We Prick You

b&B

We Prick You.
We Prick You (alternate mix, unfinished vocal).
We Prick You (rehearsal, 1995).
We Prick You (first live performance, 1995).
We Prick You (live, 1995).
We Prick You (live, Loreley Festival, 1996).

Having revived Tin Machine for the title song of Outside, Bowie perhaps had the Machine on his mind for “We Prick You,” his hostile takeover of an Eno drum track. With a refrain that originally went “we fuck you we fuck you we fuck you” and lines like “dripping on the end of a gun,” it easily could’ve been a crass, wearisome track, in line with the Machine at its most tasteless. Instead “We Prick You” was punchy, catchy and strange, another in a set of songs on Outside that found Bowie managing to refine his work from the past decade: Outside can seem like the music Bowie thought he was making in 1987 or 1989, a better realization of his ambitions.

Eno provided the drum ‘n’ bass-lite loops and the various synth colors, like the “marimba” fills that wink in and out and the main four-note synth riff that repeats throughout, and which slightly distorts towards the close (the track was originally called “Robot Punk”). But he was also heard in Bowie’s array of bizarre backing vocals, some of which sound like zombified Eton toffs, and which could all hail from the funny-voice bestiary of Eno’s “Dead Finks Don’t Talk.”* Bowie had even wanted to sample Camille Pagila for the “you show respect, even if you disagree” tag, but wound up doing it himself via varispeed (Bowie kept trying Paglia’s office, but she thought it was a joke and never called him back). On stage Bowie responded to this voice as if it was an officious God, talking back and shaking his head.

“We Prick You” moves from spare beginnings (a bassline over two drum loops, mixed far left and right, that’s joined, in eight-bar increments, by a drum machine and two main keyboard tracks) to a chorus that boasts one of the finest latter-day Carlos Alomar guitar riffs, a piece of barbed funk that calls back to the Miracles’ “Love Machine.” Alomar was just one hook in a track devoted to them—the “I’m Not in Love“-esque loops of endless “ooohs” high in the mix in later verses, the goonish counter-melodies (“shoes, shoes, little white shoes“), Bowie’s righteously sung “TELL the TRUTH! TELL the TRUTH!,” and the title line, repeated thrice like an anathema, and which is occasionally pummeled by snare drum fills.

The lyric has a similar density, working as: a blunt sex joke; a more subtle sex joke (“wanna come quick, then die”) playing on the phrase “little death” as orgasm; a feminist statement (the chorus could be Woman putting Man on trial, the first lines yelled by the prosecutor, the title line being the defendant’s confession); the trial of Leon Blank in Bowie’s anti-narrative; an occult reference (the alchemical symbol of Christ being pierced with a spear); and the idea of sex as a form of bodily mutilation, a variation of Ron Athey’s 4 Scenes in a Harsh Life, where Athey had stuck needles into his arms and scalp during his performance. A collection and implosion of ideas and sounds, signifying nothing and seemingly everything, “We Prick You” is Bowie at his purest.

Recorded ca. January-February 1995, Hit Factory, NYC. In 2012, another mix of “We Prick You” surfaced (see above) with some unfinished Bowie vocals; it was possibly an outtake from the Hit Factory sessions. Played only during the Outside tour.

* One of the voices on “Dead Finks” is Eno’s dead-on parody of Bryan Ferry.

Top: Ambitious man, in search of steady employment, consults with established power couple at the Q Awards, 1995. (Jarvis Cocker presented the “Q Inspiration Award” to Bowie and Eno that night.)

67 Responses to We Prick You

  1. postpunkmonk says:

    Hmmm. I always heard that line as “mutual respect, even if we disagree.” I’ll have to listen with headphones. A good number and I liked it on the Outside tour. Not top flight Bowie, but certainly good enough.

  2. Paul Kelly says:

    It’s taken me 16 years of moderately enjoying this song before I realised the chorus can be interpreted as “wee prick, you wee prick, you wee prick, you”. Little white shoes indeed

  3. Patrick says:

    Listening now pretty much for the first time, it’s a punchy little thing. Like you say, entertaining sound and fury but probably signifying nothing.

