End of Chapter Nine (1996-1999)

ted97

That time again. Note for newish readers: these “chapter end” posts are a chance to sit back and assess the most recent period we’ve gone through in Bowie’s life. They’re also, blessedly, a means for me to not write the blog for a week. So say goodbye to the Nineties: list your favorites from the Bowie/Nine Inch Nails duets to Reeves Gabrels’ “Jewel” (so, all of Earthling and ‘Hours‘).

A tough period to assess (the toughest?). My top 10, as of this morning:

Something In the Air.
Dead Man Walking.
I’m Afraid of Americans.
Little Wonder.
Suite For a Foggy Day.
Looking For Satellites.
Survive.
Battle For Britain (the Letter).
Truth.
Seven Years in Tibet.

Top: Ted Barron, “South Third Street, Brooklyn, 1997.”

40 Responses to End of Chapter Nine (1996-1999)

  1. Remco says:

    Not the most inspired period of his career, but still it yielded the following:

    Something In The Air
    Seven
    Seven Years in Tibet
    Suite for a foggy Day
    Thursday’s Child
    Survive
    Looking For Satellites
    Without you I’m nothing
    We shall go to town

  2. s.t. says:

    Can’t wait for the next chapter! Still, this era has its fair share of pleasures.

    Something in the Air
    Dead Man Walking
    Battle for Britain (The Letter)
    We Shall Go to Town
    I’m Afraid of Americans
    We All Go Through
    Suite For a Foggy Day
    No One Calls
    Planet of Dreams
    Little Wonder

  3. postpunkmonk says:

    A lot more pleasures than ’83-’87!

  4. MC says:

    This phase saw nothing like the burst of creativity of 93-95, but there’s enough worthwhile stuff here that you could perhaps call it one of DB’s more underrated periods.

    The top 10 (in descending order):

    Survive
    Battle For Britain (The Letter)
    Seven Years In Tibet
    Seven
    Looking For Satellites
    Something In The Air
    Thursday’s Child
    Little Wonder
    We All Go Through
    The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell

    Best Cover: O Superman

  5. StevenE says:

    Seven Years In Tibet
    Something in the Air
    Survive
    We Shall Go To Town
    Little Wonder
    Planet of Dreams
    I’m Afraid of Americans
    Dead Man Walking
    Battle For Britain (The Letter)
    The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell
    Looking for Satellites

    Very, very strong showing for Something in the Air so far – which I suspect will continue. SITA-aside I suspect the lists featured here will suggest that a fair few Hours… b-sides are far stronger than almost anything on the album. We All Go Through would probably feature in my top ten if I’d compiled it some other day.

    • StevenE says:

      OK so I’ve just noticed my top 10 is a top 11. Consider Looking for Satellites a bonus track of my own.

    • Sky-Possessing Spider says:

      Battle For Britain (The Letter)
      Looking For Satellites
      Seven Years In Tibet
      Little Wonder
      The Last Thing You Should Do
      I’m Afraid Of Americans
      Thursday’s Child
      The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell
      New Angels Of Promise
      The Dreamers

      I still think Something In The Air is overlong, dull and pointless enough to be an outtake from Oasis’ Be Here Now

      • twinkle-twinkle says:

        Naughty Spider, comparing anything by db to anything by… them!! Lol.

        I’ve finally got round to my list. No particular order.

        Telling Lies (Adam F remix)
        Something in the Air (American Psycho remix)
        Suite For a Foggy Day
        Survive
        Battle For Britain
        Seven
        Truth (Bowie & Goldie)
        Dead Man Walking (all and any version(s)
        Thursday’s Child
        The Dreamers
        The Last thing You Should Do

        Ooop’s – that’s eleven. Can I have ‘Truth’ or ‘foggy Day’ as a bonus? Maybe remove ‘The Dreamers’? I’m stuck.

        For me, Johnny Cash now owns, ‘Hurt’.

  6. Ramzi says:

    May I say that the best thing about this era was the overall look of Bowie in 1999. Superb hair.

