Archive for the 'Opinions' Category
Ziggy SquarePantis
Friday, November 16th, 2007

With a voice that sounded like Dr. Frank N Furter’s eccentric great-uncle, David Bowie made his cartoon voice-acting debut to the tune of nine million viewers. The sizeable audience made Atlantis SquarePantis, SpongeBob’s first TV movie, the top-rated cable program of the evening. Bowie’s character, Lord Royal Highness (or L.R.H. to his friends) was one of the funniest cartoon characters the Webmaster and I have ever seen. Not just saying that because I’m a hopeless Bowie fangirl either. Bowie really did an excellent job with the voice of Lord Royal Highness, the red-booted, shiny-lipped King of Atlantis. Several times throughout the episode the Webmaster and I rolled on the couch in laughter like a couple of six-year-old kids. My only wish is that in the Behind the Pantis: How We Made Atlantis SquarePantis the SpongeBob producers had included some footage of Bowie doing the voice for Lord Royal Highness. The prancing, gesturing, and cracking up into laughter would have been a sight to behold.

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Tough Love
Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Has anyone noticed the lack of mention on this blog of the newest Bowie box set?  You have?  That’s awesome.  Because I’m pointedly ignoring it.  I love Bowie and his music.  The Webmaster loves Bowie and his music.  Everyone who frequents this site loves Bowie and his music.  And box sets are great for new fans who have a hard time finding singles and limited editions and such.  But for the seasoned fans these box sets are the musical equivalent of school cafeteria Meat Pie Surprise – yesterday’s leftovers repackaged and sold the next day.  Dammit, enough with the box sets.  He’s richer than friggin’ Croesus already.  He doesn’t need to release any more box sets unless he’s using them to finance a brilliant new album that sheep-like critics will pan and his fans will love.  So how ’bout it?  Let’s have some new stuff!!

Oh yeah, and happy Halloween!  Be safe out there, Bowie Boys and Bowie Girls.

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Using Bowie Songs for Family Bonding
Thursday, October 25th, 2007

I always love to read other people’s stories on how Bowie has influenced or changed their lives. What I love even more is to read how Bowie fans have spread their love of Bowie and made an impression on someone else’s life. Carrie Stetler of The Star-Ledger recently wrote a great opinion piece about playing Bowie’s music for her kids while on a road trip. It’s fascinating how one can listen to a song one has listened to a hundred times and hear it as if through a new pair of ears. After almost ten years of being a Bowie fan, these types of moments are few and far between for me but I am always excited when I notice something in a Bowie song that I’ve never noticed before. Oh by the way, check out the caption on the picture that accompanies Stetler’s article.

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Wanna Buy Some Bowie at Target?
Monday, October 22nd, 2007

On October 15, Target released their new fall collection for men – Bowie by Keanan Duffty.  The line has some great looks that take their inspiration from the Thin White Duke era all the way to Bowie’s style of the late 90’s (which sadly has no catchy name).  Like a good little Bowie fan, after checking out all of the new Bowie by Keanan Duffty items online I made the trek down to my local Target.  I was, however, saddened by the piddling amount of items they had stocked from the line.  I had hoped to score a couple items for myself (no, I am not above stealing looks from men, thank you) and a couple items for the Webmaster and avoid paying shipping through the website.  Oh well, fashion hurts the wallet sometimes.

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Can You Ever Have Too Much Sax?
Thursday, September 20th, 2007

Here’s one for the top 100 dumbest lists about music: it’s A. V. Club’s 10 Great Songs Nearly Ruined By Saxophone. Topping the list somehow is Bowie’s Young Americans. Really? Young Americans? Because I have a hard time imagining what Young Americans would sound like without the saxophone. Maybe I’m biased, but to me David Sanborn’s opening sax in Young Americans is the hook that latches onto your earlobes and keeps you listening. It’s fundamental to the idea of the song and the sound of the entire album. But to the author, Josh Modell, it’s just sounds like “constant nagging and yipping.”

If you want to make a case for bad sax in a Bowie song, why go after a classic? I think Neukoln is your obvious choice. I don’t mind the wailing there, I’ve never heard the sax played in such a way, but I can see how someone else might find it a hard listen. Or what about the Forgotten Songs of David Jones version of Waiting For The Man? I think I actually would describe that sax as constant nagging and yipping.