  4. gcreptile says:

    It’s a track I like to skip. For me, there is nothing going on musically.
    On another note, I had forgotten that the Bowies were (are?) good friends with the Blairs. Oh, how neoliberal we used to be… that includes me.

  5. fluxkit says:

    Not a flattering picture. I’m happy that at least Damon Albarn snubbed Blair. Blair always wanted to court musicians to make himself look hip.

  6. s.t. says:

    This song took me forever to get into. Back in high school I was getting into “weirder” acts like Talking Heads and Boredoms, but this song was just a little too weird for me to appreciate it. Now, it’s a highlight, a charmingly quirky pop song. It’s a much needed moment of levity on a mostly dark and murky album.

    It also strikes me as being inspired by Q Lazarrus’ “Goodbye Horses,” at least that synthy beat. Of course, that song is most famous for its inclusion in Silence of the Lambs, yet another 90’s exploration of serial killer lore. The link is certainly strong in my mind. Whenever We Prick You starts up, I get a reflexive flashback of Buffalo Bill dancing and I have to shake off the creep factor before I can enjoy the groove.

    Is it an intentional link on Bowie’s part, or pure coincidence? I don’t know, but it certainly feels appropriate, considering the album’s theme.

    • Maj says:

      Charmingly quirky pop song, indeed.

      I actually think I might be the only person here who liked this one right from the start? Interesting.

      • s.t. says:

        That’s true, but I think I remember you mentioning that you’ve somewhat recently got into Bowie? Me, I had some growing to do before I could fully appreciate this stuff.

        Actually, as far as expanding and re-evaluating my understanding of art and taste go, Bowie may have been the single most influential figure in my development. Each successive album I bought had an uncomfortable “I don’t know about this” moment that later allowed for revelation.

      • Maj says:

        Recently, compared to some other guys here but not recently for me. I got into him with Heathen, at 15. 10.5 years now. I’ve lived with this particular album for a whole decade, a looong time for me.

      • s.t. says:

        True, true. Those 10 years in between Reality and TND didn’t seem all that long to me (probably because I was convinced that he had retired, and I put my mind on other things), but it’s quite a lot of time to soak up an artist’s work.

  7. Maj says:

    Another great track on the album. Adore it. What else can I say?🙂

  8. Sky-Possessing Spider says:

    Far from being potentially “crass’ “wearisome” and “tasteless’, I find the line “dripping on the end of a gun” very evocative in a surreal, Dali-esque way. Can you not imagine a gigantic Saturday night special, suspended on some faraway beach, propped up with walking sticks, and dripping blood or some other substance onto the sand below??
    As for the line “we fuck you, we fuck you’, I’ve noticed a degree of prudishness in you Col. Going back over your earlier posts, you didn’t like the line “falls wanking to the floor” from “Time”. I personally find it hilarious, especially the way he really emphasises the offending word on “David Live”. Similarly, you didn’t seem to care much for the line “feel like fucking you’ being buried in the mix of Pinups’ “Friday On My Mind”.
    I was 12 years old and in first form, or what you Americans call junior high when that song was released, and I have to say it was a great source of amusement between me and my friends that this little bit of sonic smut somehow slipped unnoticed past the censors and found its’ way regularly onto the radio( being a cover of an Australian song, probably). Juvenile? Perhaps. But then pop music is for “the kids”. Anyway, this is just an observation about you, not a criticism. See, I show respect, even if I disagree.

    • col1234 says:

      thanks, Freud

      • The Pataphysical Me says:

        Against Freud: “N’interprétez jamais…, expérimentez!”
        Deleuze-Guattari
        there’s something disturbing (tell the truth…) in that song which is not a “middle of the road” Bowie tune of this Era such like “strangers”; i do like it but my favourites are Spaceboy, Voyeur, Small Plot, Wishful, Motel, Deranged; this is the kind of album which tastes better when listened with headphones, very rich & full of details, just like some Bosch painting. LOVE OUTSIDE from the 26th September 1995.

    • Patrick says:

      As someone once said:
      “Swearing: it ain’t big and it ain’t clever”

    • Maj says:

      I’m with you on the dripping line. I think it’s one of Bowie’s better lines. Hardly crass.
      But he definitely can get a bit heavy handed with sexual innuendos. Cole Porter he ain’t. (See Alternative Candidate.)