    Good songs as well, I think both albums have are given unfair treatment, but hey-ho. My top 10 would be:

    Seven Years in Tibet
    Dead Man Walking
    Survive
    Battle for Britain
    Something in the Air
    Little Wonder
    Thursday’s Child
    The Dreamers
    I’m Afraid of Americans
    Seven

  7. crayontocrayon says:

    In a very muddled order: Some great writing for these songs, special mention to ‘Bowie Bonds’ if that fits into this timeline. Really interesting piece.

    Battle for Britain(the Letter)
    Seven Years in Tibet
    Something in the Air
    We Shall Go To Town
    We All go Through
    Law(Earthlings on Fire)
    The Dreamers
    Looking For Satellites
    Planet of Dreams
    Thursdays Child

  8. col1234 says:

    “We All Go Through” is shaping up to be like “Shadow Man”: a song beloved by a lot of Bowie fans that just doesn’t do anything for me.

    • s.t. says:

      Hey, we all go through it sometimes. And sometimes the tyranny of the majority can provide a helpful nudge. You guys turned me onto “Untitled No. 1,” which I had dismissed for years.

  9. gcreptile says:

    Dead Man Walking
    Little Wonder
    Battle for Britain
    I’m Afraid of Americans (album)
    Thursday’s Child
    ———
    Planet of Dreams
    Survive
    Something in the Air
    Safe
    And a shout-out to a NIN/Bowie live version of Scary Monsters that I somehow got my hands on about a decade ago

  10. Bruised Passivity says:

    My preferences in no particular order:

    1. I’m Afraid of Americans (Reznor Remix)
    2. Dead Man Walking (album and live acoustic adaptation)
    3. Seven Years in Tibet
    4. Law (Earthlings on Fire)
    5. A Foggy Day (In London Town)
    6. Thursday’s Child (Omikron Mix)
    7. Seven (Live – Kit Kat Klub)
    8. Something in the Air (American Psycho Remix)
    9. Brilliant Adventure
    10. Survive (Marius De Vries Remix)

    Though I’d have something more to say as we end this section but nothing of significance is coming to mind. Perhaps something will come to me later today. (I’m still mulling over my opinion of Reeves for the last posting, should have something concrete to submit soon.🙂 )

  11. Mr Tagomi says:

    I am going to cheat slightly:

    Battle for Britain
    Looking for Satellites
    Dead Man Walking
    The Last Thing You Should Do
    V2 Schneider (Tao Jones Index version)
    Truth
    We All Go Through
    New Angels of Promise
    Brilliant Adventure
    The Dreamers

  12. Damien Idris says:

    I’m glad that the chapter breaks here. Otherwise, Hours would appear as some kind of transition to the Third Visconti Period- there are some threads there, the reflective mood, the refusal to engage in the mug’s game of trend-chasing- but it is definitely wrong to view Hours and Heathen, or Toy for that matter, as a piece.

    Still, a very interesting chapter break- everyone else seems to lump Earthling and Outside together. Separated, the latter’s pop sensibility comes to the fore where it is crushed by the weight of the former when considered together. I love Earthling. Hours has some gems, I suppose.

    Anyway, drunken rambling over, here’s my list:

    10. Little Wonder
    9. Seven
    8. A Foggy Day (In London Town)
    7. Battle for Britain
    6. Dead Man Walking
    5. Something in the Air
    4. New Angels of Promise
    3. We Shall go to Town
    2. Seven Years in Tibet
    1. Looking for Satellites

    • Damien Idris says:

      Switch ‘latter’ and ‘former’ here, unless we’re speaking chronologically.

      I must repeat, Drunken Rambling.

  13. Diamond Duke says:

    My Top 10 from this particular era is (just off the top of my head):

    1. Survive [Marius De Vries Mix]
    2. Safe
    3. Dead Man Walking
    4. New Angels Of Promise
    5. Telling Lies
    6. We All Go Through
    7. Seven
    8. Seven Years In Tibet
    9. I’m Afraid Of Americans [Nine Inch Nails V1 Mix]
    10. The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell
    10. Something In The Air [American Psycho Mix]

    • StevenE says:

      I love Safe too. Since Chris covered it already I guess it’s fair game, but it’s much more a Heathen track for me so I expect it to make an appearance on my next chapter end list!

