“Loving the Alien” and “Never Let Me Down 2018”


Hi! It’s been quite a while, I know. But we’re finally reviving the site for its last go-round.

To start with, here’s a review I just wrote for Pitchfork on the latest Bowie box set and my thoughts on the new Never Let Me Down (it’s okay? it made me kind of like the original more sometimes?). Feel free to add your own two cents on the new NLMD in the comments.

Hope everyone has been well—there will be a big book announcement very soon.


57 Responses to “Loving the Alien” and “Never Let Me Down 2018”

  1. colincidence says:

    Gotta wonder how they’ll canonically partition the rest of his career, and drag up some titles for the periods. If you skip Tin Machine, then The Nineties and The Rest make two pretty distinct sets. But you shouldn’t.
    Maybe the logic is:
    Tin Machine 1 2 Oy, Sound + Vision?, BTWN, Buddha (this set would be thick on studio material but it’s the least popular era)
    Outside, Earthling, 1997 Live?, Hours, LOADS of B-sides?
    Toy, Heathen, Reality, A Reality, Next, Blackstar?

    • col1234 says:

      i think tin machine, given its unique ownership thing (Gabrels and the Saleses have an equal say in what gets done), is going to be a stand-alone set. wouldn’t be surprised if it’s its own thing and this “official” series moves on to Black Tie-Earthling, maybe?

      • colincidence says:

        Cool. I’ve not kept up with the rights-holding, but when Tin Machine I was weirdly absorbed into the Rykodisc catalogue and TMII cast into obscurity, it felt like something’s out of line.

      • Coagulopath says:

        There’s another problem: nobody in the world – from Bissau to Palau, from Fiji to Tiree, from Peru to Cebu, from Bali to Cali – gives a dying duck’s fart about Tin Machine.

      • UnHombre says:

        Are they going to redo everything “shameful” that David ever did? I mean, like “laughing gnome”… etc. I love David’s first album. I hope they keep their dirty hands out of it.

    • Jason says:

      I would think the next set will be Buddha-BTWN-Outside-Earthling (not sure if Hours sneaks in here or with the one after, but stylistically it fits more with Heathen and Reality to me). My wish would be to get something from the Outside tour (the dream would be one of his shows with NIN, but I know that’s never going to happen) and/or his 50th birthday concert as live stuff. Of course we’ll get (the boring by comparison) S+V instead.

      • Mr Tagomi says:

        Reeves Gabriel’s more or less confirmed in a recent interview that Tin Machine will not be part of this sequence.

        I have a much higher opinion of the revised NLMD. Making allowances for the odd moment when the vocal jars with the backing, I think it’s now an album without a weak track on it. I’ve been listening to it a lot.

    • colincidence says:

      (I forgot Leon Suites)

  2. Jason says:

    I find Day-In Day-Out to be one of the worst updates on the 2018 NLMD. His vocals just don’t mesh with the backing track at all to me (it also doesn’t help that the subject matter of the song seems at odds with the upbeat tempo). However, I thought Zeroes and the title track to be improved. Overall I’m just glad for the clearer production as I could hardly stand to listen to the original’s kitchen sink cacophony. I find this period of his career to be one of the ones I listen to the least in terms of album tracks, but one of my most beloved in terms of his various film/tv output. Oh how I wish he’d made an album after Labyrinth that followed up what he was doing on tracks like As the World Falls Down and Within You.

  3. Paul Outlaw says:

    “So the massive global success of Let’s Dance was no fluke—the album was planned as intricately as a troop landing or royal wedding.”

    And the song has always had a martial quality to it, with the troops shouting the title in unison and Bowie barking orders: Put on your red shoes…

  4. Patrick says:

    What’s the guess for the next box set title? My thought is “Outsider” – even with TM he deliberately pulled himself away from the mains stream, a TV soundtrack, went Jungle and industrial, and most of the the critics (and fans) certainly regarded him so from then.

    • Paul Outlaw says:

      Since they’ve all been named after song titles so far, I’d say: “Strangers When We Meet” or “We All Go Through.”

    • StupidintheStreet says:

      I’m betting on ‘Thru These Architects Eyes’.

