and one of Bowie's more interesting musical ventures.