  9. Momus says:

    Ha, I laughed when I saw the photo! In my mind — and I have absolutely no evidence for this, it’s a hunch — Bowie was appalled by Blair’s Iraq lies and severed the opportunistic friendship established in Tony’s Camelot Years.

    For me, We Prick You is where 1.Outside starts to get really interesting. This, Spaceboy and Oxford Town are the tracks that really, well, prick me with their bristling hooks.

    It’s an obvious observation, but it hasn’t yet been made: the title must surely relate to Shylock’s famous statement in The Merchant of Venice, “If you prick us, do we not bleed?” I was going to say it’s a statement of common humanity, but it’s a bit more negative than that. Shylock is actually saying that Jews have the right to take vindictive revenge:

    “I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

    The unfinished version of the song, blocked out with Bowie’s “la-la-las” unfortunately gives an insight into the basic meaninglessness of quite a lot of Bowie’s lyrics, seen in isolation. Who are the White Boys, the Foxy Girls, the Flesh Punks? Well, who are they *to you*, listener? Does it matter? They’re basically just La-La-Las, coaxed forward into vague “imagery”.

    David Bowie is perhaps the most brilliant creator of “semantic fields” popular culture has ever seen, but he creates those fields by combining lots of different elements (movement, sound, references, resonances). Isolate just one (like lyrics) and there’s often just a gentle play of light and shade. It gives the impression of being quickly done, rapidly dispatched, little edited, left to do what work it will in the minds of listeners. First take, best take. First thought, fine.

  10. Mr Tagomi says:

    This is one of the better songs on Outside, for me, but there’s an element of stodginess to it that keeps me slightly at a distance to it.

    I feel this way about several of the songs on Outside. Something in the production seems not quite right, although I have no idea what it might be.

    There are songs on Earthling that are intrinsically not that different, but which are bursting with life by comparison.

    • David L says:

      I completely agree, well said. For me the overall Outside sound is turgid, there’s a heaviness that seems artificial. I always attributed it to Bowie’s apparent admiration (at the time) for the NIN sound, a direction that I don’t think ever agreed with him.

      And then Earthling comes out and it has a very different energy despite also having an industrial rock thing going for it.

      • King of Oblivion says:

        Yes. I think what people here is the sound of talented folks trying just a little too hard. By comparison Bowie (and Gabrels and Plati) took a far more easygoing approach with Earthling and made, for me anyway, a more enjoyable album.

      • s.t. says:

        I agree that Earthling is more effortlessly enjoyable, but I also feel that the songs are more arrangement tricks than full bodied…songs. If Outside is a Christopher Nolan film–admirable in its ambition but definitely bloated–Earthling is perhaps closer to a Tony Scott flick: a really fun ride that you won’t (can’t?) think about once it’s over.

        Outside could have been more accessible, but once you dig in, there’s so much to chew on. The sounds and ideas really stick with you, for better and worse.

      • Patrick says:

        Yeah , I’m sure we’ll soon get on to individual tracks etc there, but arrangement tricks is a good way to describe Earthling as I remembered it, and though it was years ago, I didn’t like most or all when I heard it. Not enough to even keep some tracks on my PC
        We’ll see. I’m surprised that I actually didn’t mind a couple of tracks so far reviewed on Outside. My recollection of the album was that it was dark, heavy and difficult a kind of art house version of Tim Machine experiment/diversion that mixed things up a bit but more for DB to try to his mojo back. I am not a fan of hallo SpaceBoy at all , which I expect will be covered very soon so will hold fire..

      • gcreptile says:

        I have to agree here about the stodginess. I blame Eno, especially since I know now that he provided the drum’n’bass loops. I don’t like Eno’s sound in the 90’s. There’s a lot of Nerve Net in here, itt’s just not that good, in my opinion.

      • postpunkmonk says:

        I’m with s.t. Though I much prefer to listen to “Earthling,” about half of it seems to be about achieving a sound and little else. Unless the metaphors are so obscure as to be unfathomable to me. Bowie’s brief on techno was “these are fantastic sounds – if they were only songs!” So that leads me to believe that tracks like “Little Wonder” are actually about something, though I can’t fathom exactly what… yet.

