#DavidBowieTheNextDay_1.5 weeks, post-release:
I’ve read approximately 25 online reviews of David Bowie’s ‘The Next Day’ album (deluxe version), made 2 rock mixes (here & here) using 11 of the album’s tracks, 1 Ambient mix (using the instrumental, ‘Plan‘) & have re-ordered the album on my BlackBerry (tossing 2 useless tunes & setting the remaining songs up slowest to fastest).
I’m a 53 year old ambient music mixer who has been digging the #ThinWhiteDuke’s creative output since I picked up the then new ‘Young Americans’ & began digging through the back catalog. I’ve seen him 3 times in concert (Station to Station, Let’s Dance & Glass Spider) & wrote a college paper comparing his ‘Cracked Actor’ to Robert Frost’s poem ‘Provide, Provide’. I’ve never been a nutty fan (though I did dress up as Aladdin Sane for Halloween one year to impress a chick I was dating) but, as an English literature major, I have generally been impressed with the concise clarity of Bowie’s writing as well as his adventurous experimentation in presenting his work (and have been appreciative of his leading me to Robert Fripp & Brian Eno via his collaborative associations with those gentlemen).
But enough of the preamble; here’s what I think of ‘The Next Day’:
My reordering of the disc:
Plan | Heat | Where Are We Now? | I’d Rather Be High | Dirty Boys | Boss of Me | Valentine’s Day | So She | Dancing Out in Space | How Does the Grass Grow? | The Stars (Are Out Tonight) | I’ll Take You There | (You Will) Set the World on Fire | If You Can See Me | The Next Day
At 66 years old, I don’t expect ‘Rebel, Rebel’ from my rock-stars…but neither did I expect the title track’s blistering, sneering vocalizations…so I was impressed right out of the box. I’ve used the slightly caustic ‘Plan’ on an ambient mix (‘Causticity’) and instantly memorized the lyrics to ‘The Next Day’ (title track) to sing along in the car (on the 1st mix, right after ‘Beauty & the Beast’). ‘Heat’ reminds me of Outside’s ‘The Motel’, ‘Dirty Boys’ – “Heroes” ‘Sons of the Silent Age’, ‘Valentine’s Day’ of Aladdin Sane’s ‘Drive-In Saturday & ‘The Prettiest Star’, ‘If You Can See Me’ a combination of Earthling & Tin Machine II’s ‘A Big Hurt’. ‘(You Will) Set the World on Fire’, with its quasi-plagiarous nod to Jack White’s ‘Sixteen Saltines’ reminds me of same, ‘Where Are We Now’ of Station to Station’s ‘Wild is the Wind’ and ‘The Next Day’ a conglomeration of ‘Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)’/’Repetition’[Lodger]/and Heroes ‘Beauty and the Beast’.
The subtle & inspired cover art at once makes a bold statement. It says “Here’s where I’ve done…and here’s what I’m now doing” – both embracing and moving on from the past. Bowie’s not going to go down quietly crooning his greatest hits in Atlantic City or Las Vegas…OR make us wish he was! It’s the story of one of THE icons of Rock & Roll letting us know that he’s still “got it” some 45 years after launching his ever changing, driving career.
I’ve given ‘The Next Day’ a 4.5 out of a possible 5 for a return to form and overall play-ability (AND because it’s definitely NOT ‘Never Let Me Down’, ‘Let’s Dance’ or ‘Tonight’). David has definitely delivered on this latest offering: solid sonics, tight lyrics & musical/lyrical/chronological references to keep his core fan base satisfied. The inclusion of Earl Slick, Gerry Leonard, David Torn [Prezens!] & Tony Levin are, for me…comfort food…familiar sonic pioneers, yet safe choices for a re-entry oriented Monsieur Bowie as he has worked with these gentlemen & knows that they’ll deliver the sounds for the songs he’s meticulously crafted herein.
…but: the bottom line with Bowie is that I’m a long-time fan, and I know what I like and I like #TheNextDay. I like it a lot; and no amount of pseudo-punditry is going to change my mind “+” or “-“. At 66…Mr. Jones a.k.a. Bowie has nothing to prove and thus, I needs must think, has given of himself as he hasn’t, comprehensively, for quite a while. It’s a labor of love; and…that’s a good thing for this #JeanGenie (my formal name is Gene).
So plug in your ear-buds (I prefer Bose), lay back (or work out), don’t be too critical and…“let yourself go!“
(it’s a Bowie thing…you either know what I mean or you don’t).