David Bowie’s Berlin Years, Boxed

The next David Bowie box set, A New Career in a New Town, is coming on September 29. This one covers 1977-1982 (Bowie’s last years on the RCA label), including the “Berlin Trilogy” and other notable collaborations with prog rockers.  Contents on 11 CDs or 13 LPs:

  • Low (with Brian Eno)
  • Heroes (with Eno and Robert Fripp).  A EP of foreign-language versions of the title track is also included.
  • Stage (with the pre-King Crimson Adrian Belew and Roger Powell of Utopia in Bowie’s live band) in 2 versions: the original album and the 2005 version (with songs in the concert running order & bonus tracks, including 2 new ones).
  • Lodger (with Eno, Belew and Powell ) in 2 versions: the original album and a new remix by Tony Visconti (exclusive to the box).
  • Scary Monsters (with Fripp).
  • A new exclusive compilation, Re:Call 3, which includes singles, B-sides, extended versions, and Bowie’s collaborations with Bing Crosby and Queen.

This is my favorite period of Bowie, so I’m genuinely excited for this release.  Lots more details and a price tracker at Paul Sinclair’s marvelous Super Deluxe Edition website.


King Crimson, Heroes

by Rick Krueger

“Studio and live are two worlds. Would you, the audience, prefer to have a love letter or a hot date? Each have their value. Crimson were always a band for a hot date. From time to time they could write a love letter, too, but for me they were better in the clinches.”  (Robert Fripp)

In advance of King Crimson’s upcoming US tour (starting June 11 in Seattle), Discipline Global Mobile has released Heroes, a low-priced live EP of recordings from last fall’s European excursion.  Blending the best of Fripp’s two worlds, it shows the Seven-Headed Beast that was 2016’s Crimson in fine fettle and ready for the clinches.

Continue reading “King Crimson, Heroes”

soundstreamsunday: “Warszawa” by David Bowie

bowieenoForty years on it seems like it must have been inevitable, obvious even, the crossing paths of Iggy Pop and David Bowie and Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, in service to Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy.  In Act Two of their collective careers, they became in the late 1970s the center of a wheel spoking to progressive rock, art rock, post punk, and new wave, the albums coming out of Bowie’s residency in Berlin among the richest, most genre-defying rock records created, documents of a grasp catching up with its reach.  “Warszawa” is from 1977’s Low, the second Berlin collaboration (after Pop’s The Idiot, for the trilogy is really a quintet, taking into account the records Bowie produced for Iggy during this period) and a document of Bowie’s dissolving spirits.  Here is where he throws the hammer at the mirror, where all his past characters like Ziggy and the Thin White Duke are shown the door.  The sound is fresh, with Eno, coming off his work with Cluster, applying broadly-stroked synth washes straight from the school of Moebius and Roedelius, encouraging Bowie to approach the music with deliberate freedom.  The result, like on the song “Sound and Vision,” is raw and buoyant.  It can also be wild and studied, as on the constraint-driven “Warszawa,” an exercise in composition employing  Eno’s planned accidents and oblique strategies.  In it, as on much of the album, you can hear an origin story of bands like U2 and Echo and the Bunnymen and Joy Division/New Order, and a second-wind promise Bowie himself would continue to fulfill, off and on, for the rest of his life.

soundstreamsunday playlist and archive

From David Bowie to Blackstar

Astounded by Sound has an excellent collection of reviews and rankings of all of Bowie, including some spot-on thoughts about Blackstar:

There are no other remaining and widely popular musicians of Bowie’s sadly rapidly depleting generation who would be capable of making a parting gesture as potent and startling as Blackstar, it’s that simple. The songs on Blackstar that deal with mortality and impending death form an artistic statement that has few parallels in popular culture, let alone music. For a while at least it is inevitable that the “non-death” songs will be overlooked, but they are an important part of what I’ve little doubt will be seen to be in years to come as one of Bowie’s best albums.

I can’t get over how experimental and totally prog Bowie’s last release is! It’s awesome. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem!

Critchley on Bowie’s Vision of Love

Simon Critchley on “Nothing Remains: David Bowie’s Vision of Love“:

The word “nothing” peppers and punctuates Bowie’s entire body of work, from the “hold on to nothing” of “After All,” from “The Man Who Sold the World,” through the scintillating, dystopian visions of “Diamond Dogs” and the refrain “We’re nothing and nothing can help us,” from “Heroes” and onward all the way to “Blackstar.” One could base an entire and pretty coherent interpretation of Bowie’s work simply by focusing on that one word, nothing, and tracking its valences through so many of his songs. Nothing is everywhere in Bowie.

Does that mean that Bowie was some sort of nihilist? Does it mean that his music, from the cultural disintegration of “Diamond Dogs,” through the depressive languor of “Low,” on to apparent melancholia of “Lazarus” is some sort of message of gloom and doom?

On the contrary.

Concealed in Bowie’s often dystopian words is an appeal to utopia, to the possible transformation not just of who we are, but of where we are. Bowie, for me, belongs to the best of a utopian aesthetic tradition that longs for a “yes” within the cramped, petty relentless “no” of Englishness. What his music yearned for and allowed us to imagine were new forms of being together, new intensities of desire and love in keener visions and sharper sounds.

Hunky Dory ★★★★★ Still, Even If Bowie Bonds Going Through Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Since they were originally issued, the Bowie Bonds have gone through ch-ch-ch-ch-changes:

When music icon David Bowie in 1997 introduced an unusual marriage between the rock scene and Wall Street, it was first billed as an innovative union.

The rock ‘n’ roll legend issued bonds backed by future revenue of the 25 albums he had recorded before 1990, paying a generous 7.9% interest rate over 10 years. The bond issue earned Bowie $55 million, which he used to buy back songs owned by his former manager.

Maybe a good idea on paper, but in March 2004, Moody’s Investors Service cut the Bowie Bonds to just one notch above junk. A spokesperson from the ratings agency … said the downgrade “was prompted by lower than expected revenues generated by the assets due to weakness in sales for recorded music,” according to The Telegraph.

The rating on the bonds may have changed, but some things will always remain the same.

Classic albums are — by definition — forever classic.

So let’s reaffirm the rating…

David Bowie — Hunky Dory

Progarchist Rating: ★★★★★