No one quite defines the definitions of unique, inspiring, more in the world of music than David Bowie. Whilst this will be unfortunately the last recorded material we will hear from him, what has been left behind is a fantastic, yet small, album with some incredible songs. Whilst like any album, Blackstar does have it’s moments of question, as is expected in the weird and wonderful like of Bowie, it makes up for it in more ways, from the genius title track and more. The album is also in many ways haunting, hints upon Bowies foreseen death due to his battle with cancer are evident in lyrics, but all are shrouded in the genius he’s always portrayed.
Kicking off an album with a 10 minute album is crazy for any Artist or Band, but that’s just one of those things Bowie can just get away with. Blackstar as a song is sonically two sections moulded in to one song, the erie beginning with fast moving snares and anthemic string sections, in parts a saxophone, but most of all the vocals.
In the Villa of Ormen (x2)
Stands a solitary candle
At the centre of it all (x2)
The song is also rather dark, speaking upon a star who dies, one who was a confusing individual to many but loved, and the perceptive aftermath, see what we mean with haunting.
Our favourite part of the song is the middle at the song builds in to an opening and you get to hear David Bowie vocals just sing and build the song in to a happier reflective state. Whilst the second section of the song feature Bowies untouched vocals, it wouldn’t be a Bowie track without hints of his many personas, with the noticeable Ziggy Stardust style vocal hints during the middle chords as well.
How Blackstar starts, builds in the middle and seamlessly links at the end is the work of genius David Bowie will always be remembered for, it’s unusual, but we can see this easily becoming our favourite song of 2016 and an incredible beginning to the album itself.
‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore
Whilst the song Blackstar is a work of art, it does leave little left to follow, and when the song that follows isn’t all that either, we can’t help but feel like ‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore is a song we’d of either rather have left out, or worked on more. We scored it 3/5 as it has hints of a great song and there’s Bowie fans from some of his eras who will like this style of track, but we’re not a fan unfortunately.
The song as it may indicate by it’s title, speaks of the life of a prostitute style character and their affections, shall we say, towards men. Let’s just say we’re not a fan of this one. The lyrics don’t hold anything back either;
Black struck the kiss, she kept my c**k
Smote the mistress, drifting on
‘Tis a pity she was a whore.
Lazarus is the title of the second single of Blackstar, which was released on the day he unfortunately passed away, which is where the album continues it’s haunting feel;
Look up here, I’m in heaven
I’ve got scars that can’t be seen
I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen
Everybody knows me now
As we mentioned at the start of the review, Blackstar is full of hints of his death, but Lazarus is definitely the most close to saying it clearly. Tony Visconti, who helped produce Blackstar, claims Lazarus (including other songs off Blackstar) was written “as a self-epitaph, a commentary” on Bowie’s own impending death.
As a song, it’s typical Bowie, in the most untypical way, Lazarus is clearly the ballad of Blackstar and it does it beautifully, like the last cry for help, the song just howls more and more after each listen, and it helps that David Bowie makes such intriguing videos so you’ve further excuse, if you ever needed one, to listen to this again and again!
Ref: You can find more deeper looks in to Bowie’s lyrics from Lazarus and more in this very interesting post over at ‘The Guardian‘.
Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)
Sue is actually a rather old David Bowie song, released back in 2014 as part of a compilation ‘Nothing Has Changed’, a re-recorded version is what features on Blackstar. As a song, Sue doesn’t either wow us or disappoint us, it’s unfortunately very average as a song, which is disappointing, especially as a recycled song, to be brought to Blackstar.
Essence of the Blackstar story do naturally feature in the lyrics to Sue, but the end result is easily the worst song of the album.
Sue, I pushed you down beneath the weeds
Endless faith in hopeless deeds
I kissed your face
I touched your face
Girl Loves Me
Girl Loves Me is pure Bowie pop and we love it. Kicking off with tongue twisting lyrics all ending with a forced falsetto at the end which just makes the words pop in such a cool way. Then kicks in the bridge and chorus, which you can’t resist but to sing along to. Girl Loves Me will easily not be the song you remember Blackstar for going forward, but it’s still one of those songs we find choosing from the list as it’s such a pure great song;
Where the fuck did Monday go? I’m go to this Giggenbach show
I’m sailin’ in the chestnut tree. Who the fuck’s gonna mess with me?
Girl loves me (Hey cheena)
Girl don’t speak
Girl loves me (Hey cheena)
Girl don’t speak
As the sound of dollar bills slowly silences, this is Dollar Days. It’s interesting how throughout the many tracks of Blackstar, David Bowie sends a perception of US being home to him in song, but then boom, mentions of English qualities, it’s rather strange.
Dollar Days is, after Lazarus, probably the most noticeable final message from Bowie to his fans, talk of society going mad, the past as it’s been to now and more, Dollar Days is clearly one of those reflective looking back songs, and whilst it may soon to be the end, what a time we’ve had, and that’s the feeling you definitely get upon hearing it.
I’m dying too
Push their backs against the grain, and fool them all again and again
I’m trying to
We bitches tear our magazines. of all the gastly foaming mouths from now and then
Can’t believe for just one second I’m forgetting you
I’m trying to. I’m dying too
I Can’t Give Everything Away
I Can’t Give Everything Away is a surprisingly soft sounding song for Bowie, smooth synths and beats make up the song with calm vocals throughout, but what a way to end the album. The song is also very soothing and relaxing to listen to in the best possible way, and sounds incredible.
Whilst lyrically, the song isn’t anything too special, it’s simply a nice calm pleasant song to finish upon, which from what we can gather talks upon how during his career he may have been reckless and wild in character, but some things you can’t give away, that part that makes you who you are.
I can’t give everything (x2)
Blackstar is a fantastic album, be it short, what most would regard as more of an EP, but it’s not perfect. Whilst songs such as the title track ‘Blackstar’ and ‘I Can’t Give Everything Away’ are incredible, and some could regard as perfect scoring tracks, it unfortunately has a couple of let downs, which is a lot easier to let go had their not being just the 7 tracks on Blackstar, but their is so it makes a much larger lasting affect.
But, Blackstar wasn’t meant to be perfect, sure it wasn’t meant to be rubbish, but Blackstar was made as a lasting message from David Bowie for his fans, and as far as thats concerned this is definitely a positive message received by us, this album hasn’t been off all week!
Blackstar by David Bowie is available at all music resellers, as well as digital channels, some of which are listed below;