David Bowie: “Reality” (2003)
What’s wonderful about this album is “New Killer Star”, which may now be one of my favorite Bowie tracks — not something I was expecting to find in 21st-century Bowie. It’s a fantastic groove that sounds not so much like it picks up where Bowie left off in 1980, but rather that it’s the kind of track he would have written had he never given up that musical direction in the first place. Had Bowie kept hammering away at his incubated-in-Berlin sound, settling in to a “default mode” as so many other artists do, “New Killer Star” is the song he would have written once he got to 2003. It’s like a taste of some Bowie from an alternate universe.
And regardless, it’s a great track. I feel like it’s Bowie trying to do nothing more than be Bowie, and the result is glorious.
The album’s closer, “Bring Me The Disco King”, is also a phenomenal track. It’s practically straight-up jazz, which allows long-time Bowie sideman Mike Garson to really stretch out and bathe us in the glassy warmth of his piano chops.
But beyond these — well, the album doesn’t really do it for me. There are some other good moments, like “She’ll Drive The Big Car”, and hearing Bowie blast out a cover of “Pablo Picasso” is pretty amusing, but beyond that, it leaves me a little flat. It could be that 2002’s “Heathen” set my expectations too high.
P.S., on the associated tour, Bowie had a heart attack on stage while playing a date in Germany. Solidarity, brother.