Archive for the 'Opinions' Category
David Bowie Gives You More Reasons To Love Gary Oldman
Friday, August 1st, 2008

I’ve been debating with myself for several days now whether or not I wanted to make this post and show my ignorance of a Bowie obscurity that any fansite owner worth their salt should know. But then I remembered I have no shame and decided let everyone know what a terrible Bowie fan I am so that anyone who has not heard the aforementioned obscurity might do so.

So, here is the chain of events leading to my happy discovery of what is now in my Top Ten list of Bowie obscurities: The Webmaster and I finally got to see The Dark Knight last Friday in IMAX. Needless to say, we both loved the movie. We were discussing it on the car-ride home when I mused that I found it interesting that the majority of the main actors in such a quintissentially American story were not American. I mentioned Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, and started to mention Gary Oldman. But at that moment, my vast wealth of useless knowledge failed me! I couldn’t remember if Gary Oldman is British or not. I was fairly sure that he is since the cast of Harry Potter is all British, but his New York accent as Commissioner Gordon was so convincing that I questioned my memory. The Webmaster suggested that I look on IMDb and see what the bio section said. So I whipped out my iPhone (’cause we were still in the car, you know) and pulled up Oldman’s page. Of course, the bio section confirmed my initial thought that he is indeed British but, much to my surprise, I also read that he had done a duet with David Bowie on You’ve Been Around on Reeves Gabrels’ album “The Sacred Squall of Now”. I looked over at the Webmaster and said, “No way! That has to be a mistake.” Having never heard the album (I dislike Gabrels enough that not even Bowie’s presence got me to listen to his album), I assumed that the version of You’ve Been Around on that album was the same as the version on Black Tie White Noise and commented, “How come I never noticed him in the liner notes for Black Tie White Noise” to which the Webmaster replied, “No it’s different on Reeves’ album.” So of course, the first chance I got I listened to “The Sacred Squall Of Now”. As you might guess from the very fact that I am writing this post, I abso-friggin-lutely loved the song! Oldman sings the lead vocal on the second verse – and he’s great. I can’t believe I missed out on that song for all 10 years that I’ve been a Bowie fan just because I dislike Gabrels. That will teach me not to let my feelings about a musician get in the way of me checking out a Bowie obscurity. Anyway, I still have not gotten over my astonishment not only of discovering that Oldman, whose talents beyond acting I had never even thought to ponder, has a fabulous singing voice but that Bowie led me to this discovery and that the conversation the Webmaster and I had about The Dark Knight led me to come across an obscure Bowie song. Kind of like how Bowie led the Webmaster to meet me online, only not nearly as life-changing…it’s odd how some things happen.

Anyway, if you’re a bad bad Bowie fan like I apparently am and you haven’t heard the song then you really ought to. You too will be pleasantly surprised. If you’re not able to buy the song by itself from Amazon or somewhere like that then go ahead and buy the whole album. While it is one of two bright spots in an otherwise boring album (“Thirteen” is also a good song), trust me when I say that You’ve Been Around is worth the $10 or $12 the album costs. Go and buy it tonight.

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Gigwise Makes Crap Up About David Bowie
Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

What started out as an innocent comment to the Daily Mail, Gigwise managed to turn into blatant rumor-mongering. In an article in the Daily Mail, T In The Park festival organizer Geoff Ellis remarked about Bowie, “It would be nice for him to do the Main Stage as soon as he feels ready. It feels like unfinished business.” (For those of you who don’t remember, Bowie was scheduled to headline in 2004 before he had to cancel the end of A Reality Tour due to his emergency heart surgery for a condition originally thought to be a pinched nerve in the shoulder.)

Anyway, Scott Colothan at Gigwise decides that molehill really ought to be a mountain. He wrote in his farticle, “The musical institution that is David Bowie is rumored to be headlining next year’s T In The Park festival.” Now I ask you, where exactly in Ellis’ comment did he say that T In The Park was actively working with Bowie to book him as the headliner? In no way can anyone who follows Bowie’s career deduce that because a festival planner wants Bowie to headline their festival that he will do so. Hell, he didn’t even headline the festival that HE planned!

And if that’s not enough to make you throw your hands up in disgust at Colothan’s article, he also mentioned that Bowie originally pulled out of the festival in 2004 due to a shoulder injury. Now if the date today were the end of June 2004, I could understand the mention of Bowie’s shoulder injury. But the date is more than 4 years after Bowie had to cancel and more than 4 years after finding out that the shoulder pain was due to a blocked artery. You know, the type of shoulder pain that is a common symptom of cardiac distress in men?! Gah! What journalist doesn’t have access to Google to check facts before sending an article to print? To be fair, with a bit of thought I can make an educated assumption that Colothan intended to refer to the original reason that Bowie gave for canceling – the shoulder pain. However as it is written, and especially in light of the blatant rumor-mongering, the line is misleading.

