Tuesday, July 27, 2010

David Bowie 27: The Buddha Of Suburbia

With a sudden obligation to nobody, Bowie kept working, and something called The Buddha Of Suburbia snuck out at year’s end. Derived from work on the soundtrack to a TV adaptation of the novel of the same title, Bowie used it as an opportunity to explore and experiment over various musical themes, and ended up with one of the more satisfying if mysterious releases of his career.
Much of the album is instrumental, performed by himself with occasional collaborator Erdil Kizilcay. (It also heralds the return of Mike Garson, who adds his distinctive piano style to two tracks, one upbeat and one ambient.) “The Mysteries” ranks with side two of both Low and “Heroes”, while “Ian Fish U.K. Heir” is easy to tune out, quiet as it is.
But there are actual songs here, too. The title track appears twice, the second time with superfluous guitar by Lenny Kravitz, with very pointed lyrical and melodic references to earlier Bowie tunes. “Strangers When We Meet” and “Dead Against It” are infectious pop, while “Untitled No. 1” comes closest to the dance groove of Black Tie White Noise without overdoing it. Even those with few lyrics (“Sex And The Church” and “Bleed Like A Craze, Dad”) capture the attention and bear repeat listening.
The album wasn’t released in America until Virgin picked up his ‘80s catalog, and lobbed it on the market with no fanfare around the time of what was then his next Big Project. Even then, with a new cover, it was mostly ignored, thanks to his lack of mainstream pull. It really is worth seeking out, especially as proof that he wasn’t that lost all that time.

David Bowie The Buddha Of Suburbia (1993)—

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