BOOKS: Bowie Book Bonanza

October 17th, 2011, 1:00 pm by Greg
David Bowie: Starman

Ever since undergoing heart surgery in 2004, one-time workaholic David Bowie has made very few appearances, recordings or new artistic statements. In recent years, however, interest in the enigmatic star has not waned as evidenced by two new books, and one updated/revised one, published so far this year.

With his latest biography, “David Bowie: Starman” (Little, Brown and Company) former Mojo Magazine editor Paul Trynka digs deep, mining both previously published material on the man and also conducting over 250 new interviews, with friends, collaborators, lovers and associates who were there when it all happened. This could prove to be the closest thing to a definitive biography unless Bowie decides to spill the beans himself. And one has to wonder, given Bowie’s manner of manipulating the media, if even that would surpass this as an honest assessment of his life and career.

In keeping with the title “Starman,” a large part of Trynka’s text focuses on Bowie’s obsession with, and rise to fame, and the people who helped get him there. Combining the artist’s own genius with those of musicians (Mick Ronson, Carlos Alomar, Brian Eno, etc.), producers (Tony Visconti, Ken Scott, Nile Rodgers, etc.) and people he emulated and admired (Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Andy Warhol, etc.), these working relationships brought out the best in him, and in turn, Bowie went from a mid-level pop artist to a bonafide rock star to a mega conglomerate of music, computer games and iTunes apps. The book deals with where Bowie found and borrowed inspiration from (“Starman” = “Over the Rainbow,” “Queen Bitch” = Velvet Underground) and some of the works that owe so much debt to his collaborators.

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Christmas Hump Day Unusual Moment

December 15th, 2010, 1:00 pm by Greg

Remember the odd couple pairing of David Bowie and Bing Crosby serving up their tasty Christmas medley of “Little Drummer Boy”-meets-“Peace On Earth”? Sure you do…

(If not, go here and watch it…)

Well, so too do Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly who re-create the fabulous holiday duet – and more…

Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence

December 24th, 2009, 12:04 pm by Greg

David Bowie may or may not win the Times Union’s Tournament of Carols, which finds his duet with Bing Crosby‘s on the medley “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” going head-to-head with Der Bingle’s own “White Christmas” in the readers’ poll for best holiday song. (The winner will be announced on Christmas Day.)

But win or lose, Bowie has another proud claim to the holiday season – a starring role in 1983’s decidedly non-warm ‘n’ fuzzy POW drama “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence,” in which he starred opposite another musician-actor, composer and former Yellow Magic Orchestra keyboardist Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Don’t rent this one thinking that you’re gonna be snuggling around the fireplace for an uplifting, lighthearted holiday comedy. That ain’t gonna happen.

Be Here Now: “Labyrinth Sing-a-Long” @ MASS MoCA, 8/27/09

August 24th, 2009, 12:50 pm by Greg

It’s certainly no “Sound of Music.”

But the movie stars an impossibly young Jennifer Connelly, a whole bunch of delightfully strange puppets and glamster David Bowie out-glamming his Ziggy Stardust character in his role as the blond, spikey wigged Goblin King.

Sounds like a winner to me, but if you need more convincing, consider this:

The 1986 cult classic fantasy film “Labyrinth” was directed by Jim Henson – the last movie he directed before his death in 1990. The movie was produced by none other than George Lucas. An Monty Python’s own Terry Jones wrote the screenplay.

And Bowie served up five songs which he both wrote and sang, which leads us to MASS MoCA‘s presentation of “Labyrinth Sing-A-Long” on Thursday, August 27.

But if you don’t know the film or Bowie’s rather obscure soundtrack work, you might want to brush up a bit before you let loose during the opening “Underground” or “As the World Falls Down.”

Song of the Week: Major Tom

June 10th, 2009, 12:20 pm by Sara

I’m sure you’ve heard the car commercials: Major Tom: Shiny Toy Guns.

It’s a cover of a song by Peter Schilling released in 1983. I prefer the original to the Shiny remake. Here’s an English version: Major Tom: Peter Shilling (extended version in English).

But to really experience the music, you’ve got to see this live performance from German public television – sort of Bowie meets Devo, but without any irony. God, I miss the eighties.

Wierd cosmic coincidence #1: Schilling’s song was inspired by David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” which was recorded 40 years ago this month and released to coincide with the Apollo 11 moon mission.

Wierd cosmic coincidence: Bowie’s son Duncan Jones directed his first feature film, “Moon” a scifi film out in limited release this weekend. Here’s an interview with Jones. Here’s the trailer for the film:

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