Bowie’s Last Tape

Thomas Jones

When, on his 69th birthday, David Bowie released Blackstar, arguably his best record for 35 or even 40 years, it looked for a moment as if he might be hitting his stride again. His previous album, The Next Day, which came out in January 2013 after ten years of near silence, had a few decent songs on it, but a fair bit of padding too, and for all its surface insistence on the future (‘and the next day and the next and another day’), it looked nostalgically back to the 1970s, from the palimpsest sleeve design, incompletely erasing the cover of Heroes, to the elegiac single ‘Where are we now?’, with its deceptively banal evocation of Bowie’s time in Berlin (‘Had to get the train from Potsdamer Platz’). But the seven songs on Blackstar add up to a record as complete as, and more coherent than, Station to Station or Low.

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