First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2004, Volume 11, #5
Written by John Metzger
While Earthling wasnít as adventurous, nor was it as strong, an album as Outside, it still was a vast improvement over much of David Bowieís output in the preceding 16 years. Recorded with his touring band just days after its final gig with Nine Inch Nails, the collection contained both a sense of urgency and a blast of intensity not present in his music for quite some time. Flanked by the heady bass of Gail Ann Dorsey and the supersonic guitar of Tin Machine collaborator Reeves Gabrels, Bowie aggressively assaulted his art-rock songs, surrounding them in a flurry of furiously futuristic grooves. Much like Outside transformed his Berlin trilogy for a new era, Earthling mined his soulful, mid-í70s material and plunged it into a similar cosmic wonderland of frittering electronic beats. At times, the juxtaposition of ideas seemed forced ó particularly on Battle for Britain (The Letter), which might have been better suited as a space-age, folk-rock song ŗ la his Hunky Dory days ó but itís hard to quibble when at least Bowie was making music that was vibrant and inspired. The recent reissue includes four superfluous dance-track re-mixes, the most intriguing of which is Trent Reznorís menacing re-imagination of Iím Afraid of Americans.
Earthling is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box