DATE: SEPTEMBER 24, 2003
FROM: MITCH SCHNEIDER/LATHUM NELSON
'NEW KILLER STARMAN' RETURNS;
DAVID BOWIE’S ‘REALITY’
ALBUM ENTERS AT #1
ON BILLBOARD’S PAN EUROPEAN CHART;
15 TOP TEN DEBUTS AROUND THE WORLD
ON THE EVE
OF MASSIVE ‘A REALITY TOUR’
Only 15 months after releasing his million-selling, critically-acclaimed Heathen album, DAVID BOWIE has again impacted the charts worldwide with last week’s release of REALITY (ISO/Columbia), his 26th studio album. Filled with powerful songs like “New Killer Star “ (the first radio track and video), “Never Get Old” and “Fall Dog Bombs The Moon,” the Tony Visconti/BOWIE-produced album debuted in the #1 position on Billboard’s Pan European chart. REALITY debuted in the Top 10 in 15 countries–U.K., Germany, France, Denmark, Austria, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Hong Kong, Sweden, Switzerland and Finland–on the eve of his worldwide concert tour launching October 7 in Copenhagen. The album, ushered in on waves of critical acclaim, debuted at #13 in Canada and Australia, #15 in Holland, #16 in New Zealand and #29 in the U.S. where the “A REALITY TOUR” touches down December 7.
“In short, has all the alchemy of a great rock record…” Mim Udovitch noted in her New York Times essay (9/14/03), while Jim Farber of the New York Daily News (9/21/03) observed that “REALITY contains some of the catchiest, and most singable, tunes of the star’s career…Bowie has made some of the clearest, and deepest, music of his career,”
The potent, eclectic group of songs Bowie delivers on REALITY can be heard as being in the distinguished tradition of some past Bowie classics. Imagine 1971’s Hunky Dory reflecting on these significantly less hunky dory times, or 1980’s Scary Monsters with scarier monsters and more super creeps. Still, even if there are echoes of Bowie’s glorious past here and there, REALITY is–in its timely subject matter and its tremendous scope–ultimately very much an album in the present tense. “Uncertainty has almost become the definition of the times we’re living in, and it’s a feeling that Bowie has always been brilliant at capturing, up to and including his new album, appropriately titled ‘Reality,’” opined Ingrid Sischy in a major profile of BOWIE in Interview magazine (10/03).
“Further proof that Bowie is back and better than ever,” pointed out Ben Wener of the Orange County Register (9/12/03), who elaborated by saying: “Place him next to Bob Dylan and Neil Young and a rare few others, then, restless artists who consistently prove that age is the least imposing roadblock to a long, fruitful life in rock.” Elsewhere, Glenn Gamboa noted in NEWSDAY (9/16/03) that "REALITY shows that Bowie's groundbreaking days are far from over." Finally, in his Soma album review (9/03), Ken Scrudato raved “…the man himself still shines so bright, as this miraculous new record proves.”
For more information about BOWIE’s “A REALITY TOUR,” visit: www.davidbowie.com.
Here are REALITY’s critical soundbites in the U.S., so far:
“On Reality, DAVID BOWIE’S great new songs are modern versions of DAVID BOWIE’S great old songs.”
–Lisa Robinson, VANITY FAIR, September 2003
"In short, it has all the alchemy of a great rock record — songs about death that were made to be played loud and live. Even in a CD player, the impeccable production of Tony Visconti — buried, exultant background vocals, random discordant touches and vibrant, layered arrangements — make it sound as if the amped-up roar of a crowd lay somewhere beneath the notes. And elusive as Mr. Bowie may be, it conveys the sense of an urgently felt personal communication…Figuratively as well as literally speaking, Mr. Bowie has aged gracefully. He has remained engaged with new ideas, with different forms and genres of music, with variations on what it means to be an outsider and with the many costumes identity can wear, and they still inform his music."
–Mim Udovitch, NEW YORK TIMES, 9/14/03
“Uncertainty has almost become the definition of the times we’re living in, and it’s a feeling that Bowie has always been brilliant at capturing, up to and including his new album, appropriately titled ‘Reality.’”
–Ingrid Sischy, INTERVIEW, October 2003
“…the man himself still shines so bright, as this miraculous new record proves.”
–Ken Scrudato, SOMA, September 2003
“…beautiful, rocking and rich new album.”
–Stephanie Trong, JANE, September 2003 (four star review)
"…delivers one of his most entertaining and accessible efforts in years.”
