Tag Archives: David Bowie

David Bowie’s Outside at 25…

My how the time flies…

Twenty five years ago, in 1995, David Bowie released 1. Outside (as it was designated, though the album does seem to have different titles, including leaving off the “1.”).

When it was released, I recall purchasing the CD -that’s the way music was being sold back then, what with the internet in its infancy and MP3s either not yet available or in the process of becoming.

It’s admittedly difficult as the years pass to recall specifics of a time so very long ago, but I do recall eagerly picking the album up -as I did with every new Bowie album- and finding it at first difficult to get into but, after a couple of listens, finding myself really loving it.

Alas, critics -again if my memory is right- weren’t quite as enamored. Many felt the album was simply too much, bursting to the rim as it was. Indeed, the album runs dangerously close to the maximum 75 minutes a CD allows, and a subsequent re-release of the album, featuring the song Get Real, allowed quite literally only a minute or so of time to spare on the CD!

Over at popmatters.com, Adam Trainer offers a very in depth retrospective of this album, which I found very intriguing and, if you’re a David Bowie music fan as I am, might find intriguing too:

What a Fantastic Death Abyss: David Bowie’s “Outside” at 25

I’ve said it before ’round these parts and I’ll repeat it: I feel that of all of David Bowie’s later albums, 1. Outside is my favorite, with Blackstar, his final work, coming in a close second.

Outside (I’ll refer to the album by this designation… It’s easier to type this than putting that damn “1.” in front of!) is, IMHO, a terrific work, one that flows through so many different musical styles and themes and… its mind-blowing. So mind-blowing and so filled to the brim with material that I totally understand why some people may find it just too damn much to take.

This is an album that demands you give it your attention and time and, if you’re unable or uninterested in doing so, then you likely won’t care for it.

Ah, but if you do have that patience and do give it a look-see, there is plenty here to love.

In his article, Mr. Trainer correctly notes that The Buddha of Suburbia, the album that preceded Outside, is almost like a dry run and does indeed feature an early version of the song Strangers When We Meet, which would close out both albums in their original forms. Worth checking out as well, even if many don’t consider it a “true” Bowie album. It is, even if it is a “soundtrack” to a BBC miniseries.

Anyway, I don’t disagree with some of the criticism Mr. Trainer also levels against the album: Perhaps if Mr. Bowie had whittled the material down to, say, 40 minutes, we might have had something many would have considered a spectacular album. Further, I wouldn’t argue with the fact that some of the album’s “segues”, which are snippets of dialogue that tell the story of various characters involved in the songs, may be disposable…

…and yet, I love the album as it is, start to end.

And when it soars, as it does with songs like The Heart’s Filthy Lesson, The Motel, I Have Not Been to Oxford Town (in my opinion one of the cleverest of the songs on the album, taken from the point of view of someone who’s been accused of a murder they didn’t commit, and realizing while sitting in jail they’re about to take the fall for the crime), I’m Deranged, Thru These Architect Eyes, and, yes indeed, Strangers When We Meet.

The album, frankly, is bursting with so much good stuff and, as time passes, I’m more and more impressed with it.

So often people compared the latest Bowie album and wondered if it was as good as Scary Monsters and Super Creeps, which many considered the last great Bowie album.

Sorry folks, much as I love Scary Monsters, and I do love it, I think Outside is overall even better.

David Bowie Albums Ranked…

Over at faroutmagazine.com.uk they did a ranking of all the David Bowie albums. You can check it out here:

Ranking all of David Bowie’s albums in order of greatness

As I’ve noted many times before, I’m a big fan of David Bowie’s work. In fact, I consider him the all time best “solo” musical artist there ever was, though obviously he worked with many very talented musicians in his career.

I also have noted I like lists, though part of the fun reading them is finding where you disagree with them.

In the case of this list, there are albums ranked low I feel should be much higher. There are some ranked higher than I would have ranked them. Again, that’s part of the fun.

To begin, though, I have little argument with what they consider the “worst” of Bowie’s albums, 1999’s Hours, which is placed at #27. Many people, including David Bowie himself, felt his 1987 album Never Let Me Down (on this list at #24) is his worst and, frankly, I can’t argue with that either.

