Customer Review

122 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good Bowie album, 2 Mar 2013
This review is from: The Next Day (Audio CD)
This is a very good David Bowie album, in my view. It's a great relief to say it, because when some of the gods of my youth have returned in...well...late middle age after a long absence the results have not always been very good, to say the least. Here, Bowie shows that he is still a major songwriting and performing talent and that he still has a genuine edge.

We have had a little time now to digest the track Where Are We Now? and to assess its true merit now that the "Blimey!" factor following its surprise release has worn off a bit. I still think that it's a very good song indeed. I did worry that some of the fragile, almost-out-of-tune vocal wasn't a deliberate effect but the voice of a man who can't quite sing as he used to, but - thank heavens - I was quite wrong. It is followed on the album by Valentine's Day, a track which wouldn't have been out of place on Aladdin Sane and which Bowie sings superbly, and there's plenty of other evidence here that he's still got it.

The songs seem to me to be vintage Bowie. There is the full gamut from singable, rocky tunes like Valentine's Day, through lovely tender songs like Where Are We Now? to the almost tuneless and weird-rhythmed If You Can See Me, with plenty in between. He certainly hasn't settled into a comfortable rut in middle age - If You Can See Me has joined my list of Almost Unlistenable Bowie Tracks and I'm delighted to see that he is still prepared to challenge and unsettle his audience even if personally I don't like the result.

The lyrics, of course, are complex, allusive and often elusive. As always, you can try to analyse what they "really" mean, but I've never found that a very productive way of approaching Bowie because I suspect that, as many poets have, he often puts together words for their sound or effect without them having any "true meaning." I love his lyrics and I often just enjoy the evocative sound of phrases like this in Dirty Boys: "When the sun goes down/And the die is cast..." and let my imagination do the rest. Similarly, in The Stars, we get things like, "Here they are upon the stairs/Sexless and unaroused..." which makes little literal sense in the context but it's an amazingly arresting lyric which sparks off all sorts of mental images and thoughts - which is what good lyrics should do.

I really like this album. The production is excellent; it is varied and sensitive and shows every song off at its best. It will take a while before it is clear whether or not it is a true Bowie classic. My sense is that it's probably not quite a classic, but it's a very good album indeed and warmly recommended.
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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Mar 2013 21:46:37 GMT
How were you able to review this when it has not been released yet and amazon are stopping people doing it.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Mar 2013 23:08:48 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 2 Mar 2013 23:11:13 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Mar 2013 03:30:23 GMT
S. Reid says:
It is streaming on iTunes.

Posted on 3 Mar 2013 07:47:00 GMT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Mar 2013 08:02:09 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Mar 2013 08:07:17 GMT
Sid Nuncius says:
Hello, Tedham.

I'm sorry you think it stinks, but there really isn't anything dodgy about it. I just put this review on a page for an "import" format which does allow reviews to be posted. Amazon have then published it on all formats of the album which, to be honest, I didn't expect. I think this link will take you there: The Next Day and anyone can post a review there. If it doesn't work, search for Bowie The Next Day and try all the formats which appear.

HTH
Sid

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Mar 2013 08:34:21 GMT
Thanks for the explanation, Sid, and thanks for the review. I won't be hearing it until my CD arrives in a week or two. Cheers, T

Posted on 5 Mar 2013 10:18:40 GMT
Last edited by the author on 5 Mar 2013 13:00:57 GMT
Udeen says:
I don't know about this. I know that it often takes time for me to make up my mind about new music and that there are some albums that sound great when I first hear them, and then lose their lustre. I'm very suspicious that this review is as much about getting there first and being a top ten reviewer as it is about sharing thoughts that have had time to mature.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Mar 2013 18:30:56 GMT
Sid Nuncius says:
Hello, Udeen. Thanks for posting - I appreciate your taking the trouble to say this rather than just giving the review a negative vote and leaving me to wonder why what I had written was unhelpful.

You make a fair point about one's perception of an album maturing over time, but I have tried to address this a little in my review. I have listened to the album a fair number of times and I have tried to explain why I think it's good and not just enthuse in a non-specific way. I think it's legitimate to voice a view at this stage on certain things about it, and also to conclude that it's a very decent piece of work and not just sub-standard stuff from someone who doesn't know when it's time to retire gracefully. I have tried to let prospective purchasers know all this because they're the sort of things I would have wanted to know before buying - although I fully accept that it's up to you (and anyone else) to decide whether you think my opinion is worth anything. :o)

As to my motivation, you are right that there is some gratification in posting a review which people then say has been helpful to them. However, I have been a Bowie fan through thick and (let's face it) thin since I first heard A Space Oddity on Top Of The Pops as a young teenager, and writing a review which is as thoughtful and helpful as I can make it is important to me as a result. Again, whether you accept this is entirey up to you, but it really isn't just about vote-grubbing or reviewer rank for me.

Sorry - this has turned into far more of an essay in self-justification than I intended, and I'll stop.

Regards
Sid

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Mar 2013 11:45:58 GMT
Batman says:
Hi Sid, I appreciate your review, I too have been hooked since Space Oddity. As with all the mans albums I listen to them myself and come to my own conclusion, but also respect other peoples views. Thanks for yours.
Batman

Posted on 10 Mar 2013 12:55:20 GMT
Last edited by the author on 14 Mar 2013 22:56:40 GMT
Zenkoji says:
As Will Ferguson writes in his brilliant Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw: 'I have long suspected that the number of people reading poetry is exactly the same as the number of people writing poetry'. So really if 'many poets' string together words which don't make sense, that doesn't really matter, because those poets don't matter. Lyrics do on either an emotional or intellectual level (preferably both simultaneously) have to make sense.

Some people will offer you their hand,
And some won't.
Last night I knew you,
Tonight I don't.

I doubt Bowie could write anything of that quality.

This said, there's some discussion here about the validity of this review. Normally I throw my hands up in despair in relation to anyone who has a 'top reviewer' tag: usually what you get is, in either eight or eighty words, 'I like this so it must be good'. But Sid is different. The reviews, whether hot off the press or not, are always considered, thoughtful, insightful. I owe him 'Psychedelic Pill', and one or two others. And I suspect he's right in suggesting the album is 'not quite a classic' in, say the Low/Station to Station/Heroes sense.

But is art-collector Bowie putting two fingers up to us all with that clever-clogs cover? If we can't have decent album art, is it ok to pay with Monopoly money?
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Sid Nuncius
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Location: London

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