This site too slow? Try a mirror  --  Subscribe to the Guide  --  Find artist:
the Ectophiles' Guide: * Guide Home* What's new* * Alphabetical* Genre* Commentator* Location* Random artist* Search* Contact the editors* Credits

David Bowie


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Mainstream pop/alternative pop/rock, performance art

Status:

Died January 10, 2016. Final release, Blackstar (2016); most recent release, A New Career in New Town (11-CD box album set, 2017)

See also:

David Bowie's site

Wikipedia's entry on David Bowie

Bowie also performed with the group Tin Machine

Comparisons:

Brian Eno

Covers/own material:

Own, occasional covers

General comments:

Bowie is the artist I think has put out the longest run of consistently great albums. I'm not a fan—I like him and respect him, but have never been able to get into his albums, for some reason—but I still think that there's been no-one else who set trends quite like he did in his heyday. but I have to say that from Hunky Dory (1971) to Scary Monsters (1980) he had a pretty unprecedented run of great, trend-setting albums, always slightly ahead of the curve. He was ahead of the curve with Let's Dance and Tonight, too, but that curve was air-brushed '80s pop/plastic soul, so it's a moot point as to whether this was the sound of him crashing to earth or not. I think it is, but I can understand how these albums have their fans, as well. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Bowie took lots of stuff from others and made it his own. But he was unique in his own way. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

Mr. Bowie doesn't really have a good set o' pipes, despite his sometimes successful dips into crooning. But as KaTe said in some interview or another, what's impressive is what he does with a limited "instrument". For me, the beautiful instances of his singing are not the obvious ones, like "Time", but the cracked edges of something like "Joe the Lion" that simply no one else could do. (Interestingly, though Bowie is one of those great prolific songwriters with sometimes awkward performances, I've never in the slightest thought of him as someone best listened to via covers.) (bossert@suddensound.com)

Recommended first album:

Depends so much on where you're coming from...

Recordings include (this listing is of studio albums only):

  • David Bowie (1967)
  • Space Oddity (1969)
  • The Man Who Sold the World (1970)
  • Hunky Dory (1971)
  • The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
  • Aladdin Sane (1973)
  • Pin Ups (1973)
  • Diamond Dogs (1974)
  • Young Americans (1975)
  • Station to Station (1976)
  • Low (1977)
  • Heroes (1977)
  • Lodger (1979)
  • Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980)
  • Let's Dance (1983)
  • Tonight (1984)
  • Never Let Me Down (1987)
  • Black Tie White Noise (1993)
  • The Buddha of Suburbia (soundtrack, 1994)
  • Outside (1995)
  • Earthling (1997)
  • 'Hours...' (1999)
  • Heathen (2002)
  • Reality (2003)
  • Next Day (2013)
  • Nothing Has Changed (2014)
  • Blackstar (2016)
  • Who Can I Be Now (74-76) (box set compilation, 2016)
  • Legacy (remixes and remasters, 2 CDs, 2016)
  • No Plan (EP, songs for the musical Lazarus, 2017)
  • Cracked Actor (Live) [Los Angeles '74] (live, 2017)
  • A New Career in New Town (11-CD box album set, 2017)

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

Release info:

1972—RCA

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

David Bowie—vocals, acoustic guitar, saxophone, piano, harpsichord, arrangements

Guest artists:

Mick Ronson—guitars, piano, backing vocals, string arrangement
Trevor Bolder—bass
Mick Woodmansey—drums
Dana Gillespie—backing vocals (5)

Produced by:

Ken Scott, David Bowie

Comments:

Ziggy Stardust was always my favourite Bowie album. (klaus.kluge@gmx.de)

The perfect album to discover when you're a young teenager. Anger, angst, energy, and wistfulness, too. Playing it still brings up all those emotions for me. (Neile)


Station to Station

Release info:

1976—RCA

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

David Bowie—vocals, guitar, tenor and alto saxophone, Moog synthesiser, Mellotron

Guest artists:

Carlos Alomar—guitar
Roy Bittan—piano
Dennis Davis—drums
George Murray—bass
Warren Peace—backing vocals
Earl Slick—guitar

