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Bowie: A Biography

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Finally an expansive biography of one of the twentieth century’s greatest music and cultural icons From noted author and rock ’n’ roll journalist Marc Spitz comes a major David Bowie biography to rival any other. Following Bowie’s life from his start as David Jones, an R & B—loving kid from Bromley, England, to his rise to rock ’n’ roll aristocracy as David Bowie, Bowi Finally an expansive biography of one of the twentieth century’s greatest music and cultural icons From noted author and rock ’n’ roll journalist Marc Spitz comes a major David Bowie biography to rival any other. Following Bowie’s life from his start as David Jones, an R & B—loving kid from Bromley, England, to his rise to rock ’n’ roll aristocracy as David Bowie, Bowie recounts his career but also reveals how much his music has influenced other musicians and forever changed the landscape of the modern era. Along the way, Spitz reflects on how growing up with Bowie as his soundtrack and how writing this definitive book on Bowie influenced him in ways he never expected, adding a personal dimension that Bowie fans and those passionate about art and culture will connect with and that no other bio on the artist offers. Bowie takes an in-depth look at the culture of postwar England in which Bowie grew up, the mod and hippie scenes of swinging London in the sixties, the sex and drug-fueled glitter scene of the early seventies when Bowie’s alter-ego Ziggy Stardust was born, his rise to global stardom in the eighties and his subsequent status as an elder statesman of alternative culture. Spitz puts each incarnation of Bowie into the context of its era, creating a cultural time line that is intriguing both for its historical significance as well as for its delineation of this rock ’n’ roll legend, the first musician to evolve a coherent vision after the death of the sixties dream. Amid the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll mayhem, a deeper portrait of the artist emerges. Bowie’s early struggles to go from follower to leader, his tricky relationship with art and commerce and Buddhism and the occult, his complicated family life, his open romantic relationship and, finally, his perceived disavowal of all that made him a touchstone for outcasts are all thoughtfully explored. A fresh evaluation of his recorded work, as well as his film, stage and video performances, is included as well. Based on a hundred original interviews with those who knew him best and those familiar with his work, including ex-wife Angie Bowie, former Bowie manager Kenneth Pitt, Siouxsie Sioux, Camille Paglia, Dick Cavett, Todd Haynes, Ricky Gervais and Peter Frampton, Bowie gives us not only a portrait of one of the most important artists in the last century, but also an honest examination of a truly revolutionary artist and the unique impact he’s had across generations.


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Finally an expansive biography of one of the twentieth century’s greatest music and cultural icons From noted author and rock ’n’ roll journalist Marc Spitz comes a major David Bowie biography to rival any other. Following Bowie’s life from his start as David Jones, an R & B—loving kid from Bromley, England, to his rise to rock ’n’ roll aristocracy as David Bowie, Bowi Finally an expansive biography of one of the twentieth century’s greatest music and cultural icons From noted author and rock ’n’ roll journalist Marc Spitz comes a major David Bowie biography to rival any other. Following Bowie’s life from his start as David Jones, an R & B—loving kid from Bromley, England, to his rise to rock ’n’ roll aristocracy as David Bowie, Bowie recounts his career but also reveals how much his music has influenced other musicians and forever changed the landscape of the modern era. Along the way, Spitz reflects on how growing up with Bowie as his soundtrack and how writing this definitive book on Bowie influenced him in ways he never expected, adding a personal dimension that Bowie fans and those passionate about art and culture will connect with and that no other bio on the artist offers. Bowie takes an in-depth look at the culture of postwar England in which Bowie grew up, the mod and hippie scenes of swinging London in the sixties, the sex and drug-fueled glitter scene of the early seventies when Bowie’s alter-ego Ziggy Stardust was born, his rise to global stardom in the eighties and his subsequent status as an elder statesman of alternative culture. Spitz puts each incarnation of Bowie into the context of its era, creating a cultural time line that is intriguing both for its historical significance as well as for its delineation of this rock ’n’ roll legend, the first musician to evolve a coherent vision after the death of the sixties dream. Amid the sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll mayhem, a deeper portrait of the artist emerges. Bowie’s early struggles to go from follower to leader, his tricky relationship with art and commerce and Buddhism and the occult, his complicated family life, his open romantic relationship and, finally, his perceived disavowal of all that made him a touchstone for outcasts are all thoughtfully explored. A fresh evaluation of his recorded work, as well as his film, stage and video performances, is included as well. Based on a hundred original interviews with those who knew him best and those familiar with his work, including ex-wife Angie Bowie, former Bowie manager Kenneth Pitt, Siouxsie Sioux, Camille Paglia, Dick Cavett, Todd Haynes, Ricky Gervais and Peter Frampton, Bowie gives us not only a portrait of one of the most important artists in the last century, but also an honest examination of a truly revolutionary artist and the unique impact he’s had across generations.

30 review for Bowie: A Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Scott Rhee