    • Patrick says:

      ” I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday” would make a good title , but since it not his and he fell out with Morrissey, that’s “not gonna happen”, which leaves maybe of the next albums :
      “You’ve Been Around”
      “Hallo Spaceboy”
      “Wishful Beginnings”
      “No Control”
      “Little Wonder”
      as possibly fitting the box set narrative.
      or if “hours” is included:
      “Brilliant Adventure”

    • pauloutlaw says:

      That makes eleven guesses so far. 😉

  5. Hammer says:

    I’m afraid to say that most of NLMD 2018 just doesn’t work for me. It’s just a bit bland isn’t it? Bowie-meets-backing track? If anything, it seems to merely expose the weaknesses of this album.

    I’ve still got a soft spot for the original though.

  6. John Burton says:

    The Pitchfork review was really good. I really disliked the 2018 version of NLMD when I heard songs posted before the actual release. I disliked it even more the first time I played it all the way through. I have listened a few more times and while I dislike it less (or like it more) it still has some real problems to me. All of them the same as others have posted.
    The vocals on a bunch of these songs don’t fit with the new arrangements. I can’t imagine Bowie would have sung “Bang Bang” in such a clipped manner at the half time tempo. The vocals often sound disassociated from the songs. The frantic wail of singing in “Glass Spider” doesn’t quite match up with the slower, throbbing beat of the new version. As much as Bowie didn’t seem to like the original album I have a difficult time thinking he would make a lot of the choices that were made for this version.
    I like other work by Nico Mulhy but I am not sure everything works with this. The sampled and repeated humming and sort of funk guitar (right channel) are just distracting. The funk guitar needs to be a lot funkier and louder to get it out of the 90’s. I love Laurie Anderson but her addition is completely pointless.
    Ultimately the 2018 NLMD is…okay but I don’t think it helps anything and there are some really weird choices. It isn’t as interesting as a remix like Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy. It doesn’t make the album any better…

    The remaster of Let’s Dance sounds pretty good. It is nice to have “This is not America” and “When The Wind Blows”. I will get just about anything Bowie but I am not super excited by this box.

    When can we pre-order your next book? Thanks for keeping this up. The blog and Rebel Rebel are just so great.

  7. Catshriek says:

    It’s really quite strange. I was really looking forward to this new version of NLMD. For the past few years, I’ve had this sense that with our growing distance from the 80’s, there was beginning to be a (cautious) reconsideration and appreciation of Bowie’s 80s output (and a lot of 80’s music in general—which is natural enough). And not that I think that NLMD is any sort of overlooked masterpiece, but I was really hoping that this new version would do the material justice. However, in a perverse kind of way, it’s my dislike of this new version that’s really doing the original version justice. All of what seems like the poor decisions they’ve made only seems to make one appreciate the Bowieness of the original. And here I am now listening to the Glass Spider Tour and thinking, “This is completely bonkers and awesome.”

    • Catshriek says:

      I was rereading a lot of the entries today for Tonight and NLMD and I was really struck by the sense of despondency and palpable embarrassment in the comments. It was almost less the quality of the music (but there is that) and more a sense that for Bowie to stop being cool (which was inevitable because cool is simply to be other than what *was* cool) was a profound betrayal of his fans. But I think, for me personally, the old man’s passing has made feeling embarrassment a categorical error.

  8. colincidence says:

    Drumkit’s at the front of all mixes.
    DIDO, NLMD, 87 and Beat were fine in their original form, and the new mixes shruggingly concede that.
    Beat’s chorus is meant to resolve the verses’ tension into a dad-dancin’ celebration; here it’s unengaging. The song’s way too sleazy for the strings. I can defend most Gabrels bits but not this one.
    Zeroes is a sweet do-over, recovers the song a bit from its hokey quagmire.
    Spider really works, honed, creepy, forever building, almost justifies the monologue.
    I always felt Time Will Crawl MM exposed the song’s weakness, hence impaired it. Can’t tell if this mix is much different.
    Shining Star is irreparably stupid, but in a brand new way!!! What else could they do with Shining Star?
    New York, once driven if nothing else (and nothing else), loses its tasty bassline to a clichéd, tedious snare stomp.
    Bang Bang: really pleasant surprise. Source track is terrible, not a Bowie work, I’d have cut it entirely? But the new mix is so suave, great string loop (Sleaze + Strings fits here as it’s less sincere?), guitar solo’s on point, a great, bizarre climax. Feels most like Bowie Voice Sampled On New Rock Song, though, and his voice doesn’t really fit anyway.

