2011 – 2012
On January 8, 2013 – David Bowie’s 65th birthday, all media hell broke loose as the seemingly vanished star released a video as a precursor to a new album. “Where Are We Now” was an elegiac ballad [with a disturbing video] that recalled the time he spent in Berlin and juxtaposed it with the fall of the Berlin Wall a dozen years later. Bowie was back…back…back! And this time the rules had changed in his absence. Live performances, touring, and interviews were off the board. What we got were releases and a reinvigorated davidbowie.com [now finally capable of loading on the millions of mobile devices that weren’t even a twinkle in Bowie’s eye when it was last developed in 1998].
The [millions of] fans and press went wild as earlier detailed here. Bowie became paradoxically scarce, yet ubiquitous. He simply released his music, and apart from making videos to promote them, did nothing else, but his command of the media’s attention didn’t let up all year. This was The Second Coming of Bowie® and it was the story to beat after an eleven year layoff. Almost as noteworthy as the music itself, was the deconstructionist artwork by Jonathan Barnbrook; which played havoc with the iconic “Heroes” artwork.
The full album was released on March 8, 2013, with a straight CD as well as a CD with three bonus tracks for a bit more each available. Amazingly, I decided not to run right out and buy either of these. Why? I could not help but notice that in the case of his previous two albums for Columbia, there were 2xCD “deluxe versions” of the albums released after the initial feeding frenzy. I felt justified in waiting this one out for a while longer. After all, I had already gone for a decade with no new Bowie music. What would a year or so more amount to? I did enjoy reading the stories about it. Tony Visconti had been blabbing all over the press about the NDA, the sessions held secretly in Bowie’s neighborhood. About how difficult it was for chatterboxes like Visconti or guitarist Earl Slick to keep it under their hats for a year or two while it was all secretly going on. Apparently, much of the same band that had made his last album were re-convened to record “The Next Day.” Only the addition of bassmeister Tony Levin was new to the Bowie fold. By this time, Bowie had now completed his collection of King Crimson guitarists.
When observing the cover, it brought to mind the original back cover to 1980’s “Scary Monsters [And Super Creeps].” On the rear of that LP, artist Edward Bell had included images of Bowie from the famous “Berlin Trilogy” that had been whitewashed over partially, giving the iconic images a tweak in a similar fashion. Surprisingly, when the Rykodisc CD appeared for this title in 1993, those desecrated images were removed from the cover art. The 1999 remastering re-instituted them, albeit in thumbnail size on the now mostly black and text back cover art.
Next: …Bonus Round