Maybe I’m unnecessarily getting my blood pressure up over this, but this article seems like it was written just to tweak the hopes of Bowie fans. Like maybe if the writer mentions the possibility of a live Bowie performance then fans will flock to the site boosting traffic for that month. We the fans with good memories and resources see what you’re trying to do Mr. Colothan… and rather than be simply let down to find out there are no actual negotiations being reported on, we’re aggravated.

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“Life Beyond Mars” Cover Album Released
Saturday, July 5th, 2008

life-beyond-mars-cover.jpgLife Beyond Mars: Bowie Covered” is the newest addition to the family of Bowie cover albums. In the spirit of themed David Bowie cover albums like “Goth Oddity“, this one is comprised of electronica covers. Truth be told, I’m not much of an electronica fan in general (though I do like the occasional electronic band) but there are a few fun covers on this album. The covers of “Loving The Alien“, “Sound + Vision“, “A New Career In A New Town“, and “Life On Mars” are quite ravetastic. I’m tempted to tie a pair of glowsticks onto the end of a couple of strings and dance around the house. On the other end of the spectrum, the covers of “Oh You Pretty Things” and “Sweet Thing” will make a great soundtrack for my next nap. And the cover of “Repetition” is disturbing – something about an upbeat song about domestic abuse seems so wrong.

Of course none of the covers can hold a candle to the originals, but it’s still a fun album for the hard-core Bowie fan…you know, not every cover can be as inspired as Bauhaus’ “Ziggy Stardust” or Xiu Xiu’s “Under Pressure”. If nothing else, the title of the album alone should be enough to get Bowie fans to buy it and add it to the collection – unlike “2.Contaminated Hopes of Every Outside Fan Everywhere“, ahem, I mean “2.Contamination“.

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Revisiting Santa Monica
Friday, April 18th, 2008

Santa Monica '72Here’s one for the “More To Own” section. Back in March EMI announced plans to try and squeeze a new revenue stream out of David Bowie’s back catalogue. Repackaged compilations of the Beatles and Queen have accounted for a major chunk of their recent recorded music sales, so the idea is to give the same treatment to artists like Bowie and Pink Floyd.

I don’t know about you, but as a fan who is ready and willing to collect Bowie CDs and merchandise, this news item made me sigh. Hasn’t there been a steady flow of Bowie reissues and compilations over the past few years? Does the world really need these same old songs in shiny new packaging? The Times Online reported that the plan’s architect, EMI Music Catalogue’s Executive VP Stephen Alexander, even expected Bowie to be reluctant of the scheme, saying “I’m told that he is not always easy to persuade, but we’ll try to see if we can work up serious plans that have credibility. We don’t know for certain where it will go, and maybe I’m being naive, but hopefully it will work.”

So it looks like the first release is going to be the Santa Monica ’72 show, due out on June 30th. BowieNet’s press release states that “over the last 36 years this historic recording has only been occasionally available as a bootleg.” That depends upon who you ask. In 1994 it was released by the Golden Years label in the UK and then the following year in the US by Griffin Music. Bowie’s former management company, MainMain, was behind these “semi-legal” releases, so there you go. They certainly don’t have the commensurate bootleg computer-printer graphics. Bassman lists them as albums, so I’m calling them albums.

All catty arguments aside, it’s a great performance. Bowie has said:

“I can tell that I’m totally into being Ziggy by this stage of our touring. It’s no longer an act; I am him. This would be around the tenth American show for us and you can hear that we are all pretty high on ourselves. We train wreck a couple of things, I miss some words and sometimes you wouldn’t know that pianist Mike Garson was onstage with us but overall I really treasure this bootleg. Mick Ronson is at his blistering best.”

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A World Without Bowie As Jareth?!
Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Close your eyes and imagine a world where David Bowie turned down the role of Jareth in Labyrinth. Millions of little girls won’t have their eyes opened to the wonderful world of the male area by Bowie’s tights. Millions of little boys won’t look down at themselves and think, “Am I going to look like that in tight pants when I grow up?” Even more little boys won’t discover that girls aren’t that hot anyway, they’d much rather have what is dancing around onscreen. Labyrinth fanfic sites will never come into being and make gutter-minded Bowie fans blush, giggle, and pick up their jaws off the ground. Global warming will have come and gone and the world will be covered in gigantic glaciers, sleeping through an ice age. Well, that is apparently the world that Graeme Thompson from The Observer wants for us all to live in – a world where Bowie never donned the Jareth tights and hair extensions. Maybe it was a diversion from Bowie’s previous stage personas, but Mr. Thompson does not take into consideration that Bowie was absolutely perfect for the movie and the movie perfect for him. Without him, the movie would have gone the way of Gigli. Mr. Thompson I hope you never obtain a Time Machine. You will make the world a colder, darker, more boring place.