  9. James LaBove says:

    I never particularly disliked the span of Bowie’s work that this box set covers – I’d be lying if I said it got more airplay than other points in his career, but the hits were (usually) great, and I’m a big enough lover of 80’s cheese in general to dig most of the questionable material too – you’ll probably never meet a bigger apologist for Bowie’s remake of Neighborhood Threat.

    After Bowie died I ended up returning to these albums more than I would’ve thought – a small handful of the songs were totally new to me, and I dolled them out to myself over time. No hidden masterpieces of course, but it was enjoyable all the same.

    To get to my point: I’ve looked forward to this box set much more than any of the others (with the possible exception of WCIBN, which ended up being a slight letdown anyway). I do hope that newer fans don’t buy the typical narrative that this was nothing but a creative black hole for Bowie, and if this box set helps prop up that point of view, that’s fantastic.

    All in all, I thought that this one delivered the goods – I’ve been enjoying the live albums most of all, but I was surprised how much I dug Dance and the Re:Call disc too. All really fun to listen to!

    I was let down by NLMD 2018 though – I loved the remake of Zeroes, but that was the only one that did much for me. Glass Spider and the title track were interesting, and I don’t really have an opinion on most of the others. I was looking forward to a different take on these songs, but as others have noted, it really works better as an invitation to reconsider the originals than anything else. One of my absolute favorite songs from this period is Shining Star (I know, I need help) and it was butchered in my opinion. I was looking forward to a different spin on it, but all of the chintzy fun of the original was gone. Much preferred the 12″ mix.

  10. crick in my neck says:

    Really don’t get the hate for Shake It. Having never been interested in this period, despite my love for Modern Love, I have picked through it all before and now with this set, looking for crumbs. This time I found Without You to be of some interest, but apart from that, Shake It remains the only thing I truly like. Dumb, yes, but modest gem–yes. The rest is just so bland.

    • Paul Outlaw says:


      In a word, the entire problem with this period.

      Thank God for the decade bookends SCARY MONSTERS… (album) and “Baby Can Dance” (song).

  11. crayontocrayon says:

    I like the original NLMD a lot, I think the reason Bowie was so sniffy about it is that it didn’t have a hit. Tonight is a way worse album overall but at least blue jean and loving the alien were mildly successful and got some mtv rotation. Had say Day in Day out been a smash it very well could have been Tonight getting rehabbed.

    As for the remake, for my tastes it ranges from the ok(zeroes, NLMD 87 and cry) to the terrible (bang bang, NYs in love). Instead of sounding like an album timestamped to 1987 it souns like one timestamped to 1998 or so. An interesting curio but probably not going to be listened to again for a long time. But hey it got people talking about the box set which is really why it exists at all.

  12. marta says:

    I can’t bear the thought of having to go through NLMD again.

    I discovered Bowie with Let’s Dance. I was 13, still listening to Duran Duran, and fell in love.
    In the two or three subsequent years, via an older cousin, I came to know Ziggy and The Thin White Duke Bowie. Hunky Dory is my favourite album ever and I still miss him as if he were a family member.

    It’s strange to think now that while I was digging into what made Bowie Bowie, the man was issuing things like Tonight and NLMD. I have a strong memory of some schoolmates ranting and shaming the Day In Day Out video in our last year in high school, and directing all that contempt at me- the Bowie ardent champion. But it was I, most of all, who was embarrassed and enraged at him.
    I had some appreciation for the movie songs (I still love Absolute Beginners) but I felt betrayed. The music he was doing when I was actually starting to seriously listen to music was just crap.

    So I lost interest in Bowie. In the 90s, during my 20s, I was vaguely aware of what he was doing at that time, but I was listening to some of the real stuff, not what I considered his own, poorer, version of the real stuff. Also, i wasn’t that keen on drum and bass or industrial.

    In my 30s, in the 00s, quietly and sporadically, he came back to my life, on all the downtime bringing up all my kids allowed for. I liked what he was doing, I even hummed to it. Then, I loved “Where Are We Now?”. But I didn’t pay real attention. And anytime I had time or energy to choose to listen to any music, I’ d listen to Lodger or Hunky Dory or Low.

    Since January 2016, and finding this blog, I’ve been living a second life with Bowie. It has been, in a way, a journey of rediscovering the multiple layers I knew and felt attracted to, but could not, lacking in everything but sheer youth and love for, fully comprehend in my teens or early 20s.