    David Bowie, the legend and the man, died this year, 2016. The vacuum left by his passing is felt profoundly by his fans. I originally read this book and reviewed it in 2013. As I sit and edit it, Bowie's beautiful final album, "Blackstar" is playing in the background... The first vinyl records (Remember those? Big, round, black, shiny disks with tiny grooves that played music when you put in on a turntable and dropped the needle down? I know, I love them, too...) I ever bought were Journey's "Es David Bowie, the legend and the man, died this year, 2016. The vacuum left by his passing is felt profoundly by his fans. I originally read this book and reviewed it in 2013. As I sit and edit it, Bowie's beautiful final album, "Blackstar" is playing in the background... The first vinyl records (Remember those? Big, round, black, shiny disks with tiny grooves that played music when you put in on a turntable and dropped the needle down? I know, I love them, too...) I ever bought were Journey's "Escape", the self-titled album by Madness ("Our house in the middle of our street..."), and "Let's Dance" by David Bowie. I still have them, somewhere; most likely tucked away on a shelf next to my parents' surprisingly hip vinyl collection. I grew up listening to Tom Jones, ABBA, Three Dog Night, The Guess Who, the Kinks, the Beatles: not a bad soundtrack for my childhood. While I liked Journey and Madness a lot, throughout the years my fascination for Bowie grew and matured in a way that didn't happen for most of the other bands and singers I had in my record collection. (The Police will always have a place in my heart, Jackson Browne was a memorable fling, and the Pretenders still kick ass, but I'm not sure what I was thinking with Rick Springfield, Menudo or Bruce Willis's one and only foray---thank God!---in music with his "Return of Bruno" blues album...) I think my sustained love for Bowie is due to the fact that, like the few rare artists that can completely change themselves, in a good way, to suit the changing times (Madonna, Siouxsie Sioux, Trent Reznor) the Bowie that I loved in 7th grade is not the Bowie I loved as a senior in high school is not the Bowie I loved in my early 20s is not the Bowie I love today, at age 40. The many metamorphoses that Bowie has gone through is incredible. I rarely read autobiographies or biographies of musicians or singer/songwriters. Not that I lack respect for them or their creative process. On the contrary, I have tremendous respect for musicians, and I love music. In point of fact, I just never found any of my favorite bands or singers to be the subject of a biography. I have yet to find a biography of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Not many writers are willing to tackle the brilliance behind They Might Be Giants or Oingo Boingo. I did read a biography of Kurt Cobain once, which I liked, but much of it read like a police report. Other current well-known autobiographies of famous rock stars have not interested me that much: Keith Richards's book would probably bore and annoy me with all the rampant drug stories, and while I would someday like to tackle Bob Dylan's autobiography, I don't think I'm ready yet for a commitment that big. Bowie, on the other hand, has always intrigued me. He has, apparently, intrigued many other biographers as well, as he has been the subject of literally dozens of books. It seems odd (I mean, he's one guy, right?) until one looks at the many variations of self-identity that Bowie has gone through in his life. Some biographers have written solely about his Ziggy Stardust period. Others have looked at Bowie from a literary standpoint (he is quite poetic in his lyrics) and others from a strictly fashion sense. I chose to read "Bowie: A Biography" by author Mark Spitz for no other reason than because it was there, and it is probably the most appropriate place to start for a Bowie-phile. It is not comprehensive the way David Buckley's 700-page biography, "Strange Fascination: David Bowie---The Definitive Story" is. (That's next on my list.) Spitz's book is a fun, fast-paced read written by a fan FOR fans. Bowie, born David Robert Jones in Brixton, U.K. in 1947, grew up in a seemingly normal suburban family. His parents were caring, kind people, although lacking perhaps in the physical affection department (a trait somewhat typical for upper-middle class Brits, one of those stereotypes that has some truth to it). His parents were very supportive of Bowie from an early age, encouraging his early interest in music and art where some parents of the day may have been somewhat leery. His childhood shaped him in ways Bowie never realized until much later, according to Spitz, especially in regards to Bowie's life-long fear that he would someday go insane. Mental illness, apparently, ran in his family. Bowie's older brother, Terry, suffered from schizophrenia, and Bowie, who would look up to his brother as a role model and source of inspiration his entire life until Terry's death, was always waiting for the other shoe to drop and for him to succumb to the inevitable madness he knew he was coming. It is, in many ways, why Bowie pushed himself so hard and far in his musical career. Spitz notes that Bowie may have just been trying to beat the Devil. Early attempts at bands (there were many of them) were failures for Bowie, but unlike some artists, Bowie was never discouraged by failure. There was, apparently, something to be learned in everything. His first album, a self-titled (which was re-released in 2012 after many years of being out of print) was quickly forgotten. It is considered by most critics to be typical of the Brit Pop movement of the time and nothing to write home about. His next album, however, "Space Oddity" would fare much better and would give Bowie his first chart-topper with his famous title track. It would, however, be his fifth album, "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars", that would catapult him into rock stardom. The rest, as they say, is history. And, oh, what a fantastic history. Bowie's oeuvre of songs reads like a compilation of The History of Western Civilization Through David Bowie: "Changes", "Suffragette City", "Jean Genie", "Diamond Dogs", "Heroes", "Fame", "Modern Love", "Let's Dance", "China Girl", and the list goes on... Those are just his radio singles, and they only cover his musical output through the mid-80s. The 90s and the 2000s would see Bowie usher himself into the 21st century quite majestically with albums like 'Earthling", "Heathen", and "Reality". Spitz, unfortunately, ends his book in 2009, on a sad note that Bowie's last album ("Reality", 2003) really would be Bowie's last album. As if. As we speak (or, technically, as I write), Bowie's newest album in ten years, "The Next Day" is currently available in record stores (oops, I mean Amazon), and it is awesome. It is, in my opinion, Bowie's darkest album, full of righteous anger at the injustices in the world and, especially, in the U.S., his adopted country for which he has a love-hate relationship. (Then again, don't most of us?) Bowie still manages to fascinate and enthrall, and I'm sure that he will continue to do so until his dying day, in whatever new and wonderful manifestation he adopts.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tosh

    Do we need another biography on David Bowie? Well, frankly yes! There is one other great biography on Bowie by David Buckley called "Strange Fascination." That one is good because Buckley went out of the way to interview all of Bowie's past and present musicians. What is totally fab about Marc Spitz's biography is his research on the early teenage and career years of David. He also tracked down Bowie's first major manager and supporter Kenneth Pitt, who gives great insight in the world of 'gay' m Do we need another biography on David Bowie? Well, frankly yes! There is one other great biography on Bowie by David Buckley called "Strange Fascination." That one is good because Buckley went out of the way to interview all of Bowie's past and present musicians. What is totally fab about Marc Spitz's biography is his research on the early teenage and career years of David. He also tracked down Bowie's first major manager and supporter Kenneth Pitt, who gives great insight in the world of 'gay' management at the time as well as what it was like in representing David Bowie in the mid-60's. For sure he never was he an over-night star. Bowie struggled for fame and fortune for at least ten years before he hit it big with the Ziggy decade. Spitz who is a hardcore Bowie fanatic captures the location or place of Bowie's important years. His writing on West Berlin and Bowie's old London neighborhood is quite fantastic. Reading it I get the presence of these old neighborhoods and how it affected Bowie's art. The great thing about David Bowie is that he was totally inspired by his location and the people around that world in whatever specific time. Also one gets a better appreciation of Bowie's first wife Angie, which one doesn't get in various biographies or literature. My only complaint, which is very slight, is that Bowie's later years are not as interesting as compared to his career in the 60's. Mostly I think due to the interest of the author who really researched the 60's era Bowie very well and how that was a platform for his much later creative brilliant albums, etc. In other words this is pretty much an essential book on David Bowie. Read it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mart Allard

    I have been waiting for this book for months, and to be fair, I have to admitt that I'm listening to Bowie as I write this. If you're looking for it in the stores, it's important to note that it's no longer called "God and Man," which is, of course a quote from the song "Modern Love", but just "Bowie". I'm beginning to love this book, and I don't often love books about David Bowie. He's intensely private, and has never authorized a bio, so they are usually very dry and informative, as Nicholas Pe I have been waiting for this book for months, and to be fair, I have to admitt that I'm listening to Bowie as I write this. If you're looking for it in the stores, it's important to note that it's no longer called "God and Man," which is, of course a quote from the song "Modern Love", but just "Bowie". I'm beginning to love this book, and I don't often love books about David Bowie. He's intensely private, and has never authorized a bio, so they are usually very dry and informative, as Nicholas Pegg's book "The Complete David Bowie," or wildly inacurate and not very kind. So far, this book is kind. This book is acurate. It's already told me at least one thing that I didn't already know, which is pretty amazing in itself. Best of all, the author has included essays about the impact that Bowie has had on his life. So, while I'm not a fan of nonfiction as a rule, this is unfolding like a novel to me, with two characters. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Katie Glanz

