The standard party line in relation to David Bowie is that his more recent output (and by “more recent” we really mean anything in the last twenty years) pales in comparison to the “Classic Bowie” of the 1970s where he dynamically hopped between continents, genres, haircuts and drugs and became the darling of pretty much every music fan and critic in Christendom.
The tipping point is usually seen as the fine New Romantic spawning Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) album from 1980 and subsequent albums (if they’re deemed to be critically acceptable) are usually touted as being “his best album since Scary Monsters” in reviews whether he likes it or not.
For me, to casually cut off his career short by thirty+ years is ridiculously unfair.
I got into Bowie by the back door. In the 1990s I loved Nine Inch Nails - everyone did. They took the pitiful concept you had of “guitar music” back then – hair metal, grunge rock, Madchester, Britpop – and spat them all out with wonderful disdain. They were the sound of pure unadulterated (yet heavily processed) excitement to my ears and everything they did was significantly better than everyone else.
It turned out that David Bowie had also heard The Downward Spiral and felt exactly the same but whereas I was making my own “tributes” to Trent Reznor in my bedroom at my mum’s house on my trusty Yamaha, Bowie was making his with Brian Eno in Montreux. I’d liked Bowie previously but not really got it – I knew the big hits and seen Labyrinth but that was about it – so when he started touring and collaborating with Trent Reznor my eyes suddenly opened up to a whole new world and style and I became obsessed. My hair was dyed peroxide, then orange, then let to grow out for a few weeks just to get that Man Who Fell To Earth look and I even stopped looking at sunlight for added authenticity.
Basically, everything about me is David Bowie’s fault.
Since he performed the Lords Prayer on bended knee at the Freddie Mercury Tribute concert in 1992, his music has been either critically underrated, derided or completely ignored. Either that or the ghosts of all of those classic albums of the 1970s are continuously dragged up and thrown back in his beautiful funny coloured eyes. No other artist of his generation – Jagger, McCartney, Elton John, Clapton etc – has to take this sort of flak so why David? The Rolling Stones do one half-decent song in forty years that sounds a bit similar to something they’ve probably already recorded in the 60s and they’re hailed as Gods. McCartney scours the globe looking for opening and closing ceremonies to play the one song he remembers and everyone falls at his feet. Bowie made a post modern concept album about an artist murderer set to industrial drones on his 50th birthday you know dear. Everyone else can go fuck themselves.
Read on for my top ten David Bowie songs since Freddie Mercury died…