Hours’ problem is that the album is mellow -not a crime in and of itself- to the point of being dull, though it does have -like pretty much all Bowie albums- some damn good compositions.

I’m scratching my head a little at the second worst album, 2003’s Reality. While I agree with much of what they say about it -it feels like a middle of the road Bowie album- I feel like its better than second worst. In fact, I’d put the already mentioned Never Let Me Down, Black Tie White Noise (1993 and #22 on this list) or David Bowie ( His “first” full album released in 1967 and found one spot up at #25) lower than Reality. Frankly, I might also place Space Oddity (1969 and #16 on the list) below that album as well, though it does include the absolutely smashing first big hit Bowie created. Unfortunately, the rest of the album isn’t as good, though there are a couple of songs worth checking out nonetheless.

For me, too, having the 1997 album Earthling come in at the very low #23 also feels a little rough. While not my all time favorite Bowie album, it nonetheless had some really good songs on it like Dead Man Walking and, of course, I’m Afraid of Americans. The fifth least of Bowie’s albums? Nah, I don’t think so.

Similarly, one of my favorite later Bowie works, 1. Outside, is placed in #18, below #17th Heathen (2002). 1. Outside, IMHO, should be further up. Heathen had some really good songs, including the remake of Conversation Piece (though it wasn’t included on the album but was a part of the bonus CD issued upon its release) but for whatever reason that album didn’t do all that much for me.

Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980) is given the number 10 spot, behind some damn good albums but also some headscratchers. I love Lodger (1979 and #9 on the list) and Let’s Dance (1983 and #8 on the list), which was my entry album to the genius that is David Bowie, but I consider Scary Monsters nonetheless a better overall album than those two, if not by all that much.

I’m fascinated they included both Tin Machine (1989 and #13 on the list) and Tin Machine II (1991 and #20 on the list) but have to scratch my head by the exclusion of The Buddha Of Suburbia (1993). While that album was a “soundtrack” album not unlike some other albums excluded which featured David Bowie songs, including Labyrinth, Cat People, The Falcon and the Snowman, and Absolute Beginners, the difference between that album and the others is that while they had one or two songs by David Bowie, The Buddha of Suburbia is a full/complete David Bowie album and included original compositions not on the BBC show the soundtrack was made for. It also has the original version of Strangers When We Meet, which was re-done and included on the terrific 1. Outside.

If you really love Bowie, though, the bottom line is that you’re going to have issues with this placement or that placement of the albums but, ultimately, its all about one’s taste.

I think just about the only thing most David Bowie fans can agree upon is which of his albums belong at the prestigious #1 spot on this or any such list: 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars.

This was unquestionably Bowie’s masterpiece and the album which brought him his first major commercial and cultural -as in bringing “glitter rock” to the forefront- success.

Anyway, check out the list. If you’re a more casual David Bowie fan, you may find some albums there worth checking out!

ChangesNowBowie (2020) a (On Time) Review

Released to digital/streaming services on April 17th, ChangesNowBowie is the latest David Bowie project released since his passing (gulp) four years ago.

I swear, I had to look that up and double check to be sure, but, yeah, David Bowie passed away on January 10, 2016. It’s been a little over four years since his passing!

Anyway, genius.com offers the following list of the songs and a little behind the scenes information on what this album is:

David Bowie: ChangesNowBowie

Repeating a little of what was at that website, ChangesNowBowie features essentially acoustic versions of several of Mr. Bowie’s songs. They were recorded as David Bowie was practicing for the big 50th Birthday Bash party he hosted back in 1996.

The songs aren’t bad at all yet I would add that neither was I necessarily totally blown away by these more mellow interpretations. The songs chosen are mostly songs that are more obscure to those who are only casually familiar with Mr. Bowie’s discography. Perhaps the most famous/well known songs are The Man Who Sold The World and Lady Stardust. What makes this album most interesting is hearing him go through some of these more obscure songs.