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The content of this book was quite entertaining, but Spitz's style felt a little too dry and journalistic for my taste. No surprises here though, he is a music journalist, and he did a wonderful job writing precisely and informatively about Bowie and his influences, and the legions of musicians he has inspired. Spitz's personal antidotes concerning his experiences with the David Bowie persona are, for the most part amusing, however a few seem a little trite and random. Personally, I could have d The content of this book was quite entertaining, but Spitz's style felt a little too dry and journalistic for my taste. No surprises here though, he is a music journalist, and he did a wonderful job writing precisely and informatively about Bowie and his influences, and the legions of musicians he has inspired. Spitz's personal antidotes concerning his experiences with the David Bowie persona are, for the most part amusing, however a few seem a little trite and random. Personally, I could have done without the lengthy account of Bowie's childhood, but I do recognize that this is a must for any author who wants to expose the seeds of genius. The story became much more compelling when Spitz began describing the Bowie of the 1970's. Understandably, he seems to be much more enthusiastic about Bowie circa the Diamond Dogs era or Bowie as Ziggy Stardust. It was worth reading this 400 page plus book just for those juicy little revelations about Bowie and his 70's pals (Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, etc...) While Spitz wrote eagerly and positively about 70's Bowie, I was a little disappointed about some of his depictions of 80's Bowie. Yeah yeah yeah, the Labyrinth was cheesy, and yes, some of Bowie's 80's adventures were a little disastrous, but as someone raised on the Labyrinth (a masterpiece of set and costume design, and movie I still absolutely adore), I felt Spitz could have been a little gentler in his treatment of cheesy 80's Bowie--always and forever, my favorite Bowie.-- Also, just on a personal note. I cannot for the life of me fathom why Spitz kept referencing Camille Paglia. As a feminist, I think she is absolutely unbearable. I found her insensitive and ill-informed comments about gay activism especially distasteful. Overall, this was nicely written and extensive and detailed account of Bowie's life and music. I am so in the Bowie zone right now. All I really want to do for the next few days is watch Velvet Goldmine, The Hunger, and the Labyrinth, and listen to Low and Scary Monsters on repeat.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Donna Lyn

    I'm changing my review of this book. I stayed up way too late for too many nights reading this book but I could not put it down. Marc Spitz did an amazing job writing this book, I can't imagine the work he put into it. It is very detailed. I think the reason I was so compelled was because Bowie's rise to stardom was during my childhood and Bowie's music was played loud and often in my father's house (as was Pink Floyd and the Eagles). I was completely taken by Bowie back then and even today as I I'm changing my review of this book. I stayed up way too late for too many nights reading this book but I could not put it down. Marc Spitz did an amazing job writing this book, I can't imagine the work he put into it. It is very detailed. I think the reason I was so compelled was because Bowie's rise to stardom was during my childhood and Bowie's music was played loud and often in my father's house (as was Pink Floyd and the Eagles). I was completely taken by Bowie back then and even today as I watch his YouTube videos he is still ah-mazing. The book explained a lot of his journey which yes, I was one of those fans who felt abandoned when he put out the disco album, now I understand he was just evolving and recreating and ahead of his time once again. The whole drug thing like so many books I read just breaks my heart. It opens the door to creative song writing and genius yet just as quickly it seeks to kill, steal and destroy. Why people want to legalize the stuff is beyond me. It's not worth it...Bowie is one of the 'lucky' ones to have survived everything he's put his body through over the years. and we are lucky to still have him putting out great music.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    As compelling as Bowie is, this biography is not. It's more of a summation of interviews and speculation on Bowie, with occasional testimony from the very few people the author seemed to talk to. Writing wise, it's very "essay-like", with far too much personal input from the author and the phrase "One can imainge..." used excessively. So much of this bio is completely redundant as well (I do not need to know the life and childhood of David Bowie's roommate for half a year in 1968, thanks). Actua As compelling as Bowie is, this biography is not. It's more of a summation of interviews and speculation on Bowie, with occasional testimony from the very few people the author seemed to talk to. Writing wise, it's very "essay-like", with far too much personal input from the author and the phrase "One can imainge..." used excessively. So much of this bio is completely redundant as well (I do not need to know the life and childhood of David Bowie's roommate for half a year in 1968, thanks). Actual aspect of Bowie's life are glossed over (even the birth of his son accounted for just one paragraph, only to be mentioned max-five times more) and focused more on chronologically outlining his album releases and tours. Bowie: A Biography is more an extended wikipedia article written by a college student than a compelling, detailed biography.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dianna

    i thought this book would be more interesting -- it's BOWIE, man.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Malcolm Frawley

    This is not the first Bowie biog I have read, & it won't be the last (Paul Morley's The Age Of Bowie is in my to-read pile) but it is a compelling read for any fan, even those of us who already know a lot about the, in my opinion, 1 true genius of rock music. I loved Spitz's point of view. He is an unapologetic fan, though not a contemporary of Bowie, & his occasional brief interjections into his own life are both justified & illuminating. He has researched well with what appears to This is not the first Bowie biog I have read, & it won't be the last (Paul Morley's The Age Of Bowie is in my to-read pile) but it is a compelling read for any fan, even those of us who already know a lot about the, in my opinion, 1 true genius of rock music. I loved Spitz's point of view. He is an unapologetic fan, though not a contemporary of Bowie, & his occasional brief interjections into his own life are both justified & illuminating. He has researched well with what appears to have been long interviews with major players in the life of The Dame & thankfully avoids any sensationalism. The book was published in 2009 so misses The Next Day & Blackstar &, of course, the extraordinary out-pouring of worldwide grief that Bowie's death prompted. But it is an excellent addition to the canon. One quibble, & this has occurred in other biogs I have read, is that Bowie turns 40 on page 337 of a 402 page book. There are still over 20 years to go & that is crammed into the remaining pages. But highly recommended nonetheless.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Virginia

