Tag Archives: albums

➤ Bowie’s first album for a decade is beautiful, obsessive and deliciously cruel


The Next Day ,David Bowie,albums,pop music,Tony Visconti ,reviews ➢ An absolute wonder that’s bold and baffling, writes Neil McCormick in the Daily Telegraph, Feb 25:

It is an enormous pleasure to report that the new David Bowie album is an absolute wonder: urgent, sharp-edged, bold, beautiful and baffling, an intellectually stimulating, emotionally charged, musically jagged, electric bolt through his own mythos and the mixed-up, celebrity-obsessed, war-torn world of the 21st century.

Musically, it is stripped and to the point, painted in the primal colours of rock: hard drums, fluid bass, fizzing guitars, shaded by splashes of keyboard and dirty rasps of horns. The 14 songs are short and spiky, often contrasting that kind of patent Bowie one-note declarative drawl with sweet bursts of melodic escape that hit you like a sugar rush. Bowie’s return from a decade’s absence feels very present, although full of sneaky backward glances… / Continued at Telegraph online

➢ Despite the lyrical density, the album’s success rests on simple pleasures, writes Alexis Petridis at Guardian online today

The Next Day offers what you might call an index of Bowiean obsessions… The mutual respect between Bowie and Scott Walker is well-documented – an effusive 50th birthday tribute from the elusive former Scott Engel famously reduced Bowie to tears live on Radio 1 – and it’s Walker’s latterday work that much of The Next Day resembles, at least in that the lyrics are so dense and allusive you occasionally feel in need of a set of York Notes to get through them.

Producer Tony Visconti has suggested that The Next Day is of a piece with 1979’s Lodger and, as on that record, Bowie spends a lot of The Next Day experimenting with his vocal delivery, offering, among other things, a peculiar nasal drone on the title track and a doomy, tortured lowing that recalls Walker – him again – on the closing Heat… [This is] an album that’s thought-provoking, strange and filled with great songs… / Continued at Guardian online

➢ In the FT, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney perceives an album thick with visions of ageing, death and violence

Bowie’s vague but vital sense of terror is one of the most provoking and enigmatic aspects of his first album in 10 years… The visions of ageing, death and violence that run through the album… climax in You Feel So Lonely You Could Die, an unsettling kiss-off to a would-be suicide (I can see you as a corpse hanging from a beam), incongruously played as a ballad. Bowie’s idea of terror, an existential dread, follows Burroughs’ “frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork” – a sentiment that Bowie rephrased in his Queen duet Under Pressure: It’s the terror of knowing/ What this world is about. / Continued at FT.com

The Stars (Are Out Tonight),David Bowie,vinyl , singles,pop music,Tony Visconti ,reviews

Another single release: The Stars is scheduled for a limited edition vinyl 7inch 45 Record Store Day release on April 20, 2013. Backed with Where Are We Now? Before that, on April 1, the album will be released as a 180 gram, 17-track double vinyl set

➢ More mystery than any other living singer,
asserts Chris Roberts at the Quietus:

Fortunately, [the album]’s great. I mean: it’s not just good, it’s great. No wild pioneering sonic experiments here: it’s primarily a “rock” album with plentiful twists, with the closest sibling being Scary Monsters… I sometimes found myself pining for more ballads or tangents to break up the album’s mid-section run of half a dozen roaring thumpers. Yet it starts with six mercurial wonders that have you grinning because he’s pulled this comeback thing off big-time. They tease, tumble and twirl, referencing his past in flashes but refusing to relinquish their own personalities and identities. Moreover, it closes with two mind-blowing, show-stopping, grandstanding epics: one as baroque as Rock And Roll Suicide ONLY MORE SO; one as frazzled and sinister and ticking as Scott Walker’s (ok, The Walker Brothers’) The Electrician.

