10 Months Late

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1947-2016


It’s hard to believe that David Robert Jones, aka David Bowie’s surprising death is already 10 months ago.

Days before he passed he promoted a strange tangle of an album called Blackstar, complete with a new band, a new sound, and an ominous video about dying.

Then he died. I couldn’t listen to the album even though I was fascinated by it’s story.

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Donny McCaslin

Our hero knew he had a fatal illness but shared it with almost no one. He hunted the New York nights for inspiration, finding it in Donny McCaslin, the saxophonist that Bowie always wanted to be. McCaslin had a progressive jazz combo that Bowie caught one night and immediately set up a meeting.

Walking into this jazz band’s practice space, Bowie opened up his notebook and proceeded to free jam song ideas and melodies with this band of guys he had never played with, much less met before!

It was all recorded, and it was so magical that it was almost released as the album! Can you imagine, the ultimate improv?


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But business and engineering interests prevailed so they set up recording sessions to properly render their ideas.

Like his previous album The Next Day, this was a secretive project. The result was completed and shipped as Blackstar just two days before he met his demise.

And it has sat on my Pono in hi-resolution for 10 months now.

Too painful to press play and accept that this was Bowie composing very concisely about his pending demise.

I say go for it. I did.

It was amazing. His whole career, his whole artistic essence, facing the end and needing to channel this into music. It’s utterly devastating.

He can do anything. Accepting his ultimate fear leaves him fearless.


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This might be his best album ever. I shit you not. It has no hits or singles. Nothing fashionable. Nothing I can scream out to you in small pieces.

It only is the most perfectly sad moment of music I’ve heard in quite some time.

 

Damn, Bowie Is Gone

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Is it a hoax? While releasing his latest album, and already receiving amazing reviews, David Bowie, 69, passed last night from unreported cancer.

So many unanswered questions here, like who knew, how they were planning the promotion of the new album and all of that?  The BBC is saying it’s been an 18-month battle.

A great man has fallen. A great artist that forever changed the world entered it as David Jones in Brixton and succumbed 2 days after his 69th birthday, and 2 days after releasing his final album.

Buy that new album Blackstar and buy 5 more Bowie albums why you are at it. You won’t regret it.

Review my previous Bowie moments here.


 

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New Bowie: Behold The Blackstar

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David is 68 and counting and still making new, relevant music – very inspirational.

For his new record he scouted the New York scene and then hired an experienced hard-jazz improv group to act as his foil. He brought them his demos and ideas, learned to work with them in the studio, then had his long-time producer Tony Visconti set up and record nearly the entire album in the 1st or 2nd take, all in the same room, with minimal overdubs.

The resulting album is called Blackstar and the sound is new, expansive, and fresh. Bowie growing as an artist, still!?!

The only trick under the sun that constantly works is letting good musicians work together to sell the song. No technology can help that.

Here’s the first single from the album: Lazarus.

 

Covert Bowie – The Next Day For Our “Heroes”

The great David Bowie managed something most music artists can’t achieve in their 4th and 5th decades – to stay relevant and ambitious both in the studio and on stage.

Releasing acclaimed albums in the late 90’s and early aughts, as well as selling out worldwide with a hot stage show, led many to believe Bowie was entering a second creative goldrush. But as he entered his 60’s, health problems slowed him down and he fell into an admitted writers block. 2003’s Reality album and tour was not followed and no one much heard of Bowie for a few years. He’d pop up from time to time as an artsy citizen of NYC but didn’t appear to be pursuing his music career further.

Which all makes his new album “The Next Day” that much cooler. Written, recorded, mixed, and released with no pre-release hype, no press teasers, and no leaks in this day of social media and instant gratification makes it a serious throwback to times when a new release could build natural buzz based on the artist’s quality.

The cover art kicks thing off proper with a Fluxus-inspired statement, using the cover of “Heroes” as the backdrop for a large white box over Bowie’s 1970’s mug. Inside the overly large white box is the title “The Next Day” in the plainest, least passionate black font they could find. The hook is the original title bar, modified to “Heroes” David Bowie.

Yes David appears to be feeling a bit nostalgic, doing what he rarely does and looking back and some key points in his life. The music is full of variety, grooves, riffs, hooks, builds, cliffs, even soaring ballads featuring mostly traditional instruments – real drums, real guitars, real horns, real keys played by Bowie, and great lead and backing vocals. The whole things is 17 songs of very musical and well-written work. It’s amazing he put this together (and out) with none of the marketing he usually receives.

Here’s a track to whet your appetite:

Bowie said in a recent interview that he didn’t feel his label would support the record and that he didn’t plan on touring extensively with this record, so he decided to do the whole thing as a covert project. Everyone involved had to use a cover story and keep the info that they were working on the a new Bowie record quiet. Amazing that it worked, and it’s exciting to just have a new record without waiting for it after months of hype. This record was released on Bowie’s 66th birthday with no press. Awesome.

Anyway, I bought this record in hi-def digital over at HDTracks and would buy the double-record vinyl set if I saw it. Bowie is a once-in-a-lifetime sort of artist and this record belongs in the catalog next to his other greats.