iSelectby David Bowie
Originally available as a free CD included in the June 29, 2008, edition of British newspaper Mail on Sunday and re-released by EMI due to popularity, iSelect is a compilation of 12 songs from David Bowie's catalog that were personally selected by Bowie. Strangely, besides the classic "Life on Mars?" (and the lesser-known single "Loving the Alien"), most of the cuts are not the expected big hits. Instead, he chose his favorite tracks of his career, obscure as they might be, including the melodramatic nine-minute trilogy "Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing" from Diamond Dogs, the post-punk screwball "Repetition" from Lodger, and the sultry and soulful sax ballad "Win" from Young Americans. Bowie's picks were rationalized in an article that accompanied the newspaper release of the CD, where he casually penned his inspirations for the songs and the recording processes behind them. Fortunately, EMI's updated jewel-case version includes Bowie's explanations included in the liner notes to provide some insight. For "Teenage Wildlife" he notes, "So it's late morning and I'm thinking, 'New song and a fresh approach. I know, I'm going to do a Ronnie Spector. Oh yes I am. Ersatz just for one day.' And I did and here it is. Bless. I'm still very enamoured with this song and would give you two "'Modern Love'"s for it anytime...." Fans will likely find this commentary interesting, just as they will probably appreciate the new revamped version of "Time Will Crawl" from Never Let Me Down with live drums and strings, and the unreleased "Some Are," an outtake from the Low sessions with Brian Eno. Newcomers who have already perused the greatest-hits collections may find this a worthy stepping stone before getting lost in his lengthy discography.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsDavid Bowie Primary Artist,Vocals
Sterling Campbell Strings
Robert Chausow Strings
Matt Goeke Strings
Krista Bennion Feeney Strings
Martha Mooke Strings
Technical CreditsDavid Bowie Arranger,Producer,Liner Notes,Audio Production,Track Notes
Mick Ronson Arranger
Ken Scott Producer,Engineer,Remixing,Audio Production
Derek Bramble Producer
Keith Harwood Engineer
Harry Maslin Producer
Mike Moran Engineer
Hugh Padgham Producer,Engineer
Tony Visconti Producer
Gregor Kitzis String Arrangements
Eric Stephen Jacobs Cover Photo
David Richards Producer
Mario J. McNulty Engineer
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My admiration and devotion to David Bowie has grown throughout my years. From his '80s pop years of "putting on the red shoes and dancing the blues" through his aggro nights of Outside, the Nine Inch Nails-inspired "Hearts Filthy Lesson" and his Earthling jungle-filled days of "Little Wonder," all the way to my personal theme "Never Get Old" from Reality. The deeper I dig inside the canon of one David Bowie the more treasures I discover. The man is one of the most prolific singer/songwriters of our modern generation. What makes Bowie stand out is his chameleon-esque nature, as he incorporates post-modern rhythms and styles with his own personal artistic charm, and the results are constantly simply dazzling.
I'd love to say that I'm reviewing a new Bowie album but alas this is not the case. Instead, I just came across this compilation, yet another one, his twentieth, or¿ oh who knows I stopped counting after his last Best Of. But before I start going off on my clichéd diatribe about legendary artists releasing yet another hits album, I have to stop myself because iSelect is a different breed of compilation.
First released as a complimentary gift when purchasing the June 29th, 2008 edition of British's newspaper The Mail, iSelect, is a collection of songs personally chosen by Bowie himself. This is not a greatest hits per se, but in Bowie's own words, "I've selected twelve songs that I don't seem to tire of. Few of them are well-known but many of them still get sung at my concerts."
iSelect starts off with the very timely "Life on Mars." (I must quickly add that for years I have wrongly mis-titled this one "Life is Mars." Once again, my bad but doesn't change the connotation of song making it more cosmically mysterious. Maybe it's just me, I'm weird like that.) Alas, "Mars" is a song that Bowie frequently revisits in his live shows. It spawned a BBC hit series that has now debut in an American incarnation that takes the title of Bowie songs (watch the American version, it's worthy of Bowie's song name).
Another one of the most requested songs, a perfect addition to iSelect, is "The Bewlay Brothers." "Lady Grinning Soul" is one of my newfound beloved Bowie songs. This is a majestic one featuring the magical piano stylings of Mike Garson. Written for "a wonderful young girl whom I have not seen in over thirty years¿a song¿close to the past¿that you can almost reach out and touch it." I adore the flamenco guitar strings over Garson's piano keys.
Is it just me or does "Teenage Wildlife" sound a little like "Heroes?" This is Bowie's attempt at Ronnie Spector. Listen to the dueling guitars by Robert Fripp and Carlos Alomar; simply splendid.
The rare find for all Bowie fanatics is the inclusion of the "Time Will Crawl (MM remix)." iSelect is essential for the Bowie diehard in your life. He may change his guises but Bowie will remain the great one with the voice that will shine for me and all of us, beyond rhythms and all times.
Adrian Ernesto Cepeda