So more than half the album is fantastic, and the rest is very, very strong… Every Bowie biography from now on is going to have a lot more cod psychology to do. And even after all these years, all these artistic statements, we don’t know what’s a confession and what’s a character. The interface between the two (substance and style seduce each other, Miller and Monroe in one misfit) affords Bowie more mystery than any other living singer, still… / Continued online at Thequietus

The Next Day ,David Bowie,albums,pop music,Tony Visconti ,reviews ➢ In the NME dated March 2, Emily Mackay says the in-your-face pace of The Next Day rarely slackens

It’s the sheer vibrancy of the new album that strikes you hardest. In contrast to Outside or Earthling, there’s no sense that it’s the need for another radical reinvention that has pulled Bowie back to music-making. These songs feel like stories that insisted on being told, bright and aggressive and poppy. The title track sets the tone. A cocky strut seething with rage… it boils with lust, paranoia and megalomania… This album is about songcraft… it absorbs his past and moves on, hungry for more… / Continued in the NME, along with an exclusive five-pager on the making of the album

➢ Bowie is in masterful voice and his band are at full throttle,
says Simon Price in the Independent, March 3:

The strangely artless artwork (the “Heroes” cover blanked out with a white square and the title in pseudo-Helvetica). The teaser single Where Are We Now?, wherein this Englishman in New York reminisced about old friends and Old Europe. Now it’s here, and it’s clear: The Next Day’s primary concern is the delicious cruelty with which the past haunts the present. Just walking the dead, indeed.

This album is not David Bowie’s first overtly nostalgic work, the first to reference his own career, nor the first to feature meditations on aging, but it repeats those tricks with immense style. On Love Is Lost, he brutally commands you to “say goodbye to the thrills of life … wave goodbye to the life without pain”. On How Does The Grass Grow?, amid Fifties ya-ya-ya-yas and snatches of Bond theme, he daydreams If the clocks could go backwards, then the girls would fill with blood and the grass would be green / Continued at Independent online

➢ We’re told Bowie made his first album in 10 years because “today he definitely has something to say”. In the Huffington Post (March 3) Michael Hogan says it’s up to us to ask, What is he trying to say?

You get the sense, from the music but also from the video [for The Stars Are Out Tonight] with Tilda Swinton, that Bowie has ambivalent feelings about his distance from the cultural tide. There was a time when he defined it, followed by a long period when he tried but perhaps failed to steer it in more esoteric directions; now all he can do is remind us how much he did to shape it – and impart a few lessons to those travelling in his wake.

Like so many ageing artists before him, it seems, Bowie has learned the Big Lesson: no matter how much money you make, how many sex partners you corral, or even how many masterpieces you produce, we’re all riding a one-way conveyor belt into the furnace of oblivion. Does that mean everything we’ve done is meaningless? Not really, Bowie seems to suggest on Where Are We Now?, As long as there’s sun / as long as there’s rain / as long as there’s fire / as long as there’s me / as long as there’s you . / Continued at Huffington Post

David Bowie, portraits, Jimmy King, William Burroughs

Freeze. And freeze again: Let’s not forget the shadow of Burroughs and his “frozen moment”. One of this year’s few official portraits of Bowie, taken by Jimmy King

➢ The Stars single reviewed: Bowie’s psychodrama mocks the rockiness of godliness

➢ Riddle of the train Bowie could not have taken in
Where Are We Now?

➢ 2013, The Bowiesconti proxy has spoken – Shapersofthe80s translates revelations from the Visconti interview

➢ 2013, Bowie officially not “devastated” as fab retrospective show goes ahead at the V&A


➤ Ziggy’s 40 fabulous years of being not alone, cos you’re won-der-ful

Ziggy Stardust,Spiders from Mars,David Bowie,albums,anniversary,

Backside of the album that inspired generations: Bowie as the alien Ziggy about to call home from a phone box in Heddon Street, London. (Photography © Brian Ward)

❚ THE KING OF UK POP HITS HIS 40th ANNIVERSARY, just as HM The Queen completes her sixth decade on the throne, but we don’t imagine she planned it that way. The most famous Martian in history landed on Earth on June 6 1972 with the release of his album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars. He created a new breed of quintessentially British pop star and expanded the realm of rock-and-roll by injecting melodrama, fantasy and glitz.

A wistful older generation was yearning for the energy of the 60s. A teen generation faced a paranoid future threatened by nuclear apocalypse. The playfully androgynous Ziggy Stardust astonished both audiences by introducing a knowing sense of decadence rooted in individual style and a repertoire of life-skills to see us through whatever adversity. Laying down a bunch of wonderful melodies, the vocals enunciate the manifesto with clarity throughout — Five Years, Moonage Daydream, Suffragette City especially.