    I can never thank Chris enough for all that.

    But I’m still wary of giving NLMD another try…

  13. Aloysius says:

    The problem with the original NLMD was the weakness of many songs. DIDO, 87 & Cry, New York’s In Love and Bang Bang are lame songs. The lost Too Dizzy wasn’t the lowpoint of the album and had to be included in Re:Call 4 as the japanese Version of Girls.
    BTW Julie and Girls would have improved NLMD. The new NLMD backing tracks works für Zeroes, Beat and Glass Spider, which is not so bad für this concept.
    The maxi-Versions from Dance are much more entertaining than most of the remixes from the 90s.
    At any rate the first class vinyl pressings with fine sound stands really out.

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Aloysius – I beg to differ that “Bang Bang” is a lame song. The Iggy Pop original was a priapic cinemascope tour-de-force featuring everything but the kitchen sink in a Tommy Boyce [?!] “take THAT, Spector!” production! It was the pusillanimous David Bowie cover version that was lame.

  14. Patrick says:

    Not most people’s top list of classic albums, nor mine, but I’m kinda admiring the force of will behind “make me a hit album, I wanna go mainstream” that was Let’s Dance. He did what the set out to do but when he got there……?
    I’m forcing myself to listen to NLMD once (since my phone is listing the entire boxed set as being on one album, I am getting a random playlist) , but my God, remixes or not, there are some turkeys on there. With some, eg “Tonight” perhaps a completely different arrangement might have salvaged some songs where there was a melody or hook , but what was mostly forgettable with few exceptions , I am reminded is actually bad. Really bad. The celebrity rapping, the cod reggae, terrible lyrics, the banal spoken “spinal tap” narrative. Silk purse? Sow’s ear? Sadly, The phrase about polishing a turd, just about sums it up.

  15. s.t. says:

    I thank your blog for encouraging me to give Never Let Me Down a serious and careful listen. My initial impression, back in ’97 or so, was just utter shock and revulsion. Those drums! That choir! The horn synth stabs! Dave’s desperate gospel howl, not unlike Dirk Diggler showing everyone that he’s got the touch. Just…no….why???

    But hey, such a feeling is at least more exciting than what the “tastefully” unobtrusive recent mixes elicit. Less “WHY??!!” and more, “what’s the point?” Perhaps the venture would have been worthwhile if Donny McCaslin had been around to shake things up.

    I still like the idea of other artists taking the best songs and bringing out the hidden genius via their own performances. Songs like Glass Spider and Zeroes could be masterpieces so long as the right risks are taken.

    Emphasis on *risks.* Because the ultimate sin of Never Let Me Down is the sin of sloth. Bowie somehow managed to make his greed and his lust so fucking boring. That’s a problem that no mix job, no matter how respectful or well-intentioned, is going to fix.

    Looking forward to Book Two!

  16. Rod says:

    Glass Spider was the first concert I went to. It really worked for me. At the time I remember liking NLMD as well – partly as it was the first Bowie album I could afford to buy when it was released.
    My brother had introduced me to Bowie via Life on Mars somewhere around ’81/’82 (when I was 11 or 12). From there I obsessed over Ziggy, fell in love with Cygnet Committee and discovered Low.
    At one point my father managed to procure a cardboard cutout of Bowie in Absolute Beginners (must have been to promote the song). God I wish I still had that.
    NLMD didn’t strike me as terrible at the time (certainly not in the way I rapidly lost interest in Tonight). Yet overtime I have found it hard to listen to. Absolute shockers like Shining Star (what on earth is that song trying to say?) and Bang Bang grate with me.
    The updated version is really not working for me. It is weak where it should be strong and seems to consist of far too many meandering screechy Gabrels solos for my taste. I think the only remake which caught my ear was Glass Spider – there is a slight industrial feel to it which fits in well with a lot of my current listening.

    There are times I wonder what Bowie could have done if he hadn’t had Gabrels around as much (or at all). I find a lot of his playing histrionic and self centered. However I would also say that my favourite Bowie period is Buddha through Blackstar so maybe Gabrels did have some positive influence when he wasn’t playing guitar. I must also confess my second ever concert was Tin Machine so …

    I suspect I am going to set off on some rambling maudlin nonsense soon (as I am one of those people who took his death incredibly hard). To avoid that I would just like to say:

    Finding this site really helped me come to terms with the grieving process because it gave me a way to properly review his art. That someone took the time and (superhuman) effort to put this website together astounds me and I am truly grateful.