    • Mr Tagomi says:

      “Trying a little too hard” is a good summation of what it feels like all right.

      I think there’s something in the “arrangement tricks” observation about Earthling too, although I don’t think it applies to the whole album or that it necessarily cheapens the music.

      I love Earthling, in fact.

      I’ve always mostly liked Outside too, and the analyses thus far on this blog have actually made me like it a lot more.

    • Remco says:

      Funnily enough I think he should’ve saved this one for Earthling, Compared to ‘Outside’ I think ‘Earthling’ lacks depth, for want of a better word.
      ‘Outside’ is so chock-full of these beatifully dense, layered songs which makes it hard to listen to the entire thing in one go whereas ‘Earthling’ desperately needs some more wholewheat songs. ‘We Prick You’ could’ve replaced pretty much anything on ‘Earthling’. Would’ve been an improvement to both albums.

  11. Joe The Lion says:

    I recall Bowie being on BBC Radio 1 in 1995, previewing tracks from 1.Outside. He introduced this one by saying it was ‘just dotty’. I remember it being my favourite from the ones he previewed, although I now can’t remember which the others were.

    Good call on the voices being akin to Eno’s characters in Dead Finks Don’t Talk. Pretty sure Bowie also had that song in mind for the end of Sweet Thing. (Actually, now I say that I can’t help but think you’ve already pointed that out, Chris…)

    Anyway, We Prick You – good track. Not my favourite, but an encapsulation of the album’s violence, darkness and madness. I’d probably play it to prove how ‘dotty’ the album was to the uninformed.

  12. Diamond Duke says:

    Not one of my favorite tracks from Outside, but considering how that’s one my personalTop 5 Favorite Bowie Albums, that’s hardly a put-down! It’s certainly quirky, and in Bowie’s own words, it’s certainly – God, I love this expression – dotty! Carlos Alomar has certainly always had a knack for making Bowie’s more left-field excursions that much more accessible and catchy (the most recent example being that terrific riff from Reality B-side Fly).

    As far as that line “Dripping on the end of a gun” is concerned, I can’t help thinking of that “flesh pistol” utilized by James Woods in David Cronenberg’s Videodrome. (I’m guessing David’s a fan…)

  13. Funny to hear so many people disliking this one, either now or on their first listen. Outside was the first ‘new’ Bowie album I bought- already familiar with the 70s catalog via Sound and Vision. I was 13 or so, obviously enamored with Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, etc.as well as the serial killer lore, Twin Peaks, Kafka, David Cronenberg’s films, Blade Runner, etc. (all of which I’m sure were obvious influences, many already mentioned).

    Anyway, the album was an immediate love affair- I only recall disliking the ‘Ramona/I Am With Name’ mashup at first- which has since grown on me as well. ‘We Prick You’ was among the top three for me back then, and still is. While the lyrics may be crass and immensely sexual, the exude the kind of surrealism and darkness that I’m generally drawn to, and the beat is exceptional. Still love it, always will.

    PS- Apologies if I missed it, but are there any plans to touch on the Young Gods as an influence on this record? I recall an interview way back when that compared the album to Nine Inch Nails, to which Bowie quipped that he was far more inspired by the Swiss band. You can hear it especially on ‘Hallo Spaceboy’

    • s.t. says:

      Interesting. I never heard of them, but upon listening, I can definitely hear a similarity to their work in the drums and guitar of Hallo Spaceboy.

    • col1234 says:

      you’re ahead of the game. yes, the Young Gods will turn up on “Spaceboy”

  14. Dr. Urk says:

    When Outside came out I was just turning 30, about 15 years past tthe height of my bowie fandom, which had mostly come from Changes One, Alladin Sane, and Scary Monsters, all of which I discovered in High School. I was never one to diss a musician for making music I didn’t like, or commercial music, and I always repsected bowie’s work, but hadn’t really liked anything he’d done (that I’d noticed) on a visceral level in a long time. Outside changed that. At first, I;d mainly put it on when i was going to get high and clean up the studio, and get lost in it. when that stopped being such a commanding experience, and I started focusing on individual songs, this was one of the first. I eventually settled into a kind of mini-album loop of Spaceboy, Oxford Town, This, No control, maybe a couple of others. I was really happy that he was making challenging music again, but I was still drawn to the pop song-ish bits of the challenging music. This song is filled with amazing, weirded-out little hooks.