–Larry Katz, BOSTON HERALD, 9/12/03
"Reality contains some of the catchiest, and most singable, tunes of the star's career. ‘Looking for Water’ has a pumping drumbeat and descending bass line that rocks as hard as Bowie's '70s hits. And the lonely piano riff on ‘Bring Me the Disco King’ recalls the spooky rock-jazz of Traffic's ‘Low Spark of High Heeled Boys’ – an entirely new sound for Bowie. The most unlikely aspect of the album, however, is Bowie's attempt to make good on its title. Dealing directly with reality is a daring move for a life-long fantasist. Key songs confront the limits of mortality and the fear of the unknown. ‘Don't let me know we're invisible,’ Bowie sings to a God-like figure near the album's close. In facing such uncertainties head on, Bowie has made some of the clearest, and deepest, music of his career.”
–Jim Farber, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, 9/21/03
“…further proof that Bowie is back and better than ever…Place him next to Bob Dylan and Neil Young and a rare few others, then, restless artists who consistently prove that age is the least imposing roadblock to a long, fruitful life in rock.”
–Ben Wener, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 9/12/03
“With co-producer Tony Visconti, Bowie toughens up his sound, sawing at the edges of Jonathan Richman’s ‘Pablo Picasso’ and, on ‘New Killer Star,’ reclaiming the insinuating guitar propulsion he’d loaned to Lou Reed when he produced Transformer. On a quieter note, his version of George Harrison’s ‘Try Some, Buy Some’ becomes a waltzing memorial to a fellow spiritual searcher.”
–Anthony Decurtis, ROLLING STONE, 10/2/03
"Written and recorded in New York with longtime collaborator Tony Visconti, "Reality" shows that Bowie's groundbreaking days are far from over."
–Glenn Gamboa, NEWSDAY, 9/16/03 (Grade: A)
"Co-produced by Tony Visconti, who also collaborated on last year's Heathen and such landmarks as Low and Heroes, Reality relies on driving guitars and aggressive rhythms that add an earthy kick without overwhelming Bowie's stylish arrangements and synthetic building blocks. Lyrics find Bowie attempting to tease apart reality and illusion in a post-9/11 age of spiritual hunger. For epic finale ‘Bring Me the Disco King,’ he plants one foot in the decadent '70s and the other in the apocalyptic quicksand of an uncertain future. Bowie's own golden years? Hunky dory, from the results of this Reality show."
–Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY, 9/15/03
“…a free-ranging career summation… Reality is built on straight rock. ‘Pablo Picasso,’ a cover of a nonsense ditty by Jonathan Richman (sample rhyme: ‘Pablo Picasso never got called an a—hole’), recaptures some of the mad, swirling energy of ‘Suffragette City,’ while ‘Fall Dog Bombs the Moon’ has the grinding resignation of ‘Heroes.’”
–Kyle Smith, PEOPLE, 9/22/03
"Reality is like a street-smart kid. It's a bright record that brims with energy and diversity. It seems directly reflective of Mr. Bowie's current lifestyle as a resident of New York. It doesn't feel as if it's meant to be heavy or important, and that casual quality makes it immensely likable, and all the more a keeper…The spirit here is good. Mr. Bowie is obviously enjoying himself, and it's contagious. The longer he's been around, the younger he seems."
–Teresa Gubbins, DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/12/03
“… it's the propulsive rhythms, the nervous keyboards, the swirling ambient production and the frenetic guitar work that draw you in. This is smart post-apocalyptic mood music, but it never skimps on melody, nor does it pander to cheap emotion or resort to pious preaching."
–Jim DeRogatis, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/14/03 (four star review)
“There's a restlessness to much of the music that not only makes for a great album but suggests that Bowie is struggling more than ever for answers… Bowie challenges the listener in the songs ‘Still Drive the Big Car’ (about the quiet desperation of a New York housewife), ‘Days’ (about needing a friend), and ‘Fall Dog Bombs the Moon,’ a critique of the right-wing military leaders and their need to find enemies (‘There's always a moron, someone to hate,’ Bowie sings)."
–Steve Morse, BOSTON GLOBE, 9/16/03
“For an artist who’s all about changes, Bowie has gone back to his old futures. His new album is very Ziggy Stardust: dimly glowing ballads (‘The Loneliest Guy in the World’), odes to wild youth (‘Never Get Old’), and sly digs at pop stardom (‘Bring Me the Disco King’). But he certainly doesn’t sound out of time on ‘New Killer Star’ when he looks up at ‘a great white scar / over Batter Park.’ Maybe he’s always lived in the 21st century and the rest of us are just catching up.”
