David Bowie: A Reality Tour

RIYL: Mott the Hoople, Queen, Iggy Pop

David Bowie’s 2003-04 “A Reality” tour wasn’t billed as his last, but until he decides to jump back onto the stage for another go-round, that’s exactly what it is. And while the double CD A Reality Tour serves as a five-years-late memento of that occasion (and companion piece to the 2004 DVD of the same name), it still comes off as fresh and exhilarating as the concerts themselves felt five years ago. A big reason for this is Bowie’s achieving the sweet feat of placing copious material from his last two studio albums – 2002’s Heathen and 2003’s Reality – among his ’70s, ’80s and ’90s classics in the best possible light. That is, “Afraid” and “New Killer Star” sound quite at home among older gems like “Breaking Glass” and “Ashes to Ashes.” And while such a large amount of new material (ten songs out of 33) inevitably leaves no room for big hits like “Young Americans” or “Space Oddity” (I also clearly remember Bowie playing “Blue Jean,” also left off this set, at the show I attended in 2004), the strength of all the material here – which also includes his takes on tunes he gave to Mott the Hoople (“All The Young Dudes”) and Iggy Pop (“Sister Midnight”) – is enough so that the stray hits aren’t really missed at all.

One could call this a “career overview,” as the album’s accompanying press release would have us believe, but in practice, A Reality Tour feels more like a continuation of Bowie’s career arc, one that he has left open-ended despite its skewing towards the sound he created on his last two albums and his late ’70s collaborations with Brian Eno. Even if he decides not to return to the world stage, however, he has surely left his legacy in fine shape. (ISO/Columbia/Legacy 2010)

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David Bowie – Five Years live

David Bowie performs “Five Years” live on The Old Grey Whistle Test, first broadcast in 1972.


Little Man: Of Mind and Matter

I admit that when I first saw the cover art for this disc I was prepared for some sort of bad hippie holdover bullshit from the past. But upon hearing the music, it’s obvious that Little Man has his head squarely in classic glam, pop, bubblegum, and just plain old great rock and roll. “Tarots and Arrows” sounds like a lost “Nuggets” classic, while “Everyone on the Floor” hits on a super Beatles/Raspberries groove. “Talisman” finds Little Man putting on his best T. Rex hat and is actually better than most of the classic tracks from Electric Warrior. On “Get it to Ground,” we finally have a true successor to early ‘70s Bowie that sounds impeccable – both a tribute, but also its own wonderful entity. “Not Quite So High” is good solid rock an “Together on the Long Way Around” hits upon the greatness of Spacehog. That Little Man can do all of these things while making it sound his own is nothing short of spectacular. This is one of those albums you’ll love upon first listen and keep listening to over and over. Absolutely essential. (self-released)

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