I did Bowie Backwards.'Tonight' review. No more Bowie.

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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Heathen' review, 'Hours' next

Postby Ranking Ted » 13 Feb 2016, 18:44

Belle Lettre wrote:I'm really enjoying reading these posts.

Me too. There's riches on these records and the posts are articulating them wonderfully. Jeemo mentioned the Nothing Has Changed compilation and the third disc on the expanded edition acts as a great primer for this overlooked period.

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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Heathen' review, 'Hours' next

Postby ConnyOlivetti » 13 Feb 2016, 18:49

Moleskin wrote:My only quibble with Outside is it's too long.


For some time I agree, but now, for some strange reason, it works fine.
But I guess you have to be in the right mood for it. :?
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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Heathen' review, 'Hours' next

Postby Oscar » 13 Feb 2016, 20:15

ConnyOlivetti wrote:
Oscar52 wrote:along with Outside, which I'm kinda dreading.


Why?
Better than Buddah for sure!


Bowie and Eno are both heroes but... I'm wary.

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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Heathen' review, 'Hours' next

Postby ConnyOlivetti » 13 Feb 2016, 20:28

Oscar52 wrote:
ConnyOlivetti wrote:
Oscar52 wrote:along with Outside, which I'm kinda dreading.


Why?
Better than Buddah for sure!


Bowie and Eno are both heroes but... I'm wary.


My first impression was that it was to long, far to long.
And B and E are my heroes to, so...
but recent events, reading all threads on BCB about Bowie, made me
listen to it again, been some while ago, and suddenly it clicked.
But as I said in recent post, you need to be in the right mood for it, at least
thats how it works for me.
The songs are really good!
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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Heathen' review, 'Hours' next

Postby Butch Manly » 14 Feb 2016, 23:33

New to this thread but I'm off work this week so will try to catch up.
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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Heathen' review, 'Hours' next

Postby Ghost of Harry Smith » 15 Feb 2016, 21:40

I've enjoyed reading this thread, well done all.

Bit curious as to why you've skipped 'Toy' though, given it's the #1 candidate for "great lost Bowie album". It is very good and is of a piece with other late-era Bowie albums sound-wise despite the songs being some of the earliest material he ever wrote as "Bowie". I'm not suggesting all bootlegs get given a go but 'Toy' is a bit different, given it almost had an official release.

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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Heathen' review, 'Hours' next

Postby yomptepi » 18 Feb 2016, 17:14

I have played Heathen every day for week. Some days I have played it twice. I am playing it now.
I think it is fantastic. Just an amazing record. The songs unveil themselves gradually, and after maybe ten listens, they are beginning to feel like old friends. I came in with little hope. Expecting a record with a noisy band and some half written songs, and lot of posturing.
How wrong I was. This is a record of great songs. some wonderful tunes. And a band that never overplay their part. There is great subtlety here, and real respect for the material. There is atmosphere, excitement, humour and tenderness here. And Bowie's singing is absolutely superb.
I cannot believe i failed to listen to friends who said this was a real step up. Why would i? but it is. It is great, and i can see it being played a lot for a long time.
I prefer it to Reality. The songs here are stronger, and have more character, and better arrangements. Reality is more of the same, but the songs have failed to make a huge impression.
I'll have another day with this before I replace it in my CD player with Hours. My expectations are not high, but they are through the roof compared to where they were a few weeks ago.

What an excellent idea this was Anna. Working the way back through the Dames later records. I wonder when they will fail impress? And when we are done, maybe then i will feel able to face Blackstar. because i haven't been able to yet.
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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Heathen' review, 'Hours' next

Postby jimboo » 18 Feb 2016, 17:22

Heathen does reward after a few plays , it should be on your ' records I should give a spin list ' . Or am I the only one that has such a list ?
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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Heathen' review, 'Hours' next

Postby Minnie Mincepie » 18 Feb 2016, 17:24

Thanks Yomp. I'm glad I started it. It's brought me a lot of pleasure and I'm happy that other people are stumbling across stuff they like too.
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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Heathen' review, 'Hours' next

