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Track-by-Track Truth/David Bowie/’Blackstar’

Before we get lost in the gone-too-soon artistic brilliance that’s all wrapped up in David Bowie’s twenty-seventh and final studio album, Blackstar, you need to know that the record was actually never intended to be his music farewell. Earlier this week, Rolling Stone spilled music tea with Bowie’s pal and long time collaborator (and Philly producing legend) Tony Visconti, in which Visconti told the mag that Bowie chatted with him in November him via FaceTime and told him he wanted another go around in the studio, post-Blackstar

By that time, Bowie had already known that his cancer was terminal, but Visconti got the impression that Bowie had no idea he had so little time left. “At that late stage, he was planning the follow-up to Blackstar,” he spilled. “And I was thrilled,” Visconti continues, “and I thought, and he thought, that he’d have a few months, at least. Obviously, if he’s excited about doing his next album, he must’ve thought he had a few more months. So the end must’ve been very rapid. I’m not privy to it. I don’t know exactly, but he must’ve taken ill very quickly after that phone call.”

Rolling Stone also went on to say that Visconti first learned of Bowie’s illness a year ago, when the two of them began logging in studio time for Blackstar recording sessions in New York. “He just came fresh from a chemo session, and he had no eyebrows, and he had no hair on his head,” Visconti told the music mag, “and there was no way he could keep it a secret from the band. But he told me privately, and I really got choked up when we sat face to face talking about it.”

During the middle of recording the album, Bowie’s prognosis seemed to improve, and Visconti said that Bowie was “optimistic” because the chemo treatments had seemed to be working. But Visconti soon learned that Blackstar would end up being Bowie’s music swan song after he noticed the dark tone of the lyrics and told him, “You canny bastard. You’re writing a farewell album,” an accusation to which Bowie simply laughed in response to. “He was so brave and courageous,” Visconti. also told RS. “And his energy was still incredible for a man who had cancer. He never showed any fear. He was just all business about making the album.”

Speaking of Bowie business, Blackstar is loaded with it. Whether he was facing Death in the face or just getting down to the roots of his music artistry, the departed rock legend certainly left his fans with an album that showcases all of his true talents–singing, songwriting and just making music that no one will ever be able to recreate because its an esteemed spaced out class of its very own. 

Another factor that Bowie achieved with this album is that he proved how the non-stop power of creativity is one hell of trait to have. He shows us that the power of creativity can prevail in your world no matter the consequences, even when facing your last days. Although creativity can certainly take anyone to some seriously dark places, it can also feel like an only friend in the world, and lift us up right when we need it most, and that’s the point that Bowie certainly got across in his last album. Whether or not he knew he was going to leave us two days after Blackstar was released (Jan 8th, which was also his 69th birthday), he still managed to leave his longtime fans with the perfect music bookend to compliment his tremendous four decade spanning career. 

You will be missed, Mr. Bowie. 

“Blackstar” A bold, yet somber track with an accompanying video that sets up this powerfully dramatic music ride to perfection…and with a little saxophone to go along with it. Bowie bliss. 

“‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore” Who knew a track about facing cancer head on could actually be quite daring and fun? Mr. Bowie did. And watch out for those lush, deep instrumentals…they’ll get you. 

“Lazarus” Be prepared…the accompanying video will change the way you look at life. 

“Sue(Or in a Season of Crime)” The most plugged in song of the Blackstar, packed with heavy guitar riffs, pounding drums and sensual synths that perfectly compliment Bowie’s trademark vocal howls. 

“Girl Loves Me” If you don’t understand what Mr. Bowie is saying in this track, don’t adjust your eardrums. He’s actually singing in Nadsat, the language used in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, and also Polari, a slang language from gay clubs in 70s London. Don’t try it, because no one can do it better than Bowie. F&cking brilliant. 

“Dollar Days” The smoothest ride on the Backstair music spaceship…with lyrics “Can’t spend my life in shame
Making light of these dark days” and a sax that will get you where it musically hurts. 

“I Can’t Give Everything Away” No you can’t, Mr. Bowie, but what you can give us is a brilliant final record and a music legacy that will remain untouched, and that’s exactly what you did. 

 

 

 

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5 Times David Bowie Took Over Philly

A singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, painter, actor (Labyrinth!) and all around music pioneer, David Bowie remained a figure in music and pop culture for over four decades, considered by critics and other musicians as an innovator of all things music. Now that he’s no longer with us, the music world has certainly changed forever…once again. 

First appearing on the UK music scene in 1969 with the moderate hit, “Space Oddity,” Bowie decided to experiment with his sound over the next few years, eventually re-emerging in 1972 during the glam rock era with his flamboyant and androgynous alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. Derived from his single “Starman” and album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Bowie’s appearance quickly became iconic, with famed photographer David Buckley saying that Bowie’s reformed persona “challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day” and “created perhaps the biggest cult in popular culture.”

He certainly wasn’t kidding because soon after the relatively short-lived Stardust era, Bowie went on to own his position as a true music trailblazer who created a career molded by reinvention, musical innovation and visual presentation. The late singer also had plenty of love for Philly while carving out his miraculous music milestones, which included a boombox full of concert stops, one powerful Live Aid music pairing and the recording of one incredible live music journey. 

