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A perfect introduction to Bowie's best period
on 28 August 2007
This album is a perfect introduction to Bowie's most interesting and, in my opinion, his best period. This really is an intoxicating stew- Here we have plastic soul (Young Americans, Can You Hear Me), Krautrock-influenced rock-funk (TVC15), heart-stopping balladry (Wild is the Wind), electro-pop (Sound and Vision) and avant-garde guitar noise (check the startlingly weird guitar solo on Boys Keep Swinging). There's even a great version of Knock on Wood, from the coked-up David Live. To be honest, after getting into this stuff, Bowie's glam period, great as it is, just sounds a little conventional in comparison, mainly because the late 70s saw Bowie experiment with different procedures for making music. For instance, Sound and Vision has no vocals for almost 2 minutes (very unusual for a pop single), and on Boys Keep Swinging, Bowie instructed the musicians to swap instruments, giving the song a suitably shambolic, teen-punk feel. 'Chance' procedures were also employed on Low and Lodger through the influence of Brian Eno.
All of the albums from the period are well-represented, except Low, (which is his best album, so you should own it anyway). Although some of the tracks are edited (TVC15, Young Americans, Heroes, Golden Years), this doesn't matter, because if you come to this album as an introduction, never having heard the originals, you won't notice this anyway. In fact, Heroes and The Secret Life of Arabia (another gem) actually sound better than on the "Heroes" remaster, which has a thinner mix.
The only stinkers are It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City, which is pretty dreadful, and the disco version of John, I'm Only Dancing, which is actually rather enjoyable in a camp, Bee-Gees kind of way;) One thing's for sure, Bowie was never less than interesting during this period, whether or not his experiments came off successfully.