a majestic immortal
ByGeneral Court Staff
The White Duke, Ziggy Stardust, Major Tom, The Goblin King, Thomas Newton. They all take shape and unfold in an abstract way not only to remember but to raise up the lost hero. A great character who has crossed generational gaps and has called into question every genre that he has tried. Today we review all his great record milestones, the musical conclusion of the career and life of the musical survivor of the infinite spatial and sonic dimensions: David Bowie.
We are left with 25 studio albums and an infinity of experiences, live shows that are part of an extensive audiovisual material, as well as soundtracks, stellar bands like Tin Machine and heavenly performances. Amid so much unrivaled majesty, we offer a flash of order to Bowie's abrasive discography, from the best to the explicitly surreal: the quintessential reptilian experience and an explosive journey to the stars, his 25 studio albums in order of greatness.
Some might say that Bowie did indeed have bad records, but without wanting to get into that fight, we must understand that the magnificent abstract world of the white duke gave everything and each record is a piece of mythical being. That's the case with 1999's “hours…”, an album that was actually planned as a soundtrack project for the “Omikron” adventure video game. The game released eight songs from the album in its virtual animation, although it is not one of Bowie's iconic albums, this album is a great milestone for the video game industry, where thanks to this release future artists related to this industry rethink the musical complement to turn it into a more protagonist perspective for the gamer experience. “I immediately moved away from the stereotype of music for video games. My priority was writing to provide emotional support for the game," Bowie said at an E3 conference.
Bowie's seventeenth saw the light in 1987. That was the moment when the Duke began to tour the world in the shoes of theatricality. In addition, “Never Let Me Down” was a kind of sound return to rock and roll, that same genre that Bowie himself had been responsible for breaking down and deconstructing at the point of archetypes and alter egos. Although the album had a radio success, the critics were harsh with the album, but for Bowie little and nothing hurt him since the promotional tour was one of his greatest milestones, due to its massiveness and creativity.
A kind of prelude to the complex world of alligators, astronauts and star gods that makes us a part of years later, musically bizarre as Bowie himself describes it and that doesn't directly reflect Ziggy or a white duke. “David Bowie” in its entirety has a fairly obvious referent: baroque pop. That genre was born in the mid-sixties as a derivative of orchestral pop, characterizing itself by occupying arrangements and instrumentation typical of classical baroque music. The album itself presents such a closeness that it has never stopped moving away from the genre, in fact it begins as a baroque piece in its most nostalgic form, approaching at times towards something more modern when acoustic guitars are reborn at times. Lyrically strange, the theatricality unfolds from the English singer and actor Anthony Newley, who 50 years later and after being repeatedly packaged, it is quite difficult for us to access the original and raw versions.
“I think that in the last 20 years, for many people, reality has become abstract. The things they held to be true seem to have vanished. There is nothing to trust anymore. We only have the interpretation of those facts with which we seem to be inundated daily. Knowledge seems to have stayed in the past, there is a feeling that we are adrift. There is nothing else to hold on to, and of course the political circumstances just push that boat further." Who else than Bowie to explain his Reality album?
Studying a discography as vast as David Bowie's, it is anticipated that some chapters will be less glorious than others. And “Tonight” is in an awkward position, because on the one hand it hosts brilliant milestones like “Blue Jean”, “Loving The Alien”, or the beautiful cover of “God Only Knows”; while his less memorable side saturates us with a hackneyed eighties sound, an echo of his magnificent predecessor “Let's Dance”. A long duration at times generic, which manages to come to the surface by certain flashes of genius that only Bowie could give us.
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November 7 marks in 1969 a musical milestone that emerges from the stars. November 7, 1969 is the day David Jones -under the name of David Bowie- releases "Space Oddity", the chameleon's second LP. With a single of heavenly power, the album in its physical sale was considered a commercial failure that year. Today that release is an indication of a Bowie that three years later would explode in his artistic quality. This album would be Bowie's first musical expression of his obsession with space themes. That theme -as is generally known- crosses the white duke's discography on songs like "Life On Mars?", "Dancing out in Space", "Lazarus" and on the entire album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars“.
"Success is the dream that deceives you when it becomes reality" Paolo Hewitt tells us in relation to how it is that David Bowie manages to give us an album of covers entitled "Pin Ups". It was 1973 and Bowie had just released “Aladdin Sane” that same year, but RCA was demanding a new album. Apparently that debt was not random, but had to do with a contract where the artist had to deliver a certain number of albums in a couple of years: David Bowie still owed them one. The idea was to generate an LP of covers; from The Kinks to The Who and from Pink Floyd to Pretty Things, in order to satisfy the label that was forcing him for a new release, and that's what we have, a very little Bowie but very Bowie collection.
