Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Track Review: David Bowie - Where Are They Now?

In 1965, David Bowie was turned away by the BBC for singing out of tune in an audition. Legendary DJ John Peel managed to get Bowie another audition, and he was successful. Bowie's career all comes down to those early years. He established himself with 'Space Oddity', hit big with 1971s Hunky Dory and stayed in our minds with the classic Berlin Trilogy that includes Heroes, Low and Lodger. Concepts with 74s 84-influenced Diamond Dogs and covers with Pin Ups. Where are they now? You ask, on the vinyl shelf, readily available to an ageing population of 50 year olds. As Bowie reaches the tender age of 66 and announces his 24th album, we can be forgiven for having a little bit of excitement.

Bowie once sang: "time may change me, but I can't trace time." This self-explanatory lyric has been the key to Bowie's success over the years. Bowie joins one of his major influences Scott Walker in being a golden oldie readily embarking on another album. Walker's material is sparse, but has a long-lasting effect, an effect seen all over Bowie's work. Look at the still image above taken from Bowie's new video; he looks old, menacing, but still graceful in every way. Bowie doesn't need the money or the limelight, he's 66. He's an artist that has lived in every decade since his the 60s, and he's going nowhere soon. Bowie’s is coming out with a new album because he wants to, not because he has to.

'Where Are We Now?' sounds like Elton John playing the Cocteau Twins half blast, while over hearing the latest Kate Bush album. The last highly publicised material given away from Bowie was on an episode of Extras, so 'Where Are We Now?' is more than welcome. The lyrics refer to Bowie's time spent in Berlin, Germany in the 70s. Veteran Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti is back behind the decks and Bowie's synth material of the Berlin Trilogy makes a return. 

The track starts very slow, with a Vangelis-esque synthesizer and a thumping piano. Bowie sounds old, but this may be intended given the tracks time motive. As Bowie chorus' go, this is one of his worst. Not to worry because the actual structure and sound are far more rewarding than several seconds of Bowie attempting to hit the high notes. The track doesn't really get going till the later third, where the drums pick up pace and the electric guitars enter with all the dream pop effects of the 90s. Bowie raises his character and his voice, the volume picks up and that's enough for a Bowie song to be complete. It's not his best work but it is however better than the 90s and 00s material. His album The Next Day will be released in March.