Produced by:

David Bowie, Harry Maslin

Comments:

David Bowie adds funk to his sound. There was nothing like listening to that train sound move from speaker to speaker when the album first came out. Some of Bowie's best instrumentation and fun songwriting, too. It has born the test of time well. (Neile)

Low

Release info:

1977—RCA

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

David Bowie—vocals, guitar, pump bass, saxophones, xylophones, vibraphones, harmonica, pre-arranged percussion, keyboards: ARP synthesiser, piano, Chamberlin

Guest artists:

Brian Eno—vocals, splinter Minimoog, report ARP, guitar treatments, piano, keyboards, synthetics, Chamberlin, other synthesisers
Carlos Alomar—rhythm guitar
Dennis Davis—percussion
George Murray—bass
Ricky Gardiner—guitar
Roy Young—piano, Farfisa organ
Peter Himmelman—piano, ARP synthesiser
Mary Visconti—backing vocals
Iggy Pop—backing vocals (3)
Eduard Meyer—cellos

Produced by:

David Bowie and Tony Visconti

Comments:

Bowie goes back to his more avant-garde style and the energy is a 180 turn from Station to Station. Darkly emotional, a little experimental, with lots of Eno influence. (Neile)

Heroes

Release info:

1993—Savage

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended/

Group members:

David Bowie—vocals, keyboards, guitars, saxophone, koto, backing vocals

Guest artists:

Carlos Alomar—rhythm guitar
Dennis Davis—drums, percussion
George Murray—bass
Brian Eno—synthesisers, keyboards, guitar treatments
Robert Fripp—lead guitar
Tony Visconti—backing vocals
Antonia Maass—backing vocals

Produced by:

David Bowie and Tony Visconti

Comments:

The most German krautrock influence of Bowie's albums, Heroes follows up Low a little more optimistically. (Neile)

Black Tie White Noise

Release info:

1993—Savage

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

David Bowie—vocals, guitar, sax, dog alto

Guest artists:

Nile Rodgers—guitar
Pugi Bell, Sterling Campbell—drums
Barry Campbell—bass
Richard Hilton—keyboards
John Regan—bass
Michael Reisman—harp, tubular bells
Dave Richards, Philippe Saisse, Richard Tee—keyboards
Gerardo Velez—percussion
Fonzi Thornton, Tawatha Agee, Curtis King, Jr., Dennis Collins, Brenda White-King, Maryl Epps—backing vocals
Al B. Sure!—vocal duet (4)
Fonzi Thornton, Tawatha Agee, Curtis King, Jr., Dennis Collins, Brenda White-King, Maryl Epps, Frank Simms, George Simms, David Spinner, Lamya Al-Mughiery, Connie Petruk, David Bowie, Nile Rodgers—choir (11)
Mick Ronson—guitars (3)
Lester Bowie—trumpet (2, 5, 7, 9, 10)
Wild T. Springer—guitar

Produced by:

David Bowie and Nile Rogers

Comments:

It is a bit jarring, but I loved it straight off. The hook for me was Lester Bowie's trumpet playing—I've been a fan of the Art Ensemble of Chicago for eons now, and have seen him in concert almost as many times as I've seen Bowie (every Bowie tour since Stage). It strikes me as David Bowie's strongest album since Scary Monsters, though some of my friends call it his strongest since Lodger. Needless to say, I'm listening to it obsessively and stealing all the ideas I can. (jzitt@humansystems.com)

The new Bowie is excellent. He combined his disharmonic singing and the odd sounds of his earlier works like Scary Monsters with the dance grooves of the '90s. (Dirk.Kastens@rz.Uni-Osnabrueck.DE)


The Buddha of Suburbia

Release info:

1994—BMG

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

David Bowie—vocals, keyboard, synths, guitar, alto sax, baritone sax, keyboard percussion

Guest artists:

Erdal Kizilcay—keyboards, trumpet, bass, guitar, drums, percussion
3D Echo—drum, bass, guitar (5)
Mike Garson—piano (3, 5)
Lenny Kravitz—guitar (10)

Produced by:

David Bowie and David Richard

Comments:

The soundtrack to BBC's four-part TV series of the same name.