David Bowie was living in New York at the time of the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001. Although Heathen, the album that was released the following year, was composed prior to this terrifying dark point in American history, his shadow looms much of the recording. This is more than all true in the gloomy atmosphere of "Sunday", one of his best openings of all time, the upbeat "A Better Future" and the poignant close of "Heathen (The Rays)". Beautiful melodies and powerful covers are the center of this thoughtful work, sometimes damaged by the chatty attitude of its creator, but still worthy of more than one revision.
A dystopian narrative that incorporates the mutilation of bodies as an artistic ritual has to be one of the most extreme versions of a David Bowie idea. But in the end, it is this idea that runs throughout Outside, an intense and heavy work that marks his meeting with producer Brian Eno. Bowie integrated the industrial sensibilities of alternative rock of the era, with masterful results such as "The Hearts' Filthy Lesson," "The Motel," and "I Have Not Been To Oxford Town." Shades of jazz flow through “A Small Plot of Land”, and the final stretch takes a simpler direction, with the majestic “Thru' These Architects Eyes” and the finishing touch of “Strangers When We Meet”. However, the narrative weight and excess of ideas could hinder the execution of this complex set of songs.
The final piece of The Berlin Trilogy aside from having the specter of the heavenly duo Eno/Visconti, it is joined by the musical impressionism of Zappa's adopted son: Adrian Belew. We can find traces of the motorik beat of “Red Sails” by Neu!, as well as songs that are somewhat more pop-oriented without pure instrumentals, bringing together music from different parts of the globe in a peculiar proposal. Lodger contains a German essence that mixes with the spirit and creativity of Bowie in a delicate cultural mix, dark, and at least a renovation that works as a shield from itself.
Third studio album and already at that time Bowie was generating a history full of future artists who would reference him with passion and high esteem. Some biographers and music historians say that this is where the history and mythology surrounding the figure of David Robert Jones began to take its first steps. In fact, it is also where the controversy begins, because after the album was released the credits began to have a discussion about who deserved them, if Bowie or his team of arrangers at the time, Mick Ronson and Tony Visconti. But the Blackstar always came out playing with elegance and, perhaps, a slight narcissism: “I really objected to the idea that I didn't write the songs for The Man Who Sold the World. You just have to watch the chord changes. Nobody writes chord changes like that."
Bowie's sixth studio album was released in April 1973, at this point in his career Bowie was already considered a popular star, a character who transcended the barriers imposed by the short-sighted media mindset. Aladdin Sane is a sample of Bowie's best moments in his career, in fact the release of this album marks a benchmark for popular music: the covers matter a lot. Brian Duffy was in charge of shaping the artwork for Aladdin Sane. Bowie received positive and negative reviews for his album, but Duffy received heaven thanks to his blue and red lightning bolt iconography covering Ziggy Stardust's right eye.
During the beginning of his career, Bowie tested the terrain of what could be both commercially and artistically successful, investigating sounds that already pointed towards that splendid future that explodes with “Ziggy Stardust”. And out of this early experimentation comes “Hunky Dory,” an album that is far from less exciting than the rest of his career. An eerie and varied soundscape, described song after song in iconic melodies: “Life On Mars?”, “Oh! You Pretty Things” or “Changes” are some of the milestones that make “Hunky Dory” an essential episode in Bowie's discography.
If Bowie is not a genius, he is a God. There's no more. Released in 1974, Diamond Dogs was the syncretism of George Orwell's novel “1984” and David Bowie's personal vision for the future or post-apocalyptic. In fact, this very disc could have been a play but Orwell's heirs denied it. Another relevant factor of this album, as with Aladdin Sane, is the iconography of its cover, Bowie's typography on a lightning bolt had an unparalleled commercial impact on the countrymen of glam rock or art rock of the time.
For his 66th birthday, Bowie decided that he still had music to deliver. It had been 10 years since his last release, the media and fans saw him as a hero who had already put the reinvention of music aside. But no, David had much more to deliver. Away from journalists, media and information, Bowie worked on this album in secret, a secret end of two years that culminated in the delivery of an album loaded with messages of nostalgia, ambivalence for fame, sexual desires and personal disappointments.
After "Tonight" and "Never Let Me Down", Bowie seemed to be going through a period of low creativity, with erratic attempts to stay current. That's when “Black Tie White Noise” arrives as an unexpected successor, the one that attacks to silence any doubt about his creative genius. Sounds in which he fuses both his previous records and the trends of the time: R & B, jazz, soul and hip-hop, which also converges in the vibrant production work that defines his peculiar sound. An album that came to refresh Bowie's stagnant discography, with timeless milestones like “Jump They Say” that announced the permanent validity of his person.
