David Bowie
Reality


3.5
great

Review

by Major Tom CONTRIBUTOR (139 Reviews)
August 16th, 2011 | 46 replies


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The reality of a legend finding his confidence again is a delight to behold…

2002’s Heathen was a true return to form for David Bowie, and its often hailed accolade of being ‘his best album in 30 years’ is well deserved. It seemed as though he had found himself once again and the results were telling – a consistent and exciting track-list, which sounded more assured than anything he did post-Scary Monsters. It proved to be a crucial statement to the press, fans and the listening world that Bowie still had some gas in the tank because its tracks didn’t consciously try to be on trend or innovative – they were just very solid, well-constructed songs from a talented craftsman, quietly leafing through an old photograph book of times gone by. Essentially, Reality follows the same blueprint as its predecessor and hits all the same highpoints in the process.

Like last year’s effort, Reality is a confident, mature and self-assured album featuring a consistent set of polished songs. Tony Visconti returns in the producers chair and his skilful hand is once again appreciated as he channels Bowie’s ideas into fully-functioning modern gems. There’s nothing as rocking as ‘Slow Burn’ this time around, but the album has a slightly weirder edge to it, with odd sparkles of noise and subtle inclusions of Bowie’s treasured Stylophone flecked throughout. Still, it’s more of the same when it comes down to it, and that’s precisely why Reality shapes up as a great listen; practically on a par with Heathen.

The hollow drums and jerky guitars of the fantastic opening cut, ‘New Killer Star’ are quietly reminiscent of his Berlin-era tunes, whilst the jazzy piano flourishes on the lengthy closing piece, ‘Bring Me The Disco King’ evoke sophisticated Aladdin tracks such as ‘Lady Grinning Soul’, without sounding cheaply retro or obvious (probably down to the fact that it’s Mike Garson tapping the keys on this record too). The set improves with repeated listens and reveals its catchiness and solid construction over time, boasting highlights such as the nervy cover of ‘Pablo Picasso’, the steady panic, ‘Never Get Old’, and the touching sentimentality of ‘The Loneliest Guy’.

Reality and Heathen are both superb modern Bowie albums, harking back to older days of glory without seeming desperate to dig up the past and use it as a platform – instead using it as a springboard for influence and creativity. The reason Heathen crops up a lot in this review is simply because it works perfectly aside Reality in painting the full portrait picture of Bowie in the 00s – confident, directed and ready to remind the world that he’s a superb songwriter, lest they forget or remain uncertain after the nervous genre-hopping of the preceding decade.

The albums share not only similar sounds, but conjoined lyrical themes also. There’s an undercurrent of darkness and paranoia that’s pretty much essential to the characterisation of a Bowie record, and they both share his thoughts on spirituality, the regrets of the past and the fears of the future. Reality is just another great Bowie record then, and serves as a satisfying part 2 to what Heathen started; the only bitterness born with the hindsight we have in 2011 of the shape of things to come – precisely, that nothing did come afterwards. Whether Bowie’s succeeding heart problems or something else turned him off writing another album, the absence of a new record and no news on the horizon of plans to enter the studio sadly suggest that this might be the last Bowie record. He’s almost a pensioner after all, but who cares? Reality suggests there’s life in the old dog yet and its success proved that there’s a world of Bowiephiles praying for one more record from one of the planet’s greatest and most influential living artists. Come on Davey Jones; make our dreams of one more album a reality!



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user ratings (172)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

80 reviews down, Bowie discog complete and it's my birthday! Think i'm gonna take a well-deserved break before i review something else - still don't know what.

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2011


6487 Comments


Slow day on Sputnik, thank god there is the daily Bowie review ;)

Congratulations Major Tom! And a very happy birthday to ya! :D

Digging: Andy Stott - Faith in Strangers

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 16th 2011


7311 Comments


2002’s Heathen was a true return to form for David Bowie, and it’s often hailed accolade of being ‘his best album in 30 years’ is well deserved.

I think you mean "its"...aside from that this is solid as usual. Happy birthday Major Tom! And congratulations on another discography well done!

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Cheers guys, thanks for the review pos/b'day wishes.

Tyrael
August 16th 2011


20899 Comments


Congratulations on the discography and for your birthday :]
Any idea what you'll be doing next?

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Thanks dude. I dunno yet, i know for sure that i'm gonna have at least a few days off before whatever comes next. As for what it actually is that i'll review next; i'm undecided.

Suggestions anyone???

fsharptrit0ne
August 16th 2011


4814 Comments


happy bday Tom! Fantastic review, it was a pleasure reading through your Bowie reviews fine sir

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2011


6487 Comments


Are you a fan of The Jam, Tom?

Jethro42
August 16th 2011


12478 Comments


Happy birthday Tom, and congrats on the discog which I still have about a half to read. Suggestion for you; Simple Minds

omnipanzer
August 16th 2011


21621 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Happy B-Day Major.

Digging: We Were Promised Jetpacks - Unravelling

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 16th 2011


7311 Comments


Rawr Omnipanzer avatar.

omnipanzer
August 16th 2011


21621 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Another great review. I am unfortunately not familiar with this album at all but it definitely has a place on my list now.

omnipanzer
August 16th 2011


21621 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Rawr Omnipanzer avatar."

You are welcome.

Jethro42
August 16th 2011


12478 Comments


Also, why not;
The Pretenders
Siouxsie and the Banshees
Talking Heads

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2011


6487 Comments


Talking Heads ^^

Tom93M
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2011


1106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Thanks for the B'Day wishes and pos's, guys.

Are you a fan of The Jam, Tom?

I'm not familair with all their stuff but i like what i've heard so far.

...Simple Minds...Also, why not; The Pretenders, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Talking Heads


Cool bands, i'll defo consider them. Thanks for the recs people - keep em rolling in : )

Tyrael
August 16th 2011


20899 Comments


My suggestion: The Who :]

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
August 16th 2011


6487 Comments


I'm seeing you haven't reviewed Joy Division yet Tom... ;)

Nagrarok
August 16th 2011


8259 Comments


I'm sorry to say I haven't exactly kept up with your entire Bowie run-through, but here's another double congrats, it's all quality work from what I've seen. Hopefully in the near future I'll go through his work, and I'll be sure to read these as I go along. You sir, are a dedicated discog reviewer indeed.

My suggestion: The Who :]


Mr. Keith Moon to the left here supports this motion.

AggravatedYeti
August 16th 2011


7685 Comments


Have a great birthday Tom!





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