Tag: David Bowie

MUSIC REVIEW | David Bowie – Blackstar (2015)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s [the] feel of this record as whole that makes all the praise I have heard for Blackstar over the last few weeks so justified.”

Bowie 1
I like David Bowie. I’m not some sort of animal who doesn’t like David Bowie. When he died recently, I was bummed and knew it was a huge loss for music, and art in general. But I also felt like I know that as simply a universal fact. I personally, have never had a Bowie epiphany. No record or song has ever hit me in a way that made me feel any sort of connection to his music the way it has hit millions of others. And here’s the thing, I have no doubt at all that I’m wrong and those millions are right.


I even tried to force a Bowie realisation right here in Bored and Dangerous by listening to Hunky Dory and Diamond Dogs. My liking of both records was way outweighed by my respect for them. I could recognise why people love them so much, even if I couldn’t quite get to that level myself. If any other musician died within a week of releasing an album, I would disregard any praise for that album, blaming it on grief and nostalgia. But there’s something about David Bowie that makes me pretty certain that Blackstar is as good as every single person has said it is. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | David Bowie – Diamond Dogs (1974)

Bowie 1

My entire life, David Bowie has always been there. Which is why it’s always been so easy take him for granted and just assume he’s great, without ever really finding out why. I dipped my toes into the Bowie well with Hunky Dory and discovered, that it “more than deliver[ed] on the Bowie legend.” So my first active Bowie listen was a success. But that was a year ago, and as much as I seemingly dug Bowie then, I hadn’t felt compelled to listen to anymore since. So here we go with Bowie experiment 2.0, Diamond Dogs.


I’m sure it was cool at the time, but listening to it with modern ears, the campy, spoken word Future Legend sounds like the kind of thing that would be in a sketch now, making fun of how camp 70s David Bowie could be. But it’s only a short piece of nonessential indulgence before the title track kicks in with it’s perfect 70s pop/rockery. Aaah, the 70s, a time when riffing guitars, pop vocals, rock grooves and sexy sax could all live together in perfect harmony. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Velvet Goldmine (1998)

Velvet

“He was elegance walking arm in arm with a lie.”

I’m generally not a big fan of anything ‘based’ on a true story, or something that’s a fictionalised story, heavily influenced by real events and real people.  I guess I think that if a true story is worth telling, it probably also deserves to be told truthfully.  Make the effort to research the real deal, make the effort to get the guts of what really happened.  ‘Based on’ or ‘influenced by’ just sounds like a lazy place to start to me.


I’m aware that could sound a little close mined.  I’m also aware that it’s highly likely that I’ve liked plenty of movies in this category before and just can’t think of them now.  And yes, Citizen Cane, arguably the greatest movie of all time is exactly that.  With Charles Foster Cane a thinly disguised version of William Randolph Hearst.  But I’m pretty sure that’s a rare exception to the rule.  So what happens when this approach to storytelling is combined with a subject matter that I’m pretty quick to dismiss, like 70s glam rock?  Velvet Goldmine happens, that’s what. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Lou Reed – Transformer (1972)

Transformer
While my attempt to appreciate the music of the late Lou Reed logically began at the beginning with The Velvet Underground and Nico, the other title his name seems most synonymous with is his second solo release, Transformer.  Another album with a music snob pedigree that is probably partly responsible for my avoidance for so long.  Can anything ever be as good as the decades of hype and reverence built it up to be?


Opening track Vicious made me a lot more hopeful that Transformer might actually have a chance of meeting those expectations than Reed’s debut with the Velvet Undergound ever did.  It still has the signature Reed vocal quirks, but straight away, it sounded like a huge leap forward musically and melodically.  Less interested in experimentation and more concerned with well formed songs.

There’s old school rock and roll with Hangin’ Round and I’m So Free, complete with slick guitar licks.  They’re more middle of the road than anything I expected from Reed, and I don’t mean that as an insult.

Walk on the Wild Side and Satellite of Love may have been the only Lou Reed songs I was really aware of before this week and they more than hold up.  It’s obvious why someone like me, with the absolute minimal knowledge of his discography, knows these songs more than four decades after their release.

Make Up is a weird, almost playful combination of Reed’s attempt at a soft and sweet vocal delivery, quiet guitars and tuba.  Yes, tuba (which will appear again in album closer Goodnight Ladies).  It’s the kind of song that makes me think Reed may have had a much better sense of humour than the self-important, pompous view of him I’ve had all these years would suggest.  New York Telephone Conversation falls into the same category with its jaunty piano and jokey vocals.

Maybe I missed some sarcasm in Wagon Wheel when Reed sings “Live your life and make a point of havin’ some fun”, but if I did, I don’t care.  It’s good to hear something so seemingly light and breezy from one of rock’s most cantankerous blowhards.

What makes me like Transformer so much more than The Velvet Underground and Nico is the combination of storytelling and song writing.  While a lot of the older album seemed like poems and essays forced into music, Transformer sounds more like the lyrics and melody were actually written together.  Also, the complete lack of Nico helps too.

I don’t know how much comes down to David Bowie’s production, but compared to The Velvet Underground and Nico, Transformer is a straight up pop record, loaded with easily consumed toe tappers and sing alongs.  Maybe that doesn’t say much for my musical tastes, but I do know that the Velvet Underground album will probably never get another spin at my place, while Transformer most definitely will.

Lou Reed
Listen to Transformer on Spotify