Friday 26th September
After the monumental success of mid-eighties Let’s Dance it seemed that David could do no wrong. Until he released his next record that is, and the few that followed too. “Tonight” and “Never Let Me Down” were pretty awful, rehashing old ideas and drifting dangerously close to the middle ground, a place he had always avoided. Then he decided to be a member of a band and created Tin Machine, a noisy synth and guitar band which is best forgotten. He then went all jazzy with “Black Tie, White Noise” and Drum’n’Bass with “Earthling”; a lot of noise but only a smattering of decent songs. He still sold in the millions but seemed to be treading water.
But being David Bowie he still had a few surprises up his sleeve. He teamed up again with Eno to produce the Art-Rock-Detective-Sci-Fi album “Outside” which I thought was the best thing he had done in years. Then an Accoustic album of sad slow songs “Hours” which was another side of him we hadn’t seen since Hunky Dory. “Heathen” and “Reality” followed, solid albums but nothing really new. Then nothing for a decade. Rumours abounded that he was ill, had Aids, was dying or had died. The truth is he was painting. He had always had an interest in Art and had become a collector of Modern Art, but now he was painting. Or so one narrative went. He popped up, playing a nasty version of himself in the brilliant comedy series “Extras”. He had acted in a few films before and you had to wonder if his whole life was as an actor? Anthony Newley, Ziggy, The Thin White Duke, the Disco King, and it does seem he loves to make Art, with himself being the main installation piece.
He shocked us all with a new album last year “The Next Day”, which while fast and furious wasn’t really that good, but the world now waits on him, accepting any crumbs from his table with adoration. But is he an artist or an Artist?