on 1 March 2011
Outside is an album inspired by a morbid age of death in the name of art and art in the name of death. It is not a "song" album, so if you like things to hum or whistle to then buy some of Bowies earlier albums. This album is setting a mood and making a sad reflection of events. I find myself commenting on the production of CD,s quite a lot these days as I have too many albums which are ruined by sloppy mixing and mastering. Top marks to Bowie and Eno who produced this as they really have done an excellent job, it sounds fantastic through the hi fi. This is one to bathe alone in-get rid of the kids and your partner, open a bottle/can and let it take you to a very dark place.
on 20 September 2006
This is an ablum that has to be persevered with, yet will reward those who allow it to. There are many dark and wonderful moments - but, to be honest, it's the overall tone that is most arresting. I find that I go through phases of playing this album over and over again, back-to-back, which is something I very rarely do. It is certainly disturbing, serving up a girl's mutilated body, and then loosely weaving a vague story around it. The segues take a little getting used to, but I have to say, the victim's line, "Something's going to be horrid", as "Hello Spaceboy" opens up lingers long after "Strangers When We Meet" has faded away. It is at times chaotic, rambling, bafflingly opaque, and is all the better for it. Deserves much more recognition.
on 20 March 2013
I first bought this album when it came out in 1995 as a cassette tape and as many other posters mention, intially found it somewhat unapproachable and only gradually started to like it by which time my old tape machine had given up the ghost. When I ordered Bowie's superb new album The Next Day, I added 1. Outside as it was one of the few albums of his that I did not have in my CD collection. I am so pleased that I did! Having not heard it for at least 15 years, it has been an absolute joy to be re-acquainted with what must be one of DB's most innovative and interesting works and I've been playing it continuously for the last 10 days!
Together with his other albums from the late '90's (Earthling & Hours), it takes a few plays to get into but it is so worthwhile perservering with all of them as they are excellent despite being either overlooked or dismissed by the critics at the time.
When 1. Outside first came out I was not too keen on the segues as I thought they were an unneccessary distraction from the music but I've got used to them and actually like them now. I guess if Bowie had gone ahead with his intention of producing two further albums on the same Nathan Adler Diaries Hate Crime theme, these interludes would have made more sense.
There is some excellent musicianship here and I think that the criticism from some quarters that Reeves Gabrels brought an unwanted heavy, industrial guitar influence to Bowie's work of the period is unjust. The contribution of previous collaborators such as Eno, Mike Garsen and Carlos Alamor is very welcome as is the emergence of Sterling Campbell as Bowie's favoured drummer.
David Bowie has been responsible for such an extraordinary and varied body of work over the years. Despite reviewers attempts to twin one album with another, I believe part of the joy of being a Bowie fan is that no two albums sound the same, even those that were recorded back-to-back. Occasionally there might be one track that links one album with the next as in Queen Bitch on Hunky Dory linking with Ziggy Stardust or The Secret Life of Arabia on Heroes linking with Lodger but otherwise they all stand on their own.
With the exception of the weak mid/late '80's output, whichever David Bowie album I happen to be playing at the time is my favourite and I would find it impossible to rank them but if I were to, 1. Outside would certainly be close to the top.
on 21 July 2005
Firstly, I would like to apologise for not giving this five stars, I feel I really ought to because 'Outside' along with 'Let's Dance', 'The Buddha Of Suburbia', 'Heathen', 'The Next Day', and now sadly, the astonishing 'Blackstar' are in my opinion his best studio albums since 'Scary Monsters' (to use that tired, and now redundant cliche) - but 'Outside' is far too long. For it to be a true masterpiece it needs some editing, i.e. cut out some (but definitely not all) of the interludes between songs and knock off one or two of the weaker songs.
There are loads of amazing tracks on this ambient, techno, industrial rock album, for example: 'The Heart's Filthy Lesson', 'Hallo Spaceboy', 'The Motel', 'I Have Not Been To Oxford Town', 'No Control' and 'I'm Deranged', but these highlights alongside other decent tracks get swamped in the vastness of this padded out concept album.
Update: I felt I had to slightly amend this review in light of what's happened - and I still feel like I'm being a bit mean spirited. Bowie was an icon and a genius - and I will always keep on 'Loving The Alien'. R.I.P Legend!
on 29 June 2013
1. Outside is not a particularly commercial album and you may find it takes a while to get into. There are a number of reasons for this.
It was originally supposed to be the first part of a trilogy and since part 2 & 3 were never released (at the time of writing this review) it is trying to tell a story that doesn't go anywhere
The segues that pop up occasionally detract from the overall flow of the album so it can feel a little jarring. Weirdly; although this narrative intrudes into the feel of the album, there is not enough of it to explain where you are in the overall story.
I originally purchased this album this album, listened to it a couple of times, went back to Ziggy / Aladdin Sane / Heathen and promptly forgot about it.
So in conclusion, It has a story that is not complete, it doesn't flow well and is (on first listen) confusing.
This doesn't matter a bit though because despite these flaws, it is utterly brilliant.
It contains some of Bowies best tracks. I'm Deranged, Thru these architects eyes, I have not been to oxford town and No Control stand out. So does Hallo SpaceBoy which is very different to the Pet Shop Boys Remix that you will find on the "Best of Bowie" album but just as good.
Once you have listened to it a few times, the story makes sense and the music/spoken words fit into the overall narrative.
Most importantly (for a Bowie album) it is not mainstream or middle of the road. It challenges the listener and stands up to repeat listening.