    I am really excited about the forthcoming book because not only am I passionate about the topic but it is so well written and meticulously researched.

    Thank you Chris

    • On Never Let Me Down 2018….bear with me, I’ve always had a soft spot for Bowie in the 80s.

      This is a much rockier listen. Everything has been stripped off except for some necessities and all Bowie remains: vocal, guitar and harmonica. Added are tasteful synth, some walking bass lines, spot on muscular drums, and Reeves’ quite good chords, treatments and lead parts.

      Glass Spider.IS.AWESOME. The half tempo change up works well, Reeves is restrained, he could go off a bit more. A real winner is this remake, you can hear echoes of Outside and Earthing. Big improvement on the original mess.

      As is New York’s in Love (which sounds like a different vocal take?) and especially a fine 87 and Cry. Both sounds like good, live, rocking Tin Machine tracks now. Hugely improved. I’m glad they kept Bowie’s dirty lead on there. The Iggy song Bang Bang also now has some drama about it and again the half tempo switch works well. Bowie’s vocal take could’ve been better.

      Never Let Me Down the title track not so much. Not sure about the big ascending major guitar chords, don’t work for me. A good song but prefer the original 80s mix.

      Time will Crawl sounds exactly like the iSelect version & still a decent song, and the Day In Day Out track fairs slightly better, a little more adventurous guitar would’ve been nice.

      I’d heard Zeroes and Beat of Your drum and both improve on the originals, although the latter is still weak. reminds me of the terrific Pretty Things Are Going to Hell. Zeroes highlights Bowie reaching for but not finding greatness by a long shot.

      Shining Star is harmless but not an awesome track. Seems to be unsalvageable. The contemporary shuffle or new-ish rap doesn’t improve matters, again more Reeves required, worse still its now tune free. horrid. It’s like Too Dizzy never happened

      • Gareth Power says:

        Glad someone else out there shares my generally positive feelings about the remake.

        The kinship with Tin Machine is now clear with New York’s In Love and ’87 & Cry, but I also think they now sound like they could happily sit on the The Next Day Extra EP – rockers of his late career slightly barmy sort – Born In a UFO and similar.

        They’ve salvaged Shining Star to a greater extent than I thought they could. Turning that bit of humming into a hook was inspired. It replaces the original insipidness with a little bit of earthiness.

        They have made good use of alternative vocal takes in a few places, which also helps.

  17. Coagulopath says:

    Good review. Your long-form posts take obviously effort (research, etc), but this must have taken effort in an opposite direction: keeping things simple, and not diving down too many rabbit holes. You can write 10,000 words on any period of Bowie’s life and hardly scratch the surface: kudos on reining it in for the laypeople.

    Regarding the new NLMD: I have listened to preview tracks and can say I’m not a fan.

    NLMD‘s appeal is its grotesqueness. It’s an ugly, thoughtless, witless, desperate album…and a perversely charming one. It’s the equivalent of the Ryugyong Hotel: a colossal mistake, a half-finished nightmare cleaving the Pyongyang skyline like an iridescent fang. But there’s something captivating about it. You wouldn’t want it to not be there. You also wouldn’t want it to exist in any other form.

    Making NLMD good misses the point. It’s like reshooting Plan 9 From Outer Space so the special effects are convincing, or re-recording Metal Machine Music so the guitars are in tune and less distorted. Why would you attempt such a project?

    “Glass Spider” was laughable: now it’s laughable and pretentious. Pile on all the spooky synths you want; as soon as Bowie says “mummy come back, the water’s all gone!” I burst out laughing.

    “Bang Bang” was a song I liked, finishing the album on an energetic note. Now it’s in half time, and full of weird orchestral flourishes that don’t make sense.

    “Time Will Crawl” is surprisingly badly mixed. I hear a lot of goofy shit happening in the 150Hz-300Hz band – sounds almost like the bass frequencies are distorting, or something. I like the 1999 remix more.

    At least the gated snare sound is gone.