–Robert Levine, WIRED, October 2003
"Still traumatized by the shaky state of his adopted New York home, David Bowie has put together one of his best albums, a shock of Reality (Sony). Co-produced by longtime collaborator Tony Visconti, this mighty-sounding set boasts the instant classics ‘Never Get Old,’ ‘New Killer Star,’ ‘She'll Drive the Big Car,’ Bowie's 10-years-in-the-germinating ‘Disco King’ plus distinctive covers of George Harrison's ‘Try Some, Buy Some’ and Jonathan Richman's ‘Pablo Picasso.’”
–Jonathan Takiff, PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 9/16/03 ("A" rating)
“…the best Bowie album in years, at the least since 1995’s underrated Outside…instantly listener-friendly, bristling with the kind of sonic experimentation we expect from Bowie but also delivering melodic hooks and rhythmic flair by the truckload…Bowie’s most vital batch of songs in some time.”
–Marty Hughley, PORTLAND OREGONIAN, 9/19/03
"Opening track and new single 'New Killer Star' finds Bowie all revved up and ready on what’s his best out-and-out rocker in years…(the song is)…urgent, relentless and a great scene setter for what’s a terrifically energetic album…On 'Never Get Old,' Bowie dusts off his trusty cockney voice and puts it to great use over a cracking (the band really sound good on this album) track that twists about all over the place. You can hear this one ricocheting around stadiums this autumn but I mean that in a GOOD way."
–Mark Wood, VIRGINMEGASTORES.CO.UK, 8/18/03
“The disc opens with 'New Killer Star,' a raging rocker that could easily have been inspired by the 9/11 terror strike on Manhattan. Another excellent exercise in truth-seeking is 'Never Get Old,' in which Bowie lists the truths he knows over a bold funk bass line."
–Dan Aquilante, NEW YORK POST, 9/23/03
"The title track, ‘Reality,’ is a charged anthem of youth and unfulfilled expectations."
–Ryan Lenz, ASSOCIATED PRESS, 9/15/03
“Reality's striking feature…is a sense of immediacy."
–Annie Zaleski, CLEVELAND SCENE, 9/17/03
"…Bowie's musical ideas, not filtered through any sort of trend-grab, are unfailingly unique, and that alone should cement his continued role as vibrant, modern artist for years to come."
–Eric Carr, PITCHFORKMEDIA.COM, 9/17/03
"The Thin White Duke's unforgettable performance at the Concert For New York in 2001 and the one here on Reality mirror the city he now calls home — anxious and edgy for sure, but also inventive and energetic….his new recording is a surprisingly uptempo outing that sports assured playing from the band that also joined him on last year's Heathen.”
–Martin Bandyke, DETROIT FREE PRESS, 9/14/03
"Recorded in lower Manhattan and co-produced by his longtime collaborator Tony Visconti, Reality has a high-energy New York vibe running through a lot of it, and offers reflections on the times, as on the politically tinged opener ‘New Killer Star,’ the mid-tempo saga about the military industrial complex ‘Fall Dog Bombs the Moon’ and the gripping musical throwback of a title track."
–Kevin O’Hare, NEWHOUSE NEWS SERVICE, 9/21/03
“After 30 years, Bowie’s desperate voice gives him a battered, mortality-aware persona to play with, and the career-valedictory title track revisits his old debauchery with a classy pen (‘I hid amid the junk of wretched highs’) and headbanging glam riffs.”
–Andrew Harrison, BLENDER, October 2003
“An after-hours elegy for club crawlers, ‘Bring Me the Disco King’ slinks seductively to pianist Mike Garson’s tinkling angularities and a brushed snare, and features Bowie at his crooning, brooding best.”
–Marc Weingarten, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, 9/19/03
“Dancing downbeats and electric guitars that hiss like a blowtorch mark the four corners of DAVID BOWIE’S newest album, Reality.”
–John Barry, POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL (Poughkeepsie, NY), 8/19/03
“Along with midtempo rockers ‘New Killer Star’ and ‘She’ll Drive the Big Car,’ standouts include a cover of Jonathan Richman’s ‘Pablo Picasso,’ the urgent title track and ‘Fall Dog Bombs the Moon,’ with feedback and fuzz that evokes an on-stage vibe.
–Sandra Barrera, LA DAILY NEWS, 9/12/03