David Bowie referencing Pet Shop Boys?

As I’m sure you are all aware, today David Bowie has announced his first album in ten years (on his 66th birthday) which has left many in a state of shock mixed with excitement, myself included. I’m really enjoying the new single but what I’m posting on this specific blog about is the fact that the album – which is called The Next Day and is being released in March – has a cover that is incredibly similar to that of Pet Shop Boys own Elysium.Not only that, but the image that’s been doctored is the same one that served as the cover to Heroes which was released in 1977. It’ll be interesting to see if career reflection is going to be a theme for The Next Day, it certainly was a strong one for Elysium. A further albeit more tenuous link is also that Where Are We Now? has a music video that uses black and white footage of Berlin, which was also a dominating feature in the music video for the Elysium second single, Leaving. I can’t help but wonder if the artwork deliberately took influences from Elysium, but given that there seems to be a lot of mutual respect between Bowie and Pet Shop Boys given their past work together. Also, influencing David Bowie of all people is quite a compliment indeed I would say, so I hope that the influence was deliberate!


Happy birthday & welcome back!

I’m a good few hours late I know, but there really is only one musical story of note today. On what is today – his 66th birthday – the one and only David Bowie has left his fans with the real birthday present: the unveiling of his new single and announcing his first in album in ten years, which is entitled The Next Day is due for release on March 11th. It’s been ten years since his last album so this is a great surprise to say the least! As for the song itself, those who were expecting any hint of an upbeat tone in the track may be bitterly disappointed. For everyone else though, there is much to like about Where Are We Now? It’s a mournful ballad that slowly entices you in I think. The use of German words in the second verse harkens back to his Berlin trilogy of albums (with the music video only further emphasizing this). Also, the bridge of the song is one of the most beautiful bridges I’ve heard in a long time. It’s a slow burner in my opinion, and one which I think is a most worthy addition to what is already a fantastic body of work. As for the video, it’s certainly a tad creepy in my eyes with the puppets (am I alone in thinking that one of them looks suspiciously like Bjork?) but a further nod to Bowie’s Berlin trilogy is evident with the use of black and white footage of Berlin (including a shot of an auto repair shop which is below an apartment he lived in back in the 70s). The final – and most obvious – reference to the past is in the artwork for The Next Day which is an altered picture of the Heroes album cover. The aforementioned album is also one of the Berlin trilogy. The fact that this full album has been recorded in utter secrecy is amazing I think, and although 2013 has only just begun I can’t imagine a more surprising (or indeed welcome) comeback than this……. welcome back to one of music’s true legends!

The Singles 81>85

I’d been thinking of getting this compilation for a while seeing as it could be a while before my collection of Depeche Mode remasters grows. Also it has two exclusive tracks – one of which I really wanted – so I would have got it eventually anyway. Anyhow, this compilation was actually originally released in 1985, but was reissue and remastered in 1998 to coincide with the release of the compilation The Singles 86>98. The two bonus tracks on this CD weren’t on the original 1985 release and one of them was never on an official CD before at all. One is the Schizo mix of Just Can’t Get Enough but the real gem for me here is the original Some Bizarre version of Photographic. I love the Speak & Spell version of Photographic but I think I prefer the frantic energy of the original Some Bizzare version just a tad more if I’m honest! As an extra bonus (well for me at least) the booklet contains a review of each single from the time of it’s original release, and the one for Blasphemous Rumors/Somebody was written by one Neil Tennant, prior to finding fame as lead singer of Pet Shop Boys! Definitely a worthwhile purchase for me, I just hope its not long before I get another Depeche Mode album!

Bad 25

So after three months (and it did feel like longer if I’m honest) I finally got Bad 25! This was a Christmas gift from my brother. Surprisingly, I hadn’t actually seen this boxset in town at all, only the basic 2CD remaster edition. Anyhow, this boxset is terrific value. I have to confess something first of all: Bad is actually one of my least favorite Michael Jackson albums. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it as an album but I do prefer both Thriller and Off The Wall. This package is absolutely brilliant though, and it isn’t even the most expensive one you could get! The bigger one came in a case (which looked brilliant) with a tour programme & ticket replicas. It was lovely looking but incredibly dear and my mother saw Michael Jackson on the Bad tour so we already have a copy of the tour programme so there’s no real need for us to purchase the bigger boxset. Anyhow, this also comes with a second disc of unreleased tracks and remixes (some of the unreleased tracks have become favourites of mine if I’m honest) and a recording of the Bad tour from Wembley. I would have liked some of the performances from Yokohama to be included on the DVD but that really is just splitting hairs. Its only the second tour of Michael Jackson’s that has an official release on DVD and there’s also a disc of audio from the tour too. It also comes with a poster and a sticker so its definitely recommended!

The Clash studio albums (so far)

So, there’s no prizes for guessing what band I’ve been listening to the most lately, and in the last two weeks I’ve finally got CD’s to show for it. I’ve actually only got to get three more studio albums. Anyhow, how I began listening to The Clash is something that I can’t really remember. I guess my interest in punk started by reading Torn Apart (the Ian Curtis biopic) and naturally the first place to start was Sex Pistols and The Clash. I didn’t investigate both artists fully at the time (more dabbling) but whilst I liked both I did feel that in the longer term I would turn out more of a Clash fan than Sex Pistols, alias its happened. What reinsigated my interest really was seeing Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros preform on London Songs At The BBC (the song being The Clash’s London Calling). That made me keen to continue my investigation, but what sealed the deal was listening to a copy of The Singles collection boxset (the big one that has all the B-sides and such). It floored me! I started listening to them in more depth and I’ve been hooked ever since. I got Sandinista! and Combat Rock for Christmas and Give Em Enough Rope was on sale yesterday in Head. Anyhow, I’m actually going to be a tad controversial here: I don’t rate London Calling as their best album. It’s great yes, but I do love Sandinista and Combat Rock just that tad more. Sandinista is an album you have to admire really – it has 36 tracks in what has to be the most varied album I’ve ever heard in terms of sound. It epitomizes why I’ve developed such a love for The Clash really – the variety of music they had is nothing short of amazing and it elevates them above mere “punk band” status. Sandinista has everything from rap to gospel on it, I kid you not. Anyhow, I’ve got a slight sneaking suspicion this won’t be the last time The Clash feature here!