Another Earthling Album Pre-release Review

Bonnie Powell is another Teenage Wildlifer to send an early pre-release review of Earthling. Thanks Bonnie!

Earthling Review

5 January 1997
by Bonnie Powell

Overall it's dy-no-mite! It is more accessible than Outside. But half the length as far as song totals go... I really like all but two songs and I don't hate those. The syncopated, synthesized drum sound starting off Telling Lies is pervasive thoughout. I guess I dont know much about jungle but I didn't notice any unusual sound that would denote jungle music...this album is not as unusual as I expected and not as far removed from Outside as I would have thought. I think the NIN influence is still very prevalent. A lot of rhythm, and Reeves is all over it with his guitar. Gail Ann is heard on a few tracks singing backup but for the most part Bowie seems to be doing the vocals. Overall, Little Wonder and I'm Afraid of Americans are good examples of the overall style and feel of this album. If you like those songs, you'll like this album! One thing though, I would have included Telling Lies in that group, but the album is not anywhere near as experimental as the internet singles of Telling Lies (esp. Guy called Gerald version).

Little Wonder: we know this one already. Similar to the live version, longer, not quite as dynamic as performed in person of course... I dont think the constant rhythm changes will go over big as a single, but you never know. it is catchy anyway.

Looking For Satellites: sort of a fast waltzy, slamming, sound. The refrain is great harmonizing, with Bowie singing all parts it sounds like. I like this one very much.

Battle For Britain: Marginal for me, sort of a Telling Lies facsimile done by Tin Machine. Heavy on the syncopated, sythesized drums. Also, the singing on the verses is a more 70s Bowie, like soft and more talky as opposed to singing. Lots of rhythm changes, break ups and a mad piano in the middle as heard on Outside CD several times. Lots of Reeves sound effects. Some of you who like more "out there" stuff will probably like it more than I.

Seven Years In Tibet: I liked it on the first listen, but it's one of my favorites already, not that there is a lot to choose from on a 9 track CD! Very rhythmic driving beat. Starts almost like an old fashioned soul song, brass included..soft singing in that almost-off-key voice he uses occasionally, like Miracle Goodnight but at the same time it sounds like Closer by NIN at the beginning with the muted voice like he's singing into cupped hands... The refrain is very driving in a slow, deep and bassy, really hooky sound and Bowie's voice trails up to that sort of hysterical high break he patented way back when. Sort of a kitchy organ in the refrain near the end like on Space Oddity but a higher key. The Martians are coming!

Dead Man Walking: What can I say, anyone who knows my love for dance music targeted this to be my favorite... and they were right. But I dont think it will be my favorite too long. It's a great dance song, driving fast beat... if Bowie wanted commercial success with this CD and a hit single on top 40, this is it! it's a song that would appeal instantly to the "masses." The nice thing is it fits in well with the rest of the album so it wouldn't fool people into thinking its a dance album and then dissappoint them. A friend said it reminds him too much of Lucy Can't Dance and that is a little true... and it certainly isn't as complex as the rest of the album. I can still like disco can't I? (grin) As I said, it is one you can tire of quickly, but that's what hits are made of...instantly likeable, dancy rhythm and upbeat.

Telling Lies: a cross between version two of Telling Lies on the import CD and the live version from Loreley festival that so many of us like....still good, but I think this song could have been improved even more.

The Last Thing You Should Do: another good song. Still with that fast, synthesized drum rhythm, soft singing, and several sections where it turns to hard driving, jamming guitar rock with Bowie yelling "Yeah" a lot... Not my favorite, but still good.

I'm Afraid Of Americans: another song that most of us have heard from Showgirls soundtrack. Some people have commented that they like this version better. I don't see any reason to prefer this version. They are both good. I happened to like the Showgirls version very much, it was more frantic. This is toned down more...less NINish. I'm glad it was included as I like this song a lot and didn't want it to get permanently ignored.

Law (Earthlings On Fire): Several people expressed displeasure that this was the last track or included at all...I don't feel that strongly against it, I like it about as well as Battle for Britain and if anyone saw the movie Mars Attacks, this would have been a great theme song for it! Besides the album is called Earthling and without this song, that wouldn' make much sense <grin>. Very Spacy.

Left me wanting more, more, more

Remember: Earthling will be released on February 11 in the USA and February 3 in the rest of the world.

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