Well I'll admit, the genius marketing scam of issuing "Where Are We Now?" out of the blue with no warning at all certainly worked on me. I've got Bowie's last few albums, and they all have their moments, but I didn't buy any of them when they came out and perhaps partly because of that, I've never made the effort to really get to know them. I was mostly content to listen to his golden decade of albums from The Man Who Sold The World to Scary Monsters. But the cleverly orchestrated comeback got my full attention for the first time in decades so I had to hear this a.s.a.p.
So I've fallen for the hype, how am I feeling now that I've listened to the thing a few times?
Well, not conned, that's for sure. It's not particularly strong on melody - though melodically it certainly sounds like a Bowie record and it's far from tuneless. But it's very strong on both arrangements and lyrics - the latter in my experience being the first faculty ageing rock stars tend to lose. Even the less interesting songs, and there are two or three that let the side down a bit, make an interesting noise. And there's a pretty wide variety of styles, though there's little here that wouldn't have fitted in pretty well on Lodger, for instance, though parts of it are a lot rockier than most of that album.
I can't think of another rock artist who's come up with work of this quality at such an advanced age - by any standards this is a very good album - the songs are interesting, powerful, some of the lyrics are quite disturbing, nearly all of them are thought-provoking at least; the playing and arrangements are superb, Bowie's vocals are in good shape. In short I'd say that, while it shouldn't be compared to his 70s heyday it's a far better album than we had any right to expect from someone nearly 50 years into their recording career. He's certainly not just resting on his laurels - he sounds HUNGRIER than he has for a long time. I would also strongly encourage anyone buying the album to buy the deluxe version - the three bonus songs (one of which is an instrumental on which Bowie plays everything except drums) are not the weakest here by any means.
on 25 June 2013
It was lovely to hear that David Bowie would soon be releasing his first album in 10 years. But would it live up to the hype? The answer is yes. He has returned to the music world with an album he can be proud to call his own. The usual phrase for a new Bowie album is 'his best since Scary Monsters' which has actually become a tiring and lazy observation in my opinion. The sound on 'The Next Day' isn't dissimilar to that of 'Heathen' or 'Reality' which has been subject to some criticism, but I think Bowie has developed that sound further and made the songs more memorable. Inevitably his releases are always going to compared to his golden era which in some ways is unfair since that was 4 decades ago. He's never going to make another 'Ziggy Stardust' and why should he? Bowie is the master of reinvention and has proven time and time again that he can adapt to new trends effortlessly.
Now to the songs themselves. There are some really memorable moments throughout the album such as 'Where Are We Now?' 'Valentine's Day' and the haunting closer 'Heat'. The songs on here are mainly mid-tempo rock songs with the odd few breaking this rule. I've read some reviews that the album is badly mixed with his voice being swamped beneath the music. I would only apply this to a couple of songs where his voice isn't the focal point but unless you're an audiophile it's not going to be so blatant that it will affect your listen. The lyrics are classic Bowie with him observing and critiquing the world we live in. Some of the songs towards the end get a little lost on the first couple of listens but become more familiar later. That is what I'd say of the album - it will grow on you rather than entice you immediately.
Overall I would say this is Bowie's best post-millennium album (I haven't heard much of his '90s output and going back further is incomparable). The songs are much more developed and full than 'Reality' ,an album which I was a bit disappointed with. The fact that it's his first album in 10 years is an interesting enough factor to buy it and once you do you'll enjoy what is hopefully the first in a series of albums to come.
on 11 March 2013
Having read a couple of the lower score reviews on here by people who have perhaps naively purchased this album expecting Bowie to be reincarnating Ziggy Stardust, I have felt compelled to point out to anyone who has their doubts about this one, should dispel these straight away. An absolutely terrific body of work, which deserves to judged on its own merits, rather than constantly refering back to albums Bowie made some 40 years ago. People have been saying this album mirrors much of his past work, and whilst there are ofcourse some echoes of this, I personally cannot think of any of his albums, which are quite like this one.
The true strength in this album for me, is the pure variety. An interesting placing and arranging of songs and styles contrasting with one another, providing a very fulfilling listen. That said there certainly are some outstanding songs within this album. The opening title track being one of the most punchy, intentive and driving rock songs to open any of his albums; this followed up with the funk guitar 'Dirty boys'. 'Love is lost', an excellent keyboard led piece and 'I'd rather be high' for me also amongst the highlights. In terms of creativity and variation in an album, this one ranks very high, indeed it could be the most creative album in his catalogue to date.
Throughout this year this album has been played inumerable times, and now just hoping that there will be more albums of simillar excellent quality to this.
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.
on 5 March 2016
Wow, this CD is absolutely fantastic. Great tunes, great lyrics, special mention for Dirty Boys, Where are we now?, Valentines Day and I'd rather be high, although the whole CD is really good to listen to. An absolute must for any collection in my opinion.....
on 11 March 2013
lyrically creative, musically unique, vocally distinctive
It would be pretty silly and unfair to measure the quality of this work by Bowie's classic albums of the 70s. With the exception of Sinatra as far as I know, there is no music artist who has managed to replicate that kind of success later in their career. What really matters is with just 4 years away from his 70th birthday, can Bowie still cut it. Can he deliver a credible vocal performance and write great songs, does his musical talent still elevate him above many other artists in the music industry.