In fact, I’d say the later half of the album, starting with Lady Stardust (one of my favorite Ziggy Stardust tracks) through The Supermen (a song that works incredibly well as acoustically, from the album The Man Who Sold The World) through Repetition (a Lodger track I’ve always liked) through Andy Warhol and Quicksand (both found on Hunky Dory) are the highlights of the album.

On the other hand, the album starts with The Man Who Sold The World (its ok, didn’t really blow me away) goes to Aladdin Sane (this track works better frantic rather than the more laid back acoustic version, IMHO) to White Light/White Heat (a Velvet Underground song Bowie really enjoyed covering in concert, especially during his Ziggy Stardust era) and finally goes to Shopping For Girls (from Tin Machine II) which, also to me, sounded better in the original version.

Still, a nice enough album worth checking out if you’re a fan of David Bowie.

Anyway, see if you agree with me on at least one of the songs, the pretty obscure Tin Machine II entry Shopping for Girls. Here’s the original version…

And this is the more mellow/acoustic version found on ChangesNowBowie

It’s not bad, as I said above, but it didn’t necessarily prove a significant counter to the original.

David Bowie: The Man Who Sold the World (Eno “Live” Mix) (2020 Remaster)

We come to Valentine’s Day, a Friday, and supposedly the last of the songs that will be featured on the upcoming David Bowie EP Is It Any Wonder?, due to be released on the 20th.

I say “supposedly” because looking around here and there, it appears there will be one more song added to this EP, Fun (Clownboy Mix) and I have no clue what that one is but when you search around the Is It Any Wonder? information, it is listed as a seventh track. Perhaps a “hidden” track to be featured on the album itself and not part of the one-song-a-week release schedule?

I dunno.

Anyway, the “new” song released this week, alas, isn’t really new. That is, if you’ve been a devout David Bowie fan (or a maniac like me) and have picked up his stuff pretty religiously as it was being released. The 6th song in this song-a-week release schedule is The Man Who Sold The World (Eno “Live” Mix) (2020 Remaster).

A bit of history, at least as best as I can remember: When Nirvana did their cover of The Man Who Sold The World on MTV, it was a BIG hit. David Bowie found himself getting love for a song that was in his very distant past, and he would start using it more frequently in his shows. Why not? People loved it and wanted to hear him sing it!

At around that time he did the magnificent album 1. Outside, which I’ve said many times before I consider David Bowie’s best later-year album. However, the album wasn’t met with much love from critics or many fans. They thought it was too much, too dense. Hard to get into.

Whatever.

As it turned out, the years were kind to the album and many now look at it as a damn good work.

One of the album’s better songs was Strangers When We Meet, a reworking of the same song which was released on Bowie’s Buddha of Suburbia, the album that came just before 1. Outside and was one of David Bowie’s least known (and I suppose selling) albums. So it made sense to Mr. Bowie, I suppose, to take that song and rework it and add it to 1. Outside in the hopes of people giving it another chance.

Here is the 1. Outside version of Strangers When We Meet:

What the hell does all that have to do with our last (or is it second to last?) Is It Any Wonder? song?

Following the release of 1. Outside, Mr. Bowie would release a “single” version of Strangers When We Meet on CD and it included not only that song, but a reworking of The Man Who Sold The World, which is pretty significantly different in many ways from the original version (and in some ways very similar), the original Buddha of Suburbia version of Strangers When We Meet, and the 1. Outside outtake Get Real.

Strangers When We Meet

I believe that reworked version of The Man Who Sold The World, until now, was only available on that EP CD. Welp, its been remastered and is now part of the Is It Any Wonder? EP and here it is…

I have to say, I like the song quite a bit versus some of the other remade songs which are present on the Is It Any Wonder? EP.

But…

I don’t think its quite as good as the original version.

Then again, the original version is so ingrained in my mind its hard to consider an alternate version, at least for me!

Still, overall I nonetheless like this version of The Man Who Sold The World and am glad we’re now getting it as part of the Is It Any Wonder? EP.

Having said that, what do I think of the EP overall?

I dunno. I still haven’t heard that last song so maybe I should withhold judgment.