  14. 97-99: not a great period for this Bowie fan.

    1. Looking for Satellites
    2. Dead Man Walking (acoustic)
    3. The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell
    4. New Angels of Promise
    5. The Dreamers
    6. A Foggy Day (In London Town)
    7. Thursday’s Child

    Something in the Air doesn’t do much for me, and HATE I’m Afraid of Americans.

  15. timspeaker says:

    My top ten. Had never heard ‘Planet of Dreams’ until you wrote the entry about it – now it is my favorite track of the era. Thanks Chris, for putting it on my radar.

    1. Planet of Dreams
    2. Battle For Britain
    3. Something In The Air
    4. I’m Afraid of Americans
    5. We Shall Go To Town
    6. Seven Years In Tibet
    7. If I’m Dreaming My Life
    8. New Angels of Promise
    9. The Dreamers
    10. Safe

  16. CosmicJive says:

    Ok here we go:

    1. Something in the Air (Plati Mix)
    2. Telling Lies (Adam F mix)
    3. Hurt (live)
    4. Looking for Satellites
    5. The Dreamers
    6. Dead Man Walking
    7. No-One Calls
    8. The Last Thing You Should Do
    9. Thursday’s Child
    10. I’m Afraid of Americans

    Also worth mentioning: “I Can’t Read” live in Paris ’99, “Stay”, “V2 Schneider” and “O Superman” live in 1997.

  17. roobin101 says:

    Very long time lurker here (I didn’t realise you needed to have a wordpress account – thank you for this wonderful blog though). In no particular order my favourites are:

    Dead Man Walking (especially the acoustic TV version)
    I’m Afraid of Americans
    Looking for Satellites
    We All Go Through (the mini-revelation of this period for me)
    Survive
    Seven
    20th Century Boy (the last remotely fun thing to happen at the Brit Awards)
    Planet of Dreams
    Perfect Day (corny though the version is)

    • roobin101 says:

      One more post before I relurk. 1) I got into DB in a big way in the mid-90s. Hours was where I got off for several years. I’m looking forward to reading about Toy/Heathen/Reality. 2) I like the idea of alternate Bowie timelines (the 90s being a sustained attempt to erase the 80s). The nostalgic elements of Hours sound like they’d fit well on Buddha… Do the mid-90s represent a massive detour; would no Brian Eno have meant no mad cut-ups and improv (fun though they were)?

  18. Maj says:

    Hm.
    Hm.

    Well.

    I guess:

    Seven Years in Tibet
    Seven
    I Can’t Read (Bridge Benefit version)
    I’m Afraid of Americans
    Battle For Britain (the Letter)
    The Dreamers
    If I’m Dreaming My Life
    Survive
    Thursday’s Child
    Safe

  19. MC says:

    I agree with Damien; as much as Hours can seem like a
    dry run for Heathen, the departure of Gabrels seems the right place to end this chapter.

    Also, I’d like to second Roobin101; Buddha of Suburbia definitely hints at the direction DB’s music would take at the turn of the century. If nothing else, I think the title track from BOS would have slotted in nicely on the Hours tour setlists (and could use a revival in any case – definitely underrated).

  20. Johnny Rollmops says:

    Everything from “Earthling” (i prefer NIN’s mix of “I’m afraid of Americans”…, “We Shall Go To Town”, Goldie’s “Truth”; my opinion is that “Hours” is… weak. I think TM’s “i can’t read” version is far far far better than its re-recording as a solo Bowie track !

  21. postpunkmonk says:

    Whoops. I forgot to post a list. It’s a little tight pulling ten tracks from two albums, particularly since I’ve not heard much of the rarities/B-sides. These are in descending order.

