Wednesday, 6 March 2013

The Man Who Sold The World

So. David Bowie's got a new album out. Haven't listened to "The Next Day" yet, it's leaked but you've got to show Bowie some goddamn respect, you don't illegally download Bowie, you buy Bowie. So that has to wait.

But I'll bet you this: There's no way I will like "The Next Day" as much as I love "The Man Who Sold The World". It's my favorite Bowie record. Hey, it's probably my favorite record, period. Definitely a Desert island item. And let me tell you why.

I grew up as a metal fan. My teenage musical explorations were almost exclusively limited within the realm of heavy metal and I rarely dared to invest my pocket money in other genres. Well, when I was 14 someone told me that Bowie was way cooler than metal and I decided to risk it, went to my neighborhood record store and bought the first Bowie album I came across. The guy who talked me into trying Bowie probably had something like "Low" or "Aladdin Sane" in mind. Well too bad, buddy: The album I picked up back then was 1970's "The Man Who Sold The World", and it's metal as fuck. Sort of. But smarter.

The album opener, "The Width Of A Circle", is an 8-minute epic about Bowie having sexual intercourse with God (a narcissist's wet dream if there ever was one) and featuring a badass Mick Ronson guitar solo. "All The Madmen" is simply a masterpiece, and it's also a tribute to Friedrich Nietzsche (this particular album has been credited with giving birth to glam, but somehow I have difficulties conjuring the image of Slade or Motley Crue coming up with a tribute song to Friedrich Nietzsche). "Black Country Rock" is a straightforward rocker a-la T-Rex and kicks twelve different kinds of ass. "After All" is just fantastic, a scary gothic nightmare-ish homage to Aleister Crowley (Crowley! How can this NOT be metal?). And then you turn the record over to Side B, and you get to the really good stuff.

"Running Gun Blues": Is this the greatest song ever or what? ISN'T IT? The genius arrangement by bassist/producer Tony Visconti never fails to give me the chills every time, 30 years after hearing this for the first time, and Mick Woodmansey's performance on the drum set is just mythical. "Saviour Machine": Another killer epic, the band just slays, hear the interaction between Ronson's guitar and the Moog over the A M A Z I N G rhythm section. Forget what I said earlier about "Running Gun Blues" being the greatest song ever, "Saviour Machine" is even better. "She Shook Me Cold": And you thought Black Sabbath was heavy? Ha! Play this motherfucker and remember, it was written in 1970. "The Man Who Sold The World": The whole world knows the album's title track thanks to Nirvana. A lot of people think it's actually a Nirvana song. Fuck them. "The Supermen": Another magnificent tribute to Nietzsche. That tympani will haunt you forever. 

"The Man Who Sold The World" is one of those albums I have bought more than once: First on cassette tape that I wore out, then on vinyl that I wore out, then on CD. Most likely I'll wear that out too. So yeah, go out and get "The Next Day", I guess you have to, but while you're at it do yourself a favor and get this one too.

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