INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Guitarist MARCH 2016 - by David Mead
DAVID BOWIE: BLACKSTAR
Typically left-field farewell from legendary artist
While the dust from Bowie's death is still settling, a furious debate seems to be going on in both the press and on social media as to whether this album was a very well orchestrated farewell from the often reclusive and private rock phenomenon. Take the creepy video to the title track, for instance; does the character in the space suit inform us of the final resting place of Space Oddity's fabled Major Tom? And are the opening lyrics to Lazarus representative of Bowie writing his own epitaph?
Doubtless these things will be talked over for many months to come, but surely the most important question - and the one we're going to concern ourselves with here - should be, is Blackstar any good? Well, it's certainly a dark album, from the very start. Check out the album cover - none more black, bearing a booklet with the lyrics printed black on black.
Of course, it's the music that takes centre stage. Allegedly, Bowie's prescription for Blackstar was that he didn't want to use any rock musicians and so he gathered together a group of jazz players to interpret his music this time around - and the result is startling.
Take out of the equation the fact that this is music from a man who knew his life was going to end and it would still be a remarkable achievement. From the ten-minute-long science-fiction opus of the title track, to the guitar-riff heavy Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime) and beyond, to the closer I Can't Give Everything Away, the album works on just about every level you can imagine. It's not exactly what you might call 'easy listening', either, but it lingers in the ear long after hearing it and will doubtless endure.