    1. Dead Man Walking [LP mix] By far my favorite DB track of this era.
    2. I’m Afraid Of Americans [LP mix]
    3. Looking For Satellites
    4, Seven Years In Tibet
    5. Seven
    6. The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell
    7. Survive
    8. Something In The Air
    9. The Hearts Filthy Lesson [Earthling In The City] – I only like this version of the tune, released in 1997, so it’s on my list!
    10. Law [Earthling’s On Fire]

  22. Patrick says:

    Sorry it’s almost certainly me but I keep seeing the lists of songs but for the most part, I still cannot recall most of the the other tracks without recourse back to Youtube. While this as rightly said was nowhere near as bad as 83-87 it remains a mostly forgettable and disposable period for me.
    Thursdays Child remains the most memorable for a pleasant melody on the verses, and suggestions of the craft that was too often absent, if rather flawed.

  23. Mike F says:

    Here’s my list:

    1. Earthling – Electric shocks are used to keep the patient alive. He twitches violently.

    2. Hours – The patient has flatlined. He is covered with a white sheet.

    Just kidding, sort of.

    • Bruised Passivity says:

      While I don’t really agree with your analysis, I do give you Laugh of the Day🙂 I had a good chuckle over this comment.

    • twinkle-twinkle says:

      3. Heathen & TND – ‘Undead, undead, undead, undead…’

      Lol. Sometimes it is important to be earnest. ‘Handbaaaags! – at dawn!!’

      I left out ‘Reality’ because it made me swear a lot for several days. The tour, however, was stunning, lollipops and arteries aside.

      • s.t. says:

        I’ll never fully come to terms with that Mario Paint cover art David chose for Reality. Only slightly better than the art for the new Black Flag album, appropriately titled: “What the…”

  24. fhgaldino says:

    Here’s mine

    1. Something In The Air
    2. Seven
    3. Battle for Brittain (The Letter)
    4. Little Wonder
    5. Dead Man Walking
    6. Survive (Marius de Vries remix)
    7. We All Go Through
    8. Thursday’s Child
    9. Suite For a Foggy Day
    10. New Angels of Promise

    Maybe If I had heard the ‘Hours…’ b-sides more

  25. Cansorian says:

    Yikes, this was difficult.

    Hurt (NIN duet)
    Telling Lies (adam f mix)
    I’m Afraid of Americans
    Dead Man Walking
    Planet of Dreams
    Safe
    Suite for a Foggy Day
    Truth
    We All Go Through
    Funhouse

  26. SoooTrypticon says:

    Little Wonder
    Dead Man Walking
    Seven Years In Tibet
    Looking For Satellites
    I’m Afraid Of Americans (NIN v1 mix)
    We Shall Go To Town
    Planet Of Dreams
    Survive (De Vries Mix)
    Something In The Air (American Psycho version)
    *O Superman (Live with Gail)

    Superman might be my favorite in this list.

  27. Bryan says:

    A little late to the party but,

    Dead Man Walking
    Little Wonder
    Thursday’s Child (the glossy late 90’s quality of this one just makes it hard to resist, the vocal melody is quite an ear-worm)
    Battle for Britain (The Letter)
    Seven Years in Tibet
    Something In The Air
    The Last Thing You Should Do
    New Angels of Promise
    Looking for Satellites
    Telling Lies

    Quite ‘Earthling’ heavy, I await the day I appreciate ‘Hours…’ a bit more.

  28. simonkaye says:

    Super late as usual, but here’s my top ten:

    I’m Afraid Of Americans (NiN remix)
    Safe
    The Dreamers
    Looking For Satellites
    The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell
    We All Go Through
    Something In The Air
    Planet of Dreams
    Little Wonder
    Battle for Britain

    Hours… seems to me to be Bowie’s most uninspired moment, so this is a tricky era for me.

    Surprised to see a relative lack of love for The Dreamers, all the same. I really like this one – I like how it fills out as it progresses, I like how it mirrors the the album’s ‘concept’ of nu-bowie mourning the passing of beardy-bowie…

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