    I put off writing this review for a while for two reasons: both the author and the subject are dead, and that wounds me painfully every time I sit at my keyboard to write this review. I've had some time to put distance between me and Bowie's death, and I've really had most of my lifetime to work out my on-again off-again fandom with Bowie. But I was in the early stages of my relationship with Spitz and he reminded me so much of a friend of mine from graduate school whom I had recently lost, so l I put off writing this review for a while for two reasons: both the author and the subject are dead, and that wounds me painfully every time I sit at my keyboard to write this review. I've had some time to put distance between me and Bowie's death, and I've really had most of my lifetime to work out my on-again off-again fandom with Bowie. But I was in the early stages of my relationship with Spitz and he reminded me so much of a friend of mine from graduate school whom I had recently lost, so learning that Spitz was dead after I started this book was awful. There's so much of himself in this biography and there's so much of it that I identify with. So therein lies the tragedy. Spitz loved, loved, loved music with a gut-churning passion that I haven't seen since college if truth be told, and at 40 I miss that passion for art and music and creation, and then in Spitz's case, you die. Spitz's biography might not be the best or most complete Bowie biography, but it is deeply passionate, the most fanboy-driven biography, and truly the most American one out there. It is well-written and he did obtain candid interviews with Angela Bowie which give him a slightly different take on the women in Bowie's life, especially his early career, that we don't get in other sources. I read half of this book before visiting the David Bowie Is exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum and I was rather struck by the erasure of Angela Bowie's influence in Bowie's early career. Then I read the second half of Spitz's book which does conclude in 2009, but it's clear that Bowie was obsessed with the business of his legacy and controlling how it would be voiced and portrayed and his relationship with Angela was something that he completely erased throughout his life straight through to compiling his archives. Who's to say what the truth is but it really is interesting. I loved the book and there's so much I want to say about Bowie from it, about his early days, and those crazy but productive 70s. So. Much. Cocaine. About all his influences and all his business deals, what he learned and how he learned it. I was excited to read past the mid-80s and into the latter 80s and 90s because I hadn't read a Bowie bio since 1987. I didn't know how embittered he truly was by the Glass Spider tour, that he actually burned and bashed the three-story spider in a New Zealand field, but then years later wanted the prototype for his archives. That was a standout story of rock star excess and 80s excess without the numbing comfort of cocaine. Oh, sobriety! Spitz' chapters on Tin Machine and Bowie's collaborations with Trent Reznor gave me some better appreciation for that time period, though this part of the book did seem rushed. Source material was probably a little thinner, but the interviews here were quite good. And while the book ends with Bowie after his heart surgeries, it would have been a wonderful thing if Spitz had lived long enough to add those additional chapters to cover Bowie's final five years of productive work. Ah, well. It's August now. And I myself am thinking of Bowie, yes, but of Spitz and one of his famous August rituals as well: playing Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" at just the right moment: Turn on your TV and there are back-to-school commercials for school supplies (they are lining the drug store aisles as well). There’s pre-season NFL football... There’s really only one thing missing, and every year around this time, I wonder if it’s yet time to undergo a certain ritual. I say “around” this time, because it’s still a little too soon today, and will be so tomorrow. It can’t happen too late either, or it loses its poignancy. The timing has to be just right. It’s in my queue, but I have not and will not press play until something in my brain sparks: “This is it. Now.” And I play “The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley. It happens every year, some time between the horrible dog days of summer and Labor Day. I only play it once. It only requires about five minutes (four minutes and forty-seven seconds, to be precise). That’s enough for me. I really feel it, like almost no other song. I sing along. I cry. I hold my headphones to my ears with cupped hands, as tightly as I can. I obsess. Spitz loved listening to music like no other music writer. Like I miss Bowie, I will miss him, too.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    I was never a Bowie fan, but after finishing this book, I think I missed something. I followed the book with YouTube. As the songs were mentioned, I listened. The Dick Cavett Interview, the Bing Crosby Christmas special, the Ashes to Ashes video, the 1979 SNL (audio only), the prayer for Freddie Mercury -- all are priceless today, but in context of their time must have been striking. Bowie was far more than his punk/skinhead (or whatever the) image. He created a body of work ("Major Tom", Change I was never a Bowie fan, but after finishing this book, I think I missed something. I followed the book with YouTube. As the songs were mentioned, I listened. The Dick Cavett Interview, the Bing Crosby Christmas special, the Ashes to Ashes video, the 1979 SNL (audio only), the prayer for Freddie Mercury -- all are priceless today, but in context of their time must have been striking. Bowie was far more than his punk/skinhead (or whatever the) image. He created a body of work ("Major Tom", Changes, Heroes, Sold the World...) that will live beyond our times. Spitz's background as a writer/observer of the music industry for "Crawdaddy" comes through. His strength is his critic's knowledge of Bowie, his material, its creation, its marketing and its position in the development of popular music and the music industry. A good biography, however, is more than a series of reviews, events and career milestones. There is some attempt to interpret Bowie as a person, but for this, the book is disappointing. For instance the marriage to Angie is reportage when a biography calls for analysis. Bowie's relationship with his half brother is all but dropped. There is mention and dismissal, but no explanation, of the Nazi imagery that that has been associated with Bowie. There is a heavy reliance on interviews which seem to be cut and pasted in. Some seem to be there to prove a point Spitz wants to make. Some seem to be there because Spitz has them, not because of their significance. Some quotes, such as Angie on David's brother's death, are the sole analysis of what seem to be significant events. The interviews often have statements inserted as truths when they are opinions. For instance Spitz quotes Camille Pagila on p. 318 "anyone who is still a rebel in middle age is a fraud!" to support the idea that Bowie could not go on with his persona. Chapter 23 closes with Destri (of Blondie) saying that "that night, David Bowie opened the door to the eighties" to support the idea that Bowie was THE harbinger of the 80's. Sweeping statements aren't restricted to the interviews. On p. 332, Spitz, himself, says "All suicide is by definition a selfish act." Some of the photos don't fit the text. For instance, there is no photo of either Angie or Iman, but one of Elizabeth Taylor who doesn't really feature in Bowie's life or this book. Why is there a photo of Bowie in Moscow when this trip is hardly mentioned? Other photos seem to be publicity shots; they're interesting, but in a biography, more personal photos are expected. The author is at his best when he strays from the article writing genre. He made a good start with the background on Bowie's family and how the World War II formed not just the generations of the Bowie family, but also the conditions for the emergence of the rock and roll culture. Spitz lists an impressive number of Bowie biographies in his introduction. Some are rated very highly by Amazon reviewers, but if this is the one available to you, go ahead and read it. The story will hold your attention. I suggest readers read it like I did: with YouTube handy. It will be your own simulation of what is probably the future of the online book... the text with links instead of footnotes ... and will add to your reading experience.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    If you ask anyone who knows me, I'm a huge David Bowie fan. I was browsing my local library and saw this book and just had to pick it up. The only Bowie biography I'd read was his ex-wife's book about their history together called Backstage Passes. It was a pretty good read with a lot of Bowie's history, but it was (obviously) very biased. Marc Spitz's biography is an incredibly detailed story of David Bowie's life all the way from how his parents met up until his quiet life in the late 2000's. If you ask anyone who knows me, I'm a huge David Bowie fan. I was browsing my local library and saw this book and just had to pick it up. The only Bowie biography I'd read was his ex-wife's book about their history together called Backstage Passes. It was a pretty good read with a lot of Bowie's history, but it was (obviously) very biased. Marc Spitz's biography is an incredibly detailed story of David Bowie's life all the way from how his parents met up until his quiet life in the late 2000's. Of course Bowie just released his first album is a decade just this spring, so he's not quite finished with his career yet, even at 66 years old! Even if you're not a fan, you have do admit the man has had quite the career, almost completely reinventing himself every decade. David Bowie started out as David Jones in London. Even as a child, he knew he wanted to be a famous rock and roll star. Bowie wasn't one of those "instant stars" who was discovered one day out of the blue. He worked hard for a long time before he finally got recognition with his breakout song in the 1960's, "Space Oddity". Although most people recognize it today it actually wasn't a huge hit at first. Bowie probably wasn't considered a well-known rock star until he invented Ziggy Stardust in the early 70s at the onset of the glam rock movement. Of course he famously retired Ziggy after a few years and adopted several other onstage personalities over the rest of the 1970s (Halloween Jack, The Thin White Duke) and hit his biggest commercial success of his career in the 80s with the Let's Dance album. The 90s brought about a more experimental Bowie and he found some success collaborating with Trent Reznor and touring with Nine Inch Nails. People assumed his 2003 album, Reality, would be his last after he had emergency heart surgery and then stayed quiet until just a few months ago. This book was so in depth that it's probably not for anyone but Bowie fans. It's not what I'd call "light reading". However, if you're a fan this is a great biography (although I'd also recommend Angie Bowie's book for her interesting inside perspective).