What do you think? Are there any Bowie songs you’d prefer with different instrumentation?

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Rolling Stone Is Dead To Me
Thursday, May 31st, 2007

For years I have been mystified as to why I continue to subscribe to the faux-hip, quasi-artistically aware magazine Rolling Stone. Every time I read it I have to resist the urge to throw the magazine across my living room and shout, “Gawd, I hate this magazine!”, thereby causing various four-legged house animals to scatter in fear and confusion. Today for the first time, I now feel the urge to not only throw the next issue I get, but to throw it at a Rolling Stone staffer. Rolling Stone just published the results of their Great Songs on Bad Albums blog entry and narrowed the list down to include 25 songs. I was prepared to look at the list and have a laugh until I came to item number 5. Item number 5 is Hallo Spaceboy from Outside. I ask you, reader, what is Rolling Stone smoking? Whatever it is, keep it far far away from me because it will obviously turn me into a philistine. How in the hell did the staffers at Rolling Stone by-pass Tonight or Never Let Me Down (which David himself admits is not his finest work) and settle upon Outside?! Leave it to Rolling Stone to choose one of David’s most ingenious and unique works and peg it as “bad.”

Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised at all. This is the magazine that simply squeed with joy and sycophantic admiration when Shania Twain said in an interview that she only published the songs that would make her a lot of money (not an exact quote, obviously). This is also the same magazine that is publishing fashion tips so that young people can dress just like their favorite musician, because, you know, God forbid anyone develop a style of their own. It seems like all that Rolling Stone is doing is just parroting the widely held critical opinion that Outside is one of Bowie’s weaker albums since obviously it is too much trouble to actually listen to the music that the entire magazine draws its livelihood from. I don’t know why I am continually surprised when Rolling Stone publishes a bone-headed opinion. I guess I’m just a relentless optimist, even though I should be old enough to know better.

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Good Tips For Those Covering David Bowie Songs
Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Merritt Martin at the Dallas Observer is a wise man. The David Bowie Tribute Show at the Opening Bell Coffee in Dallas inspired him to give some tips to those performers who wish to show their love for David Bowie. He divides the songs into two categories: Songs That Are Not Necessarily Acceptable, But We Acquiesce and Songs You Are Absolutely NOT Allowed to Cover. Just Don’t. Read his advice here. It might save you from regurgitated non-fat vanilla latte stains on your awesome duds.

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How Is This Bowie News?
Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

I know I tread dangerous and controversial waters by addressing this, but the Bowienet news item for May 16 entitled Five Years…That’s All We’ve Got has nothing whatsoever to do with David Bowie or his current projects and everything to do with the news editor’s political, non-Bowie related views. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking his views, I respect anybody who takes up a cause to save the planet (in fact, the Webmaster and I are huge believers in conservation), but the Bowie News section on David Bowie’s official website is not the appropriate place to do so. The news section is entitled Bowie News and it should report on, you know, news about David Bowie. This news item appears above another news item about tonight’s High Line Festival events and has absolutely nothing to do with Bowie, other than a tenuous thread drawn between the lyrics from Five Years and the article from the WWF.

Now whether a BowieNet reader or subscriber thinks the human race is sending the planet to hell in a handbasket named Global Warming or thinks global warming is the latest political fad doesn’t matter. The section for Bowie News has historically reported on news about, well, Bowie. Isn’t that one of the reasons why the paid subscribers and other fans regularly visit the site? BowieNet is not our one-stop shop for news that vaguely has something to do with Bowie. If it were, then the readers would see hundreds of news items in a month reporting on every person who quotes David or mentions his name. But it’s not – it is not meant to be the Wal-mart of news sections on official fan sites. What irks me is not the inclusion of this news item on the site in general, it’s just the location. All BowieNet subscribers know that there is a forum entitled Politics and Religion, and that is the place for this post. Furthermore, I’m quite confident that BowieNet readers are savvy enough to read blogs for news pertaining to their own political views, if they even care that much about politics. Neither the casual BowieNet browser nor the paid subscriber deserve to have the BowieNet news editor’s personal, non-Bowie related views thrown at them and taking precedence over news items about current projects such as the High Line Festival. Surely we deserve better than that.

