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4.1 out of 5 stars 198 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 16, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Beethoven-Symphonies ~ Reality

Expectations have long been the mixed blessing of David Bowie's illustrious, if at times frustrating career. Whether he addresses the inherent paradoxes of his own chameleonic past on this loose concept album (or, given his statements arguing that there's "not any ultimate reality," is it anti concept?) is almost beside the point: The real glue that holds it together is the renewed strength of Bowie's songwriting. If his success at reinvention arguably went off the rails sometime between the dance-club affectations of Let's Dance and Tin Machine's noisy, overweening art-rock, he continues the renewed embrace of basics heralded by Heathen here. Not surprisingly that album's producer, Tony Visconti, has returned, framing Bowie's muscular efforts in ever more ambitious and far-ranging productions that paradoxically echo both Bowie's modern Manhattan roots and his 60's-70's musical prime (an era during which Visconti was often a key collaborator). Be they oblique, if cutting commentaries on current geo-politics (the Low/Heroes-era evoking "New Killer Star," "Fall Dog Bombs the Moon" and "Looking For Water"), surprising cover choices (Jonathan Richman's "Pablo Picasso" all dizzy and beefed-up; a suitably grand, Wall-of-Sound recreation of Ronnie Spector's obscure, George Harrison-penned "Try Some, Buy Some") or more personal concerns (the vaguely Incan "Days"; the rhythmic Low-isms of "Never Get Old"), Bowie's work here is powered by a renewed sense of dramatic focus and musical purpose that's refreshingly free of the shackles of fashion and self-imposed reinvention. It's true you can't go home again; but damned if Bowie hasn't found his most compelling music in decades trying. --Jerry McCulley

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. New Killer Star
  2. Pablo Picasso
  3. Never Get Old
  4. The Loneliest Guy
  5. Looking for Water
  6. She'll Drive the Big Car
  7. Days
  8. Fall Dog Bombs the Moon
  9. Try Some, Buy Some
  10. Reality
  11. Bring Me the Disco King

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 16, 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ISO Records / Columbia
  • ASIN: B0000AR8NK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (198 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,834 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
If you found this review, you're probably specifically looking for the Reality SACD. It's fairly hard to find, because sony has done a poor job of issuing this release. First of all, its a CD/SACD hybrid, so why they decided they needed to issue a regular cd version, a special edition version and a hybrid SACD version of this release is beyond me. Secondly, the SACD release date was pushed back for so long that many people who might have bought the hybrid disc have already purchased one version or another. This might explain why stores don't seem to be stocking the SACD version--they probably have more than enough unsold special editions sitting on their shelves. Sorry for the rant, but sony's approach to sacd pisses me off: first they issue sacd only discs that won't play on a normal cd player, then when they finally realize how stupid that was and issue hybrid discs like this, they screw it up as well.
That said, this is a very good production from Bowie. Nothing jaw-dropping (though Pablo Picasso might come as a shock to Modern Lovers fans), but not boring either. Given that the album's music has more of a "live" sound, it's not surprising that the 5.1 mix is pretty straight forward. There's a few songs where the drums and effects are spread out to the surrounds, but Bowie's voice mostly stays center. Sounds good though.
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Format: Audio CD
2002's "Heathen" was the beacon on the mountain for Bowie fans who hoped the eloquent and moving minimalism of 1999's "Hours" was not just an aberration on the way to another noisily ambitious effort such as "Outside." Yet even for all "Heathen" did to suggest that Bowie had finally swept his Tin Machine under the rug for good, disonant techno freak-outs like "Took A Trip on a Gemini Spaceship" anticipated the tight rope Bowie walks on "Reality," a record so ambitious in production and sound as to be constantly on the verge of explosion. While "Hours" played like a dressed-up stepchild of "Hunky Dory," "Reality" picks up where "Scary Monsters" left off. As on that 80s masterpiece, each song on Reality approaches but never crosses the boundary between melody and mania. The result is a gorgeously successful restraint and maturity; the kind of reservation of his powers that moments of even his most lauded works have lacked. No song on "Reality" illustrates this more aptly than the stunning and ethereal "Days," one of the most moving productions of Bowie's career. Similarly tender and understated compositions like "Fall Dog Bombs The Moon" or the darkly seductive and jazzy "Bring Me The Disco King" balance nicely with noisier and farther-reaching explosions of melody so radiant as to light the world on fire: "New Killer Star" with its subtle nod to the doo-wop hit "I Will Follow Him," his cover of the Modern Lovers' under-ground punk hit "Pablo Picasso," the bright "Looking For Water.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
REALITY is a great art album. Bowie is a painter using sounds and textures, and he removes himself from genres. Yes this CD ranges from techno, industrial and jazz - often in one song. It's a complete statement, and a wholly satisfying journey. Tony Visconti helps produce one of Bowie's best releases in this or any decade. The whole affair begins strongly with NEW KILLER STAR - a rocking song with a hook. Bowie covers "PABLO PICASSO" by Johnathan Ritchman which some may remember off the REPO MAN soundtrack. It wanders in the same vein and winds up with an astro lounge ballad called BRING ME THE DISCO KING. Is it a dig at 70s pop, or a paranoid vision of today? Probably both. This one seems less about his age, and more about the state of the world - an assault on consumerism (both his own and yours) can be found on TRY SOME, BUY SOME or SHE'LL DRIVE THE BIG CAR. NEVER GET OLD is more a statement that we will never have enough than railing against age. The lyrics are pure poetry, and the music and singing is pure Bowie. He's found new life lately, and he still intrigues and challenges his listeners after well over 3 decades. It's a glittering gem of an album. A well expressed work in a world that often gives us singles and sound bytes. Bowie refuses to toss out just one or two hits. This is solid from start to finish. And his best since his last album! :-)
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Format: Audio CD
This album is fantastic. It marks another long leap forward since the collossal WTF of "Outside". "Earthling" proved Bowie could pull off electronica (albeit Bowie style). "Hours..." displayed a gradual shift back to traditional Bowie (it sounds like Bowie asking fans if they want more Beatmeister or Rock God); organic guitars and vocals set over drum loops that, while they got to feeling artificial, were certainly quality songwriting. "Heathen" dove right into the real "band" feel, and "Reality" is the continuation of that movement, all organic instrumentation and inspired songwriting. The real standout is the funked up jazz dream "Bring Me the Disco King", a seven minute masterpiece that gives us a piano, a snare, and Bowie, crooning in that weird Bowie way about everything and nothing all at once, so eloquently, so beautifully.
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