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schwensen

    It’s very clear how much work the author put into researching this book. It seems he left no moon rock unturned or space capsule unexplored (thanks to Major Tom and Ziggy Stardust for the references). It wasn’t all smooth reading, but the parts that were – Bowie’s rise to fame and superstar status – seemed to breeze by at warp speed. Bowie is interesting and confusing. It’s what sets him apart from other rock stars of his generation. The author met the challenge of finding him in this book. But a It’s very clear how much work the author put into researching this book. It seems he left no moon rock unturned or space capsule unexplored (thanks to Major Tom and Ziggy Stardust for the references). It wasn’t all smooth reading, but the parts that were – Bowie’s rise to fame and superstar status – seemed to breeze by at warp speed. Bowie is interesting and confusing. It’s what sets him apart from other rock stars of his generation. The author met the challenge of finding him in this book. But after reading I still don’t feel I completely know who he is as a person and artist. But then again I doubt too many people outside of Bowie’s inner circle really do. The tone and depth of this book seems to change as much as Bowie’s on stage persona’s. The book deserves a five star rating when it goes into the Bowie legend and history, especially in his early days as an artist and his struggles and efforts to make it. Then it propels us into the heady days of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. And beyond through London, Berlin, Geneva, Los Angeles, New York… It’s Bowie and though he’s like a chameleon, the author gives us at least an understanding of him But the book becomes bogged down in attempting to dissect and understand Bowie’s artistry as a songwriter and performer. I thought it was distracting not only to mention every song on every album, but also a description of the music and suspected meanings. Okay, we can get that online just by doing a search for each particular song. As a reader I would have rather skipped the nonessential details and dig deeper into more about Bowie and how his life helped him develop these songs. Still I enjoyed it and for every Bowie fan this is an important read. A must read? That depends on how deep your fandom goes.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Findley

    I liked it because I like Bowie, but I didn't learn much more than a Wikipedia scan would've told me. The biggest advantage Spitz has over other biographers is that he wrote his after theirs, so he has the '90s and '00s to include, but then he doesn't do much with that time period, either. He just says "I didn't know anything about Iman before this book, turns out she did some stuff" about Bowie's iconic supermodel wife, and "I sure wish he'd make some more albums" about Bowie's movement away fr I liked it because I like Bowie, but I didn't learn much more than a Wikipedia scan would've told me. The biggest advantage Spitz has over other biographers is that he wrote his after theirs, so he has the '90s and '00s to include, but then he doesn't do much with that time period, either. He just says "I didn't know anything about Iman before this book, turns out she did some stuff" about Bowie's iconic supermodel wife, and "I sure wish he'd make some more albums" about Bowie's movement away from the spotlight in latter years. Spitz occasionally aims for larger themes of the Bowie legend and his influence on contemporary and later artists, but he does it in fits and starts that don't amount to much. I understand that he has a lot of ground to cover, but too often we fly through pivotal moments in Bowie's life and stick to studio productions, which isn't necessarily what I'm looking for in the story of a person's life. He does, however, cast new light on Bowie's early manager, Michael Pitt, and gives some much-needed balance to the Angela Bowie story, who is far more intelligent and interesting than other biographers or most Bowie fans give her credit for.

  14. 4 out of 5

    John Tessitore

    Marc Spitz is a critic, and critics are not the best biographers. Critics force themselves into opinions--personal opinions--that history can't always support. That's their job. But that's not a biographer's job. Despite this mismatch, Spitz does a very good job early in this biography of providing historical context for Bowie-related phenomena, moments of creativity that, even at their inception, seemed to emerge from nothing at all. Ziggy Stardust is only the most famous of these phenomena. As Marc Spitz is a critic, and critics are not the best biographers. Critics force themselves into opinions--personal opinions--that history can't always support. That's their job. But that's not a biographer's job. Despite this mismatch, Spitz does a very good job early in this biography of providing historical context for Bowie-related phenomena, moments of creativity that, even at their inception, seemed to emerge from nothing at all. Ziggy Stardust is only the most famous of these phenomena. As our story progresses, however, as it moves from a time period Spitz doesn't remember to one he does remember, the historian fades and the critic emerges. And the tone changes, as Spitz tries to explain why he doesn't like the later stuff as much as the early stuff. And this is treacherous ground for a biography, since the point of a Bowie biography is to explain why Bowie made the choices he made, not why Marc Spitz doesn't like those choices. Of course, Bowie didn't speak to Spitz about this book. Lots of other, peripheral characters did, and Spitz provides surprisingly detailed portraits of some bit players. But Bowie remains distant, even vague.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Gregarious cline

    A great linear look at Bowie's life up to 2003 when he "retired". A self professed fan, Spitz does a great job of keeping his own personality in the margins. A few intellectual suppositions (like how a theatrical costume shop across the street from his boyhood home could have triggered his flamboyance) can be forgiven as the research is flush with lots of input from those very close to Bowie and even those on the outer fringes (like M.Ward discussing his cover of "Let's Dance") add color and dim A great linear look at Bowie's life up to 2003 when he "retired". A self professed fan, Spitz does a great job of keeping his own personality in the margins. A few intellectual suppositions (like how a theatrical costume shop across the street from his boyhood home could have triggered his flamboyance) can be forgiven as the research is flush with lots of input from those very close to Bowie and even those on the outer fringes (like M.Ward discussing his cover of "Let's Dance") add color and dimension. For me the years leading up to Ziggy's breakout are the most revealing as I was only aware of his music from '64-'70, but not the perseverance and details of his commitment to his calling. Also it's interesting that Bowie was/is still a pioneer at heart after his hard driving ambition waned (his Bowie Bonds and his passion for the internet). (Recently I've decided to tighten up my grading, and gave this book 3 stars, which is really a 3.75 but I rounded up after writing this)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I didn't know anything about David Bowie, and now I know something about David Bowie. I think I did an okay job of not annoying my husband with Daily Bowie Facts, but it wasn't a great job, because . . . well . . . David Bowie was David Bowie and I am who I am. I can't really speak to the quality of the book, but I would call it a fairly readable survey that doesn't get too deep into anything before it rolls along the lengthy road of Bowie's career. The author injects little pieces of his life int I didn't know anything about David Bowie, and now I know something about David Bowie. I think I did an okay job of not annoying my husband with Daily Bowie Facts, but it wasn't a great job, because . . . well . . . David Bowie was David Bowie and I am who I am. I can't really speak to the quality of the book, but I would call it a fairly readable survey that doesn't get too deep into anything before it rolls along the lengthy road of Bowie's career. The author injects little pieces of his life into the narrative (appropriately set apart) to demonstrate the effects of Bowie on a person. Also, if you have a toddler, a fun game is to play "Find the Bowie" with the pictures. "Generally," you will condescend to him, "only one Bowie is permitted per image." Then, you will turn the page and find a photograph with three Bowies in it. You will decline to explain mirrors and optics to your three-year-old, hoping instead that he doesn't notice.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Anything written about David Bowie is going to be amazing. I mean, face it, he is the sexiest, most awesomely awesome and talented human to ever live, ever. This biography digs deep into his psyche, and his past, revealing about as much as we're ever going to get from a self-proclaimed spaceman freaking out in a moonage daydream.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    I love this man. David Bowie that is. The author is a SPIN magazine writer which means he is the sort of music elitist that makes you want to not like music anymore. And his book gave Bowie zero personality, c'mon this is Bowie!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Debra Komar

