In an age when the creative wells have truly dried up for the ilk of Dylan, McCartney and friends, there remains one shining light.
Glistening brighter than perhaps ever before is the spotlight focused well and truly on one, Mr. David Robert Jones of Brixton, London, now residing in the affluent limits of Manhattan, NYC. An awe-inspiring character known to many of us simply as Bowie, the thin white duke is set to return with his 26th studio offering in September entitled "Reality".
What's curious about "Reality" is that for many years now, each new offering from the legendary Englishmen in New York has been hailed as the "best record since Scary Monsters". This time 'round the expression is still in place though some things have ch..ch..ch..changed. In 2003 "Reality" is Bowie's "best record since 2002's Heathen". Hot on the heels of the critically acclaimed offering from last year, "Reality" finds an artist in touch with not only himself, but the world around him.
The media trail has begun, the reviews have initiated their long and winding road to the masses and the expectations of "Reality" are at their highest since dare I say it, the days of "Never Let Me Down". In wait of Bowie's first "real" world tour since 1990 broadcasters have begun their arguments for and against what may be a defining moment in the cannon of a career that has spanned more than 60 UK hit singles, numerous classic and sometimes vile LP offerings, films, a short lived stage career and even a shallow dip into the world of art. What Bowie offers as an artist is not just music. The contributions on this platter include pretension, skill, guile and sometimes a smattering of style. Fans and critics alike never know what to expect from a new release which can make life as a Bowie admirer or perhaps detractor constantly difficult.
All this leads me to the one simple question. Why are the expectations of a new Bowie record so high? The music world waits with baited breath in the weeks leading into a new release. Die hard fans often hope for a mainstream miss to subdue the Phil Collins fans in their wait for Let's Dance part two. As 1.Outside and Earthling proved in mid to late 90's you don't have to sell out to record a quality and accessible product. What proved to be a headache for major label big wigs in the mid 90's turned out to be a sensational coup for the long suffering fans who waited for the post Tin Machine slump to end. Radio stations may feel the need to by pass quality product, whilst the critics pine for a Ziggy Stardust revival, of which we may and most likely will never see, yet you know every new record will only provoke mass hysteria and attract new fans. With the discovery of a new Bowie record, these fresh fish so to speak will then slowly fall into the wonderful back catalogue of a career that has spanned more than 40 years and influenced the likes of Placebo, Suede, Blur, Radiohead, NIN and even current Detroit rockers, The White Stripes.
Courtesy of early glimpses via BowieNet, "Reality" smacks with now! From the rocking "Never Get Old" to the subdued jazz elements of "Bring Me The Disco King" Bowie hits all the right notes with this one. Leading off with the first single "New Killer Star" where we see Bowie facing the demons of 9/11 the expectations are high already. Despite what some feel to be flat and undesirable cover art, "Reality" will set aside the demons on years gone by.
Commencing a seven month world tour in October including for the first time in 16 years, Australia making sure this time out Bowie is sure not to displease. What "Reality" offers is a smattering of everything that made his 70's output so compulsive. The critics will look for flaws in an effort to condemn the most important and influential artist of our times, yet try as they might, the flaws just aren't there with "Reality".
Bowie is back and unlike his peers he refuses to bow to the art of nostalgia and "Greatest Hits" tours instead looking for new directions. In a pioneering world first "Reality" will be premiered in cinemas all over the globe on September 8th with the album itself falling from the stars the following week. The result of these new directions is yet to be achieved though as the days approach to the release of "Reality" the music industry is bracing itself for something special from a craftsman with a creative melting pot waiting to explode.
28th August 2003.