    I love the contrast between the plainspoken, resigned and intimate/confessional verse vocal, the righteous and demanding “tell the truth” pre-chous, and the robot elf-voiced “you show respect” part. I think it takes all of those to make the insistent, repetitive title hook funciton the way it does.

    For all the virtuoso nonsense artistry going on here, I always felt that there’s a real human feeling, or set of feelings, at the heart of the song. something about the limits of flesh, the need to keep putting yourself out there, disapointment…Maybe its just what I was putting there, but for me “All the little fragile champion boys” is the more important part of the couplet that ends with “dripping on the end of a gun.” I’m not doing a good job of articulating it right now, and maybe inarticulation is part of the feeling that’s evoked, and maybe its just where I was in my life that I projected into this canvas, but I can’t at all hear this as signifying nothing.

    • Rebel Yell says:

      Wasn’t there an interview with Bowie where he says he tried to get Camille Paglia to do the vocals for “You show respect even if you disagree You show respect.” Too funny.

  15. Mike says:

    Writer’s block + midle age + trying too hard = 90s Bowie.

    • Mike says:

      Oops — “middle”. Sorry, I’m 44 — my mind is pretty much gone…

      • Sky-Possessing Spider says:

        See, here’s this ageism at play again. He shouldn’t be making Outside because it’s too deliberately weird. He shouldn’t be attempting a drum’n’bass album because he’s 50 years old. We don’t like his 80s stuff because its too commercial. We don’t like his 90s stuff because its not commercial enough. I’m both pleased and amazed that he expressed his frustration in a song like Ï Can’t Read” (again on an album that nobody liked) rather than just throwing his hands in the air and taking a 30 year sabbatical.

      • Mr Tagomi says:

        I don’t see much evidence of writer’s block in his 1990s work. He wrote tons of good songs in the 1990s.

      • s.t. says:

        I agree with Sky Spider and Mr Tagomi, but in Mike’s defense, Bowie was at this time, to paraphrase col1234, “an irritant.” He was once again in the spotlight, but had taken on a self-consciously polarizing role. It’s inevitable that some people, even fans, were turned off by this approach, especially since there was a time when Bowie was both adventurous and fairly accessible. I don’t think Outside should be dismissed, but it’s partly Bowie’s fault that it is.

  16. Sky-Possessing Spider says:

    I suppose the thing that irritates me s.t. is that Bowie sold oodles more records making bad albums in the 80s than he did in the 90s, when he returned to making brilliant,challenging music once again, yet was largely ignored.
    And what were people buying by the truckload back then? In the US it was grunge, which, aside from Nirvana was pretty dreary. While in the UK it was Britpop, which in the case of Oasis involved re-heating a lot of congealed Beatles tunes, like microwaving 30 year old pizza.

    • s.t. says:

      Yeah, I know what you mean. I had chanced to re-read Pitchfork’s review of “Hours” recently, and they mention a “universally-panned tour with Trent Reznor.” Perhaps the decision to tour with Nine Inch Nails was ill-considered, resulting in an uncomfortable clash between forty-something Ziggy diehards and 16 year kids with spiked collars and trench coats.

      But I have a feeling that no one who “panned” the tour was judging the actual quality of the performance, and merely balked at its image or reputation.

      And that ill will toward the NIN tour obscured the fact that Outside was actually tapping into sounds (trip hop) and themes (premillennial techno-dread) that would soon become huge sellers, in the form of Tricky/Portishead and OK Computer, respectively. Tin Machine predated the alternative explosion, yet was seen as a desperate misstep. Outside, too, came before the electronica craze, and was also seen as desperate. Then, once Earthling came out, people accused Bowie of hopping onto the techno/jungle bandwagon. So, yes, he just couldn’t win at this point.