Postby Oscar » 18 Feb 2016, 19:52

yomptepi wrote:I have played Heathen every day for week. Some days I have played it twice. I am playing it now.
I think it is fantastic. Just an amazing record. The songs unveil themselves gradually, and after maybe ten listens, they are beginning to feel like old friends. I came in with little hope. Expecting a record with a noisy band and some half written songs, and lot of posturing.
How wrong I was. This is a record of great songs. some wonderful tunes. And a band that never overplay their part. There is great subtlety here, and real respect for the material. There is atmosphere, excitement, humour and tenderness here. And Bowie's singing is absolutely superb.
I cannot believe i failed to listen to friends who said this was a real step up. Why would i? but it is. It is great, and i can see it being played a lot for a long time.
I prefer it to Reality. The songs here are stronger, and have more character, and better arrangements. Reality is more of the same, but the songs have failed to make a huge impression.
I'll have another day with this before I replace it in my CD player with Hours. My expectations are not high, but they are through the roof compared to where they were a few weeks ago.
I struggled to pull a favourite out between the two albums but I do agree that this is a wonderful album. Very interested to see what you make of "Hours...".

yomptepi wrote:What an excellent idea this was Anna. Working the way back through the Dames later records. I wonder when they will fail impress? And when we are done, maybe then i will feel able to face Blackstar. because i haven't been able to yet.
I haven't felt comfortable about playing Blackstar since he went away. And I think I'll have to get through the whole set of post Let's Dance stuff before I even attempt it. I've got 5 more albums left... although I've been playing 2 of them for a few days now. Buddha... and (mostly) Outside, which I'm starting to think has the potential to be one of the best albums of his career. It does feel like it's too long at this early assessment (and Bowie felt the same way) but I think as it becomes more familiar everything will fall into place.

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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Heathen' review, 'Hours' next

Postby yomptepi » 18 Feb 2016, 20:23

I am going to listen to Toy as well, although it seems less interesting, seeing as how much of it is just old songs revisited. However, it does have a place to fill, so I am including it.

Here is a link if you want to join in.

https://www.sendspace.com/file/2bb7qk
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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Heathen' review, 'Hours' next

Postby Oscar » 18 Feb 2016, 22:03

yomptepi wrote:I am going to listen to Toy as well...






I'm in.

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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Hours' review, 'Earthling' next

Postby Minnie Mincepie » 20 Feb 2016, 02:12

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!
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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Hours' review, 'Earthling' next

Postby king feeb » 20 Feb 2016, 11:05

Back in the 80s, when I was hanging out on the outer fringes of Boston's rock scene, I saw Reeves Gabrels in a couple of his pre-Bowie bands. He was in a quite excellent band called The Dark for a while (although their best stuff, the Darkworld EP, does not have Reeves on it). I also saw his later band Life On Earth, and I remember that they were fairly dull (because LAME SONGWRITING, cuz). Reeves was already doing a convincing Belew-cum-Fripp stylistic mashup by that time, and he could play so fluidly. He played with tons of bands for a while. He "sat-in" with a really weird band called The Bentmen that my friend Scott was playing in. Scott just thought Reeves was the greatest dude- quick sense of humor, ace guitarist, not a Prima Donna, not an ego-monster, etc etc... a good guy to have in your band overall.

And maybe that's why Bowie chose him. One minute, he's plugging along playing in obscure art rock bands in Boston... the next minute, we heard that Bowie had whisked him off to be his right-hand man. Crazy rumors abounded.

He has always been a very good, extremely facile guitarist, but he does have a unfortunate penchant for bombast and overstatement that is capable of derailing even the sturdiest, well-written song. That being said, I think he was totally the right guy to play on Outside. That's his best work with Bowie, I figure.
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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Hours' review, 'Earthling' next

Postby Oscar » 20 Feb 2016, 11:20

Minnie the Minx wrote:I've largely skipped 'Something in the Air' which I have given a good a listen as I can before mentally abandoning it...


I think the diversity of perception/taste/translation of his songs is really interesting... fascinating. I disliked Hours... then loved it within the space of probably a day. And my favourite moment is/was... "Something In The Air". "I'm obsessed with the subtle vocal nuances and that charming synthesised squiggle that accompanies his words."

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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Hours' review, 'Earthling' next

Postby Oscar » 20 Feb 2016, 11:46

king feeb wrote:Back in the 80s, when I was hanging out on the outer fringes of Boston's rock scene, I saw Reeves Gabrels in a couple of his pre-Bowie bands. He was in a quite excellent band called The Dark for a while (although their best stuff, the Darkworld EP, does not have Reeves on it). I also saw his later band Life On Earth, and I remember that they were fairly dull (because LAME SONGWRITING, cuz). Reeves was already doing a convincing Belew-cum-Fripp stylistic mashup by that time, and he could play so fluidly. He played with tons of bands for a while. He "sat-in" with a really weird band called The Bentmen that my friend Scott was playing in. Scott just thought Reeves was the greatest dude- quick sense of humor, ace guitarist, not a Prima Donna, not an ego-monster, etc etc... a good guy to have in your band overall.