It was a bravura, theatrical strategy for pursuing what you wanted to get out of life, and capitalised on the iconoclasm of the 60s which had subverted society’s traditions of role play and “knowing your place”.

Ziggy himself was an entirely invented persona, an outsider rock-star created by the not-then-famous David Bowie who expressed through Ziggy a grand vision and through the Spiders consummate musicianship — not a note out of place, and Mick Ronson at his most snarlingly brilliant. The album is a pinnacle of arch originality like few others, and its fierce riffs and hooks have influenced almost every innovative performer since.

➢ Review of the album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust etc at BBC Music — “It sounds like a cliché, but to an entire generation this album has become a yardstick by which to measure all others. Why the hyperbole?

David Bowie, Starman, 1972, Top of the Pops, tipping point, BBC

The moment the earth tilted July 6, 1972: During Starman on Top of the Pops, David Bowie drapes his arm around the shoulder of Mick Ronson. Video © BBC

The 40th-anniversary celebrations and media activity are not entirely industry hype, but genuine tributes to an artist of undoubted genius. None the less, EMI is releasing a compilation of brilliantly remastered tracks on Monday June 4 on both CD and vinyl, and all are available to stream free at the NME which is trailing special features in next week’s issue…

♫ LISTEN at the NME — David Bowie streams a remastered
Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust in full


Nick Rhodes, Gary Kemp,  Ziggy Changed My Life, 6Music, Radio2,

A picture they once said could never be taken: Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran at the home of Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet, brought together by the radio documentary Ziggy Changed My Life

❏ Not for nothing do the next week’s highlights come from the Ten Alps stable, one of the UK’s leading factual programme-makers. From midnight tomorrow BBC 6 Music kicks off with a two-hour assessment of Ziggy as the Pied Piper who shaped the dreams of Gary Kemp, Nick Rhodes and others. This thoroughly researched doc tells tales from a host of their peers and is recycled in a couple of other slots of more manageable duration…

Click to read Kemp’s article in The Times

➢ Ziggy Changed My Life: full two-hour radio documentary on BBC 6 Music, midnight BST June 2–3 — Songwriter Gary Kemp explains how David Bowie created Ziggy, how the album changed his life and influenced a generation of performers. Guests include: Trevor Bolder, bass player for The Spiders from Mars; Woody Woodmansey, drummer for The Spiders from Mars, Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran, Suzi Ronson, Leee Black Childers, Lindsay Kemp, Kevin Cann, Kris Needs, Ken Scott, Terry Pastor, George Underwood and Anya Wilson.

➢ Ziggy Played Guitar on BBC Radio 2, at 10pm June 6 — Reduced one-hour version of Ziggy Changed My Life

➢ Ziggy Changed My Life — Abridged 23-minute version broadcast last month on BBC World Service and available online at iPlayer “until 1 Jan, 2099”

➢ Inspirational Bowie: clip from 65th birthday broadcast last January on Radio 2 — His influences on Boy George, Peter Hook, Marc Almond, Annie Lennox, Debbie Harry, Guy Garvey, Jarvis Cocker

➢ David Bowie Archive concert (2000) on BBC radio iPlayer — Live in concert at Glastonbury in 2000.


David Bowie, Starman,

“After Starman, everything changed” — Woody Woodmansey, drummer and Spider

➢ Pushing Ahead of the Dame: David Bowie, song by song — incomparable blog by Chris O’Leary


Man Who Sold the World,David Bowie ,Peter Doggett,books ➢ The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s by Peter Doggett (Bodley Head 2011)

A song-by-song analysis shows how David Bowie embodied a decade. A work of impeccable scholarly exegesis, The Man Who Sold the World is about as far removed from conventional biography as its subject is from run-of-the-mill rock’n’roll. Still, it is hard to imagine another book telling you more of what really matters about David Bowie than this one … / Continued online

Strange Fascination,David Bowie, David Buckley, books ➢ Strange Fascination: David Bowie, The Definitive Story by David Buckley (Virgin 2005)