  18. Christopher Stansfield says:

    The last thing I ever would have expected from Reeves Gabrels would be to make a “tasteful” album, but, upon first listen, that’s what he seems to have done with “NLMD.” And, like others here, I feel that seriously defeats the point. I get the sort of gimmicky thinking that adding Gabrels to the mix creates a throughline to Tin Machine — but, if what others have said is true and there will be no Tin Machine in these sets, what is the point, really? It would have made more sense to bring in Nile Rodgers. Or, just as arbitrary, Visconti or McCaslin. Hell, this could have been much improved if Iggy Pop had consulted on this and “Tonight” — these albums were, after all, partially designed to be pensions for him.

    As for “Tonight,” I have always been firmly of the opinion that this is a much worse album than “NLMD,” and that opinion hasn’t changed. So color me disappointed that this wasn’t the one to get a “2018” after it.

    I know it isn’t entirely rational or fair, but a part of me also finds it distasteful that someone who didn’t work with Bowie during the last 20 years of his career (and implied in various interviews that he was pretty happy with that) has come back to take over now that there is no actual human relationship to interfere.

    I can’t believe that even three years after his loss, the Bowie camp is pretending “Too Dizzy” doesn’t exist. This does not bode well for anyone who genuinely hoped that the archives would get a thorough going over, like Visconti claimed was going to happen. Again, everyone seems determined to keep things “tasteful” and unembarrassing, which is a true pity.

    Same goes for the apparent erasure of Tin Machine that some people here say is going to happen. (Coagulopath is quite wrong about that, by the way.)

  19. UnHombre says:

    Who’s the most closeted man in the world? A fan of Never let me down. Me. This boxset is one of my favorites.
    By the way, the new version of NLMD is a shameful attemp to rewrite History. I prefer madness and stupidity that good taste and cute intentions. And the author is gone. I suppose that wasn’t his idea.

  20. Mike F says:

    I am finding NLMD 2018 to be interesting and listenable. I wonder who approves things like this: Iman or Duncan? Does this mean we will get other albums reimagined? Chiptune Ziggy? K-pop Outside?

    • UnHombre says:

      Ha, ha, ha. Country Station to Station? Hardcore Hours?

    • Coagulopath says:

      You can look up the rights to musical works on ASCAP.

      The NLMD songs (as with most of Bowie’s catalog) is owned by “Jones Music America”, presumably his estate. It’s probably Iman.

    • Dan says:

      According to MM and Reeves, the reworked NLMD was planned and authorised by db while he was still alive, inspired by his enthusiasm for MM’s Time Will Crawl remix from 2008. Apparently db and MM had discussions about how to treat each of the songs and db gave MM a list of musicians he wanted to play on the re-recordings. The db estate has not contradicted Reeves and MM’s accounts of the process by which NLMD 2018 came into being.

      Personally, I hated the original NLMD and don’t even own a copy. NLMD 2018 is not a first division Bowie album but I like it a lot – it’s better than Tonight, BTWN and Hours. I just wish they’d dropped New York’s In Love, Beat Of Your Drum and Day In Day Out, but added Julie and Girls. And changed the running order too.

      • Jason says:

        Interesting to think about them also re-ordering the track list. Definitely could have helped the album additionally, although tracks like New York’s in Love and 87 and Cry were going to be bad wherever you put them. For as much as the new 2018 mix helps some songs, there were others that couldn’t be saved. A turd is a turd, even if it’s polished. The inherent 80’s-ness (if you will) of some of the lyrics and vocals just sounds weird with the newer production at times (looking at you especially Day-In Day-Out).

        At least this new mix is something I see myself putting on every once in awhile, unlike the original.

  21. UnHombre says:

    Also I like the line in the review “some of Never Let Me Down sounds as if it’s been stitched together in a moving car”. Maybe it was literally what happened. Is NLMD David’s “Basement Tapes”? Well his Swiss chateau “basement tapes”?

    • smallritual says:

      ha! i was just about to post the same comment! ‘stitched together in a moving car’ would be a great title for a box set. i’ve missed chris’s turn of phrase.

  22. poseidonian says:

    I’ve had a very difficult time processing the new NLMD, and have spent an inordinate amount of time listening to it. I think what confused and distracted me was that I *hated* the new “Beat of Your Drum” and was ambivalent about the new “Zeroes”… but loved the new “Glass Spider.” But I have gradually come to the conclusion that apart from “Beat of Your Drum” that they really did achieve what they set out to do: to save a bad album filled with some really good songs from itself. I now really like it. As Nietzsche says (about music, natch): love too has to be learned.