And maybe that's why Bowie chose him. One minute, he's plugging along playing in obscure art rock bands in Boston... the next minute, we heard that Bowie had whisked him off to be his right-hand man. Crazy rumors abounded.

He has always been a very good, extremely facile guitarist, but he does have a unfortunate penchant for bombast and overstatement that is capable of derailing even the sturdiest, well-written song. That being said, I think he was totally the right guy to play on Outside. That's his best work with Bowie, I figure.


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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Heathen' review, 'Hours' next

Postby yomptepi » 20 Feb 2016, 11:54

K wrote:
Oscar52 wrote:
yomptepi wrote:I am going to listen to Toy as well...






I'm in.


I'm most of the through this and I'm really enjoying it. The tracks that were reworked for Heathen are clearly great, but I'm most enjoying the reworked old tracks. They really suit his "late" voice. In the Heat of the Morning is just brilliant.
There are also a couple of tracks totally new to me - Toy, Hole in the Ground & Shadow Man - all sound good first time round.


Shadow man is on the extra disc for Heathen, and it is a bit of a stunner. great vocal, and a great vocal sound. The songwriting stood out a mile from the other stuff on that disc, which also has a poor version of Panic in Detroit on it.
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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Heathen' review, 'Hours' next

Postby Oscar » 20 Feb 2016, 11:54

K wrote:
Oscar52 wrote:
yomptepi wrote:I am going to listen to Toy as well...






I'm in.


I'm most of the through this and I'm really enjoying it. The tracks that were reworked for Heathen are clearly great, but I'm most enjoying the reworked old tracks. They really suit his "late" voice. In the Heat of the Morning is just brilliant.
There are also a couple of tracks totally new to me - Toy, Hole in the Ground & Shadow Man - all sound good first time round.


I suppose this will have to be next up for me being as I've skipped it. According to my rushed research it should fit between Reality and Next Day? I'm not finished with 1.Outside yet... it's really gripping me.... something new every play. And I'm still trying to work out if "A Small Plot Of Land" is just a fascinating mess or maybe one of the best things I've heard in my life.

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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Hours' review, 'Earthling' next

Postby Moleskin » 20 Feb 2016, 11:55

I read that Gabrels was unhappy with the mellow tone of ...hours; he'd wanted to make a rockier album, and that was why he and Bowie ended their creative relationship.

I didn't hear any obviously ott guitar on ...hours at the time. I didn't even think he'd played on it till I checked the credits.

As noted above by king feeb, Gabrels is terrific on Outside, they are made for each other.
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Re: Doing Bowie Backwards: 'Hours' review, 'Earthling' next

Postby Minnie Mincepie » 20 Feb 2016, 15:29

king feeb wrote:Back in the 80s, when I was hanging out on the outer fringes of Boston's rock scene, I saw Reeves Gabrels in a couple of his pre-Bowie bands. He was in a quite excellent band called The Dark for a while (although their best stuff, the Darkworld EP, does not have Reeves on it). I also saw his later band Life On Earth, and I remember that they were fairly dull (because LAME SONGWRITING, cuz). Reeves was already doing a convincing Belew-cum-Fripp stylistic mashup by that time, and he could play so fluidly. He played with tons of bands for a while. He "sat-in" with a really weird band called The Bentmen that my friend Scott was playing in. Scott just thought Reeves was the greatest dude- quick sense of humor, ace guitarist, not a Prima Donna, not an ego-monster, etc etc... a good guy to have in your band overall.

And maybe that's why Bowie chose him. One minute, he's plugging along playing in obscure art rock bands in Boston... the next minute, we heard that Bowie had whisked him off to be his right-hand man. Crazy rumors abounded.

He has always been a very good, extremely facile guitarist, but he does have a unfortunate penchant for bombast and overstatement that is capable of derailing even the sturdiest, well-written song. That being said, I think he was totally the right guy to play on Outside. That's his best work with Bowie, I figure.



Thanks for this contribution! (Oh my god - I sound like Sea of Tunes.)
I don't know why Gabrels wound me up the wrong way but he really did.
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