      Still, imagine if Outside had in fact been edited back to something closer to The Next Day, with strong (yet strange) songs, sans distracting filler. I think it would have been picked up more readily by fans of the Berlin albums, just as TND is currently being embraced. The fact is that it takes a lot of patience to work through the clutter of Outside. Now that I’ve done so, I can actually appreciate the clutter for adding a reckless gonzo brilliance to the whole endeavor. But it took quite a lot of time and effort to get to that point, and most people just won’t give an album that much dedication, especially if there are hints that the artist has lost his sense of taste.

      It’s with that in mind that I can both respect and tut-tut Bowie for caring fuck-all about taste in his 90’s work.

      • Anonymous says:

        Although Outside continues to be my favourite Bowie album since Scary Monsters, I have to take issue with your assertion that it pre-dated trip-hop.

        Portishead’s ‘Dummy’ had topped many end-of-1994 album charts in the UK music press (see Melody Maker: http://www.rocklistmusic.co.uk/mmlists_p2.htm;
        although it only reached #6 in the NME whose laddish tendencies dominate its top 10, with the exception of ‘Dummy’: http://www.nme.com/bestalbumsandtracksoftheyear/1994).
        Tricky’s debut was released in early ’95 and an immediate success in the UK.

        By the time of Outside’s release, the ubiquity of trip-hop as the soundtrack of choice for ‘with-it’ English TV programme makers was already well-established.

        Jungle/drum-and-bass god Goldie’s ‘Timeless’ album was released 2 weeks before Outside and a full 18months before Bowie’s Earthling came out. By that time, at least here in England, Everything But the Girl had already brought drum-and-bass to the masses, with ‘Walking Wounded’, a massive 1996 hit single and album.

        No question that Bowie was ahead of the curve in the 70s. And even Let’s Dance prompted copyists galore to seek out the production talents of Niles Rodgers and to emulate That Drum Sound (moreso than Visconti’s Low Eventide Harmonise, it was the reverb-heavy Power Station noise on LD we have to thank for countless turgid 80s abominations).

        But by the 90s, he was following already successful trends, which isn’t a complaint, just an observation intended to quell your inclination towards hagiographic revisionism.

        Scarymonster

      • Anonymous says:

        testing – my previous post didn’t appear, please don’t say I’ll have to re-write it!

      • col1234 says:

        hey–whenever you include a link, the post gets put into a moderated folder, hence the delay

      • Scarymonster says:

        Sorry, s.t. Although Outside was certainly my favourite since SM, I have to take issue with your assertion that it pre-dated trip-hop.

        Portishead’s ‘Dummy’ had topped many end-of-1994 album charts in the UK music press (see Melody Maker: http://www.rocklistmusic.co.uk/mmlists_p2.htm;
        although it only reached #6 in the NME whose laddish tendencies dominate its top 10, with the exception of ‘Dummy’: http://www.nme.com/bestalbumsandtracksoftheyear/1994).
        Tricky’s debut was released in early ’95 and an immediate success in the UK.

        By the time of Outside’s release, the ubiquity of trip-hop as the soundtrack of choice for ‘with-it’ English TV programme makers was already well-established.

        Jungle/drum-and-bass god Goldie’s ‘Timeless’ album was released 2 weeks before Outside and a full 18months before Bowie’s Earthling came out. By that time, at least here in England, Everything But the Girl had brought drum-and-bass to the masses, with ‘Walking Wounded’ a massive 1996 hit single and album.

        No question that Bowie was ahead of the curve in the 70s. And even Let’s Dance prompted copyists galore to seek out the production talents of Niles Rodgers and to emulate That Drum Sound (moreso than Visconti’s Low Eventide Emulator, it was the reverb-heavy Power Station noise on LD we to thank for countless over-the-top 80s drum-dominated abominations.

        By the 90s, Bowie was following already successful trends, which isn’t a complaint, merely an observation intended to quell your inclination towards hagiographic revisionism.

        Scarymonster

      • princeasbo says:

        Those lauding Bowie for being “ahead of the curve”, or upset that he was not so, are wrong. Surely Bowie’s genius has been his ability to travel a nanosecond *behind* the curve, thus allowing him a popular audience.