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Review of the Arcade Fire show at the High Line Festival
Thursday, May 10th, 2007

The following review was kindly written for CrackedActor.com by Samuel Mohar. I must admit, I’ve never been much of a fan of Arcade Fire but this review makes me want to give them another chance. If anyone else wishes to contribute a review to be posted on this site, contact me or the Webmaster at webmistress (a t) crackedactor.com or webmaster (a t) crackedactor.com.

In preparation for my first Arcade fire concert, while spraying on some cologne, a roommate asks “Gotta smell good for David?” “Yessir,” I reply. Ain’t gonna hide my purpose here; I bought these tickets at least in part due to my hope that the man himself, David Bowie, would pop by, sing a song, as he did at last years Fashion Rocks, and once again at a follow-up New York concert Arcade Fire had. And after the opening act, The National, I doubted anything but his presence would make this worth the price.

Welcome to Radio City Music Hall! Opulencia! “Poor man’s eating off a hundred dollar plate,” and poor student’s going to a $50 show (after Ticketmaster’s healthy chunk). The crowd covers a decent age range, mean lower 20’s, median 29, as a rough guess. The man a few seats down from me looked 45, and I saw a few other older fellows, almost all in some sort of print button up over a t-shirt, often with its own design. The youth were as expected: late-twenties hipsters with tight vests, late-teens hipsters with that wonderful hair that apparently is never socially acceptable after that age, and a couple of Danish dames to my left, who were lively and would later dance throughout Arcade Fire’s set. I was in a nice white tee and some imitation cologne, and felt more underdressed than I should at a rock show. Shiny glowstick stirrers in plastic cups abounded, brought in from the numerous bars littering every floor.

The auditorium itself is huge. I made my way up to the second of three mezzanines, and sat down to view the giant egg of concentric half-ovals, nestled nicely back in the middle of the mez, enveloped in the blue lights twelve feet above. It felt appropriately isolated and distant from the stage, but comfortable, especially with the sparse crowd to which The National took the stage.

Their sound filled the womb of the stage, with poorly mixed and overpowered bass becoming like a disproportionately distant beating- you make the metaphor- while the screeches from the front-man sounded strangely close and natural, not reproduced or amplified. They sounded good, playing decent indie rock music with clean, solid, but expected builds. The songs became formulaic. The lead singer did his thing fairly well, singing Nick Cave drones into the mic at the odd body angles of Tom Waits, sometimes bordering new wave, sometimes going up into the aforementioned shrieks. Nothing sounded bad about the band, but nothing stuck out, either; we could have been listening to a CD player, and, had we been, I would not have been paying more than cursory attention to it. Now, the frontman’s leg was injured, damaging his ability to jump around, though he made good effort. But the rest of the bands’ perpetually bored appearance did nothing for their show. The drummer’s hands looked mechanical, in perfect time, in perfect rhythm; the rest of him could remain dull at the most frenetic beats. It was apparent, though, why they would open for The Arcade Fire; look no further than the drone guitar and slam piano on “Apartment Story.” Nonetheless, I was near falling asleep before Arcade Fire had taken the stage.

Coming back from intermission, an immediate change was noticed; the place was packed. How everyone knew exactly when to show up so as to miss the openers, I’ll never know, but there they were, twice as many hipsters, twice as many high-schoolers, and everyone twice as excited. The lights dimmed to a cheer, and five white circles placed amongst the numerous instruments on stage lit up with an old recording of some female televangelist. “Anyone who can’t feel the light of God needs a Jesus enema put right up their butt.” Yes, really, it was something very similar to that. She continued, and the theme was set.

