Bowie's first solo album in six years is such an unholy pile of shit that I find it clearly worse than Tonight
, and quite possibly the second worst record I’ve reviewed on this site (The Clash’s Cut the Crap
remains the worst).
Black Tie White Noise
is horrid. On it Bowie dives headfirst into that icky early-90's suave danceclub horseshit that everyone recalls as being the hotness for a while back in the day, and which everyone I’m sure has blocked from their mind, to the extent that one listen to this rotting bag of pig urine would only bring back memories too unpleasant to mention.
The album doesn’t even have songs. Christ, at least Tonight
had songs. This is just one extremely long (66 minutes! ... thanks, CD age!), extremely unpleasant club jam, that wouldn't be enjoyable even after taking a hit of ecstasy, because it’s not even cool acid/dance music or something.
This is club music from a clearly-defined six month period around 1992 or 1993, for guys in sharp dress suits who work in investment banks and spend their evenings cutting lines of cocaine with their American Express platinum card. I imagine there’s supposed to be some 'soul' in there, but that's mostly expressed by Bowie's insistence on playing a really bad saxophone solo on every fucking track on the album (which is great, because that means he only actually sings in like half of them).
When Bowie attempts something other than a really bad club song, as with the title track, or “Miracle Goodnight”, it just plods along with one poorly thought-out either pseudo-funk guitar or pseudo-interesting (you know, not actually interesting) noise bit, while he chants something with no melody whatsoever over the top. And I haven't even mentioned the one or two s-l-o-w club jams for swaying back and forth with your own personal coked-out hooker to.
My copy has fourteen tracks, though one is just a remix of another - “The Wedding Song” is a redux of “The Wedding” with lyrics. And there are four covers, so really, there's eight Bowie compositions here. And they’re all bad.
The covers are where Bowie really embarrasses himself though ... he turns Cream’s “I Feel Free” into a generic clubbing song. He keeps the opening acappella vocals, but the rest of the tune is completely unrecognizable. And there’s a Morrissey song here too - he butchers that too.
And while I haven’t heard Scott Walker's version of “Nite Flights”, I doubt it sounded even remotely like Bowie's treatment here. Finally, “Don’t Let Me Down & Down” was originally an Arabic pop song recorded in France, and is only included here because Iman heard it once and convinced her new husband to cover it on his next album. So, just to be clear, Iman had creative input on this record. Iman.
I'd select the bonus track “Lucy Can’t Dance” as the album's best cut, because it’s fast and incredibly stupid, and those factors make it better than any of the 60-odd minutes preceding it.
There's not a single track on this album that’s even passable. The only reason I think it’s better than The Clash's Cut the Crap
is that - for what it’s trying to be - it’s actually 'constructed' quite well. It’s not like there are signs of total incompetence in the production or execution of this material, just really really bad taste. So it’s all smoothed over to the point where large chunks of Black Tie White Noise
would probably be acceptable as elevator or dentist office muzak. If I turn it down low enough and pay as little attention as possible, it doesn’t bother me. I can’t say that about Cut the Crap
. Plus Mick Ronson plays guitar a few times and he still sounds OK, so I suppose that’s something.
I don’t feel like talking about this fucking thing anymore. I hate it.Rated:
by Reviewer: BRAD
Posted: Monday 19th Mar 2018 6:14 PM
Aside from the closing "No Time This Time", which sounds like a leftover from Outlandos d'Amour
, The Police have moved far away from punk with this album.
Reggatta de Blanc
is every bit as good as the debut, but in a more refined and controlled way - there's never any sense that the band are going to fall apart on any of these songs, they're just way too good. All three band members shine as muscians here, and their individual talents are best displayed on the mostly-instrumental title track, and Summers in particular shows a marked improvement from the first record, creating dense atmospheric guitar parts that simmer beneath Sting and Copeland's precise rhythms.
The reggae influence on this album is even more prominent than before, but this is not the loose laidback kind of marijuana-laced reggae ... The Police like their reggae tight, and the album's big hits - "Walking on the Moon" and "Message in a Bottle" - give a good idea of the album's overall sound. Even Copeland's comedy-rock excursion "On Any Other Day" manages to entertain with its black humour.
That every track is so uniformly good might be the only problem with this album - I never get a chance to catch my breath! So whilst Sting may've tarnished his reputation by making crappy Phil Collins-ish Adult Contemporary music as a soloist, Reggatta de Blanc
demonstrates why The Police were one of the best and most innovative bands of all time.Rated:
by Reviewer: Marco Marco
Posted: Tuesday 20th Mar 2018 9:18 AM