      • s.t. says:

        Scary Monster, note that I agree with princeasbo, and my comment (perhaps unsuccessfully) was trying to convey a similar sentiment. I wasn’t talking about innovation; Outside was behind the trip hop/”electronica” innovators (91-94), but still before the craze really blew up in the mainstream (96-98). And yet, due perhaps to poor image and marketing decisions, and perhaps also to ageism, he didn’t make a profit that time—even though others, like Madonna, got money and praise from similar ventures. So, no attempt at hagiography. Just a mixed feeling of pride and disappointment for the album and its presentation.

        As for Portishead, I think my memory of their success is a little lagged because it took a bit longer for them to get recognition in the States.

      • princeasbo says:

        I think you’re absolutely right to suggest that ageism plays a major role in the critical assessment of DB’s latter work. Pop music started as a youngster’s game and that lingering sense of the youth phenomenon still pervades; nonetheless, ever image conscious, in many (most?) cases it’s the pop performer’s earlier, trailblazing music that puts his/her nominally mature material in the shade. Bowie is anomalous in that he’s generally hewn to the “nanosecond behind the curve” gambit, even into late middle age.

      • Scarymonster says:

        I agree with you, princeasbo, perhaps ‘ahead of the crowd’ was more the expression I was looking for, but your ‘nanosecond behind the curve’ perfectly encapsulates his uncanny knack of following but being seen to lead.

        And “A nanosecond behind the curve” sounds like a rather fabulous title for someone’s Bowie biography🙂

        Ageism in pop is, sadly inevitable, I think. My 16 year old daughter enjoys the product of Bowie’s ‘imperial phase’, but “what has a 66 year old man got to say to me?” she declared (if only you knew, actually), whilst poking fun at my texting to find out whether his CD had arrived in the post: “you and your man-crush”.

        SM

      • Maj says:

        Haha! “You and your man crush.” Finally reading something actually amusing on this blog. You guys are always so serious. All Walker and the wrong kind of curves…😉
        Thanks for the giggle courtesy of your son, Scarymonster!🙂

      • princeasbo says:

        I know that Chris isn’t keen of PAOTD as an eventual book title: For a small fee, he’s welcome to ANBTC.

        Children wittily picking on parents, always good.

  17. I can easily side with the frankieteardrop: this is one of my favorites here. 1.Outside is a masterpiece to me, certainly top 5 Bowie. We Prick You nicely sums up what I love about the record: dark, complex, sexually charged lyrics, a unique sound that embraces electronica and avant garde as much as pop and Alt. Rock and Bowie’s voice in top form.

    It’s also got some of my favorite lyrics, “Wanna be screwing…”, “Innocence passed me by” and all that.

    I seem to be one of the few who are happy with Bowie’s decision to write and include these pop songs on the final release, instead of just churning out Leon. It’s the sort of weird, futuristic pop music that might never happen in this universe, as promoters are only keen on re-hashing the past. As it is, I see 1.Outside is a record Eno/Bowie stole from an alternate timeline Bowie… maybe from a Universe where “The Electrician” charted #1.

    • Diamond Duke says:

      Finally! Somebody else as crazy as me who’s also got Outside in their Bowie Top 5!😀

    • s.t. says:

      I’m also glad that Outside is Outside and not Leon, but still, it’d be nice of Dave to release those Leon sessions for us geeks.

  18. Ramzi says:

    Christ that picture is disheartening. I suppose it was the 90’s though, a weird time indeed when the Prime Minister had parties with Bowie and Noel Gallagher in Downing Street and presented music awards. Hopefully they jumped the Blair ship after Iraq…

    I listened to the song for the first time reading this post (I never gave Outside too much thought before) and I haven’t been able to stop listening to it since. It’s just so strange and experimental, and that’s what Bowie’s all about. Really something special.

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  21. Peter says:

    i’m not sure if anyone has said this yet, apologies if they have, but isn’t this song obviously about child abuse? I find it chilling which I think is Bowie’s intention. Much more subtle and effective than Tin Machine’s Shopping for Girls.

    • Shannon says:

      I agree with Peter above. I think this is also the case with the haunting and disturbing song Wishful Beginning and the Baby Grace Song. This seems to be one common thread uniting this seemingly disjointed album. Subtle but strangely in your face at the same time…. Chilling indeed.

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