If you’ve ever heard that Arcade Fire is best live, you’ve heard completely right. At first I thought the sound was true to the album, clean and well-rehearsed. Maybe, but that is far from all. By the time they tore through “No Cars Go,” I knew I was in for a theatrical experience. Strange faces played across the back curtain, sometimes fading into live feed of the drummer, and red neon lines of light stuck straight up in front of the band, six of them. Every “Hey!” was accentuated with a bright flash at the audience. And, more importantly, every person on stage, all ten people, were completely into their music like it was their first time playing it live. And they wanted everyone else to be, too. The lead singer at one memorable point in the evening tried to summon more people to the sectioned off space in the front: “Come on, there’s more room up here. Oops, he’s [the security guard] shaking his head ‘no.’ Come on down, what the fuck are they gonna do?” Wonderful sentiment, exactly what bands need to keep from losing all fan interplay to these large venues, except this ain’t a punk-rock audience. They may be into the music, but certainly aren’t going to run up against the four or five guards standing at the entrances to the barricades, especially not these guards who looked large even from my viewpoint and distance. So he does the next best thing, running out into the audience during “Power Out”, a brave stagehand dashing out to loose him some mic cord. The same song featured a gorgeous duet of fiddling, just discernable enough over the general drone. Later, in a valiant attempt to grab some much-deserved attention, one of the men from the horn sections ran all the way back along the side.

Which reminds me: never have the horns on Neon Bible stood out in any way, especially not as emotional catalyst, to my ears. And yet they were one of the most impactful pieces of the orchestration on many songs live. This leads me to believe that Arcade Fire could take a cue from Ziggy Stardust: TO BE PLAYED AT MAXIMUM VOLUME. This is not just ambient rock, to set on as background, this is a wall of noise! Every instrument is emotive, and every instrument is vital! The mixing on the album does not do them justice.

While watching, the smell of pot wafted up to my seat fairly early in their set.  The aforementioned Danish women danced through every song. The hipsters did their thing, which seems to be showing appreciation by standing attentively, occasionally nodding. The friendly older man leaned over and spoke with me, behind a rather cute hipster who hardly moved his hands to clap. The last time he had seen Arcade Fire, he had snuck into the VIP section (No one was watching it), and, after a few songs, noticed that David Bowie was standing nearby, completely engrossed in the music. This should have sent me back into fret over whether he would appear, but by that time, more than halfway through the set, I no longer minded; I was seeing a true performance. Beginning, middle, end, it was about the arch, about the concert as a whole. “In The Backseat,” a ballad sung by one of the women in the band, is not a song I’d normally listen to on an album. But when placed in context, with her stunning performance and strange little circular hand motions, the effect was haunting; the cello solo doubly so.

They ended beautifully, the drone dropping out, only a chorus of reverberant voices remaining, as a siren fades in and the band leaves the stage. A moment later, the siren is gone, the stage is barren, but for the five TVs displaying the Neon Bible logo. All that remains is the chorus of voices, which grew until it sounded as if the audience was a congregation, all singing along. A glance proved this untrue, but I’ll just take that as a nod to the sound men. When the encore claps came, they seemed obtrusive to this moment, distracting, a reminder that no, you aren’t in some strange post-apocalyptic church, just in an audience of hipsters. But getting to hear the man himself, and this time I’m referring to Win Butler, sing those words: “Poor man eating off a hundred dollar plate…” It was worth the disruption of the final tableau. But following that up with “Wake Up?” That was just cruel. Just asking the audience to expect Bowie to pop on stage.

-Samuel Mohar

[email protected]

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Is David Bowie Really Going To Send Music Into the Final Frontier?
Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

This one is a head-scratcher for me too. This week the Webmaster and I came across two stories about Michael C. Luckman‘s Signals to Space Concerts. Luckman plans to hold music festivals in Tokyo, Berlin, New York, China, Russia, Mexico and London and beam the music out into space for extraterrestrial beings to hear. The goal is to make peaceful contact, Voyager 1 and 2-style. No dates, venues, or line-up for the concerts have been determined but Luckman is hoping to sign David Bowie as a headliner along with Sir Paul McCartney, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson (!?), and Aerosmith.

I’m not sure the point of this concert series. According to Luckman, he and the producer are going to send the music to “targets in our solar systems[sic], including Mars and the moon.” The last time I checked there was not life on Mars (groan groan, I know, horrible pun) nor was there life on the moon. Furthermore, every radio signal that is sent to any receiver on Earth eventually makes it’s way out of the atmosphere and into space. So any extraterrestrial life that is tuning in to our frequencies will already know what we listen to and how much boy bands and poptarts suck. Not to mention that the Voyager satellites already have sound files containing not just music but also general sounds that a person living on Earth might experience in their lifetime. This concert series idea sounds like Luckman is just trying to promote his book that he published two years ago and is trying to enlist all of the living artists he mentioned on it’s pages to help him do so.

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