David Bowie
David Bowie


2.5
average

Review

by Brendan Schroer STAFF
January 20th, 2016 | 36 replies


Release Date: 1967 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A mediocre pop record that bears little resemblance to the David Bowie we all know today.

Chapter I: Trends of the Times

David Bowie. The man, the myth, the legend. A trendsetter. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist. An innovator. A legend of musical and visual reinvention. It seems the world has become a darker place since Bowie’s death on January 10, and emotional recollections and tributes regarding his work surfaced all over the world in the wake of his passing. And why not? Of his 25-album career, at least a quarter of that work can safely be considered ground-breaking and legendary in the world of popular music. The Rise of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was a seminal piece of glam rock that gave birth to the iconic titular alter ego, Low and ”Heroes” saw Bowie bringing krautrock and ambient music to the masses, and now we’ve got his final effort Blackstar combining art rock with jazz in unique and fascinating ways. Why do I bring all of this up? Because it’s interesting to think that such a trendsetter had such humble and derivative beginnings.

David Bowie’s self-titled debut (not to be confused with his 1969 self-titled effort) is pretty much baroque pop with elements of folk rock and music hall. Right from the first track “Uncle Arthur,” you can tell that Bowie was heavily influenced by artists such as The Beatles and Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys both musically and vocally around this time. The music hall influences are a lot more prominent here, however, and quite a few songs (most notably “Rubber Band,” “Little Bombardier,” and “Maid of Bond Street”) and have brass-based orchestration of some sort. There’s an oddly bubbly and whimsical tone to the whole record, even during some of the darkest and most morbid subject matter; most songs sound quite innocent, like the sweetly upbeat and somewhat tongue-in-cheek “Love You till Tuesday” or the tale of a land children inhabit apart from their elders in “There Is a Happy Land,” but then there’s a song like “We Are Hungry Men” which talks about infanticide and abortion! Either way, the quirky tone of the album doesn’t always mesh well in situations like these. Another problem is that the record sounds so inoffensive and boring during other parts that the songs run together after a while. There’s not much variety; when you pick a song from this album, you usually get either of these: a quirky music hall song, a more subdued folk rock number, or a Beatles-influenced baroque pop tune. There’s not much beyond that.

However, a few things stand out. First of all, the acoustic guitar playing tends to be fantastic on this album. “Come and Buy My Toys” is a big highlight in this regard, frequently switching between whimsy and subdued melancholy with the very same instrument (the acoustic guitar is also the only instrument on this song other than the bass). There’s also a fair amount of experimentation in a few songs, which would ultimately hint at Bowie’s more innovative work. “Join the Gang” combines a vintage piano sound with a sitar while its tempo creates a generally frantic and energetic atmosphere, and the closer “Please Mr. Gravedigger” is an oddly somber and minimalistic a cappella number sung over the backdrop of a thunderstorm. If we had more of these songs to break up the general monotony of the cheerier pop/rock numbers, I think this would have been a more interesting and notable release in David Bowie’s discography. However, aside from a larger emphasis on music hall elements, this is basically an average baroque pop record that does little beyond what many of Bowie’s 60s peers were doing at the time. It’s not really a bad record, just not the most interesting album compared to what Bowie could do in the future. Luckily, his next piece of work showcases a huge leap forward in both creativity and distinctiveness as an artist.



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2.4
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Koris
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2016


21278 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This was a bit of a short write-up because there wasn't a whole lot to bring up. The album is pretty much average in almost every sense of the word. I'll have a lot more to say about his future albums :]



So yeah, I won't be going back to the Who discog for a while. It seems more fitting to do this one after Bowie's death. Plus, in all honesty, I do prefer David Bowie to The Who... so I feel more inclined to do an entire discog of his work

Frippertronics
Emeritus
January 20th 2016


19536 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

you best not pan Black Tie White Noise if you get to it, boi

Koris
Staff Reviewer
January 20th 2016


21278 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I didn't plan to :}

Frippertronics
Emeritus
January 20th 2016


19536 Comments

Album Rating: 2.7

shieeet

Tunaboy45
January 20th 2016


18435 Comments


I honestly don't think I could review a Bowie album right now but good job anyway. The Laughing Gnome is a classic.

dimsim3478
January 20th 2016


8987 Comments


chapter 1

here. we. go.

furyroad97
January 20th 2016


552 Comments


This one was probably more like a curiosity than anything else, not exactly the case for, I don't know, everything else he dropped afterwards up to Scary Monsters (not counting Pin Ups).

TheIntruder
January 20th 2016


773 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Nice review, man. I'm glad that you did a review of an almost unknown album of Bowie. Have a pos.

ArsMoriendi
January 20th 2016


41174 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah, pos.

eddie95
January 20th 2016


708 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good review, I think the length is fine. Have a pos

TwigTW
January 20th 2016


3938 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Interesting review, generous rating ;-)

adr
January 20th 2016


12097 Comments


Space Oddity is a 2.5 so this is prob like 1.5 yeah

ArsMoriendi
January 20th 2016


41174 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I mean adr, if you're going to 3 Hunky Dory, then sure this is a 1.5 lol

adr
January 20th 2016


12097 Comments


yea but hunky dory is overrated af, i think his glam albums peaked with Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane. I really like Bowie.

ArsMoriendi
January 20th 2016


41174 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Hunky is deff my favorite glam-era Bowie, also I really like Bowie too.



Check Lodger.

evilford
January 20th 2016


64750 Comments


hunky dory IS NOT overrated, my god good sir, never have I heard such offensive blasphemy

adr
January 20th 2016


12097 Comments


it is tho
also Han Solo is dead

evilford
January 20th 2016


64750 Comments


what?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111111111111111

evilford
January 20th 2016


64750 Comments


noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

ArsMoriendi
January 20th 2016


41174 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Only overrated Bowie albums are Ziggy and Low and they're only overrated because I've witnessed them both being called "the best album of the entire 1970s" on multiple occasions. Even P4Ks thinks Low is the best album of the entire 1970s lol.



Both are still wonderful albums that I have 4.5'd :P



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