43 Comments on “David Bowie is the greatest musical artist that the UK has ever produced.”

  1. Profile photo of Feedback_File

    Fair enough – its a hard one to argue forcibly against really although I know there are some disbelievers here who will put up a good case. Only obvious other contenders are the Beatles. Not forgetting Kajagoogoo of course !

  2. Profile photo of DrJ

    The full three-disc Nothing Has Changed compilation, moving in reverse chronological order, really demonstrates how long he has been good for. 50 years! The Next Day, whether you like it or not, changed the meaning of the latter half of his career in one stroke – quite a feat. The David Bowie Is Here exhibition had a huge effect on me in terms of realising how good he is and understanding what it means to be an artist.

  3. Profile photo of moseleymoles

    Well as ever the answer is…..up to a point Lord Copper. I agree with the first half of your statement but the second? In terms of the zeitgeist the Dame left the building at Scary Monsters, so just hits the 80s. From then on its the commercial mainstream, inessential side projects, and soaking up and representing the sounds around him rather than encapsulation. Closer to the zeitgeist in the 80s than Run DMC or Prince, closer to the 90s than the Stone Roses, Nirvana or Orbital. I like much of his work post 1980 but it’s not culturally significant. Just good music, and nothing wrong with that, but nobody was wearing three-quarter length Union Jack coats in the mid 90s.

  4. Profile photo of deramdaze

    With every passing day I rejoice that I never really got on board the Bowie bandwagon. I even actively avoid all the stuff he’s meant to have influenced.

    Don’t mind the guy, seems alright (see also Bruce Springsteen), just have no instinct to fall at his feet.

    Heard ‘Heroes’ in the pub yesterday and I can well understand why it got to no. 23 or whatever it was. I prefer ‘London Boys’ and ‘Love You Till Tuesday’.

    However, if anyone at Ace (other record labels are available) is on here…..
    ‘Bowie As and Bs’ – 25 track compilation – Liza Jane to Memory From A Free Festival, including the Italian ‘Space Oddity’, please.
    I’ll be the first in the queue.

  5. Profile photo of Zanti Misfit
    Zanti Misfit

    For once I (partially) agree with your Luddism, deramdaze, I only really like the sixties stuff. I still think Hunky Dory is his best album but seeing it was recorded in 1971, Andy Warhol may as well be lumped in with Uncle Arthur and Tony Day.

  6. Profile photo of Vincent

    Bargepole says what I think, too. 70s – a brilliant run, and few aeroplanes or computers to ease the processes, either. 80s Bowie – meh. 90s Bowie – trying too hard (it used to be apparently effortless); 00s Bowie – didn’t really work, and a dignified retirement has followed.

  7. Profile photo of Hamlet

    I came of musical age in the 90s, and Bowie seemed lost in that era. I still feel that he’s of his time and some of his stuff is very dated (mullets and aliens). His recent album (yes, I have heard it) was rather pointless. Don’t get me wrong, he was brilliant for a long period, but why keep flogging, whipping and dissecting a very dead horse?

    This begs the further question: has anyone in pop just walked away and said, “I’m done, lads. Said it all on the first four albums. No point in just repeating myself!”?

    1. Profile photo of Black Type
      Black Type

      This might come across as patronising – and I sincerely don”t want you to think it is – but far from being lost, I think the 90s is where Bowie seriously got his mojo back, and produced some of his best work then and into the new century. I concede that this appraisal comes from the context of being a long-term and somewhat obsessive follower, but I think this is true for fans of any artist with such longevity; the work is assessed not just on its own terms but as part of the whole canon, and the narrative and/or mythology that has built up around the artist. I don’t think there was any great shift in methodology or fall-off in ideas during this period; he has always been quite happy to acknowledge that he’s a magpie around new interests and influences, and appropriate them in ways which fit his vision and creative objectives. These processes continued in the 90s much as they had in his supposed imperial phase of the 70s, but obviously using different musical and cultural templates. Perhaps the more significant difference is that in the 90s and beyond he has become more self-referential, with a greater proliferation of musical and lyrical nods to his own illustrious past; but again, this evokes a greater resonance and gravitas to his later work, which for me is entirely becoming for the mature and reflective artist.

      1. Profile photo of DogFacedBoy

        What he said – Outside is one of the best albums he ever produced. Buddah Of Suburbia and Black Tie White Noise always overlooked. I never got with the more drum n bass bits of Earthling but there is gold between the beats.

  8. Profile photo of Giggles

    I love everything he’s done: even the shit stuff. I mean, it’s David Bowie! Of all the people alive today, he’s the one I’d most like to meet.
    I agree 100% with the OP.

  9. Profile photo of deramdaze

    That’s where death comes in useful.

    Don’t get me wrong, I wish with all my heart that Jimi Hendrix was alive and well and living in Theydon Bois and was now on his 44th album, which I almost certainly wouldn’t be buying, but, as it turned out, the guy never made a dud.
    He simply didn’t have time to, unlike those who ARE now on their 44th album!

    Ditto Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran and Brian Jones.

