移り変わり行くロック・シーンの中で常に孤高の存在として時代の先端を突き進む、デヴィッド・ボウイ。長い沈黙の中、何の前触れもなく、突如、自身の66回目の誕生日1月8日に『リアリティ』以来10年ぶりの新作『ザ・ネクスト・デイ』のリリースを発表。通算30作目のアルバムは数多くの名盤を共に作りあげた盟友トニー・ヴィスコンティ・プロデュース。彼曰く「過去と未来を繋げる作品」であり「かなりロック」な作品、「ボウイの典型的な名曲を期待している人も、革新的で新しい方向を求める人も堪能できる内容」とのこと。謎のアートワークは名盤『Heroes』のジャケットを破壊するかのような斬新なデザイン。1stシングル「Where Are We Now」はボウイのベルリン時代を彷彿させるような透明感のある美しくそして儚い印象的なナンバー。ベルリン時代を思わせる印象深い映像である半人形、半実写のビデオも既に大きな話題に。「ボウイは、ポピュラー音楽文化が彼を最も必要としているタイミングに突然、最前線に帰ってきた」
If I had reviewed "The Next Day" when I first bought it in 2013 I would probably have given it four or even five stars because it was Bowie, it was new, we hadn't heard anything original from him in 10 years and I wanted to like it. But listening again today after a gap of four or five years the scales have fallen from my eyes [should that perhaps be ears] and I realise it's not really that good, it has a few good songs but as an album it's held together by a lot of make-weight padding with very little of Bowie's originality in evidence. Simply put, "The Next Day" is a rock album [perhaps a Tin Machine-lite] albeit with some arty lyrics, but still just a plain old rock album with a touch of grease paint, no more, no less; what had he been doing since 2003's "Reality"?
Ok so that may seem a bit harsh; "Where Are We Now?" is a beautiful song, the ghost of the Thin White Duke walking amongst us; "The Stars" is strong, and the opening and title track is a great way to start. I also like the melancholy of "You Feel So Lonely You Could Die" but that's largely due to the strength of Bowie's vocals on this ballad. But at 14 tracks it's too long, lose "Heat" it's an awful way to close and one other, take your pick which one, and it might work but as it stands it lacks the variety to sustain interest and starts to bore after a while; and I don't need the bonus tracks [surely putting bonus tracks on a first edition CD is an oxymoron anyway they either are or aren't part of the original album].
And don't get me started on the cover. This make the Beatles "White Album" look like the height of pop creativity; is this meant to be a joke, is it ironic, or is it supposed to be deep and challenging but if it's the latter I'm missing the point and I suspect I'm not alone.
So should we judge this as a rock album? In which case it's competent, a bit tedious and if it came from a debutant would be a rising four stars, or from a bunch of has-beens a sinking three stars. But if we judge "The Next Day" as part of the Bowie canon it fails to make the grade and is no more than two stars. I was going to sit on the fence and make it three stars, but as I suspect It will be a long while before "The Next Day" comes off the shelf again it's the two stars it deserves.
1. The Next Day - The album gets off to a fine start with this rocky number, quickly dispelling any thoughts that Bowie would be regurgitating his past throughout the record. In fact, he seems positively defiant in the face of the Father Time. Sadly, it did not do well in the singles chart, reaching a sorry #179.
2. Dirty Boys - A slower track as Bowie sings of running wild on the London streets.
3. The Stars (Are Out Tonight) - The second single, a moderate song, in my opinion, and a comment on the celebrity obsessed media.
4. Love Is Lost - There's something slightly unsettling about this song; a combination of the music and the lyrical content. I don't know whether it's about the loss of innocence, first love, re-incarnation or all or none of the above.
5. Where Are We Now? - The song that announced Bowie's return sees him reflect on his time in Berlin almost forty years before. It is as beautiful, poignant, and yearning as he has ever allowed himself to be on record, and incredibly life-affirming. It was also his first top ten record in twenty years.
