Bowie Flies Again

reviewed by Mike Alexander from The Dominion (New Zealand)
Copyright 1997

It was a smart move by anyone who took advantage of David Bowie's ground breaking share offer. While the man who sold the world and revisited it in the mid-seventies as Ziggy Stardust has been struggling in recent years to produce anything out of this world, his latest album Earthling is set to rectify that and pay a healthy dividend.

The newly-rejuvenated Bowie is a clone of the seventies glam rocker who was at his innovative and outrageous best as the displaced and androgynous personas that stalked Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs.

Gone however is the frailty and confused ambivalence. Bowie no longer hides behind a rogues gallery of disguises to show his emotions and, though his exploratory experiments with Tin Machine has developed a thicker musical skin.

That's particularly evident in the gnarled I'm afraid of Americans, co-written with old cohort Brian Eno, Seven years in Tibet, Law's techno- throb and the slash- and -burn dynamics of the first single little wonder.

It also seems that Bowie works best when he has a strong foil, usually a guitarist, and in the squealing other-worldly technique of Reeves Gabrels he has a collaborator to match the likes of Carlos Alomar, Robert Fripp and Mick Ronson.

For all that, Earthling is still stubbornly uncompromising and not particularly radio-friendly which is what makes it so interesting.

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This document last updated Tuesday, 15-Sep-1998 21:30:15 EDT
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