    3.5 stars, rounded up. It took me a month to wade through this book. Normally I tear through Bowie bios in a day or two but this one was dense. Great research, plodding delivery. Spitz loves Bowie like I love Bowie, so I forgive his excesses. Great photos - wish there were more.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    A fascinating and comprehensive look at one of my long term idols. I loved enriching the story by pulling up clips of referenced interviews and performances on YouTube. Skip the author's autobiographical notes.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Favorite line from the book: "Like losing your virginity, you can really only unleash your inner Bowie once."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    Alright, Veronica. Here we go... ;)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Birss

    I decided to do more than read this book. I used it instead as a skeleton guide for my first ever exploration of the late David Bowie's complete discography. This review contains my review of every one of his studio albums, followed by my ranking of my top ten favourites. As I read Marc Spitz' biography, I stopped frequently to read articles, contemporary and historic, about the events in the book. I watched, listened to, and read interviews with Bowie. I listened to every album as I reached it I decided to do more than read this book. I used it instead as a skeleton guide for my first ever exploration of the late David Bowie's complete discography. This review contains my review of every one of his studio albums, followed by my ranking of my top ten favourites. As I read Marc Spitz' biography, I stopped frequently to read articles, contemporary and historic, about the events in the book. I watched, listened to, and read interviews with Bowie. I listened to every album as I reached it in the book, and read the Wikipedia articles for each album, and their singles, after I listened. As a vehicle for discovering and appreciating Bowie, this was excellent. However, I also learned in all my extra reading and study that if I had only read the book, it would have been little more than satisfactory, if that. It got the job done, relaying fact after fact, event after event, but so did wikipedia, and without much missing that would otherwise be unique to the book. Had I not been determined to discover Bowie on my own, I doubt the book alone would have inspired me to do so. I understand there are better Bowie bios out there. Unless you are seeking the final one, and therefore possibly the most accurate and thorough, in which case this is the one, as this is the only advantage this book has over any other. But as for my discovery of Bowie, that was a blast. I was fully immersed, and have become a fan. As of my completion of this biography, and of Bowie's discography (for the first time) here are my thoughts on each of his studio albums (skipping Tin Machine and live albums), which I listened to in order, and then my favourite ten ranked upon my first exposure. ☠ David Bowie (the first one) Revolver crossed with Rubber Soul crossed with show tunes and novelty songs 3/10 - do not recommend David Bowie (Space Oddity) Folky guitar-based mildly experimental singer-songwriter music with triply lyrics. Some great moments, but it's an inconsistent album. 5/10 - listen to the title track, skip the rest if not a big Bowie fan The Man Who Sold the World Wow. Late/post Beatles hard rock by way of Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. These songs were written with the band, and they're so great. I hope to hear more like this in the rest of his stuff. Love it. Almost metal. 10/10 - highly recommended to any rock fan Hunky Dory Bowie hangs up the guitar and the band for a piano and some more singer-songwriter sounds. This album feels personal, like Bowie is seeking to figure out who he really is, and find his sound. On the way, he sings songs about his artistic heroes, while often sounding like Bob Dylan singing over Elton John accompanying him on the piano. A very radio friendly album after the hard rock of the last one. Saxophone. There's a dramatic and orchestral flair that both reminds me of the show tune sound of the first album and hints at what is to come. This album sounds unfortunately dated, like it had a shelf life, and was probably a lot fresher tasting when it came out. 6/10 - you've already heard a lot of these songs. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars David Bowie finally finds himself by becoming someone else. Besides Space Oddity (the single, not the album), this is the most David Bowie has sounded like David Bowie to me so far. This is his breakout album, so basically essential listening to anyone who wants to know Bowie. This is arena rock, unashamedly huge and theatrical and dark and dramatic and extreme. It sounds like the centre around which the previous four albums were all orbiting, and upon which they've finally landed. Major Tom went to space in the second album, met Ziggy, and then Ziggy took two albums to come down to meet us. Here he is. 8/10 - essential Bowie Aladdin Sane This is very much a follow up to Ziggy Stardust, audacious, theatrical, and huge. This is the first album where Bowie sounds like a rock star. It's even more of an arena rock sound than Ziggy. But this one is less consistent. This is rock star Bowie, as Ziggy, glamorous, trippy, rock and roll. Gorgeous cover. 7/10 - recommended to fans who want more Ziggy Pinups This album reminded me of Marilyn Manson. Like Manson, when Bowie covers other people's songs, he is suddenly very accessible and poppy, while still remaining himself. This album is made entirely of covers of Bowie's favourite Brit Pop songs from the mid sixties. Still in his Ziggy phase, the songs are distinctly glammed up. However, the sound of Ziggy is already beginning to show its fatigue in this album. It's cute and easy, lacking the edge of the last two albums. I loved the two tracks Emily Plays and Port of Amsterdam (the latter of which may not be on all versions of this album). The rest were interesting as a novel one time listen. 7/10 - if a song you recognize is on this album, check out Bowie's cover of it Diamond Dogs Here's a more straight ahead rock and roll album. It is still in the flavour of the Ziggy Stardust character's voice and being, but lacks the audacity and edge of Ziggy and Aladdin. These are the dregs, after the glam has been used up. It's safe. Still, as a concept album around Orwellian themes and 1984, it is worth a listen. I liked Sweet Thing, 1984, and Big Brother. 6/10 - recommended to fans of both Bowie and 1984 Young Americans This is the only album of David's discography that I'd ever listened to all the way through before embarking on this adventure through his musical history. It was given to me along with a pile of other albums from a friend's collection. I was always surprised by it, thinking Bowie didn't sound as I expected him to sound, nor look on the cover as I thought he looked. I now understand why. This is Bowie's unusual in-between album, linking his glam phase, in the voice of fabulous bisexual alien Ziggy Stardust, to his next major character, the Thin White Duke, robot fascist monster, and the Krautrock/art-rock phase that followed. Right here in the middle, he appears as himself, coolly smoking a cigarette on the cover, and then doing his best impression of funky sexy time music. Apparently, at this stage of his life, Bowie sounded more like himself when he appeared as a made up character. He didn't really ever sound like this again. 5/10 - recommended only to superfans of funk and soul Station to Station This is amazing. This album, which begins to experiment with electronic sounds, is audacious, creative, dark, and rich. I can hear the roots of goth rock a decade before its time. The lyrics are difficult to penetrate, without a hint of pretension. This album was born from the depths of Bowie's darkest moments, literally mad from hard drugs, especially cocaine. He was afraid of demons, seeking help from religion, mysticism, and the occult to free himself. This was the era in which he claimed to be a fascist, a place he went because he had been reading of the nazi's experiments with the occult and magic in his attempts to free himself from his own demons. The album is sung in the voice of the Thin White Duke, a fascist monster that so overwhelmed Bowie that he ended up cutting his ties and fleeing Los Angeles for Berlin to be free of the Duke, and the drugs and demons that came with him. Station to Station means the stations of the cross. This is the first of Bowie's albums that I went straight back to the beginning to listen through again as I listen through his discography. 10/10 - highly recommended, especially to musicians Low This is an excellent album. Between this and Station, I'm going to need to take a break and hang out in this era of Bowie's music before moving on. Both deserve thoughtful repeated listens. The two sides of the album are very different from each other. The A side is a dark and deep collection of moody electronic rock-pop songs. The B side is more experimental - swirling ambient tracks of depth and emotion. I would have preferred to hear the two sides combined into something more consistent, but may change my mind on repeated listens. This is the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno, Bowie's "Berlin Trilogy", during which he restarted his life and pulled himself out of addiction and near-psychosis. 9/10 - highly recommended, but after listening to Station to Station first "Heroes" I foolishly thought that the rich and beautiful experimentation of Low and Station could not be outdone. With this album, I believe Bowie has done it. Like Low, "Heroes" is an album split in two. Side A is classically vocalized songs, Side B moody atmospheric experimental sonic landscaping. I wonder as I listen to this album if the dichotomy is inspired by the split and walled city of Berlin in which it was recorded in 1977. Surely the minor tones and atmospheric sounds of planes flying overhead must come from this dreary environment. Bowie is nearly clean by this point, but his outer world could hardly be darker. The music, like the cover, is black and white, ironic like the quotation marks around the album's title, detached and frightening like the robotic figure Bowie makes in his portrait on the sleeve. Like Station, I hear goth rock, industrial, and metal influences here. His vocals are the best, and the most diverse, of any album so far, crooning, desperate, growling, pleading, and bold. This is not the first time I've thought this as I've listened through Bowie's musical history, but this album may be my favourite. 