Written by the only biographer to get his PhD with a thesis on David Bowie, Strange Fascination is an exhaustive chronicle of Bowie’s career as one of rock’s most influential stars. In a combination of interviews, exclusive photographic material and academic analysis, Buckley examines Bowie’s life and music with an unparalleled level of detail. It’s a book written by an unapologetic fan. Buckley is a better writer than any of those to have tackled Bowie to date. If you read only one Bowie book ever, this should be it … / Continued online

Any Day Now, David Bowie,books, Kevin Cann ➢ Any Day Now: David Bowie The London Years (1947–1974) by Kevin Cann (Adelita 2010)

A feast of Bowie-ana served up like La Grande Bouffe, in ever more tempting waffeur-thin slices… It is impossible adequately to acknowledge the trainspotterish, yet deeply rewarding scope of this sheer labour of love that has amassed 850 pictures — friends, lovers, costumes, contracts, doodles, laundry bills, performances, candid snaps — on 336 pages … / Continued at Shapersofthe80s

Starman, David Bowie , Paul Trynka ,books ➢ Starman: David Bowie by Paul Trynka (Sphere 2011)

As befits an erstwhile editor of Mojo, Trynka is good on the musical development of a pop star whose early albums, David Bowie (1967) and Space Oddity (1969), were both little more than confused collections of ill-matched songs, and showed little hint of the confidence and brilliance that was to follow. Beginning with Bowie’s childhood as plain David Jones in post-war Brixton, Trynka tells a tale that has perhaps been told too often to surprise any more, but that nevertheless intrigues in its mixture of ruthlessness, shifting loyalties, monumental drug taking, decadent behaviour and, for a while, undiminished musical invention … / Continued online


➢ 65 crazy facts and bizarre myths about Bowie at the Daily Mirror — Did Bowie help start the credit crunch? He certainly says he was moonwalking years before Michael Jackson…

 Kansai Yamamoto ,V&A ,exhibition, British Design, Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie,costumes

Ziggy stage costume: the Japanese fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto described Bowie in 1972 as “neither man nor woman”. This outfit, similar to one worn with a boa in Ziggy’s last performance at Hammersmith Odeon, is currently on show until August 12 in the V&A exhibition, British Design 1948–2012


➢ Where to draw a line between glitter and glam

➢ If David Jones hadn’t become Bowie what would have become of the rest of us?

➢ Behind Bowie’s “lost” Jean Genie video


➤ DJ Mark Moore’s 40 tracks and 8 albums from the old year

❏ “A bit late but here are my faves of 2011. I actually think 2011 has been a great year for music but, more so now than ever, you just had to get through a hell of a lot of dross to find the good stuff.” Moore places S.C.U.M. at number 4.

➢ Other picky people’s year-ending Best Ofs in music of all styles


❏ Listen online to the mammoth 6½ hour Top 100 Dazed & Approved tracks of 2011 which is pretty wild, they say… starting with Africa HiTech, AlunaGeorge and A$AP Rocky all the way to WU LYF, Zola Jesus and Zomby.

❏ iPAD, TABLET & MOBILE USERS PLEASE NOTE — You may see only a tiny selection of items from this wide-ranging website about the 1980s, not chosen by the author. To access fuller background features and site index either click on “Standard view” or visit Shapersofthe80s.com on a desktop computer. ➢ Click here to visit a different random item every time you click


2011 ➤ Downloads explosion plus new definition of singles results in biggest sales for years

❚ 2011 WAS THE BIGGEST YEAR for single sales in the history of the Official Charts (founded 1997), according to Official Charts Company data released by the BPI, which operates the OCC jointly with the Entertainment Retailers Association. Over the past seven years, the singles market has been redefined to include legitimate downloads. Since 2004, sales of singles have increased by more than five times, from 32m in 2004 to a record 177.9 million in 2011. The vast majority (99.3%) were sold as digital tracks and bundles. Last year, 1.1m CD singles were sold, representing just 0.6% of the total. All of the top 20 best-selling singles of 2011 sold more than 500,000 copies apiece.