If I were to focus on these six songs, though, my feelings are this EP is only “ok” at best. There’s some good stuff here but the remakes of older songs, particularly I Can’t Read, Stay, and Baby Universal, I felt were pretty much all weaker than the original version, with Baby Universal the only one of the lot that approached the positive feelings I have of the original and which engenders similar feelings in me to this version of The Man Who Sold The World.

I’ll likely get the EP when it does come out, so there’s that, but I do feel like there must be other stuff in the vaults worth bringing to light, especially during the 1970’s (ie his Ziggy Stardust, Plastic Soul, and Berlin years).

Perhaps this is the first of many such EPs to come!

David Bowie: Nuts

We’ve reached the penultimate song, #5, of the weekly release of songs for the upcoming Is It Any Wonder? EP.

In previous weeks we’ve had The Man Who Sold The World, I Can’t Read ’97, Stay ’97, and Baby Universal ’97. The reason the later three songs feature the ’97 on them is because they are remakes of earlier works which David Bowie did in… wait for it… 1997 and while making the album Earthling.

Yesterday, and as mentioned above, we had the release of the fifth of six songs to be released in the Is It Any Wonder? EP. Here then is an original composition intended to be a “bonus track” on the Earthling album but ultimately set aside. The song is called Nuts

When I first heard the song, what immediately struck me was that it sounded a hell of a lot like something you might find on 1. Outside, the album Bowie released just before Earthling. I’ve said it before and I’ll repeat it here: I feel 1. Outside is the best album Bowie released in his later years. Having said that. the jazzy elements within this song also reminded me of some of the more experimental stuff on Bowie’s final album, Blackstar.

I must admit, I didn’t like the song much when I first heard it. However, upon listening to it a few more times, I’ve found myself getting into it. I still don’t feel it is a “classic” or some incredible lost treasure like the alternate version of Candidate from the Diamond Dogs album…

…but I do like the song more and more.

(Btw, for the life of me, I still don’t understand how David Bowie left this “alternate version” of Candidate, a stone cold classic -IMHO!- off the album. It wasn’t until some fifteen or so years later with the RykoDisc releases of Bowie’s albums that the song finally saw the light of day as a “bonus” track!)

So I’m glad Nuts was released.

One more song (and week!) to go and the album is complete. Will they end it with a bang or a whimper?

I’m hoping we’re going to get a real hidden gem.

We’ll see.

David Bowie: Baby Universal ’97

We’re up to week four of the song a week release for the upcoming David Bowie EP Is It Any Wonder?

I mistakenly thought originally that the EP would feature rehearsals from David Bowie’s 50th Birthday party -understandable to some extent as the first song released, The Man Who Sold The World, was from that rehearsal- but have since realized that the songs being released were mostly songs made during the Earthling album sessions but never formally released until now.

Related image

Originally released in 1997, Earthling is a damn good David Bowie album, one I feel is up there with the best he released in his later years though I still feel the one that came right before it, 1. Outside, is the best of the lot.

Thing about Earthling is that it is a heavy electronica/dance album and, I suspect, some David Bowie fans might have been turned off by him once again making a sudden shift to a different style of music. I think the album is energetic and mostly works but, I have to admit, the electronica does feel, to me anyway, somewhat repetitious after a while.

Still, I stand by what I say: Earthling is one of Bowie’s best later day albums.

So along with The Man Who Sold The World, the other two songs released to date from the upcoming Is It Any Wonder? are I Can’t Read ’97 (you can read my review of it along with listen to the song here) and Stay ’97 (you can read my review of it along with listen to the song here).

The reason both I Can’t Read and Stay are identified with the ’97 year is because they are both studio/session remakes of previous Bowie songs. I Can’t Read was originally presented on the first Tin Machine Album while Stay was originally released on the Station To Station album. The Man Who Sold The World, because it is part of the rehearsal is instead listed as the ChangesNowBowie version, which is the album that will feature a plethora of Bowie rehearsals for his 50th Birthday Party.

Anyway, the fourth song of this upcoming EP has been released and it is Baby Universal ’97. This song is another cover/interpretation of a Tin Machine song, this one from Tin Machine 2.