10/10 - listen to it, and then do it again Lodger Many call this one of Bowie's most underrated albums. I'm sorry to say I'll have to agree with the alleged underraters. While it doesn't sound completely out of place sonically from the first two albums in his Berlin trilogy, this one also sounds like perhaps Bowie has grown beyond it. Now free of drugs, he sounds it. While the moodiness of Low and "Heroes" and the dreariness of Station fit the place in which Bowie found himself both without and within, Lodger sounds like a man who has moved on, who may be downright happy, in fact, yet is still stuck in a previous musical incarnation. There is a lot of interesting experimentation here, just like the last three albums, but it all seems inappropriate, disjointed, incoherent, inconsistent. I like the forays into world music. As an album, despite its good points, it just doesn't grab me. 7/10 - recommended to Berlin Trilogy completists Scary Monsters . . . (and Super Freaks) If Lodger raised the tone significantly from the grim depths of Station, Scary Monsters does so even more. This is a highly listenable album, heavy when appropriate, and occasionally gruff in similar ways to the gruff tones of the last four albums. I enjoyed the album the most when it was the most aggressive. Ashes to Ashes is a great song. There are some places where Bowie uses his voice in ways I don't prefer, sort of a low Elvis-y swagger sound that I don't personally feel best matches his voice's natural sound. Bowie is sounding happier again, and seems to be creating an album for fun, for the fans, instead of something incredibly personal and introspective and dark like his recent works. He might just get you dancing. 8/10 - recommended to fans of underground 80s pop Let's Dance (See comment under review) Tonight This album is surprisingly bland and safe for Bowie, considering how edgy he was not long before. This is a boring, dated, cheesy album. David's voice is pretty. 5/10 - I'd rate it lower, but it is, at least, inoffensive Never Let Me Down I couldn't listen to this album all the way through. This is the first Bowie album for which this was the case. At least I found his first album interesting. This is painful. I listened to enough of each song to know I don't like it, and this is enough. Cheesy eighties pop garbage. 2/10 - don't even Black Tie White Noise This album is certainly better than Never Let Me Down, but that's hardly saying anything. At best, it sounds like Bowie is actually trying to do something creative with most of this album. Unfortunately, after the last two, that's kind of just digging himself out of a hole unless he completely reinvents himself again, which he does not. It's still pretty much dated pop rock, but with just a little more edge than his last two albums. In hindsight, it still mostly just sounds like old people music from the nineties. That this is the same time that Nirvana released their unplugged album, on which Cobain covered Bowie's Man Who Stole The World is just sad. How far he's fallen. 5/10 - don't bother, unless you have to hear everything Bowie. The Buddha of Suburbia Better than Black Tie White Noise, but not great. This is Bowie being experimental again. I enjoyed the single Strangers When We Meet. He seems to still be digging himself out of the pop adult-contemporary hole he somehow found himself in. Still, instead of sounding groundbreaking and new like Bowie at his best, this sounds like an album of its time, but with some interesting ideas layered on top. 6/10 - there isn't anything here that you can't hear done much better in the Berlin trilogy Outside I liked this album. But, I must admit - I wanted to like this album. This is Bowie once again collaborating with Brian Eno, with whom he's created some of my favourite Bowie albums so far. He toured this album with Nine Inch Nails, an important band in my teenage musical awakening. And, as I intended before I even heard the first note, with only a little extra effort, I did enjoy this experimental, industrial, concept album. Admittedly, it's probably as dated as the four albums before it that I panned for their dated sound, the difference only being that this captures a date for which I personally feel nostalgia. And even wanting to like it, I heard some cringe-worthy moments of cheese. But there is some brilliance to this album as well, that I haven't discerned so clearly since Scary Monsters or even before. Also, this album is long at seventy-five minutes. I think there is a forty minute album contained within its sprawling length that could be considered among Bowie's best. Also, Bowie and Eno have both said that there was a lot of recording for this album left on the cutting room floor. From the sounds of it, if Bowie ends up getting the post-death album release treatment that Tupac, Cash, and other legends have received, this could be the album from which the scraps are gathered for those releases. If that is so, I would not complain. This is my guilty pleasure Bowie album. 8/10 - recommended to fans of nineties industrial rock and metal Earthling And here's another genre album, in which Bowie once again sounds like he is trying to remain relevant by playing music that young people seem to be into right now. This could probably be said of Outside as well, but I love industrial rock, while I do not like Jungle. Earthling is Jungle and Drum and Bass, and it makes this album sound like an opportunistic slice of 1997. To be fair, Jungle is probably also less forgiving a genre than Industrial, since it was merely a blip on the historical music scene, while Industrial music has had a much longer shelf life. Outside was also a great deal more risky and experimental, where this album sounds like everything else from the era. I'm Afraid of Americans was a breakout hit from this album, and is still fun to hear. Mostly this album just sounds embarrassingly like an old person trying to sound cool. 5/10 - recommended only to superfans of Jungle Hours The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell was the only song on this album that I could stand to listen to all the way through. This doesn't mean the song was good. It just wasn't painfully bad, or mind-numbingly boring. I can imagine that being a Bowie fan in the nineties must have been incredibly frustrating. He seems to have fits and starts of new ideas and musical directions, but never really takes any of them to completion. It's all so inconsistent. Eck. I think you might call Hours adult contemporary radio rock. How he got here from Industrial and Jungle is anyone's guess. At least this album was better than Never Let Me Down. It had a listenable track on it. Otherwise, it's sad and embarrassing. 3/10 - just don't Heathen This album finally sounds like grown up, old man Bowie being comfortable in his own saggy, aged skin. It's a straight ahead album of songs, with structure and melodies, creative but not necessarily experimental. However, the sound of grasping for relevance that seems to have haunted every album since Let's Dance is gone. Bowie is just being an artist again, writing good music, without needing to affect any sort of edginess or shock to keep our attention. With this laying down of arms, he's picked up a relevance he'd lost in all his grasping for it. Released in 2002, there is a haunting beauty to the album, a chilling sonic painting of the emotion of this uncertain time of war and fear after 9-11. Though it didn't surprise or grab me with its brilliance like some of his best work from the seventies, it is a welcome return to form. I think this is one that will grow on me, getting better with every listen. 8/10 - worth a careful listen, especially for those who remember 2002, and are familiar with Bowie's albums from the seventies. Reality Reality is a worthwhile follow up to Heathen, old man Bowie being himself, writing good, straight ahead melodies. Like Heathen, he finally sounds fully like himself again. It's interesting enough to listen through, and I did enjoy it. It wasn't boring, fluffy, or irritating like most of his music from the nineties. However, if it were not for the goodwill Bowie has earned with me for his brilliant work in the seventies, I don't think I'd give this album the fair listen it deserves. It just isn't the sound for me, any much more than Heathen is, really. Heathen did, however, have an eery quality of capturing something in the air from its time and place, while I don't sense that same immediacy from this album. 7/10 - this album is enough to satisfy Bowie fans, if not reaching the brilliance of his earlier records The Next Day This surprising album came out ten years after Reality. It's straight ahead rock, very beautiful, occasionally timely, and skillfully produced. This is another Visconti production, like Heathen and Reality. I wish I had been a fan when it came out, because it would have been such a wonderful surprise. Though most comparable to Reality and Heathen, I think it's fair to really listen to this album as of its own era. This is very old man Bowie, back from retirement, and he still has it. The videos for this album are beautiful, challenging, and creatively done. Love is Lost (the short version) was shot by Bowie himself, and features the Thin White Duke as an eery wooden puppet. Valentine's Day explores the psyche of a disturbed shooter, probably young, and the simple video really shows Bowie off for the charismatic performer he still is. Great album. One of my favourites. A very welcome surprise. 9/10 - highly recommend ★ (Blackstar) This is my favourite Bowie album since Station to Station. It's Jazz electronic art rock sonic experimentation. It's Radiohead, Björk, or Bon Iver, with saxophone, Bowie's first instrument. It's a painting with sound. It is the voice of an artist singing to us from beyond the grave. It is music from the future. Between this album and The Next Day, I feel Bowie's had the opportunity to perfectly cap off an amazing career, and have a last word on it all. 10/10 - strongly recommend ☠ Here are my favourite Bowie albums, ranked, as of July 14, 2016. 10 - Heathen 9 - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars 8 - Scary Monsters . . . and Super Freaks 7 - Outside 6 - The Next Day 5 - The Man Who Sold The World 4 - "Heroes" 3 - Low 2 - ★ 1 - Station to Station

