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185 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

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
  1. New Killer Star 4:40$0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Pablo Picasso 4:04$0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Never Get Old 4:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. The Loneliest Guy 4:11$0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Looking for Water 3:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
  6. She'll Drive the Big Car 4:34$0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Days 3:18$0.99  Buy MP3 
  8. Fall Dog Bombs the Moon 4:02$0.99  Buy MP3 
  9. Try Some, Buy Some 4:24$0.99  Buy MP3 
10. Reality 4:21$0.99  Buy MP3 
11. Bring Me the Disco King 7:45$0.99  Buy MP3 

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 (185 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,291 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Gianmarco Manzione on June 26, 2004
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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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Brett D. Cullum VINE VOICE on September 17, 2003
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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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Charles Morgan on June 15, 2004
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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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Siler on September 25, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Bowie continues to grace us with great material. Let's clear up one thing though: other reviewers have mentioned the techno elements of this album pretty strongly, and I simply don't understand that at all. These elements are so minute and downplayed that you really don't even hear them. This is nothing like EARTHLING, which I loved, so if I'd read some of these reviews before buying, I would have been disappointed.
I got this album last week, the day it came out, but wanted to live with it for a week or so before reviewing it. I immediately liked it, but wanted to give the songs time to settle in with me.
I think, now that I've had some time to digest the album, that I like it even more than I first did. The album kicks off with the fun and infectious "New Killer Star." Someone else said that this was the catchiest song Bowie's done since "Blue Jean," and they may be right. This is great stuff.
Let's start with my least favourite song on the album: "Looking for Water." This has been one of the most frequently mentioned by others as one of the highlights of the album, but I just can't get into. It seems rather lack-lustre. This, however, is the only low-point on the album for me.
"Pablo Picasso" is a really great rocker, and its a great, fun follow to "New Killer Star." The third track, "Never Get Old" is also great, and if only for these three songs, the album is worthwhile. After these, my favourites are "Fall Dog Bombs the Moon" (which I think I would like if only for the title, but its a great song as well) and "Days." "Reality" is a great, rockin' song, with some great snarling vocals by Dave.
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