Relive the dearly departed David Bowie’s Philly music dreams below. 

 

1.David Live/Tower Theater/1974

Listed in his incredible music catalog as his very first live album, David Live was recorded at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby in July, 1974, during his critically lauded Diamond Dogs tour. Upon its release, the set was highly condemned for Bowie’s ‘obsessive’ rearrangements of the songs and for the strained quality of his vocals. Also, at the time, Bowie’s music bestie, Mick Jagger, had much music shade to throw towards the set, spilling, “If I got the kind of reviews that he got for that album, I would honestly never record again. Never.”

Despite the backlash (and the fact that Bowie’s goth-ly shoulder padded look also didn’t go over so well), the record is noted for including Bowie’s first release of “All the Young Dudes,” a song originally given to the band Mott the Hoople for their 1972 album of the same name. The album would also become a transitional record, with Bowie later stating that “David Live was the final death of Ziggy… And that photo on the cover. My God, it looks like I’ve just stepped out of the grave. That’s actually how I felt. That record should have been called ‘David Bowie Is Alive and Well and Living Only in Theory.” 

Indeed, Bowie’s artistic regression worked like a charm and this album would lead to its outstanding follow-up, Young Americans, which contains a little smash song called…”Fame.” 

2.Recording of Young Americans/1975 Speaking of Young Americans, Bowie’s brilliant set showcases Philly music love at its very finest and boldest. Recorded at the City of Brotherly Love’s famed Sigma Sound Studios during breaks from his Diamond Dogs tour, Young Americans was helmed by legendary local music producer Tony Visconti and was recorded “about 85% live” with Bowie’s full band playing perfectly alongside his delightfully spaced out vocals, with each of the tracks being recorded in single continuous takes.

In order to create the authentic Philly Soul sound and style, Mr. Bowie brought in a range of musicians from the funk and soul music world, including an early-career Luther Vandross and Andy Newmark, famed drummer of Sly and the Family Stone. The critically acclaimed record was also the first time Bowie worked with producer Carlos Alomar, and it from the Young Americans‘ sessions that the two would form a long-lasting collaborative relationship that would go on to span three decades.

However, it wasn’t exactly music love at first sight when it came to Alomar’s first meeting with Bowie. In a later interview about their first recording sessions, Alomar said that he never even heard of Bowie before their first session and also recalled that David was “the whitest man I’ve ever seen – translucent white” when they met.

However, any doubts soon faded once the productive pair got to work in the studio with Alomar later boasting about Bowie’s recording work ethic, “David always does the music first. He’ll listen for a while then if he gets a little idea the session stops and he writes something down and we continue. But later on, when the music is established, he’ll go home and the next day the lyrics are written. I’d finish the sessions and be sent home and I never heard words and overdubs until the record was released.” 

There’s that Bowie music genius at full play. 

3.”Dancing in the Street”/Live Aid/1985 Originally a ’64 hit for Martha & the Vandellas (who gave Philly a shout out on the classic tune) Bowie and Mick Jagger recreated the summery number for the Live Aid global music event at the insistence of creator Bob Geldof. The original plan was for the dynamic duo to perform the track together live, with Bowie performing at London’s Wembley Stadium and Jagger at Philly’s John F. Kennedy Stadium, until it was realized that the satellite link-up would cause a half-second delay that would make this impossible unless either Bowie or Jagger mimed their contribution, something neither artist was willing to do.  

Airing twice during the Live Aid event,  the video and song became a huge hit, and the feisty, rocked out Jagger and Bowie retelling of “Dancing in the Street” would go on to top the UK charts for four weeks and eventually peak at number seven on the stateside Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

Really, how can we ever forget the song’s brilliantly bonkers accompanying video? We simply can’t.  

4.ANY one of his Philly concert stops….

Veterans Stadium…The Spectrum…Tower Theatre…Tweeter Center…Electric Factory…Wachovia Center. Those are all of the Philly venues that the gone-too-soon superstar has graced us with his astounding live music presence. Whether it was serving us up Ziggy Stardust truth, (he made his debut in ’72 at the Tower Theatre), dishing out two rounds of his globally smashing Isolator world tours or keeping it real with his fans during his more intimate Earthling Tour (Electric Factory), there’s no denying that whichever Philly show you attended, you got the full on Bowie experience. 

His most recent Philly concert stop came in March of 2002 when the legend took The Reality Tour to the stages of the Wachovia Center (which is now the Wells Fargo Center) for an evening that Philly has certainly never forgotten since. Oh, and that time he stopped at the Blockbuster Center (!) in Camden with Nine Inch Nails as part of the Outside Tour? Absolutely f#$king priceless.

5.Today and forever…If you were to look at all social media today, you’ll see the posts, memes, music, pictures and quotes that are all in tribute to the gone-too-soon legend. Once again, Mr. Bowie has gripped a hold of us and has reminded us once again how much he’s succeeded in being a truly one-of-a-kind alternative music artist who’s leaving a legacy that will remain untouched. Whether we were painting our faces in lightning bolt tribute, trying to place all of his music parts together or kindly obliging when he says “Let’s Dance,” the world thanks you for all that you’ve done for our music lives, Mr. Bowie. 

Groove on. Tell Aaliyah, Whitney, Michael and Ms. Natalie we said hello.