  24. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    Book 18 of my #2017readingchallenge was begun three weeks ago but due to guests and length (it's 402 pages) and hell, it's about a human I'm fascinated by, so this took forever. So where to begin? I ordered this book because the author was a friend of a friend who just passed away. In fact, MANY people I knew, knew him. New York is a small town, and it gets smaller when you hang with writers and rockers. This book is comprehensive. The extent of coverage of 60s to 70s Bowie is INTENSE. Granted it Book 18 of my #2017readingchallenge was begun three weeks ago but due to guests and length (it's 402 pages) and hell, it's about a human I'm fascinated by, so this took forever. So where to begin? I ordered this book because the author was a friend of a friend who just passed away. In fact, MANY people I knew, knew him. New York is a small town, and it gets smaller when you hang with writers and rockers. This book is comprehensive. The extent of coverage of 60s to 70s Bowie is INTENSE. Granted it is when he became ⚡Bowie⚡. The 80s into present day kind of steamrolls through, and probably rightfully so. I guess that's for the best. The big complaint I have though is the editing - there are typos that needed to be cut. That's not on the author, that's on the editor. Otherwise, I don't feel like I know Bowie more... Or at all. It is a very outside-looking-in biography. There are very brief moments of Spitz talking about his own Bowie fandom, which was great, it really added a lovely layer to the book. And as he says by page 400, "there is no getting Bowie right, really." There is no more time with either Spitz or Bowie though, which is a shame. RIP

  25. 5 out of 5

    Chris Hoff

    Bottom line, I liked this book. It was a good read. It pulled back the curtain, somewhat, on Bowie's life. But, I don't feel I went away knowing anything more about him than I did before. This book was written by a rock journalist. And it's written like a rock journalist had written it. There's way to much of a focus on providing album reviews. But I felt somewhat empty when it came to really getting at what makes David Bowie tick.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Tanya

    I've finally finished this behemoth of a book. I have a lot of thoughts about it but over all I just want to say that I loved it. It captured Bowie and his surrounds in a new way and covered his character flaws and mistakes while still respecting him as a person. This book really captures the writing of a true bowieist and the last few pages of the novel, the author final note, left me close to tears. Fantastic book even if it was dense at times, it was worth every chapter.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Pattyb

    It has to be difficult to write a boring book about David Bowie. This is one. I’ve read other rock n roll bios and enjoyed them a great deal (Rolling Stones, Beatles). This one seemed too interested in the authors opinions of each album and song rather than deeper insights to Bowie’s life. A few good bits, but it would be impossible to not have a couple with David Bowie! Couldn’t wait to finish this and move on. There has to be better on this subject!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Depietro

    Bowie is off course a musical genius and his origin story has been well documented. This is also one of the final books by Marc Spitz who knew how to write about Rock n Roll. They both will be missed!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dan Roche

    Fine. Like so many Bowie autobiographies, there's seemingly no center here. We never really get a sense of his inner life. He remains somewhat enigmatic. Gertrude Stein's Oakland.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    It's a bit strange, that the writer can write so many pages about Bowie and only slightly mention, that he might at some point have taken a bit to many drugs.

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