The Buddha Of Suburbia

David Bowie

BMG International, 1993

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


How the hell David Bowie managed to put out such a surprisingly strong, obscure little release in the same year as his woeful solo comeback album, Black Tie White Noise, is truly baffling.

Written for a British TV miniseries (though only the title track was actually used in the show), The Buddha Of Suburbiamy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 is mistakenly labeled as a soundtrack when it really is a full length Bowie album. Nevertheless, I think the reason he was inspired to write an album full of good songs for a change is the fact that he didn’t try to jump on a trend to boost his popularity – this is Bowie finally being himself again, and the results speak for themselves.

The Buddha Of Suburbia is a collection of fairly mellow, but well-crafted pop tunes with Bowie’s first quality melodies in a decade (unless you count the Tin Machine albums), like the great, melancholy title track, with its sad vocals and beautiful, chiming guitar.

There is also an impressive diversity to the songwriting, with ambient, Eno-like instrumentals that recall Bowie’s Berlin era (the jazzy “South Horizon” for example, complete with atonal piano solo), and a few energetic synth rockers that Bowie surprisingly doesn’t embarrass himself with (“Bleed Like A Craze, Dad” is as wonderfully strange as it sounds, as well as the Britpoppy “Dead Against It”). There’s even a hypnotically danceable, dark club track (“Sex And The Church”) that sounds stylistically like a leftover from Black Tie White Noise yet is far superior to anything on that shoddy misfire.

Although The Buddha Of Suburbia received virtually nil promotion or airplay upon release and was a total commercial failure, it has attained a cult-like reputation as one of David Bowie’s best works in the years since. I agree heartily – it’s full of catchy songs and intelligent, inventive instrumentation, with a subtle nod to his experimental tendencies of the past. Not to be missed.

Rating: B+

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© 2008 Roland Fratzl and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of BMG International, and is used for informational purposes only.