David Bowie

ISO Records, 2003

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


This is a very interesting record. Reality is more or less the result of taking the mature, sophisticated-yet-sleepy sound of Heathen and injecting it with the inspired melodicism of Hours…, some of the energy of Earthling (which Heathen was sorely lacking, as I noted in my review of that disc), and the quirky space rock arrangements of Scary Monsters. Yet another surprisingly strong effort from David Bowie late in his career.


This is the album that Heathen should have been – it's still got a similarly spacey, reflective feel and looks to his own past for musical inspiration, but thankfully, this time out, the music is a lot more diverse. For example, on his cover of The Modern Lovers’ "Pablo Picasso," Bowie sounds like a snotty punk singing along to a bizarre song with playfully silly keyboard runs and soaring guitars; it’s one of the few times I can recall him seemingly enjoying himself and not being overly serious. You might have to go all the way back to 1967’s cult-classic, “The Laughing Gnome,” for the last example of that.

Then just two songs later we are handed "The Loneliest Guy," a haunting, forlorn track that I wouldn't hesitate to call one of his best ballads ever. Speaking of forlorn, it looks like Bowie was caught in a full blown mid-life crisis judging by how sad and bitter his lyrics are throughout Reality, continuing the vibe he started on Hours…

Sure, as solid as Reality is, there are a few songs that are mild misfires (though not bad, per se) – "Never Get Old" amusingly opens with an intro that makes me want to don my boogie shoes and yell "Celebration time, come on!", "Try Some, Buy Some" sounds like an eerie Welcome To My Nightmare-era Alice Cooper song, and "Fall Dog Bombs The Moon" is Bowie's umpteenth "Heroes" re-write, but it's all worth it just to hear a fantastic song like the moody, slothy jazz number "Bring Me The Disco King," which disappointingly does not actually ever stray into disco territory.

Despite the glum thoughts of aging that provide much of the lyrical content, it’s safe to say that by continuing to release strong albums like Reality, David Bowie’s artistic abilities are intact and he will remain a force in the world of rock and pop.

Rating: B+

User Rating: A


Once again he just keeps getting better. Disco King is brilliant, Bowie's vocal are wickedly cool. He sings it even better live. The covers of George Harrison's Try Some, Buy Some and the Modern Lovers, Pablo Picasso, really gives a new depth to his musical tastes. The last 5 or 6 albums have progressively got better everytime. If scared to wonder how good the next album is going to be.

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