Back in 1980, singer-songwriter Billy Joel was already railing against the stratification of rock & pop music.
The legendary David Bowie passed away on 10th January 2016, mourned by music lovers worldwide. On what would have been his 70th birthday (i.e. 8th January), the No Plan EP was released.
On this day last year, Davie Bowie celebrated his 69th birthday by releasing Blackstar. Two days later, he was gone …
The legendary David Bowie thrilled all his fans with his fabulous comeback album The Next Day back in 2013 and diehards have been hoping and praying that the LP was not a one-off. Thankfully, Bowie is back with a new album for 2016 – Blackstar!
Haven’t done this for quite a while but it’s time to get stuck into new music that is coming out this year. First up, January!
“I’m a Blackstar”
Two years ago, David Bowie returned to the spotlight with the release of The Next Day, his magnificent comeback album. On 8th January 2016, Bowie drops his new LP, Blackstar.
Rock legend David Bowie was a bit of a late bloomer in the business of rock ’n’ roll. Even though he was only 17 years old when he released his debut single in 1964, he would never achieve commercial success and critical acclaim till the 70s. His first three solo albums failed to set the music world alight and in fact, Hunky Dory – which would become his fourth LP – started life as a demo to secure a new recording contract, which he duly did with RCA Records.
Hunky Dory finds Bowie in pure singer-songwriter mode – which was in vogue around the time – thus, the individual songs are quite strong and the production values rather straightforward – with simple pop-rock/folk-rock instrumentation and arrangements by and large.
Backing Bowie would be the musicians that would subsequently form The Spiders from Mars (with the exception of Rick Wakeman on piano) viz. Mick Ronson (guitars, mellotron), Trevor Bolder (bass, trumpet) and Mick Woodmansey (drums).
Many of Bowie’s classic material – “Changes”, “All You Pretty Things”, “Life on Mars?” “Quicksand” and “Kooks” (written for his son, Zowie – director Duncan Jones) – were recorded during this fecund period. The second half had Bowie pay tribute to his heroes viz. Andy Warhol (“Andy Warhol”), Bob Dylan (“Song For Bob Dylan”) and Lou Reed (“Queen Bitch”) whilst “The Bewley Brothers” concerned Bowie’s relationship with his mentally disturbed brother, Terry.
After Hunky Dory, Bowie would adopt the persona of Ziggy Stardust and found fame and fortune and the rest of his 70s would see Bowie acting out different roles, played out on his discography.
So perhaps, on Hunky Dory, fans could see Bowie for who he was – before he decided to change the face of rock music irretrievably.
Last year David Bowie shocked the world with the release of a new single (“Where Are We Now?”)/album (The Next Day) after years of silence and relative inactivity. Well, it didn’t take long for Bowie to return with another new single/album did it? The single is “Sue (Or In a Season of Crime) which was given its world premiere on BBC Radio Six by DJ Guy Garvey, a couple of days ago. Of course, the song is all over the internet now – check it out below.
Regular PoP visitors will be aware of the fact that I am a huge Bowie fan and was greatly disappointed when I missed the David Bowie Is exhibitions organized by the Victoria & Albert Museum, when I was in London last year with TypeWriter.
So imagine my delight when I learned of a documentary about the exhibition that not only highlighted its various exhibits but also included various experts chiming in with personal experiences and opinions on the influence of Bowie on modern pop culture.
At the same time, it felt me with grave regret at missing the exhibition and hoping for a chance to get a crack at it one day in the future. But in the meantime, this documentary is a splendid way to whet the appetite. In any case, the documentary is essential for all Bowie fans and any serious scholar of art and pop culture.
Tickets are now available for online purchase at over 80 cinemas across the U.S. The film is scheduled to screen on one day, Tuesday, September 23, 2014, with additional cinemas being added to the list on a regular basis. Simultaneously, the V&A exhibition in London will be opening at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (MCA) on that same Tuesday as well.
Was 2013 a good year for popular music? It all depends on your definition of a ‘good year’. I believe that since the end of the 90s, the decline in the quality of popular music being written and recorded has been alarming. Compared to the previous 40 years, it’s fair to say that much of the popular music that has come out of the new millennium has been – with some exceptions, of course – largely forgettable.