Home Read Classic Album Review: David Bowie | Reality

Classic Album Review: David Bowie | Reality

After decades in character, the rock icon finally seems comfortable in his own skin.


This came out in 2003 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


To quote Robin Williams: Reality — what a concept. At least, it seems to be for David Bowie. The chameleonic rocker has spent most of the last four decades jumping from one musical style to another and playing a series of characters, from Major Tom to Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke. These days, however, it appears he’s playing an entirely new character: Himself.

Since he reconnected with his muse on 1999’s reflective Hours, Bowie has been slowly coming out of his elaborately constructed shell, to the point where now — on his 26th studio album — he finally seems for the first time to be comfortable in his own skin. And with his history. So on this 11-song outing, he reteams again with ’70s producer Tony Visconti, draws on the finest moments of his past for inspiration and creates one of the most natrual and approachable discs of his career.

A self-described “collection of songs” without an over-riding concept, Reality is like a disc of outtakes from various stages of his career. Some tracks have the thwacking funk-rock grooves of Let’s Dance; others have the spacy effects and production of Scary Monsters; still others have the abrasive guitar crunch of Tin Machine. Nearly all have solid choruses, simple melodies and memorable hooks. Admittedly, sometimes they aren’t necessarily Bowie’s hooks — New Killer Star’s melody is reminiscent of the girl-group classic I Will Follow Him, Pablo Picasso is an old Jonathan Richman ditty revamped into an Iggyesque synth-rocker, Try Some Buy Some is an obscure George Harrison number and Days borrows its refrain from, believe it or not, Walking On Sunshine. Still, the ease and enthusiasm Bowie displays here are almost enough to make you believe that when he sings, “I’m never ever gonna get old,” he just might be able to pull it off.


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