David Bowie – Black Tie White Noise

David BowieBack last week, I mentioned my favourite Bowie song was one of the first songs I really heard of his in the early 90’s. Of course I’d heard most of his 80’s big hit singles on the radio, but there was never that spark that “Jump  (They Say)” had when I heard it in 1993. Songs from Bowie’s mid-to-late 70’s creative peak (Station To Station, “Heroes”, Low and Lodger) weren’t really big radio hit, not compared to the big glossy pop hits like “China Girl”, “Let’s Dance” and “Ashes To Ashes”. Still Black Tie White Noise is viewed by some as the starting point, where David Bowie “got it back” as it were. This was his first album in 6 years after his commercial and critical high-point of the 1980’s, 1983’s  Let’s Dance. Black Tie White Noise bears some similarities with Let’s Dance: Niles Rodgers of Chic produced both albums which tried to combine dance and rock to varying degrees of success. This was also the last time Bowie would collaborate with his original guitarist Mick Ronson, before his death from liver cancer later that year.

Black Tie White Noise flits between genres, but still manages to sound cohesive all throughout which is mainly due to Niles Rodger’s slick production. There’s an abundance of saxophone in the album, which might give off an 80’s white soul vibe, but it just manages not to sound shit, but that probably isn’t helped by the synthetic drums and layers of synths on some songs. That’s the case of the otherwise interesting Scott Walker cover, “Nite Flights”. One of the slightly grating things about Black Tie White Noise is the abundance of instrumental, which is no different from any previous Bowie album, but I’ve got the nagging suspicion that they could have been flesh out into good songs. “The Wedding” is a two part song, the first an instrumental, the other a soothing track that closes the album.

As I mentioned earlier,  Black Tie White Noise is a slick pop album that has it’s fans. It’s certainly more accessible that some of Bowie’s more critically acclaimed albums from earlier decades, but lacks some of the creative spark from the very same works. Indeed, despite having some commercial success (I remember my cousin owning a copy), the album was never really acclaimed and was deleted at the end of the 90’s. A 2004 2xCD/DVD reissue was rather nice, including some bonus tracks that were left off the CD as well as a glut of remixes, including a decent guitar heavy mix of my favourite track. The centre of the album for me will always be “Jump (They Say)” for nostalgic reasons but also because it is a superior song.

David Bowie – Jump (They Say):

David Bowie – Nite Flight:

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