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Shades of Bowie in Sweeney Todd (Part 2)
Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Apparently Neil Gaiman and your humble CrackedActor webmasters weren’t the only people to pick up on how much Johnny Depp sounded like Bowie in Sweeney Todd.  Depp recently said that he did not draw a direct inspiration from Bowie, stating “I wouldn’t ever dream of attempting to channel David Bowie because he is one of my heroes. But if there is a similarity it wasn’t intentional. It’s a nice compliment though.”  Hell, if someone told me I sounded like Bowie my response would be, “Yeah, that’s right I took some major inspiration from him.  David Bowie rocks my socks and we can all thank him for most modern music.”  But that’s just me.

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Casting Wishes for ‘The Hobbit’
Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

As fan-boys and fan-girls are wont to do with a treasured book that is being adapted for the silver screen, MTV.com ran an article with their ideal cast for the eventual ‘Hobbit’ movie. For the part of Thranduil, king of the Elves of Mirkwood (Silvans to you Tolkien geeks), MTV.com would cast Bowie. On the surface it seems like an awesome choice…until you recall that Bowie is a bit campy in every movie he’s in. Except ‘The Prestige’, he did amazingly well in that movie. Not necessarily a bad thing, but the exact wrong thing for a movie adaptation of Tolkien. Anyhow. I don’t see Bowie as the type of actor who could disappear into a role like the part of Thranduil would require. This is a man who is used to projecting his facial expressions and body movements to thousands of people – it would be a complete mismatch. However, if there were talk of casting him as Cellophane in ‘Bored of the Rings‘ I would totally be on board with that.

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Shades of Bowie in Sweeney Todd
Friday, December 28th, 2007

Last week I read a review of Sweeney Todd in Metroactive in which the writer Richard von Busack made an interesting observation on Johnny Depp’s vocals in the first musical number of the movie. Von Busack noted that it seemed Depp had modeled his vocals after Bowie, particularly on the song ‘Please Mr. Gravedigger.’ I held off making a comment about this article on here CrackedActor until I had seen the movie and read a few interviews with Depp to learn who his influences actually were. As soon as I heard the first measure of Depp’s singing in ‘No Place Like London’ I came to the exact conclusion that Von Busack did. Johnny Depp sounded so much like Bowie in ‘Please Mr. Gravedigger’ that I squeed with fangirl delight. The day after I saw the movie I sought out some interviews with Depp to see who inspired him while recording the musical numbers. He did not list Bowie as an influence (though I could clearly hear shades of Bowie), but interestingly he did list Iggy Pop. I am interested to know if anyone else heard Bowie’s influence on Depp and his vocal style in Sweeney Todd. By the way, the movie was fantastic and I recommend it to anyone with a dark sense of humor and a stomach for cartoonish gore.

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List-making is the New Black
Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Every time I turn around there is another music-related list made. VH1 has turned into the List Network and barely shows videos anymore. Rolling Stone must release a gross of lists and slap each on their cover every year. The Herald Sun is no stranger to the trend, having just released a new list of the Top Ten Rock Legends of all time. Freddie Mercury rings in at #1 with David Bowie bringing up the rear at #10. Right smack in the middle, ahead of Bowie by five spaces, is Jon Bon Jovi. (insert David E. Kelley record-scratching sound here) Ex-squeeze me? Bon Jovi is ahead of Bowie? I beg to differ. Someone must have accidentally switched those two. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. Yeah.

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Rock N Roll (Or Some Simulation Of It) With Me
Saturday, December 1st, 2007

It was only a matter of time, really. With the advent of Guitar Queer-o, ahem, I mean Guitar Hero and the ability to virtually learn to play guitar riffs in popular songs, it is to be expected that David Bowie’s music would show up in a similar game. And it has. The makers of Rock Band, the new game that expands the virtual instrument-playing experience beyond the electric guitar, just released a new song pack with three Bowie songs – Moonage Daydream, Heroes, and Queen Bitch.

Kudos for the choice to include Moonage Daydream and Queen Bitch since they’re slightly less known than his hit singles, but I’m not sure how I feel about the overall idea of including Bowie’s music in a game that poorly simulates playing a musical instrument. Some may argue that it is an innovative way to expose Bowie’s music to a demographic that would not normally seek it out, but I’m ambivalent. This is not the first time that Bowie’s music has shown up in a video game. Most of the songs from “hours…” were featured in cut-scenes in Omikron: The Nomad Soul before the album was ever released. However, both Bowie and Iman had a hand in the making of that game and even lent their likenesses to in-game characters.

The Bowie song pack for Rock Band is a completely different thing. Technically, it’s not selling out since Bowie doesn’t need the money and his music has been featured in numerous commercials…but it still doesn’t sit well with me. Maybe I’m just thinking too hard about this. In any case, I think I’ll stick to learning Bowie’s music the good old-fashioned way, with my real instruments.

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