Legacy

David Bowie

Sony, 2016

http://www.davidbowie.com

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/02/2017

Yet another David Bowie compilation, the first posthumous one and the third multi-disc set of the 2000s alone. The only difference here is that two songs from Bowie’s final album Blackstar are included, ostensibly to make this the one career-spanning collection one needs.

Condensing Bowie to two discs is nigh impossible, but Best Of Bowie did a fine job, and 2014’s Things Have Changed went one step further by adding a third disc, updating to include Reality, The Next Day, an early version of “Sue” (which would appear on Blackstar), and sequencing in reverse chronological order, plus a lot more ‘80s and ‘90s stuff than was really necessary. It’s still a fine collection if you want pretty much every hit and necessary track Bowie had, which will then lead you into exploring the individual albums as a good hits collection should.

So considering the two existing sets, Legacy is unnecessary, chock-full of great music as it is. The first disc covers 1969 through 1980, which is a lot of musical ground, and the hits you know and love come fast and furious: “Fame,” “Space Oddity,” “Golden Years,” “Ashes To Ashes,” “Heroes,” “Young Americans,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Jean Genie,” “Fashion,” “Changes,” “The Man Who Sold The World” and “Boys Keep Swinging.” Non-major-hits but necessary fan favorites included are “Starman,” “Moonage Daydream,” “All The Young Dudes,” “Drive-In Saturday,” “Life On Mars?” and “Sound And Vision.” my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Each of these songs has probably inspired an entire musical career, and it’s hard to quibble with this list. The only missing track of consequence is “Suffragette City” and perhaps “Diamond Dogs,” but your local classic rock station will have either of these on in about an hour (after news on the 2s), so don’t worry. I’ve also never been a fan of the sci-fi doo-wop crap like “Oh You Pretty Things” and “Life On Mars?,” but I suppose they have to be here, so there you go.

So it was a given the first disc would be pretty much bulletproof, and as on Best Of Bowie and the first disc and a half of Things Have Changed, the devil lies in the material from Let’s Dance to the present day. Best Of Bowie acquitted itself admirably, and Legacy does the same, cherry-picking only the biggest and best cuts from the last 33 years, with no fat and really no complaints except maybe “Everyone Says Hi” instead of one of the rockers from The Next Day like the title cut or “You Will Set The World On Fire.” Minor quibble.

The Queen collaboration “Under Pressure” starts off the disc, followed by the trifecta of hits from Let’s Dance, the great Pat Metheny collab “This Is Not America,” the awful Mick Jagger collab “Dancing In The Street,” and the jittery “Jump They Say,” not to mention fan favorite and non-album cut “Absolute Beginners.” A couple of tracks from Outside, …hours, Earthling, Heathen, and Reality take up the rest of the disc, with the uber-slow “Where Are We Now” the lone entry from The Next Day. Things close with “Lazarus” (the song that inspired a Broadway musical) and “I Can’t Give Everything Away.” Of course, all the songs are presented in their single version, and I’m frankly tired of asking compilers to include those extra 30 seconds they hack out of each song for no apparent reason. Let’s just say the full-length version is nearly always better (although, in the case of “Lazarus,” the shorter version gets the point across just as well, especially with the chilling opening line “Look at me, I’m in heaven / I’ve got scars that can’t be seen”).

What it boils down to is what you need. For a one-disc overview of Bowie as a primer, the original Changesbowie or the one-disc BestOof Bowie is where to start. To dig deeper, either this or the two-disc Best of Bowie serve essentially the same function, although Legacy omits a couple of ‘70s cuts to complete the story for 2016, which may appeal to those looking for the complete overview, especially since, as of this writing, Bowie received his first-ever Grammy nominations for Blackstar. Fans of the man don’t need to worry about picking this one up, though, as they can cull their own compilations and know these songs by heart anyway, plus there are no bonus tracks to entice them.

And really, any chance you have to listen to David Bowie is time well spent. Let’s just hope the endless repackaging stops after this one.

Rating: A-

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