6. Valentine's Day - An oddly jaunty sounding song, if, as Visconti claimed, it's about a high school shooter. It's okay but not one of the album's highlights.
7. If You Can See Me - Not sure what this one is about but I love it! It sounds utterly different from anything else on the record and features bassist Gail Ann Dorsey wailing magnificently in the background.
8. I'd Rather Be High - An anti-war song from Bowie? Rarely is he this explicit. Lovely sing-along chorus.
9. Boss Of Me - A fine if unremarkable number.
10. Dancing Out In Space - Well, it could hardly be a David Bowie album without at least one song having 'space' in the title. It's an enjoyable, jaunty piece of fluff.
11. How Does The Grass Grow? - If this is another anti-war it's not nearly so obvious as 'I'd Rather Be High.' It's a little more discordant than most of the tracks.
12. (You Will) Set The World On Fire - A great crunching guitar heralds this song about the beatnik poets and artists that were beloved of Bowie in his youth.
13. You Feel So Lonely You Could Die - One of the album's highlights, featuring some great military drumming and a nice use of strings. Bowie's voice is at its full throated best, and is complemented by some lovely backing singing. It is rumoured to be a dig at Morrisey.
14. Heat - An acoustic guitar dominates the final song, backed by some atmospherics, as Bowie sings seemingly unsure of who he is. Apparently inspired by a Japanese novel.
While there was an understandable amount of hyperbole about this record at the time of its release, I don't feel it's anywhere near his best work. It is still a decent album but not the masterpiece some claimed at the time.
What this work also shows is the pure creative genius that David has. This cd in parts is melancholic ,in others it is rock and in others David gives us a masterclass in singing. I also think David was in a reflective mood on this release. There are nods to the past ,there were definite musings on the present, but more importantly David was looking to the future. You feel that he would have raised his very high standards to produce more music for us to explore and enjoy. Is this a masterpiece, most definitely yes.
The album has a very positive opener in "The Next Day" and you find his vocals hidden behind a very noisy band. Lyrically intriguing and disturbing but always entertaining. The opener quickly passes to track two "Dirty Boys" welcomes some saxophone and what sounds like everything else. "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" feels like a classic rock n roll song, great rhythmic guitars and a big welcome to the classic bowie vocals, I can see this as a single.
So far four songs in and each track has a real individual feel almost as if this was a compliation album and it could be like that as he has had time on his side. "Love is Lost" feels very much underground and again it works leading into the first single "Where are We Now" we are fixed very much in 2013 and this year Bowie is back. Vocals on this song are amazing and really do get the hairs on your neck to stand up.
Close to half way and I love it so far but is it all one sided? No "Valentine's Day" returns that classic guitar sound, little fuzz and distortion and it sounds like it is played through a personal stereo. Listening to the lyrics again and you do feel the world has changed a lot, a song about a school massacre. Sounds like he is describing the killer and the lyrics "he has something to say". Remember those hairs on my neck, back up again.
"If You Can See Me" is the worst song here and it sounds like a good b side track (Remember them). The album goes along superbly with "I'd Rather Be High" and "Boss of Me" feeling catchy and again more choices as singles. My preference is to the latter with a nice bass sound and great lyrics. Song after song of great music follows and highlights in "How Does The Grass Grow?" and great guitar work in "Dancing Out In Space".
Second last track steals the show "You Feel So Lonely You Could Die" a would-be suicide note or a bad sketch? It is the ballad on the album and lasting just over four and a half minutes but feels far more. Acoustic guitars and female harmonies keep this an epic sounding end to the album.
But not yet as Bowie as always never makes it easy "Heat" is back to the feel the album started with and as ever very bleak sounding. Violin, guitars and well many other things are involved here and help to what I feel make the next album follow on from this well made end. Big bass sounds shake the speakers and make this reviewer very happy.
A great album and one I think could be done live but as we all know that just will not happen, this could be why it sounds so good as the pressure of doing this live is so hard. The kids will love this and if they don't well if Bowie can't get you into music then nothing will.