David Bowie: “Earthling” (1997)

I have distinct memories of this album and seeing stand-ups of the cover and Bowie’s kick-ass “Union Jacket” in the local record store. This is one of the albums I’ve been looking forward to since I started this project.

So this is Bowie and Gabrels getting their Nine Inch Nails on, writing heavy, rapid-fire, noisy electronica — and it’s glorious to behold. The phrase “his best since Scary Monsters” gets bandied around a lot when people review any given Bowie album after 1980, but this is the first one that, IMO, is deserving of the phrase. I find myself enthusiastically head-banging whenever “I’m Afraid Of Americans” comes on, and “Little Wonder” will get stuck in my head. Granted, I’m not super-nuts about “Dead Man Walking”, but as low points on a Bowie album go, it’s pretty damn good.

It’s especially nice to hear Bowie music with an edge after the slick, synth-y production of the last two albums; it’s like we’re jumping back a decade to the Tin Machine years, but now at 160bpm. This is the first album Bowie has self-produced since “Diamond Dogs”, and, man, all I can say is the Bowie should self-produce more often.