It's very interesting, but I didn't think it was anywhere near the quality of Scary Monsters. I am rather partial to the song "South Horizon," and I like "Bleed Like A Craze, Dad" and "Sex And The Church" as well. (I_SW@zis.ziff.com)


Outside

Release info:

1995—Arista/BMG

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

David Bowie—vocals, saxophone, guitar, keyboards

Guest artists:

Brian Eno—synthesizers, treatments, strategies
Reeves Gabrels—guitar
Erdal Kizilcay—bass, keyboards
Mike Garson—grand piano
Sterling Campbell—drums
Carlos Alomar—rhythm guitar
Joey Baron—drums
Yossi Fine—bass
Tom Frish—additional guitar (19)
Kevin Armstrong—additional guitar (17)
Bryony, Lola, Josey and Ruby Edwards—backing vocals (3, 12)

Produced by:

David Bowie, Brian Eno and David Richards

Comments:

Well, not really an ectoish album, but hey, who else could I ask? I bought it yesterday (because Eno is on it and I love the Low era Bowie) and boy is it . . . dark? Or is that strange? I couldn't figure out why he was traveling with Nine Inch Nails until I heard this music. And one of the pieces of "art" in the booklet is pretty gruesome. I don't know. I like it, I think. It's just such a creepy concept. A murderer who murders as art (I know, not a new concept but). In the '80s and '90s taboo breaking seems to be centered around violence. So, is this what Eno and Bowie are doing? Or am I just paying too much attention?
     Outside is a guilty pleasure. I like the music too much not to listen but the liner notes and lyrics.... (brad@lightfallsdesign.com)

Uh... yeah. In short, it's the first Bowie since the opening of Scary Monsters to give me the "what the hell *is* this?" experience I like to get from him. It's masterful, all right... but I'm not sure I *like* it—and I have a feeling that, listening to it, I may pass on seeing this tour (even though I've caught all his stadium tours since "Stage").
     The NIN connection is pretty clear in listening to this (though I think The Downward Spiral was a better album). But the whole mutilation-for-the-hell-of-it thread that pervades the album and much of the other industrial scene... Maybe I'm taking things too literally or missing a metaphor or something, but the album seems to be celebrating what happens to Baby Grace, et al.—and I can't help but picture the teenage girl at the center of it and what her view of it would be.
     I'm not against strong art, but the idea of violence being a taboo to be broken doesn't ring right for me. Violence and sex are *not* equivalent—the depiction of violence is consistently that of someone getting hurt.
     Was Bowie in it to shock? If so why? There has to be more to it than shock... and I would think that Eno, at least, would approach things from a more compassionate angle.
     I should note that I haven't grokked all the lyrics yet—it takes a lot of listenings for me to get the words to things, and the lyric fragments in the graphic collages (which are well done if unintelligible) don't help. I've read the liner story, and it's even more graphic than the sound.
     That said, musically, aspects of it are stunning. The star of the whole thing, to my ears, is pianist Mike Garson, who also was a standout on The Buddha of Suburbia (with which Outside shares its closing song) and on earlier works such as Aladdin Sane.
     I can't say that it's a *favorite* album—I consistently skip over some tracks, and find the liner/story luridly grotesque—but I keep returning to it, fascinated. Bits of it have lodged in my head and pop out at odd times, and it sparked Bowie to team up with Nine Inch Nails for a terrific concert. (jzitt@humansystems.com)

I think Outside is the best thing he's done in ages, but the "plot" is just plain silly. I've been ignoring it (and skipping over the narration on the CD) and just paying attention to the music. It's a Desert Island Disc for me. (stuart@sph.emory.edu)

Bowie's revisiting his Low/Heroes period and in doing so, he just made his most interesting album in years. Always nice when the old set proves they're not irrelevant yet. One of my top ten of 1995. (pmcohen@voicenet.com)


Earthling

Release info:

