David Bowie


Every time I glance at the cover of The Next Day, a sense of relief and happiness descends on me. I am found, and set square on the earth. I know where I am, where we all are.

Always ready to be wrong, always uncertain and apologetic for my stupidity and then – proof falls out of the sky unasked. You believe in UFOs – a UFO lands in New York. You believe in Reptilian Overlords and the Queen’s mask falls off. Or like me you suspect that insipid nostalgia has become pandemic and a Bowie record comes out with artwork from THIRTY SIX YEARS AGO with a stupid white box slapped over it.

Why didn’t they use Comic Sans? If you are going to announce that you have truly given up and have absolutely nothing left to offer, at least give it that friendly, happy look. A clip art of a puppy and some balloons maybe? Because at the moment there’s a slight protest that the white box is in some way stylish, that it aspires to some artistry. The sad ass who ‘designed’ this has landed on something as default as Myriad Fucking Pro. Ineffectually ‘professional’. Gutless. A tepid little mnemonic of risk. Give me HOBO or death.


Look at the font on the original sleeve. It’s ugly, gloriously, proudly fuck you seventies ugly. They have crossed it out, but even then in a timid little scratch.

Where is the humour, the ribaldry? It’s a twee little titter of a thing that dares not rise above a ‘reference’ to become a fully grown mock.

I love this album art as an honest appraisal of our artistic landscape in 2013. A time where so many touch screens, tweets, arduino boards and clouds all conspire to squeeze out a mealy little fart. A time when we desperately cling to the old revolutionaries even when they became reactionary swine. When Bowie and Kraftwerk and Joy Division are the names we have to work with – long after they were left out of the fridge.

I was apologetic for continuing to exist, but I realise that what we need is so much of this limp filth that that the audience rises up and strangles us. Bring it on.


22 thoughts on “David Bowie

  1. It all started with Bowie for me, even in the late nineties/early 2000s. But I find it strange that when he was putting something out every other year from about “Tin Machine” to “Reality” (Heathen I think, even for an “adult contemporary” album is bloody decent)…he was largely panned or ignored.

    Now, he reappears after a decade off and is delivering largely the same-sort-of-thing – AND HE’S AMAZING, WE ALL LOVE HIM AGAIN, WE NEED HIM, LIKE THE QUEEN. I can’t work it out. There’s at least *a* great song on the new album, but are we so dry and wanting for something new and inventive that we have to suddenly accord him this desparate status? Maybe it’s just how I’m seeing the situation.

    • Reality was a decent album, or at least had some tracks that had the mystique that Bowie could spring when he was warmed up. The best Bowie is like a window into something pretty and nasty.

      But this is not about Bowie. It’s more about the current need to make music into sound art, hung in galleries only after it’s dead. Painters are best dead. Paintings are best dead, Everything dead. The Tate Modern speaks.

      • I didn’t even think of it that way, it is possible that is the angel…yikes. Mind, you, it is behaving like a good seventies “arty rock/pop” record in the charts. Cute.

  2. For me it started with American punk. The in your face visual sense they had was always intriguing. Even so, when you started fingering the entrails, you could smell hippy nonsense all over it. Just ask Jello! Anyway, I have been impressed lately with younger American crap like Gaslamp Killer, Flying Lotus, and GONJASUFI. More real about how unreal real is. It is the healthy way for art. Music that thinks it can change something in the world of humanity is just as doomed as lawyers who think they are making a difference in a junky court. Just stop it man, it doesn’t matter. Really, I am serious.

    • “Music that thinks it can change something.”
      There has been some moments, even if only for the individual here and there. The nostalgia industry denies even that small effect.

  3. I’d have been impressed if Bowie had done an album of Leonard Nimoy mashups. The Laughing Gnome meets The Ballad of Dildo Baggins. Now that would have been at least funny to look at in the gallery..

    • Why is the cover of this not based on the Laughing Gnome? I think that Heroes must be the album that gallery curators bought when they were kids. They are all late 40’s and they want their childhood – for everyone.

      • I’m in my mid-40’s and still think “The Laughing Gnome” is his best work. I guess it’s quite fortunate for all concerned that I’m not a gallery curator.. the exhibition might be called “The Laughing Stock”

        I manage to listen to 2 whole songs before I turned it off. Complete and utter wank, it was.

    • I’m pretty sure the Dame got something right to ruffle your feathers so.

      Bottom line is Bowie has a weird strike rate, you gotta give him his Berlin trilogy et al in exchange for the bottom wobbling video with Jagger and those Pepsi commercials.

  4. I had a similar reaction to the announcement of the new Wire album recently. Not only can you preorder what thus far sounds depressingly mediocre, but through their website you can also purchase Wire pillows(!) and Wire tote bags (?!?!). If you’re feeling particularly extravagant you can preorder the new album and a guitar played by Colin for the meager sum of 1100 GBP. I’m not sure who coined the phrase ‘Kill Your Idols’, my brain tells me it was Sonic Youth, but it was sound advice.

    • People in bands don’t often have a pension fund / superannuation. 🙁 That’s another reason why the aged are on the road right now.

      I’ve heard it’s a major reason for New Order to be on the road.

    • I’m going to let this one through to illustrate what a creep you are Cynthia Bailey and because it’s not one of your usual 10 page ‘spew any random information’ pretentious diatribes. You’re not on my ignore list because you are a woman or American as you so often complain. It’s because you are an abject tosser who has spent 5 years throwing out any and everything to get attention.

      And your creepy threats will continue to go straight to the police.

      You keep changing IP addresses to get around Akismet. It fortunately gets better at flagging your crap and I will now let it do its job.

  5. Blame the hipsters, they all get away with listening to, watching, eating, drinking, repeating, wearing, riding, writing, repeating crap because they’re being ironic… that or they’re just cheap bastards.

    • They have that fault of celebrating their lack. But in a way it beats the 60’s and 70’s ideal of ‘youth having the answers’. The current youth admit they have very little to offer – and then they congratulate themselves anyway. Chutzpah!

      Looking at the entertainment on offer though, you’d have to see it as the Boomers still holding their vice like grip on culture. I was surprised to see Laurie Anderson is not appearing at VIVID. It’s not an Australian festival without Laurie Anderson.

  6. I think this is the cover of a man who is exhausted of re-inventing himself decade after decade.

    This design has “my last intended recording” written all over it. Really, what could he do visually for his next album? I wished he had used Never Let Me Down for this idea. That one was atrocious.

  7. I have no love for Bowie. The instrumentals from the mid 70’s are more my thing.
    Still have a soft spot for the 130 odd bpm smasher that is The Laughing Gnome.

    Re: Wire – I am very fond of Wire and having had a chance to listen to the new album for the past couple of months I can happily say that it sounds like Wire.

    Re the merchandise thing, how else do bands supplement their income ?

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