David Bowie is a mutant character, the one who adopted various avatars that personified both the narratives and the various sounds of his catalog. Between the transition from Halloween Jack to the Thin White Duke, the chameleon fully immerses himself in soul and R&B, presenting one of the most interesting passages of his career. An intense flavor and at times erotic, with attractive passages like "Right" or the moving hits "Fame" or "Young Americans". A key piece of his career, in which he reveals to the world his impressive capacity for transformation, where he once again shows off his creative genius.
After his avant-garde stage with The Berlin Trilogy, David Robert Jones knew how to land in the hectic 80`s as it should: with a wave of hits that came to lead the UK charts and that placated the low sales of the last albums of the. With a much more commercial approach to songwriting and production, Bowie shied away from experimentation. In this way, he raised a slightly rawer sound, taking up the environments of conceptual and theatrical bets such as Diamond Dogs. Emerging from this plate are infallible like the funky “Fashion”, a nod to new wave with “It's No Game (pt1)” and the melancholic but sticky “Ashes to Ashes”, which incidentally gave all the Pierrot aesthetics to this stage, adding a new look and sound to his multifaceted career.
The name: Ziggy Stardust. The place: apocalyptic outer space. The concept album that exceeds the preconceptions that until now were maintained of the young Bowie, an album that manages to explode the androgynous figure of an alien savior in an exhausted Earth. Chaos and glitter meet the divine link, science fiction, theatricality, the enigmatic and androgynous congeniality in one of the cults of the late David Bowie: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
The electricity in which we find ourselves immersed bursts into this second appearance of The Berlin Trilogy to flash those cultural mixes, an energetic and accessible album that manages precisely to balance the other two parts of this triad, the accessibility of the '79 "Lodger" and the sonic escape of “Low“. The trilogy is David Bowie's DNA, an art-rock trifecta, three extremely bold manifestos, an earthly appearance from an artist who manages to question identity, his own identity, his own DNA, immersing us in a security and an eternal and visceral central anthem in its 10 songs: ” 'Heroes' “
This curious foray into the avant-garde electronic sounds of the 90s is often criticized as dated and perceived as unoriginal. Far more than that, Earthling is an enthusiastic embrace of technology in an optimistic world unaware of digital decay, and indeed an impressive stamp of a distant age. The progressive “Dead Man Walking”, the effective jungle experiment of “The Last Thing You Should Do” and the surreal “Seven Years In Tibet” are just some of the high points of this collection, although the piece that remains most present in the public awareness is undoubtedly “I'm Afraid Of Americans”, Bowie's memorable low blow to the spread of American capitalist culture under globalization.
The glorious tenth David Bowie is one of the most significant works of his, this is due to the new adventure he took in his live shows, it was here that the enigmatic White Duke was born. His cover already hinted at a change, a contrast to his predecessors that would attract an unparalleled performance development in the popular music scene with artistic desires. But added to this creative development, Bowie's personal life by the mid-1970s was clouded with harmful dependencies. In fact, the myth says that Bowie remembers little and nothing of one of his most important albums in the history of music. Without a doubt, Station to Station is an album of musical enrichment and, also, poetic – see the references to mythology and religion, or to Nietzsche, as in “Word on a Wing,.
By '83 the versatility of the chameleon was famous, and by that point in his career he had proven himself to be both a mod and an R&B star. And it was no surprise that it blended so gracefully into the musical landscape of the '80s; what is surprising is that this milestone remains so valid to this day. “Let's Dance” is not only one of the highest points of his career, but it is charged with an effervescence that makes us both vibrate with fiery spirits, as well as take us towards a strange and rhythmic melancholy. From “Modern Love” to “Shake It”, it is difficult to be indifferent to any of the moments that this album gives us, being to this day an icon of its time.
The rebirth of Lazarus is made possible thanks to the materialization in life of "Blackstar", a surreal experience that takes over an entire career, returning to those roots to turn them towards sound experimentation. We are left with the manifesto that reflects a million milestones, and that shows how physical disintegration does not mean disappearance. The important musical milestone of great digital frontiers is then the logical, conscious conclusion and the great desperate cry of the eternal David Bowie.
A brilliant first approach towards electronics and ambient, no less than in the cradle of the event. Low steers us away from the lyrical storytelling he had developed thus far with his previous concept albums, into a more abstract form of writing where lyrics are sporadic and in some cases even optional. A glorious musical escapade that is divided into two complementary sides: the first, short, direct and accessible with fragments of avant-pop songs; the second is a less accessible half, in a minimalist instrumental approach that blends paranoid funk and rock skits. Perhaps his most intense album, with timeless classics such as “Sound and Vision” and “Warzawa”, where the collaboration with Eno is also added in the powerful sound passages of the second fraction. A reinvented Bowie, who begins The Berlin Trilogy at a time marked by his non-drug use, loaded with a new individual and musical perspective.In this article:Bowie, General Court, David Bowie, White Duke, Lazzarus, Stardust, Starman, The White Duke Up Next:
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