1997—BMG

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

David Bowie—vocals, guitar, alto saxophone, samples, keyboards

Guest artists:

Reeves Gabrels—programming, synthesisers, real and sampled guitars, vocals
Mark Plati—programming, loops, samples, keyboards
Gail Ann Dorsey—bass, vocals
Zachary Alford—drum loops, acoustic drums, electronic percussion
Mike Garson—keyboards, piano

Produced by:

David Bowie, Reeves Gabrels, Mark Plati

Comments:

While not as brilliant as Outside, this is still a very worthy follow-up. Bowie takes the best elements of electronica and incorporates them into his own style without sounding like he's just latching on to the latest trend. After all these years, he's making some of the best music of his career. One of the best albums of the year. (stuart@sph.emory.edu)

I put it on my list of best discs of 1998 because it's one of those albums I kept playing this year. I discovered it very late, but at least I did... (marcel@kimwilde.com)


Heathen

Release info:

2002—ISO/Columbia

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended/

Group members:

David Bowie—vocals, keyboards, guitars, saxophone, Stylophone, backing vocals, drums

Guest artists:

Tony Visconti—bass, guitars, recorders, string arrangements, backing vocals
Matt Chamberlain—drums, drum loop programming, percussion
David Torn—guitars, guitar loops, Omnichord
The Scorchio Quartet:
     Greg Kitzis—1st violin
     Meg Okura—2nd violin
     Martha Mooke—viola
     Mary Wooten—cello Carlos Alomar—guitar
Sterling Campbell—drums, percussion
Lisa Germano—violin
Gerry Leonard—guitar
Tony Levin—bass
Mark Plati—guitar, bass
Jordan Rudess—keyboards
The Borneo Horns:
     Lenny Pickett
     Stan Harrison
     Steve Elson
Kristeen Young—vocals, piano
Pete Townshend—guitar (4)
Dave Grohl—guitar (6)

Produced by:

David Bowie, Tony Visconti

Comments:

The new Bowie is ace. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

Reality

Release info:

2003

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

David Bowie—vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion, saxophone, stylophone, synthesizer

Guest artists:

Sterling Campbell—drums
Gerry Leonard—guitar
Earl Slick—guitar
Mark Plati—bass, guitar
Mike Garson—piano
David Torn—guitar
Gail Ann Dorsey—backing vocals
Catherine Russell—backing vocals
Matt Chamberlain—drums (11)
Tony Visconti—bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals
Mario J. McNulty—additional percussion and drums (8)

Produced by:

David Bowie, Tony Visconti

Comments:

The new Bowie is quite good. I was dubious about how it would be, since I found Heathen to be a forgettable snorefest, but this one is really energetic. We've been playing it a lot at the snore, and I've had one of the hooks from "Pablo Picasso" stuck in my head for days. One of my top ten of the year. (jzitt@humansystems.com)

One of the best of the year. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)


Why the ads?


Artists commented on by
brni @  kappamaki . com

12 entries

Click the bullet for speed (drop the menu) or the name for convenience (keep the menu)


>
50 Foot Wave

>
Adam Ant

>
Daevid Allen

>
Bat For Lashes

>
David Bowie

>
Kate Bush

>
Kaki King

>
Pixies

>
Eliza Rickman

>
Throwing Muses

>
Suzanne Vega

>
Lizz Wright


Other Commentators...
the Ectophiles' Guide: * Guide Home* What's new* * Alphabetical* Genre* Commentator* Location* Random artist* Search* Contact the editors* Credits

DISCLAIMER: Comments and reviews in the Ectophiles' Guide are excerpted from the ecto mailing list or volunteered by members of the list. They are the opinions of music enthusiasts, not professional music critics.

Entry last updated 2017-09-27 18:54:38.
Please request permission if you wish to
reproduce any of the comments in the
Ectophiles' Guide in any context.

The Ectophiles' Guide to Good Music is copyright © 1996-2004 by the editors.
Individual comments are copyright © by their authors.
Web site design and programming copyright © 1998-2004 usrbin design + programming.
All rights reserved.