Tuesday, January 05, 2010


This arrived from Lovefilm just before new year. I wasn't sure it would be worth watching, even though i am an obsessive Bowie fan, and used to be really into Jim Henson's stuff too; I saw Dark Crystal in the cinema when it was first released.
I got into Bowie during the Scary Monsters period. first was a re-recorded version of "Space Oddity", then "Ashes to Ashes", "Fashion" etc. through 1980. then came sparse years for Bowie fans, allowing me time to catch up. During 1981 and 1982 I bought most of his 70s and 60s output, and all of his new stuff - "Catpeople", "Baal's Hymn", "Under Pressure".
Then in 1983 we Bowie fans - three of us at my school - all became incredibly excited at the prospect of the first new Bowie album for years. RCA released exploitation album "Rare" which, nevertheless, I bought....and then...the day came...."Let's Dance" was released.
I liked it as it happens, but it got a lot of flack a the time, though I believe it to be recognised as a classic these days. The album though - only 8 tracks, and I think only about 5 or 6 new songs, was quite slight, and not all the songs were exactly the quality expected from the man we accepted as the chameleon king (queen?) of pop.
1984 brought a far worse effort, the even more slight "Tonight" which included ill conceived covers of Iggy Pop songs, the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" and embarrassing duet with Tina turner "Tonight".
1985 saw some good news with "Absolute Beginners" and "When the Wind Blows" two of his greatest songs ever. and the in 1986 - the Goblin King arrived, and we all tried hard not to snigger. It was laughing gnome revisited. bowie to his credit comments on this during the making of documentary on the DVD - which btw is excellent - when he said "who'd have thought after 20 years I'd be back to gnomes." Hilarious!
So though I bought the soundtrakc album - Underground is another classic - I was too scared to see the film. would bowie's extremely threadbare credibiilty be finally torn asunder. would the emporer be laid bare in his invisible cloak? Would I, in short, be left facing the prospect of selling of my Bowie albums and admitting that my hero was merely a false idol, a sham, an embarrassing ham actor who once managed to write a few good tunes.
now that I've seen the film, I know I was being far too sensitive; my defences had been knocked down by years of dodgy product and false dawns where the 70s bowie would return and break new musical ground. Looking back, I expected too much from a man headig towards 40, who's creative juices had run like the amazon, but finally dried up after over a decade, to a mere trickle, but a mere trickle of utmost quality at times. a trickle to be treasured if you could find it in the mudflats of mediocrity.
I have learned over the years to accept the one or two treasures a decade that bowie is still able to produce, while lamenting the fact that he doesn't write more albums like 2002's Heathen or Buddha of Surburbia.
But back to the film, weather the 19 year old me would have liked it is still questionable, but I found ti a thoroughly entertaining film, thought bowie was more than passable as an actor, and all the songs are great, performances funny., and the making of film one of the best making of films I've ever seen. There are numerous bowie interviews throughout - all of which satisfied the Bowie fan within. Recommended. If I see for under a fiver, think I'll buy it.

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