When all is said and done This is after all, how the success of this album will be defined. This album answers that question with a resounding Yes. In a music industry now sadly dominated by lolly pop boy bands, cloned R n B singers and Simon Cowell's plastic, assembly line music creations this album is a breath of fresh air. In my opinion it is lyrically creative, musically unique and vocally distinctive. It is superb and if you are a bowie fan I promise you that you will love it.
According to his record producer there are no tour dates or interviews planned to promote the album. Bowie has not been seen in public for some times and all this does fuel press speculation that Bowie is in fact now very unwell. That said, Bowie has always shunned the commercial media music machine. He has rarely given any interviews throughout his career and has a reputation for being the elusive, mystery man of rock.
Bowie does appear to revel in the unorthodox image he has created for himself. I wouldn't be surprised if he were sat back and laughing his socks off with press reports that he may be gravely ill. My hope is that it is all a publicity stunt although if it is then it is designed to hype up the price of impending concert tickets which are likely to be sold out within an hour. I would suspect that just as the single was released without prier notice, then tour dates will follow in the same way. Nevertheless tour or no tour, this is a great album.
on 14 April 2013
David Bowie is one of rock's greatest chameleons. His ability to change, surprise and amaze us has always been an attraction. He taps masterfully into our curiosity and we fall for it every time. But then, he usually delivers a quality product no matter which colour or face he presents us with. The stunningly successful launch of his new single 'Where Are We Now?' after a lengthy period of silence created a frisson of expectation. Rumours of a new album soon followed and so here we have it. 'The Next Day' contains a diverse group of quality songs, including the excellent single. Bowie's performances and his backing musicians are first class. There are lots of different Bowies on this album and that makes for a really interesting listen. Stylish, surprising, creative, unexpected, interesting - this is the man and his music. It will take a few listens, but this is a very good album. Recommended.
Released unexpectedly in 2013, this is Bowie's 27th studio album. Hands up al those who thought that we had heard the last from the starman? I certainly had. Then lik a bol from the blue he whacks us with this excellent album.
It's interesting to see that he still has musical vision and the willingness to explore new territory. Most artists of his age are sitting firmly on their laurels and trying to repeat old glories. Bowie shows that he still has ideas, and the creative genius has been resting not dead.
And unlike some of his latter releases, this is an album that grabs the attention and holds it all the way through. No weak tracks here, it's an album with a lot to say and it says it in a captivating manner. Not a moment is wasted. Not only that, but for the first time in ages we have an album release in which someone has taken real trouble over the album art, seeing it almost as important as the music contained therein. This doesn't happen often enough in the mainstream these days and is a real show. I pine for the days when performers such as Bowie regarded the whole enterprise - the music, the album art, even the way they dressed as a coherent whole expression of their vision.
It's a classic album from Bowie, here's hoping that there is more to come.
My version is the Deluxe version, which has 3 bonus tracks. I must say that it was worth getting this version for the final track, I'll Take You There.
on 2 April 2013
An excellent new album from bowie - I'm really an old school bowie fan - but not stuck in a rut, its great to have a new album to listen to, I will no doubt listen to it many times before making my mind up to which tracks are my favourite - The album was fantastic value for money, what more can you ask for, for around £16 you get a double 180g vinyl and one of those new fangled Cd things!!! (needle keeps slipping off the shiny disc).
on 20 March 2013
The recent history of db is well-known - heart problems definitely help you sort out life's priorities when you have a young (just turning teenage) daughter to raise. Bowie was, to all intents and purposes, unofficially retired, telling friends and long-time collaborators alike that he was "done" with being David Bowie and making music. Now we know that approximately two years ago, he suddenly felt inspired and motivated once again, and began making tentative, secretive steps back into writing and recording with a trusted team of collaborators. AND PRAISE BE TO GOD THAT HE DID SO! No new albums ever grip you instantly in the way that the one star reviewers seem to think is obligatory (though one suspects that the majority of these posters are simply trolls, desperately trying to create a backlash to the BowieMania currently sweeping the media in advance of the V&A Exhibition as well as the new album). I thought the album was a little patchy on first listen, though there were several immediate standout tracks - Valentine's Day, Dirty Boys, You Feel So Lonely You Could Die (the latter feels like a modernised Rock'n'Roll Suicide and even concludes with the famous Five Years drum beat), while So She is a stunner of a bonus track too. What I really want to impress on you though is just how much this album GROWS ON YOU - hooks and melody lines and middle-eights remain stubbornly entrenched in my head. Trust me, this album WILL grow and grow and GROW on you! It's on a par with Scary Monsters and Lodger. Yes, of course you'll prefer some songs to others and you may even skip one or two (I do already - but then I also skip It Ain't Easy on Ziggy Stardust). But it doesn't make THE NEXT DAY a lesser album by any means. Bowie is back in fine voice, by turns rocking, soulful and artfully theatrical; Tony Visconti is at the mixing desk, and Bowie is backed by a great band of muscians - especially wonderful to see the amazing Gail Ann Dorsey credited on bass and backing vocals. A big bold brash explosion of an album packed with stylistic variety and fascinatingly dense lyrics. To misquote The Beatles, LET IT GROW. Give this album plenty of space to play and grow and you will be rewarded by Bowie's best work since Scary Monsters. No doubt about it. Whatsoever. And all the more thriling for being so totally unexpected!