1.Outside was unashamedly baffling in parts, especially to casual listeners of music, and Earthling as well would be unashamedly experimental but is probably the more accessible album of the two albums mentioned.
SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET: EARTHLING (1997)
I really like Earthling. It is a product of Cool Britannia, a movement which was very strong for most of the mid 90’s. As many good David Bowie albums do, it is building on sounds and ideas that have been introduced in previous albums. Earthling is still strongly in the category of Industrial rock, a sound that you can hear in Outside, but builds on it with sounds that were very popular at this period of time, such as drum and bass, Britpop, as well as jungle and techno. In parts of this album, you would be quite correct in stating that this is the sort of music you’d hear at an underground rave, and you’d be right in that assumption.
I really love the song Seven years in Tibet. It is a hard rock masterpiece. The lyrics are quite dark, which matches well with the rather menacing instrumentation, which sounds a lot like an early song by Gorillaz. David Bowie is so good, he plagiarised the sound of Gorillaz a full two years before Gorillaz even existed. Thematically, this song is probably one of Bowie’s most extrovertedly political songs, with Bowie’s interest in Tibet going way back to the 60’s.
Doing some research in preparation for writing this post, I found a post from a fellow WordPress blogger, bowiesongs, who has gone through every track that Bowie has written, and they write some very detailed posts on the topic. Bowie had been interested in the Tibetan conflict since the 1960’s, and clearly, never let it go. In interviews from around the time the album was released, he said:
When you’re kind of young and idealist we were protesting the invasion of Tibet by China. And thirty years later they’re still there. Nothing has really moved. And more than anything else it was the lectures that the Dalai Lama has been doing over the last couple of years that really prodded me a bit. Made me feel quite guilty that I’ve known about this situation quite well and quite intimately for many, many years—that I hadn’t actually come out and made my stance on what I feel about it. So I guess that song in a way was to make some kind of amends.
– DAVID BOWIE, 1997
He wrote the song, and it is bloody great. The album is one which I would recommend to all listeners because it has a bit of everything in it that I think any listener will pick out something they like I must give mention to the blog post that I have used for my research, which is Bowie Songs. I know for serious fans of Bowie that my posts are really just casual recommendations for casual listeners who want to dig deep into Bowie’s musical catalogue. Bowie Songs goes deeper than I ever could in discussing Bowie songs, as they cover every song. Bowie Song’s blog post has been linked here.