Lady Gaga , Born This Way,albums,charts, pop musicAdele bagged two places in the 2011 year-end singles chart. The recorded and live performance of Someone Like You — recorded at the BRIT Awards — together sold 1.2m copies to become the top-selling single of 2011 overall, with Rolling In The Deep ending the year at No 9. Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera’s mega-seller, Moves Like Jagger, finished the year in second place and has now sold over a million copies despite never actually reaching No 1. LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem comes in at No 3. For all Lady Gaga’s exposure [above], Born This Way made only No 14.


Michael Bublé❏ Overall sales of albums fell by 5.6% in 2011 to just 113.2m, and the UK has fallen behind Germany as a music market. BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said: “While other countries take positive steps to protect their creative sector, our government is taking too long to act on piracy.”

In the UK Adele’s 21 was by far the biggest selling album of 2011, ending the year with nearly 3.8m copies sold — more than double the 1.8m sales achieved by 2010’s top album, Take That’s Progress. 21 became the highest-selling album of the 21st century in December, achieving more sales in a single calendar year than any other album in British chart history. 2011 ended with Adele’s debut album, 19, in fourth place, alongside Top 10 placings for Michael Bublé [above], Bruno Mars and Coldplay.


jessiej,pop music,❏ Out of all the debut albums released last year in the UK, eight of the Top 10 are by British acts, topped by award-winning London singer Jessie J’s Who You Are [right] and Ed Sheeran’s +, which holds the record for the fast selling digital debut album in Official Charts Company history.


❏ Totally at odds with the official year-ending charts, retailer HMV’s Poll of Polls announces its own Top 50 albums of the year, headed by an entirely different Top 10 for 2011 led by P J Harvey, Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes… The Dorset-born musician and singer-songwriter Harvey, who in September claimed a second Mercury Prize for her tenth studio album Let England Shake, scored an impressive 21 nominations in total from the 35 media outlets surveyed, including “album of the year” selections from NME, Mojo, Uncut, The Sunday Times and BBC music writers.

➢ Shapersofthe80s proposes a bunch of other
picky people’s musics of the year


➤ Taste Masters throw another party to show Cowell there’s real music up North

Taste Masters 3 , Laboratory Project, Fac251, albums, live concert,Saturday Night Gym Club,

Electronics: Saturday Night Gym Club

Taste Masters 3 , Laboratory Project, Fac251, albums, live concert,Twin Planets

New wave: Twin Planets

❚ THE PRESTON-BASED Laboratory Project is “a utopian vision” as an antidote to the reign of Simon Cowell’s production-line X-Factor performers. The label and studio aims to support artists with integrity, skill and soul to break into the music industry. A new album Taste Masters 3 is being launched tomorrow, Dec 17, at Manchester’s Fac251 venue with seven acts from the north-west promoting the album release on Jan 1.

Shapersofthe80s featured the Lab and its founder Tony Rigg when an earlier album Taste Masters 2 launched last spring, presenting Dresden, The Salford Jets, China White, Jimmy Docherty, Antistar, Super 8 Cynics … Last autumn the original album Taste Masters 1 included Drama King, Evenhand, Fez, Helvelyn 2, Osiris — both albums are still available for download.

Taste Masters 3 , Laboratory Project, Fac251, albums, live concert,Pangaea

Contemporary rock: Pangaea

The Laboratory project is promoting tomorrow’s showcase as a “World Class Live Music Event” featuring these acts:

Taste Masters 3 , Laboratory Project, Fac251, albums, live concert, MC Tunes, Salford Jets,  Saturday Night Gym Club, Two Weeks Running, Twin Planets, Pangaea, Drew Smith  ➢ MC Tunes — seminal British rap artist performing hits and new material

➢ Salford Jets — hard-hitting punk flavoured rock from the Mancunian institution founded 1976

➢ Saturday Night Gym Club — electronic story-telling from Radio 1 favourites

➢ Two Weeks Running — epochal guitar music at its finest

➢ Twin Planets — alternative/ new wave future classics

➢ Pangaea — fusing classic and contemporary rock since 2009

➢ Drew Smith — unplugged acoustic musical delights

Taste Masters 3 , Laboratory Project, Fac251, albums, live concert,Two Weeks Running

Guitar champs: Two Weeks Running

➢ Taste Masters 3 album launch party, Dec 17 from 7.30pm at Fac251, Princess Street 
M1 7EN. Tickets £6 at Factory website