Since the beginning of the band’s existence, in both songwriting and appearance, it was clear that the Jam owed an incredible amount of debt to the My Generation era of the Who. From their impeccable covers of “Disguises” and to their preference for to appear in stylish Mod dress at all times, the Jam could very much have been considered the most authentic representation of true British punk in the late 1970’s, especially when considering their relative lack of success in the States. Where the Sex Pistols and the Clash (among others) became well-known ambassadors of the UK’s version of the genre, it was the Jam’s well-honed mixture of stylistic complexity and Weller’s witty, satirical lyrics a la Ray Davies, that the Jam were perhaps too smart to be the kind of punk that people expected.
But where they didn’t quite fit in with the rest, they excelled as a class of their own. But in one song in particular, the band shows that they’re perfectly fine being aligned with the older guard of British rockers, by being able to build upon their concepts and techniques and create something for the young gobbers to ponder to while they pogo.
After the Jump: Addressing an tired old theme for a new generation of mods and rockers alike.
David Bowie will never have a ‘last album.’ Sure, in terms of time and effort, there may be a few more left in his corporeal being, but he’s the kind of dude who’s entire body of even half-hearted demos can last the demanding public centuries of musical debate. And that’s the other thing: when you’ve had a career as storied, legendary, and ever-changing as his, how do you cap it all off? It’s an impossible task, and I certainly wouldn’t ask him to.
But what to make of this J.D. Salinger-esque reclusiveness in terms of creative output, besides his many film and television cameos and the occasional word with the press? To, suddenly, release an album out into the world with barely a month’s worth of advance notice, with two music videos to appear prior to the album’s full release, and with a cover virtually irreverent to the man’s own body of work? That cover should be the stuff of debates, given the music on the record and its own presentation of a sort of in-joke, as if the input after Heroes wasn’t worth remembering, and this is exactly what was supposed to follow.
The Next Day doesn’t quite follow that blueprint, though the cover certainly influences it. You can’t say this is the return of Ziggy, or the Thin White Duke, or any other variation of Bowie you can think of. In fact, it simply is The Next Day, but what that says — either as comment on the past or a continuation of Bowie’s impressive oveur — doesn’t matter as much as media types want to have you believe. Yet, I can’t help but feel like there was a twinge of frustration with this record, a need to just release something, just to move on past the speculation about what Mr. Bowie’s been doing all this time.
After the jump, David Bowie takes us to some very familiar territories via strange routes.
Posted in Album Review, Classic Rock, Record Release, Whisky Tango Foxtrot.
Tagged album reviews, classic rock, David Bowie, glam rock, Heroes, Hunky Dory, Low, new album, The Next Day, The Spiders from Mars, Ziggy Stardust, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars