David Bowie’s best-selling record until the day he died was launched 35 years ago today. The move to sing for the many not the few did help his career but would cost him his hardcore fan base who would return to him only on occasion after that when the launched three of his more obscure masterpieces like “Outside”, “Heathen” and the haunting “Blackstar”.
By the time you read this it will be already April 14 in Australia, the continent he took to in order to film the video clip for the song “Let’s Dance”. It was 1983 and there were more folk dancing to David Bowie than ever before. “Let’s Dance” was the main single from the eponymous album and suddenly a considerable part of the world discovered the icon gone global after fourteen albums where he appealed mostly to a crowd that felt motivated to live up to their different music tastes, clothing, sexuality and whatever Bowie stood and stands for ever since he appeared with his new approach to music and fashion. Assisted by funkmaster Nile Rogers, better known as founding member of Chic and producer of major hits from bands like Sister Sledge the record made its way to dance floors. But despite the clear funk influence Bowie did not give up his rock influences having invited Steve Ray Vaughan to add his guitar riffs thereby launching an album with the right funky feel that suited the early 80’s but with a pint of rock here and there. The image, another distinguishing feature of David Bowie seemed to follow the popular spirit of the new Bowie. Wearing immaculate suites in pastel colours and his hair dyed blond Bowie looked rather like an northern-European holidaymaker than the alien he had impersonated in some records.
35 years after being released “Let’s Dance” is still a difficult album to digest for the hardcore Bowie fan and marked a period of some creative decline in the man’s career. The Bowie for the many not the few was not the Bowie the few waited for and he would regain his particular fanbase only after “Outside” which followed the popular “Tonight” and the not so popular “Never let me down” and “Black Tie White Noise”. After that he failed again when trying to have a go with drum’n and bass with “Earthling”, when he launched “Hours” a mild album and “Relity” equally mild, the album that preced “Heathen”, the record that hinted somehow to the path he would follow when he launched “The Next Day” and his final epos “Blackstar”, the record that proved that despite some failed attempts he was still the man he stands for for many – avant-garde, unpredictable and master of reinvention.
French electronic music guru Jean Michel Jarre released a track with statements by Edward Snowden. The track, along with video excerpts filmed in Moscow, where Snowden now lives in exile, will be presented live during Jarre’s gig at Sónar festival in Barcelona.
Jean Michel Jarre, the French musician mostly known for his electronic masterpiece Oxigéne, an album that has sold over 12 million copies so far, and for having been the first to bring electronic music live to the big masses from France to China, teamed up in 2015 with some members of the crème de le crème of pop and electronic music for his album “Electronica 1”, a sort of history of electronic music. A total of 12 musicians accepted his invitation to work in that album from Laurie Anderson to Moby through M83, Air, Massive Attack’s 3 D or Gesaffelstein just to name a few. One year after, he is back with volume two “Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise”, teaming up again with a handful of musicians from Pet Shop Boys to Primal Scream, Gary Numan, Cyndi Lauper or Peaches. And a new surprising name was added to the list: Edward Snowden.
“Exit” is the name of track featuring the voice of Edward Snowden with declarations on the right to privacy and the need to stand up for those rights. “If you don’t, I will”, he says. In the track Snowden’s voice comes out amidst fast galloping beats and electronic sounds and sirens as if someone was being chased. “One of the recurrent themes of Electronica Vol. 1 & 2 is the ambiguous relationship we have with technology. On one side we have the world in our pocket and on the other side, the world is spying on us constantly. Edward Snowden became a modern hero, not by saying ‘stop’, but to be careful regarding the (ab)use of technology. Our future needs brave people like him”, Jarre said, thus explaining the reason why this activist’s voice features in his album. According to the Guardian Jarre’s wish to meet Snowden was expressed during an interview to this newspaper and it was the Guardian that made it possible to the French musician to get in touch with Edward Snowden by providing Snowden’s lawyer’s contact. After a skype conversation where the track was played to Snowden, Jarre travelled to Moscow to film Edward Snowden who’s been living in exile in this city after whistleblowing details from the American NSA. The Images filmed will be shown during the première of Electronica 2 at the Sónar festival in Barcelona and will be preceded by a talk on June 16 at Sónar +D where he will speak of his use of technology when staging his shows and most probably about Snowden’s collaboration in a track from “Electronica 2: The Heart of Noise”.
The band formed by Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn are about to release a new album and according to recent rumors and hints by Hewlett the new record might feature a track (or more) by the late David Bowie. These rumors were dismissed after Bowies death. But new hints point to a collaboration, suggesting that Bowie had worked with them before his death. First there was an image of a Gorillaz cartoon figure holding the cover of Hunky Dory and recently Hewlett released a picture on Instagram depicting Bowie with the caption Bad Bowie. Considering the level of secrecy of David Bowie prior to his death this might well be true, thus fulfilling the promise that there is a lot more to come from Bowie after his death. Damon Albarn the frontman of Blur and one of the founders of Gorillaz performed with Bowie singing “Fashion” and for the track “M.O.R” Blur drew inspiration from “Boys Keep Swinging” and “Fantastic Voyage”. After his death Damon Albarn said Bowie “has such a profound effect on my life, I don´t know where to start”. Judging from the images God, Bowie, Albarn and Hewlett only know whether the rumors of a collaboration are true or whether the new Gorillaz album is just a heartfelt tribute to David Bowie.
Every now and then a band manages to capture the sound of a city and convey its atmosphere in an intense and beautiful masterpiece.
Recorded in just one night at the Valentim de Carvalho studios near Lisbon and released in 1983 by the label Fundação Atlântica, “Amigos em Portugal” is a beautiful proof of the love and affection of this band for Portugal. “Menina ao pé de uma piscina” is the most remarkable example of how the band was able to put into music the whole Lisbon experience. With its weeping and powerful electric guitar Vini Reily managed to reproduce the lament and nostalgia of a fado guitar echoing in a dark alley of Lisbon, while a drum machine echoed the heartbeat of the city. Trips to Lisbon began after the successful launch of their second album “LC” with a handful of concerts for a crowd eager for new sounds. The nostalgia conveyed by the band matched perfectly the mood of the Portuguese saudade. The Portuguese seem to know how to identify a heartfelt song. This explains the success of bands in Portugal like Durutti Column, the remarkable success of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions who had here their number one fan base, the thrill of Radiohead’s first gig in Lisbon which the band claims was probably their best gig ever and the goose bumps felt by 30 thousand people in an open air festival by the sea during a Portishead concert. With “Amigos em Portugal” Durutti Column acknowledged this relationship with the country and depicted the atmosphere of Lisbon, coming back to the fado mood shortly after when they released powerful dance track, “Fado“, featuring a sample of Amália Rodrigues’ “Povo que Lavas no Rio”.
Durutti Column were formed by Vini Reily and Bruce Mitchel in 1978. The name of the band comes from Buenaventura Durutti, the man who led a column of anarchist fighters during the Spanish Civil War. Their first album received the name of “The Return of Durutti column” and was inspired by a poster from Situationist International featuring that very same phrase. Friends of Tony Wilson and of a number of people who contributed for the big revolution in modern music in the eighties, from Ian Curtis to Morrisey, theirs has been a quiet revolution through sound. For more insight on this band check also the band’s albums “LC” or “The guitar and other machines”.
Soulwax, also known to the dance community as 2ManyDJs have released one of the best tributes to David Bowie so far. “Dave” is an incredible mix of sound and vision of the man’s songs, a great reminder and a fabulous introduction to Bowie’s songs for the generation of this new millennium.
David Bowie would have loved “Dave”, the tribute video and mix by Belgian band and DJs soulwax. In one hour the two DJs have managed to cleverly mix Bowie’s most iconic tracks from “Fame” to “All the Young dudes” taking us on a true journey through the sound of David Bowie. After doing a number of Bowie mashups in their gigs, they now released what is so far the best compilation mixing Bowie tracks making us take to the dancefloor. For those who know the man’s work this is a fabulous reminder of his body of work, a clever mix of songs featuring also some great remixes. “Let’s Dance” is one of the most striking examples: The remix adds some beats that remind of us of “I Feel Love” and by doing so they provided a true 21st Century Mix to that popular Bowie song. Transitions from track to track are once again a proof of these Belgian DJs’ talent. See the transition from “Fame” to “Starman” and then to “Always Crashing in the Same Car” or the transition from “Under Pressure” to the generation hymn “Heroes”. This mix, according to Soulwax, is “our homage to the man whose ability to change whilst remaining himself has been a massive influence on us. There are many legends in the music industry but for us, there is no greater than the mighty Dave. We’ve included all things Bowie, whether that is original songs, covers, backing vocals, production work or reworks we made, to attempt to give you the full scope of the man’s genius.”
Soulwax did not focus on the music alone. Considering David Bowie’s visual legacy they made a one hour film with model Hannelore Knuts in Thin White Luke-like attire who takes us through a one trip at the sound of Bowie’s songs. Directed by Wim Reygaert, the film leads the absolutely cool looking Hannelore through a hotel where she meets characters resembling to the likes of Iggy Pop, William S. Burroughs, Freddie Mercury or Tony Visconti. Clever tributes to the man should take into account both the sound and vision dimension of the man. That was particularly the case of LuxFrágil in Lisbon, a huge three-storey club where 2ManyDJs have played more than once, and that hosted a Bowie hommage party combining both elements: while a number of DJs played Bowie songs images compiled and mixed by José Pinheiro, one of Portugal’s best music video directors, were displayed to the delight of a crowd that cleverly dressed for the occasion. “Dave” is a true voyage through sound and vision, providing the right imagery to the man’s legacy, a document for you to retain and show your kids, friends and next of kin. A true tutorial to the work of David Bowie.
Ten days after his death the Mayor of New York proclaimed January 20, 2016 David Bowie Day
At the curtain call of the final performance of “Lazarus” in New York on the twentieth January, ten days after Bowie’s death, this city’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio, designated January 20 2016 David Bowie Day in New York City. The proclamation was read at the end of the play produced for the New York Theater Workshop and which Bowie conceived and co-created. “Lazarus” is also the name of the track included in Blackstar, the album that reached Nº 1 in more than 20 countries and was considered by a fair deal of music magazines and newspapers as the best album of 2016.
This announcement came after a number of statements by some of New York’s most prominent personalities from former Mayor Bloomberg to the current Mayor Balsio and a number of New Yorkers. Bowie considered the possibility of moving back to London where he was born but ended up staying in New York, the city where he could live a quite life to himself visiting art galleries, bookshops and jazz clubs like a normal New Yorker. It was in one this clubs that he found the musicians who would later play with him in his final work of art “Blackstar”.
“The Next Day”, the much anticipated and publicised new album by David Bowie is out this week worldwide. It all began with the release of the first single “Where are we now” that brings us to Berlin, to the city where he once lived and recorded three of his best albums and where his creativity was at its […]