Instead of presenting that song right away, let me first present to you the original version of the song as it was originally released on Tin Machine 2:

While I very much enjoyed the first Tin Machine album, the second album feels like a hit and miss affair. David Bowie wasn’t one to linger long in any style or song type pattern, very much earning his chameleon nickname, and if something was very popular and worked or didn’t at all, his instincts always seemed to be to move ahead and do something new.

Tin Machine 2, thus, to my ears sounded like half a good album. There were songs on it, like the above, which I thought were freaking fantastic, while there were others that felt like they were thrown in because… why not. Tin Machine was never a popular musical experiment for David Bowie and it wasn’t surprising that after the release of the second album the band was done and Bowie returned to making “David Bowie” albums.

But, as I said, there were some damn good songs on the album and I very much liked Baby Universal. It is energetic, it moves, and it rocks.

When the Earthling sessions came about, clearly Mr. Bowie was looking back at Tin Machine and perhaps thinking about what went wrong (if indeed he felt that way) and that might be why he did such a different version of I Can’t Read from the first Tin Machine album. I didn’t like the new take all that much but, as I said in the review of the new version of the song, I didn’t like the original all that much either.

Having said all that, here’s the next release from Is It Any Wonder?, Baby Universal ’97:

I like this new version of the song well enough but, just as with I Can’t Read ’97, I feel the original version is the better of the two.

The original simply has more energy to it and I love the “Baby” chorus Bowie provides in the background.

I suppose what this shows is that even when making works which were panned by critics and many fans, David Bowie was still creating some good stuff. Yeah, Tin Machine 2 may be a lesser album overall, but I’ll be damned if Baby Universal isn’t one hell of a rocking song.

If the remake release gets people to look back at Tin Machine 2 and, perhaps, finally release a digital copy of it (believe it or not, the only way to buy the album now is by the CD or old tapes/vinyl), then perhaps this exercise will have been worth it.

David Bowie: Stay ’97

As I’ve pointed out before (here and here) the estate of the late David Bowie is releasing two “new” albums this year. The first is a six track EP called Is It Any Wonder? and I mistakenly thought it would feature “new” versions of older songs made in rehearsal for David Bowie’s 50 Birthday Party Concert.

The first song on the EP is indeed from that rehearsal and is The Man Who Sold The World (check the links above in the first paragraph). The intention by Mr. Bowie’s estate is to release one new song from that EP every week until all six are released, then release the EP itself. Later in the year we’ll also see the release of ChangesNowBowie which, if I understand correctly (now anyway) will actually feature a bunch of rehearsal songs including The Man Who Sold The World.

The second song in the weekly releases is a reworking of Tin Machine’s I Can’t Read. Tin Machine, for those who aren’t aware, was a David Bowie side project that featured two full albums and at least one official live album release before Mr. Bowie returned to being a “solo” act.

Now, a third song from the EP has been released, a very ’90’s version of the song Stay, originally featured on David Bowie’s fabulous Station To Station album. Here’s the new, 1997 version of that song:

Hmmmm….

I have to say, and it pains me to do so because I’m such a big David Bowie fan, but so far these new releases aren’t doing all that much for me.

The Man Who Sold The World was a solid version of the song but, frankly, a decently done version but nothing all that much more. I Can’t Read, on the other hand was a much more reworked version of that song, but as I said in my original post (again, the links are in the first paragraph), I preferred the original Tin Machine version. Having said that, while there are several Tin Machine songs I love, this wasn’t one of them. It’s OK, mind you, but I don’t believe it was ever one of Mr. Bowie’s strongest compositions.

This version of Stay is… jeeze. I dunno. I mean, they took the skeleton of the original song, presented below…

…and added a whole bunch of other (for lack of a better term) stuff to it to, I suppose, fit in more with the then in vogue more grunge sound that was popular.

They didn’t kill the song, but I feel like a lot, perhaps even most of the flourishes, are unnecessary and detract rather than enhance the song.

In this case, unlike I Can’t Read, I’m a HUGE fan of the original song and album. I feel Station to Station is one of David Bowie’s absolute masterpieces and, sometimes, its hard to listen to a “new” version which tries to add more bells and whistles -so to speak- to something that one views as already damn near perfect.