  23. renbluegade says:

    Never liked the album with its uneven track listing (seriously, the b-side is borderline useless), but replacing the songs with the 2018 versions, removing “bang bang” and “new york’s in love”, adding in “girls” and “when the wind blows”, and moving the tracks around however i want, I honestly quite dig it. In my playlist “zeroes” starts it off and “when the wind blows” ends it, it’s like the album was made to be tinkered with lol.

    • Dan says:

      Totally agree with you about the running order, but my playlist begins with Glass Spider – just as my Outside playlist has been edited down to ten tracks (and no segues!) and begins with The Motel, like the live shows did. Both are great albums to tinker with. There’s also a great album to be made from combining the strongest tracks from Heathen and Reality.

  24. ediporey says:

    Your blog is a gem 🙂

  25. It is a pity, that now I can not express – there is no free time. But I will be released – I will necessarily write that I think.

  26. dh says:

    Having sat with the reworked NLMD for a while now, I’m definitely in the camp that finds it to be an unambiguous improvement over the original. Which is an odd position to find myself in, because I’m generally disposed against superfluous remix/remaster projects (preferring to treat albums as material products defined by the specifics of their recording & release, rather than as disembodied compositions with imaginary alternate lives). But taking NLMD 2018 as it is, there’s not a single track I actually prefer in its original version – for my tastes, it’s about 50% improvements, and 50% “different, but still uncompelling.” It’s something I can actually see myself returning to from time to time, whereas I have literally never returned to the original except when I was doing a conscious, comprehensive run-thru of Bowie’s discography (aided by this blog, natch).

    It’s interesting to see how people’s tastes re: Bowie’s broader discography are coloring their reactions to the NLMD redux. E.g., the above comments are spot-on in saying that “’87 and Cry” and “New York’s in Love” now sound like rockin Tin Machine or Next Day Extra tracks – and that’s precisely why I, personally, still don’t like em. On the other hand, people ain’t wrong in saying the new “Glass Spider” or “Bang Bang” are goofily melodramatic – but I’m amenable to goofy, doomy melodrama, so I’m getting a lot of enjoyment from em.

    On the whole I’d say the better parts of NLMD 2018 have a strong kinship with the better Black Tie White Noise tracks – I think the fact that it’s an “upper turned into a downer” largely works to its benefit, in the same way that BTWN benefited (or at least became more interesting than it could’ve been) by withholding easy pleasures. …But again, that’s probably reflective of my own tastes more than anything else (“You’ve Been Around” would be high on my personal list of underrated Bowie songs, for instance).

  27. There´s a lot to react to. First, the 2018 version of NMLD is a very interesting exercise. I don´t think it´s better than the orginal as it has not the same energy but it does have some powerful vocals and, please forgive me, some very catchy tunes. I am among the few who likes NMLD very much, as much as I like albums like Low, Lodger and Outside (which is a lot).
    The live performances of the Serious Moonlight tour and Glass Spider are vocal triumphs. This is an artist, in performance terms, on top of his game. He takes the power of the songs, projects them to an audience who send the emotion back to DB who amplifies it further. I also consider these sets like his Young Americans-era performances, energetic, full-voiced, and confident. You must be impressed by the force of will to channel this performative power.
    I love Chris´s blog – it´s a remarkable project. I can´t agree with his downbeat assesment of Loving The Alien which is a beautiful song, beautifully produced. I have been listening to it for two decades and that must mean something. It is haunting and rich with meaning.

  28. By the way: Bowie rejected the overproduction of NMLD and Tin Machine 1 was very much four guys recording as live. Tin Machine II is a bit more produced. Then comes, shortly after, Black Tie White Noise which is, if possible, even more polished and busy than NMLD. And Outside is a 46 track mixing monster.
    Did anyone notice how deep Bowie´s voice went between NMLD and Black Tie White Noise. You can hear his “young” voice on Tin Machine 1. On the second that´s not evident.

  29. Glass says:

    I kinda feel bad for Erdal Kızılçay. Wikipedia mentions that tracks by Frampton and Alomar were kept, but poor Erdal, proudly responsible for 80% of the instrumentation in the original, was completely cut out of the new version. “Too Dizzy” is now in the bin. The album he cut with Iggy is also not held in the highest regard.

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