It took me a few further attempts to get into this album and it is now one of my favourites. I prefer it to that benchmark for later releases (scary monsters) and would advise anyone to persevere with it.
on 4 December 2015
Bowie is so HUGE, he attracts all sorts of different listeners, all with different favourites. Some fans prefer easy listening and others like the more experimental or ideas-based music. There was a period when people seemed to stop listening to Bowie (luckily he kept on producing ground-breaking music). And then The Next Day came out and people (many of the easy listeners) were all over him saying he'd made a brilliant album, the V&A formed a major exhibit around him, books and art programs discussed his work . . . in a world where media hype interferes with sound judgement, it seems that Bowie was back.
[Obviously for many, Bowie never left.]
Of the latter albums, Heathen and Outside are my favourite. They encompass interesting ideas and progressive music, and yes fun to listen to. Outside is possibly my favourite, and of course it has to be complete with the Nathan Adler monologues interspersing tracks like I'm Deranged, Strangers When We Meet and the perfect pop song Hallo Spaceboy.
The Nathan Adler sketches about body modification artists are on the 'outside' of Art. I don't know if that is the relevance of the title. I'm not even sure what Bowie's intentions of including the Nathan Adler diaries is, though musically they punctuate, then idealistically . . . the result is that the album is timely, says something about the odd world we live in today, it's madness in seeking out such extremeties, 'outsideness' - all part of being alien. And how alieneity then redefines the norm - yikes, even becoming pOpular, or FAMEous. Everybody knows these are Major Tom themes. We accept some bits, reject others, and the world CHANGES.
With Bowie's new, up-coming album Blackstar, the eponymous Blackstar is being released as a single. It's said the radio stations won't play anything longer than 10 minutes - so Bowie had to cut the piece because he wanted it playing and wanted to compromise the piece as little as possible. It's interesting how the system DOES compromise Art, possibly not trusting it enough. Similarly, many didn't like the Nathan Adler sketches in the Outisde album due to their oddness, unmusical nature, whatever. Or then they grew to like it, that's more to the point - sometimes it's not readily evident what is good, relevant or interesting; and you have to give it a chance, some times it grows on you. Again, the odd or the alien, what is 'outside' can take a while to accept and hit the pulse.
on 7 July 2010
the album outside is as time has progressed turned out to be one of the great albums in the back catologue of david bowie .in my opinion the most complex of all albums to date ,initially when released in 1995 it was difficult to get into in parts ,but when fully sunk in ,it is without doubt an album of great depth and creativity.this is not a commercial album for the mainstream and thus produced low sales ,which in turn cancelled the project for the 2nd and 3rd follow up albums that were pencilled in.
The record is a concept album featuring bowie as numerous characters in a "who dunnit" murder art ritual with the main character detective nathan adler tracking down the various suspects ,who in themselves are in a world of their own .needless to say this storyline is not totally coherent and remains ambiguous on purpose so as to let you use your own imagination and interpretation on the events (songs)or simply just listen to some fantastic original material ,19 tracks in all .This is now 2010 and it still sounds original and fresh while bursting at the seams with atmosphere .A type of futuristic blade runner /blue velvet pattern. indeed "outside" is like going into another small dark world .A place that is like nothing else and no other bowie album has achieved and for that matter no other mainsteam artist has achieved at this level or would dare to try.
There are at least ten great songs within the set and all totally belong to this album , not just stuck on as to be pencilling in music to fill out the album.there are also a number of narrated segues set with wonderfull brooding menacing background music ,all which fits in to the overall atmosphrere throughout the album and lead up to the following song which is not linear as the the tracklisting suggests
As an album it benefits being listened as a whole ,rather than just exerts .some of the great tracks include outside ,strangers when we meet ,through these architect eyes,the motel,voyeur of utter destruction, we prick you ,im derranged,no control,the hearts filthy lesson etc, in no linear order.
A masterpiece ? without doubt .could it be even better ?without doubt ,when the outakes of this album which did not make the final cut are included ,as the album was already quite lengthy, some of these i have heard and are wonderfull and deserve being included within a second expanded cd at some point in the near future. now that would something worth waiting for.The actual overall sonics are top drawer, db's vocals supreme as are contibutions by the backing vocalists, musicians and in particular Brian Eno's huge input.
on 8 November 2011
This astonishes me the more I listen to it.Like other reviewers I found some of it a bit impenetrable at first,but repeated listens reveals its countless strengths.The musicians on it are top class and the music unique challenging and brave.His vocals are truly great,how on earth he can sing WishfulBeginnings is beyond me!To me this is up there with Ok Computer and Dark Side Of The Moon as a true great.If only the other 2 had been produced,not that his later albums werent brilliant too.Wonder if he will bring out another work that would be so good!
on 11 May 2013
this is bowie on top form there are some great tracks some catchy some not but all in all there is an interesting storyline through the whole thing ,weather you understand it or not doesn't really matter cause most tracks are worth a listen
on 27 July 2015
Somewhat overlooked by Bowie fans, 'Outside' is a midget gem that fans of his work and the genre should try. Inspired by the Industrial group 'The Young Gods' (and not by the artists he was hanging out with at the time) Bowie creates a wonderful concept album about a detective Nathan Adler, who is on the search for a murder of a teenage girl. This album has you think of dark 90's Lynch films like 'Se7en' (of which 'The Hearts filthy lesson' was used on the credits) and has odd little moments that tell the tale quite humorously. Trent Reznor makes no apperance here (you'd have to wait for the follow up 'Earthlings' for that) but the single of 'Hearts....' does feature a remix by him, and the single 'Hello Spaceboy' is more known for it's Pet Shop Boys remix.
Put this up against other 90's Industrial albums and it is probably one of the best. As experimental as works such as Liabach and NIN, 'Outside' is one the fans should not stick their noses up at.