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Reality – David Bowie

Columbia Records 9056

At this point in David Bowie's career, it's probably too much to expect

him to provide the type of adventurous musicmaking that distinguished his

career. Of course, such a statement could lead to a "rock is dead" diatribe,

that can be for some other time. In his case, those significant moments

numerous times throughout his many guises in the '70s and '80s, which helped

bring glam, soul and even krautrock to the mainstream.

In the '90s when the Thin White Duke embraced electronic beats to enhance

his material, he sounded more desperate than cutting edge. Settling back to

just writing good material with nothing more to prove than having a strong

group of musicians performing it seemed like the best formula to

On last year's "Heathen," he reunited with producer Tony Visconti to make

a stripped down rock album. It contained echoes of his glam, soul and folk

days without mimicking any of them. The solid results begged for a return

which brings us to the recently released Reality.

And while much of the album's 11 tracks fall within the same musical

roadmap of the previous album, Bowie's return trip does not give one d vu

some of the numbers on "Heathen" did. Instead, it's a welcome return.

Stylistically, the glam overtones are diluted in favor of something a little
more akin

to his Let’s Dance era with less of the pronounced funk. The mood on
much of

this album has a typically cool and distant atmosphere that's smooth but

never slick.

Lyrically, there are several nods to mortality ("Never Get Old" and title

track), while impending doom pops up here and there. There's also the sense

of claustrophobia and urban paranoia creeping around (again, "Never Get Old"

and the title track as well as "The Loneliest Guy").

Three tunes act as the only negatives on Reality — two of them are

covers, while the third suffers from sequencing. The Modern Lovers' "Pablo

Picasso" and George Harrison's "Try Some, Buy Some" may be alright if Bowie
made a

sequel to his all-covers album "Pin Ups," but they just don't fit in here.

"Bring Me the Disco King" pales not only by its title reference but also it

arrives right after the frantic (and shoulda been album closer) title track.

What does make the rest of Reality work? It sounds like a "band"

record; the impression of several people working out a number in a room who

grown together and incorporate a certain sympatico that's appropriate for

the lifeblood of a song. Leading them in this endeavor are two longtime

collaborators — guitarist Earl Slick and Visconti who co-produced the album

well as added instrumentation.

It's particularly worth noting the contributions by Visconti who has been

working off and on with Bowie over the past 30-plus years, and usually with

good results. It seems as if he brings out a no-frills songwriting approach

that's accented by the tweaks in Bowie's creative personality. Whatever it
is, it

spins gold on Reality. And in a music landscape that caters to

it's a nice place to escape.

To quote from one of the songs, "I've been right and I've been wrong/Now

I'm back where I started from."

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