This morning I gave David Bowie’s The Next Day another listen. It came out a couple of years ago, but I was going thru a challenging time when the cd was first released, so I thought I’d give it a shot during happier times.
Stress or no stress, my impression is about the same this time as it was the first time: Good… but not great.
Like an old NASA astronaut, Bowie is to be admired. But The Next Day, for the most part, feels really YESTERDAY. The only song I might listen to again is The Stars (Are Out Tonight), which is a nice 70s sounding tune… but not quite hit material. And the overall sound quality of the album is so ridiculously compressed. It sounds like music in a can.
When I was a kid Bowie was the cool freak. Among many associations with his music is walking down Yonge Street in the 1970s, and being fascinated by all the sex, sleaze and futurism it had to offer. Don’t get me wrong, I was just a kid. But Toronto was sleazier in the 70s. Sex workers (then called “hookers,” “prostitutes,” or worse) and strip joints were more visible than in these sanitized days. And a perceptive kid could easily pick up on it. Why else did kids like to go downtown?
Oh yes, pinball and video arcades…
But everything has changed. EDM has taken the place of what artists like Bowie used to do for me. It’s fresh. It’s new. Maybe a bit mechanical. But EDM is really exploring the fringe. New sounds are coming out. Sounds that build on the 70s greats. We wouldn’t have EDM without acts like Bowie, Yes and Genesis (Peter Gabriel version). But, for me anyhow, it’s definitely time to move on.