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Week 9 | Blackstar (2016)

Albums

More than two years after its release, I am still thinking of Blackstar as a masterpiece. Its Bowie’s grand finale, a work of art that is much more than a collection of songs. I don’t know how it started in Bowie’s brain, but it became a meditation on his own death. I am writing this a day after seeing, “Avengers:…

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Week 7 | Atomic Blonde (Soundtrack, 2017)

Albums

If the album I reviewed two weeks ago, “Anywhere I Lay My Head,” was hardly a Bowie album because he made minor contributions to only two of its songs, this soundtrack is in a way even less so. Bowie did not consciously contribute anything— there’s one Bowie song, “Cat People (Putting Out Fire), which was not originally recorded for this…

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Week 6 | All The Young Dudes (1972)

Albums

I only recently purchased this album by the band, Mott the Hoople, which Bowie produced. Although the title track is the best-known Bowie song performed by someone other than Bowie, I had never before heard the whole album through. I like it. Though, aside from that one song, which Bowie wrote, the rest of the album doesn’t obviously carry Bowie’s…

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Week 5 | Anywhere I Lay My Head (2008)

Albums

This one barely counts as a Bowie album. Instead, it is the actress, Scarlett Johansson mostly singing Tom Waits songs. Bowie’s presence is felt on two of the album’s songs, “Falling Down” and “Fannin Street.” In both cases, Bowie provides backing vocals. To my ear, Bowie’s contributions are barely recognizable. These are not duets. His voice is also not as…

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Week 4 | All Saints (2001)

Albums

There are many Bowie compilation albums, however this one is unique in that it is all instrumental. My understanding is that Bowie put it together as a holiday gift for his friends, then later decided to release it. So it is basically a commercialized mix tape. Since most of the pieces on this come from two albums, “Low” and “‘Heroes,’”…

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Week 3 | Aladdin Sane (1973)

Albums

This is one of Bowie’s major works. The songs are terrific, but as with some other Bowie albums, there’s more to Aladdin Sane than the music— in this case, the cover art is probably the most iconic image of Bowie. The lightning bolt adorning Bowie’s face would forever after become a totemic symbol for Bowie (and the inspiration for many…

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Week 2: Absolute Beginners (soundtrack, 1986)

Albums

I remember listening to my cassette tape of this soundtrack in college and feeling disappointed after the first, excellent song— Bowie’s title track. The rest of the album doesn’t hold up, including Bowie’s second contribution, “That’s Motivation.” There are a bunch of other songs by other people including Sade and Ray Davies, but the highlight is really “Absolute Beginners.” The…

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Week 1 | A Reality Tour (2010 Live Album)

Albums

This is one of my favorite live Bowie albums. It was recorded on his final tour in 2003, so it includes songs from throughout his career. This also seems to have been the happiest Bowie had been on tour, so the performances have a level of energy that are missing from some of the other live albums. For me, Bowie’s…

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Day 195 | The Gouster Sessions

Albums, Songs

The big Bowie news of the week is that a new box set will include a previously unreleased album, The Gouster. I had heard of this album title but thought it was a working title for what turned out to be the Young Americans album. I'm hoping this "new" album is going to be available outside the box set because…

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Day 30 | Sound and Vision

Albums

The greatest song ever about writer's block. Album: Low

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Day 20 | Width Of A Circle

Albums

Listen to this and tell me it's not a heavy metal song. From 1970. That means he was a pioneer in that genera too Album: the Man Who Sold the World.

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