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24 March, 2008

Sound and vision

David Bowie has been a staple of 'the soundtrack of my life' (ahem; horrible phrase) – I've been aware of the man for as long as I've been aware of any pop stars, and I 'properly' encountered his material at about the same time as I developed an interest in music.

However, one of my (nominal) housemates at university, another in my first house in Lancaster and two of my current friends were always more interested than me, and I didn't actually own a Bowie album myself until H. gave me a 'best of' compilation last week.

It contains 39 tracks, theoretically representative of the range of Bowie's music over the first 33 years of his almost 40-year recording career (biased towards the more commercial material, naturally), but I'd only choose to copy 13 to my iPod, and only really like seven. Eleven are from the first eight years, two are from the Eighties and I kind of like a quirky Nineties track which would probably be better described as 'The Pet Shop Boys, feat. David Bowie'. Of the rest, I dislike half a dozen or so, and find the rest dreadfully samey. All credit to him for finding a coherent, characteristic sound and sustaining it, but I'm not sure whether it was ever truly novel, and, apart from superficial instrumentation and presentation, it hasn't exactly progressed for decades.

As I say, his music has always been there, so I'm surprised to find there'd have been little net difference to me if he'd retired in 1977.

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