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…
It starts out as a ‘Fame’ era funk-along by numbers but then morphs into a stadium rock stomper with Bowie bellowing out ecstatically that “there’s never going to be enough sex”.
Epic brooding slow burning balladry perfectly utilising his long time piano collaborator Mike Garson as Bowie tells us “there is no hell like an old hell”.
Essentially a lovely variation of the “standard David Bowie single” he’s made every couple of years since Absolute Beginners but this one gives Bowie a chance to wave at members of the audience when he plays it live and go on about his “big fat dog”.
Bowie has been pioneering instrumentals since Low in 1977 and despite the fact that this one – made for the BBC series The Buddha of Suburbia – doesn’t fly off into space like the industrial drones of the past it maintains a delicate beauty and a frailty right down to the sad crackle of static over the whole track.
Bowie has always been good at reflection and contemplating time, aging and existence. The video to ‘Thursday’s Child’ is simply stunning.
Classic melacholic croon over the top of a David Lynch-ian soundscape.
A cover of a Morrissey song (from Your Arsenal) that was in itself a homage to Bowie’s early 1970s pomp. In other words my idea of heaven.
I could have picked the less prog version on “Heathen” and not been too bothered. It’s his best piano ballad since ‘Life On Mars’.
My favourite Bowie song of the last thirty years. I love the sonic references to Low that are thrown in at the end.
Unquestionably Bowie’s greatest subversive moment of the 90s – even more so than ‘Little Wonder.’
The Chapman Family tour the UK throughout February. Full dates – as well as details of a brand new free download-only single – can be found on their Facebook.