  10. Profile photo of DrJ

    @hamlet I agree with @black-type. I wasn’t around for Bowie’s imperial phase but his post TinM output has lots of good stuff. I particularly like the Buddha of Suburbia soundtrack, the title track is his 90s Absolute Beginners.

    As for people who have walked away… Billy Joel hasn’t put out an album in 22 years, and has said explicitly that he has nothing new to say. Still plays live though.

    1. Profile photo of Black Type
      Black Type

      I think that’s a ridiculously arbitrary perspective. Every artist has ‘collaborators’ to a greater or lesser extent, and it’s always a two-way, give-and-take relationship. Who is to say how successful – if at all – any of the major bands/artists would have been if their particular forming and/or collaborations hadn’t have occurred in the way they did?

  11. Profile photo of Iggypop

    I actually prefer the run of albums from Black Tie onwards, particularly 1.Outside and Heathen….may be over familiarity but I get bored with the Seventies classics. I reckon anyone who gave up on him after the awful trio of albums starting with Lets Dance ( easily the worst) should have a go at the Nineties stuff, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  12. Profile photo of Lando Cakes
    Lando Cakes

    Peaked with The Laughing Gnome. Been steadily downhill ever since

    To be fair, he’s done quite well for himself despite his appalling mannered singing and the fact that he doesn’t know how to pronounce his own surname.

    1. Profile photo of David Kendal
      David Kendal

      I think he does pronounce his (adopted) name correctly. It’s other people, particularly journalists, who get the “O” sound wrong – the same happens with J K Rowling’s surname.

      In case anyone’s not sure, these names should be pronounced Bowie and Rowling, NOT Bowie and Rowling. I hope that’s clear.

  13. Profile photo of Hawkfall

    That Holst guy was pretty good though wasn’t he? I really like his Planets, I think it’s the best concept album made in the 1910s, even if he did steal the riff for “Mars” from Diamond Head’s “Am I Evil”!

  14. Profile photo of Black Celebration
    Black Celebration

    The one thing that stops Bowie getting the fictitious accolade referred to in the OP are his lyrics.

    He can summon up an atmosphere, a theme or a feeling but he could *say* something a little more. He always sings with emotion but if you’re just singing random words then I think the emotion has nowhere to go to and becomes impotent. When he puts together a story like with Life on Mars? or Space Oddity/Ashes to Ashes – he’s peerless. But for my liking, too many of his songs don’t have the lyrical punch that would elevate them to greatness. Think of how powerful Heroes (the song) is, lyrically. The emotion is not wasted there, it’s spine-tingling.

    He is 100 times better than his contemporaries though. Elton/Bernie and Mick bash out mindless lyrical bollocks and say “that’ll do” and bugger off. I put Macca in that category most of the time too. I want Paul Heaton but with Bowie’s persona.

  15. Profile photo of Allium Sativum
    Allium Sativum

    To me Bowie is like the Beatles of the 70s, only he did it alone. Constantly evolving through that decade without repeating himself, able to come up with a run of classic albums and singles: Life On Mars, Starman, Golden Years, Sound and Vision, Heroes, Ashes to Ashes. Ridiculous! Whatever happened after that doesn’t really matter, though I think the singles Let’s Dance and Absolute Beginners were brilliant too. But his greatness was already assured.

  16. Profile photo of MC Escher
    MC Escher

    The “shit since Let’s Dance” cliche is lazy, untrue and boring. If I wasn’t away from my music I could knock up playlist from ’86 onward that would knock your socks off. Here’s one from memory (and Amazon tracklists):

    I Have Not Been To London Town
    Something In The Air
    Everyone Says ‘Hi’
    Jump They Say
    Hello Spaceboy
    Bring Me The Disco King
    If I’m Dreaming My Life
    You Feel So Lonely You Could Die
    Fall Dog Bombs The Moon
    The Heart’s Filthy Lesson
    Battle For Britain (the Letter)
    Thru’ These Architects Eyes
    Buddha of Suburbia

    Yes his albums have their share of the humdrum but for he has been around for a long time and he pisses on what his contemporaries and his own heroes are doing now.

    You should at least listen to Outside

  17. Profile photo of TRMagicWords

    David Bowie, like many artists, had a peak period. He is now way outside that period. We should celebrate the best he produced. But his time has passed. Ditto numerous others: The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Dylan etc

  18. Profile photo of ernietothecentreoftheearth

    I am not sure that being active for 5 decades necessarily means that you have been at your peak for the whole period, or that much of what you have produced is that special. For sure, you might have put out something very decent periodically over 40 or 50 years which is itself an achievement, but actually not that unique.

    As an aside, and this is patently very much a snapshot , young people who have been buying second hand records from my shop over the summer don’t seem especially interested in or inclined to choose David Bowie in preference to other artists. Make of that what you will

  19. Profile photo of ernietothecentreoftheearth

    And my point is that in my albeit limited experience younger people without the emotional or nostaglic attachment don’t appear to view Bowie with the same enthusiasm or respect, at least at the current time. This may or may not be a long term trend, who knows.

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