Friday, January 28, 2005

"Best of Bowie": Classic Advancement

If this article from thread is any indication, the Advanced Theory has not made it to New Zealand. The article has three parts, so I'll give you a sample of each section (the writer calls the sections "acts," which is Overt):

Act 1: The music
More than half of the songs on The Best of Bowie are fantastic. During the 1970s David Bowie became responsible for one of the finest bodies of work in all music. Perhaps only The Beatles can match his consistently high standard over a similar length of time. The first disc on this two CD set is nigh on impossible to fault, the only dissent could be over the exclusion of personal faves - no ‘DJ’ or ‘Aladdin Sane’, for example - but that’s my problem, not the compilers’.

The second disc is less strong. Bowie’s commercial peak – 1983’s Let’s Dance album – coincided with the beginning of an artistic decline he’s never managed to reverse. Some of the songs on disc two are plain rubbish and don’t deserve to appear on the same planet, let alone the same record as ‘Ashes to Ashes’ or ‘Suffragette City’.

Act 2: The Concept This, surely the 750th “Best Of” compilation of David Bowie’s ridiculously over-compiled career, raises several questions: Who is this disc for? Who could possibly want a Bowie compilation, yet not own one of the previous 749? Do either Bowie or his record company - remembering that Bowie has more control over his back catalogue than just about any other artist - honestly expect some punter who’s never before been moved to purchase a Bowie compilation to say, ‘Fuck me, that’s the Bowie collection I’ve been waiting for. Sod the other 749, this is the one’?

Were the aforementioned punter to purchase said Bowie collection, he or she might be told by the salesperson that this is a super-duper Bowie “Best Of”. The record company sales pitch is that it has been devised specifically for the New Zealand market, thus featuring all our faves, as based on sales in this country. ...In so many ways, this week’s Best of Bowie is offensive.

The Denouement

Of course, it’s nearly 20 years since David Bowie last had a genuine hit in this country. The 1980s were largely a wasteland for Bowie fans, and the 1990s weren’t a whole lot better. It’s conceivable that many people under the age of 30 have absolutely no idea what the fuss was all about. Maybe, after all, that is the intended audience for the album. If so, they should feel ripped off. Nobody who knows his music would say the insipid ‘Underground’ (from the soundtrack to the movie Labyrinth) or ‘Day In Day Out’ (just crap, without even the excuse of a movie attached to it) represent the best of Bowie.
Putting out tons of "Best of" collections is very Advanced. Once again, Lou Reed is the master of this. Live albums are good too.

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