So far, with three songs -half the EP- released, I sadly have to say I’m not loving these new/unreleased songs but, being a big David Bowie fan, will nonetheless check out the other three songs to come.

Maybe they’ll be better but at least so far this EP is sounding like a curiosity but nothing that’s blowing my socks off.

Too bad.

David Bowie: I Can’t Read ’97

Starting with David Bowie’s birthday on January 8th and continuing each week will be the release of one new song from an upcoming David Bowie album entitled Is It Any Wonder?

The song recordings were made in rehearsal for David Bowie’s 50th Birthday party, which was a star studded event and last week the first song from that rehearsal, The Man Who Sold The World, was released (if you’re curious to hear it, here you go!).

Three days ago (yeah, I’m running late here!) the second song was released, a stripped down version of I Can’t Read, a song that originally appeared on the first Tin Machine album, David Bowie’s band side project that lasted two original albums and at least one live album before folding.

Here’s the new, 1997 recorded stripped down version of the song:

I have to say… I’m not all that into it.

Then again, I didn’t think the original version was all that great either. Having said that, I prefer the original to this version. Here is the original version:

I suppose David Bowie thought he might eventually release that new version of the song and video but subsequently decided not to. It is pretty elaborate for something that was locked away in the vaults until now!

Having said that, there’s something incredibly sad about watching this video.

I know David Bowie eventually passed away because of liver cancer, but seeing him sucking on the cigarette in that video… ugh.

My understanding is that David Bowie was a pretty heavy smoker and based on videos like this one he clearly felt it looked cool to smoke in front of the cameras. He wasn’t alone: You can’t find many films from the 1930’s through the 1970’s (and some past that point) which don’t feature the leads smoking. It was a glamorous thing to do on screen but now we know better, right?

Sorry if I’m sounding all high and mighty/moralistic, but I have a very strong allergy to cigarette smoke. There’s something in the chemicals in cigarettes -as opposed to cigars or tobacco used in pipes- that sets my sinus off and can often result in me having such bad headaches I wind up needing to lie down and/or throw up.

It’s that bad and can happen if I so much as sniff one second of cigarette smoke!

But getting back to Mr. Bowie, while liver cancer eventually took him away, he also had a heart attack and, based on some things I’ve read about his last days, also suffered from considerable shortness of breath. Did the cigarettes play a role in these problems?

I don’t know.

Given how much I love his work, though, it makes me so sad to read about what must have been very painful days leading to his eventual passing.

Don’t smoke, kids.

It may look cool, but all you’re doing is roasting your throat and lungs.

In the long run, there’s a damn good chance you’ll pay.

New David Bowie releases…

The news is a couple of days old but I should have been expecting it.

David Bowie had a thing for celebrating his birthday, January 8th, with the release of new material. Indeed, his very last album, Blackstar, was released on January 8th of 2016 and, sadly, Mr. Bowie himself passed away two days later on January 10th at the age of 69.

This past January 8th would have been Mr. Bowie’s 73rd birthday and it was announced that two “new” albums would be released featuring live material he made while rehearsing for his famous 50th birthday bash, where he had a concert filled to the brim with guest star artists (Lou Reed, Billy Corgan, David Grohl, Robert Smith, etc.) singing along to many of his biggest hits.

Frankly, I’d love to have that album but, for now, what we get -eventually- is an intriguing release featuring rehearsals for that very show. The songs will be released one each week and two albums will contain the music and be released a little later this year. Over at pitchfork.com you can read up on the details:

Rare and unreleased David Bowie songs collected on new Album and EP

Count me in!

For now, the first release is what I consider one of his all time best songs ever. In fact, I’d probably rank it as my own personal favorite David Bowie song (though there are plenty of strong contenders!).

Here then, is the first release from that upcoming album, the rehearsal of The Man Who Sold The World

Perhaps I said it before but I’ll say it again: For me, the David Bowie gateway opened with the release of the album Let’s Dance back in 1983. I went absolutely wild for that album and played it over and over again back in high school and whenever I drove around (much to the eventual annoyance of the people who accompanied me on those drives).

