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Winner Of The David Bowie CD!

Congratulations to the inimitable Mike Lebrain for his super-fast turnaround of a mere 17 minutes after the contest post went live. He correctly answered the skill-testing question with the name of David Bowie’s character of the Goblin King in Labyrinth, which was “Jareth.”

Mike, your CD will be in the mail shortly!

And thanks to everyone else who entered their guesses… creative as some of them were!

Give ‘er!

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Win A David Bowie CD!

Yup, that’s right folks. I’ve come into possession of another CD copy of Blackstar, David Bowie’s last album. I want to send it to YOU!

Who gets it? The first person who correctly comments their answer to this skill-testing question:

WHAT WAS DAVID BOWIE’S CHARACTER NAME, AS THE GOBLIN KING, IN LABYRINTH?

NB: I will be away from my computer for most of today (Saturday), but your answers will be in chronological order in the Comments section (below), so when I return I’ll announce the winner as soon as I can tonight!

Good luck, everyone!

 

David Bowie – No Plan EP

I snagged this 4-song EP at the same time as I got Blackstar.

The details:

No Plan compiles the original songs written for Bowie’s Broadway musical, Lazarus, including the titular “Lazarus”, “No Plan”, “Killing a Little Time”, and “When I Met You”. The songs were first recorded by the cast of the musical as part of its official soundtrack. The recordings featured on No Plan come from the sessions for Bowie’s twenty-fifth and final studio album Blackstar, with “Lazarus” appearing as the third track on the album. (Wiki)

Lazarus, as we know, appears on the Blackstar album (see yesterday’s review). Listening to it again now, it’s no less harrowing.

And then there are the three non-album tracks:

No Plan slowly shuffles, seeking something, but gentle. Bowie’s voice sounds frail, probably on purpose to fit the song. It’s quite beautiful, honestly, slightly ethereal and jazzy.

Killing A Little Time brings the rock, a pounding drum beat and buzzsaw guitar lead us into Bowie as ringmaster of this circus, relentless and sure. Here’s a taste of what we’re hearing as the band roils…

I staggered through this criminal reign
I’m not in love, no phony pain
Creeping through this tidal wave
No warm embrace, just a lover’s grain
This symphony
This rage in me
I’ve got a handful of songs to sing
To sting your soul
To fuck you over
This furious reign
I’m falling, man
I’m choking, man
I’m fading, man
And broke and blind
I’m falling, man
I’m choking, man
I’m fading, man
Just killing a little time

Whoa. It goes on, too.

Anyway.

The last track is When I Met You, a fairly straight-up light(er) rock tune. Actually fairly reminiscent of some songs he did decades ago, and that has its own resonance here, too. Of course, it’s updated too, bits of it fitting the rest of the Blackstar sound perfectly. I maybe can’t quite describe it well enough, but this is a wee bit like hearing young and older Bowie at the same time!

In Sum:

There’s an honesty and depth to the work here, and these are worthy additions to the Blackstar sound, feel, and approach. If you’re a fan of Bowie’s last album, you’re going to need this EP too, to complete the picture.

David Bowie – Blackstar

A few wee disclaimers/notes up front:

1 – I’m not what anyone would call a massive David Bowie fan, though by no means do I dislike him. I appreciate what he did, but I only own two or three records, and am best acquainted with his hits. If you want a better review by people who know WAY more than me, Google will show you countless efforts. I’d recommend Boppin’s take, for sure.

2 – Surely we all know that this was his 25th record, recorded mostly in secret. It was released to coincide with his 69th birthday (2016), and he died two days later of a cancer the news of which he’d not shared with the public. I say good on him for doing things on his terms. He’d never ave had a moment’s peace if he’d told everyone.

3 – Yes, I am writing this over a year late. But I only bought the album recently, so I suppose now is better than never…

4 – Given my limited knowledge (see #1), I’m likely the worst person in the world to be writing about this record. But I’m gonna do it anyway, aren’t you lucky! Er…

***

Blackstar starts out as a spacelord radiohead-ish weirdo track, with saxophone! Close your eyes and drift out to the stars, baby, until you reach the Blackstar! But then the second half is soulfully lovely and a bit more straight-forward, though there are still elements that creep in… By the time it winds down and the electronics blip and bleep, all I could think was ‘what a trip!’ Boldly starting your record with a 10 minute 2-part song? That’s confidence, baby.

’Tis A Pity She Was A Whore is just a great song name, full points for that. This is a peppier rocker, still with the jazzy saxes! It’s a brilliant blast of infectious energy.

Lazarus is, naturally, slow and comfortable, though it’s occasionally cut by jagged guitars. I picture a late night big city fly-over, all the lights laid out below us, life going on in its myriad ways underneath us and we’re soaring above it all…

Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime) is a jittery rockin’ spy movie tune, but with life news and events as lyrics. Fascinating. His singing acts as opposite to the frantic music. This track is busy like crazy, but worth every second. Engrossing.

Girl Loves Me has a cool little vocal rise at the end of lines (almost a yodel!) and it’s another electronic-driven tune with a sure to be classic “where the fuck did Monday go?” line…

Dollar Days is sheer pretty pop, floating and drifting above acoustic guitars and raising/falling bass. This one has his knowledge of his own impending death all over it.* The saxophone drives it all home and we’re left thinking maybe this ought to have been the last track on the album!

I Can’t Give Everything Away lifts us back up with a happier beat and smooth synths. He starts singing and I realize… oh man, they play this one at work on the canned store radio! I know this tune! Oh man, hang on. I don’t know what to do with this information – this is the last track Bowie would put on a studio album, and it gets played in my thrift shop! David would probably find it amusing. Ah, no matter. You know, he was right, the album couldn’t have ended on Dollar Days, a down note. This jazzy, upbeat tune was the way to end it. And when the song fades out, I sit here and think, well, dammit.

In Sum:

As a swan song, this is one helluva record. Short, at only 7 songs, it still contains more than enough to keep folks happy for a long time. Death looms large over a lot of it, along with a sense of a life well-lived but with so many more thoughts to follow and share and create, and so with a sadness that time is not on his side… I really thought the jazz elements made this record what it was. Sure, there’s so much else going on, most of it more important, but that saxophone was the glue, the common line, the recognizeable relief (but never the fool).

Truly an excellent goodbye to his fans. Even if he hadn’t died right after this dropped, this would still have earned most of the accolades it received.

FUCK CANCER.

 

* Dollar Days lyrics:

Cash girls suffer me, I’ve got no enemies
I’m walking down
It’s nothing to me
It’s nothing to see

If I never see the English evergreens I’m running to
It’s nothing to me
It’s nothing to see

I’m dying to
Push their backs against the grain
And fool them all again and again
I’m trying to

We bitches tear our magazines
Those Oligarchs with foaming mouths come
Now and then
Don’t believe for just one second I’m forgetting you
I’m trying to
I’m dying to

Dollar days
Survival sex honour stretching tails to necks
I’m falling down
It’s nothing to me
It’s nothing to see

If I never see the English evergreens I’m running to
It’s nothing to me
It’s nothing to see

I’m dying to
Push their backs against the grain
And fool them all again and again
I’m trying to

It’s all gone wrong but on and on
The bitter nerve ends never end
I’m falling down
Don’t believe for just one second I’m forgetting you
I’m trying to
I’m dying to
I’m trying to
I’m dying to
I’m trying to
I’m dying to
I’m trying to
I’m dying to
I’m trying to
I’m dying to

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