Despite the fact that I have moaned about some of these newer albums being too fucking long, I nevertheless managed to get a copy of Hours with bonus tracks of the songs I didn't care for so am unlikely to listen to much.
Lucky me! What a treat!
Anyway - Hours, recorded over 1998-1999. Have had this on in the background at work all week, and here's my first proper headphone listen.
One of the first things that really jumps out at me is that his voice sounds nowhere near as great on this as it does on Heathen. I can't put a finger on it exactly, it's just a bit crackly, and the heights seem a struggle. In fact, as much as I love (and I really do love, the video properly cementing it) 'Thursday's Child', he sounds even vaguely off key, and not in a way that sounds like it's trying to be 'challenging'.
I've largely skipped 'Something in the Air' which I have given a good a listen as I can before mentally abandoning it, but 'Survive' is an absolute delight. Is it Gabrels doing the fucking guitar on 'Survive' though? It's just bubbling on the cusp of being turned up to 11. I've listened to some stripped down versions of this without all the cock rock overtones and it is just absolutely lovely, and very, very simple.
I don't know what to say about 'If I'm Dreaming My Life' which seems to move like a tractor through hard mud in an ugly field. And is that Gabrels again? It is, isn't it? No, this isn't for me. At all. 'Seven' is a welcome return, though his voice does seem stripped of joy, and I tell you, I'm starting to get FUCKING pissed off with Gabrels now.
Anyway, if you didn't know, 'What's Really Happening' had it's lyrics written by a fan who won an early competition on Bowie.net. I think he might even have done backing vocals on it or something. This is all what wiki tells me. His name was Alex Clark. I wonder if Alex Clark stood glaring as Gabrels licked his lips and went whoooooooeyewwwwwww with his guitar would he for the name of shit shut the fuck up! Fuck, all this stuff must have been painful live.
'The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell' has a nice pace and is followed by the absolutely blinding 'New Angels of Promise' and sounds about ten times better on headphones. 'Brilliant Adventure', a lovely nod to the East (was it for a computer game?) with a rather nice synth flute from what I can gather. Two great tracks, back to back. Can we keep up this momentum, David? Yes we fucking can. The original CD ends with 'The Dreamers', and while 'dystopian' is an overused word to describe every time Bowie sings about something that might happen that isn't happening now that might be a bit dim and troubling, it is pretty appropriate here. I mean, what other word is there? And more importantly, Gabrels doesn't get given a free reign to wave his cock about.
I read some funny things about this when I was looking up the squad who played on it, mainly in the review section. Pitchfork said that it had the 'vitality and energy of a rotting log', and John Mullen said Bowie was a more 'high brow version of Sting', and that 'there's a lack of urgency that suggests that the 'confessional' is just another style Bowie is trying on for size.' I certainly understand the last sentiment, although I don't think that it necessarily is a bad thing.
Some of the bonus tracks have some really nice keyboards that sound vaguely Mike Garsonish, though he is not on the credits, so I am guessing it was Bowie, as nobody else is credited on the ivories.
In summary, then: this album has 5 tracks I love, one I like a lot, and four I have no feelings for at all. This seems to be standard for the later Bowie albums,and I just don't think that repeated listening is going to elevate any of these tracks to a higher status. I'll try, though.
I like it less then Heathen, I think.
Ey, one good thing about all this doing Bowie backwards stuff - did any of you go the Bowie exhibition? Did you see the bit where they had all his studio albums on that shelf and you had to sort them all into year of release order? And I looked like a fucking WINNER until 'Tonight' and I didn't have a CLUE after that except for where to put 'The Next Day.' By the end of this, I will be that Bowie fan who can attend pub quizzes with no more shame.
Onwards, and backwards, to Earthling!
You come at the Queen, you best not miss.
Dr Markus wrote:
Someone in your line of work usually as their own man cave aka the shed we're they can potter around fixing stuff or something don't they?