Back then there wasn’t an internet and you couldn’t google “David Bowie” and have at your fingertips all his albums to listen to. Being curious about his previous releases, I headed out to record stores (yeah, they used to exist back then!) and slowly began to acquaint myself with his previous albums/songs.

I was surprised to find I was familiar with many of them, including Changes, Space Oddity, and Lady Stardust (to this day I don’t know why that particular song stood out to me, but when I heard it after buying the Ziggy Stardust album, it was the song I knew I had heard before and was familiar with while the rest of the songs were “new” to me).

One day I found a cassette of The Man Who Sold The World (I’ll refer to it as TMWSTW from here on), Bowie’s 1970 album which, to my mind, is the first “real” David Bowie album. Note he did release a number of singles, including his groundbreaking Space Oddity (single and album) before that album, but with TMWSTW, it seemed David Bowie truly found himself as an artist and following that album came Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust and the legend only grew from that moment on.

Returning to TMWSTW, I loved that album to death and, in particular, the song the album was named after. So much so that I even named a character I co-created with a friend after my mishearing of a line in the song (the character has never been used formally and may never be, so I’ll keep that little tidbit to myself!).

Regardless, when Nirvana famously covered the song years later and it suddenly blew up and became famous, I was nodding my head and smiling.

Not to sound like a smart ass or anything, but the world had finally caught up to how great that song was…!

And here it is in its original album version:

And, what the heck, here’s Nirvana’s version, which really brought it to audiences!

Nirvana fans…

…you should probably check out their YouTube channel (you can find it here) as they are posting alternate takes/practice rehearsals from their famous MTV Unplugged session, which featured some brilliant “acoustic” interpretations of their works, as well as the very famous take on David Bowie’s Man Who Sold The World.

Here’s a version of it…

Many, many people were first introduced to this song via Nirvana’s version, and to many of them this is THE version of the song.

It makes sense, of course. The first time you hear a rendition of a song you wind up liking a lot winds up being the version you prefer, even if it isn’t all that different from the original…

For me, the opposite was true.

When David Bowie burst out to worldwide fame with the release of Let’s Dance (album and song), I was mesmerized by his music and immediately started to look into his back catalog.

There were many songs I discovered at that time which I already knew but hadn’t linked Mr. Bowie to them. Songs like Space Oddity, Changes, The Jean Genie, Fame, Fashion, etc. etc.

But there were other songs that hadn’t reached the radio much at that point that were incredible gems.

Like Panic In Detroit

And the incredible Lady Grinning Soul (both songs are from the album Aladdin Sane)…

There were many others (and bear in mind, we are talking about his works released up to the release of Let’s Dance).

But there was one work -you guessed it- the album The Man Who Sold The World, which really spoke to me. Unlike many Bowie works, this album had many covers because the original was so controversial. This is the cover I first saw when I first purchased the album…

Image result for the man who sold the world"

Then, a little later, I found the album with this cover…

Image result for the man who sold the world"

The original cover, and the cover that the album now has (and which you can see in the video of the song above), is this one, which, as I stated, was quite controversial in its time, though not so much anymore…

Image result for the man who sold the world"

The Man Who Sold The World, to my mind, is David Bowie’s first real accomplished album. While he had a bunch of oddball singles and the album Space Oddity before this one, it was with this album that, to my mind, everything came together.

Further, it features Mick Ronson, Bowie’s guitarist through the Ziggy Stardust era, as well as Tony Visconti on Bass (he would be Bowie’s main producer for many of his best albums, including the last he would release), and drummer Woody Woodmansey (also featured through the Ziggy era).

The album is quite dark, thematically. There are songs about insanity, supermen, and alienation.

It was the song the album got its title from, The Man Who Sold The World, that really intrigued me.

If I were to create a “best of” list of David Bowie songs, I may well say that to me this is his absolute best song.

I like it that much.

Sadly, the song didn’t receive all that much airplay or interest, that is, until Nirvana so famously covered it.

Now, its among David Bowie’s best known songs, and for good reason.

Oh, and by the way, that Nirvana version ain’t half-bad either…! 😉