Reality (Dual Disc)

Reality (Dual Disc)

4.6 3
by David Bowie
     
 

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Much as Low and Lodger reflected David Bowie's surroundings in Berlin, Reality follows 2002's Heathen in documenting the singer's settling into adulthood -- if not altogether into middle age -- as a New Yorker and a family man. Relatively spare in construct and dominatedSee more details below

Overview

Much as Low and Lodger reflected David Bowie's surroundings in Berlin, Reality follows 2002's Heathen in documenting the singer's settling into adulthood -- if not altogether into middle age -- as a New Yorker and a family man. Relatively spare in construct and dominated by straight-ahead guitar songs, the disc has its moments of melancholy ("Fall Dog Bombs the Moon") and warm contentment (the spangly "Days of My Life"), all of which seem connected by Bowie's desire to present himself, in contrast to his persona-hopping of past decades, as just a regular guy. For the most part, he's successful in doing just that: The ballad "The Loneliest Guy in the World" (not nearly as morose a tune as the title suggests) is as open as anything he's ever done, while the wispy "New Killer Star" (a musing on September 11th) reveals a surprisingly empathetic streak. Dating back to his earliest days, documented on Pin-Ups, Bowie's had a knack for cleverly choosing cover songs and smartly refashioning them in his own image. Here, the singer revamps a pair of distinctly different ditties, cloaking Jonathan Richman's snotty, postadolescent plaint "Pablo Picasso" in cocked-eyebrow detachment and then peeling back that attitude for a spare version of George Harrison's "Try Some Buy Some." Think of Reality as a portrait -- or, more accurately, a short film -- of an artist still finding himself after all these years.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Instead of being a one-off comeback, 2002's Heathen turned out to be where David Bowie settled into a nice groove for his latter-day career, if 2003's Reality is any indication. Working once again with producer Tony Visconti, Bowie again returns to a sound from the past, yet tweaks it enough to make it seem modern, not retro. Last time around, he concentrated on his early-'70s sound, creating an amalgam of Hunky Dory through Heroes. With Reality, he picks up where he left off, choosing to revise the sound of Heroes through Scary Monsters, with the latter functioning as a sonic blueprint for the album. Basically, Reality is a well-adjusted Scary Monsters, minus the paranoia and despair -- and if those two ingredients were key to the feeling and effect of that album, it's a credit to Bowie that he's found a way to retain the sound and approach of that record, but turn it bright and cheerful and keep it interesting. Since part of the appeal of Monsters is the creeping sense of unease and its icy detachment, it would seem that a warmer, mature variation on that would not be successful, but Bowie and Visconti are sharp record-makers, retaining what works -- layers of voices and guitars, sleek keyboards, coolly propulsive rhythms -- and tying them to another strong set of songs. Like Heathen, the songs deliberately recall classic Bowie by being both tuneful and adventurous, both hallmarks of his '70s work. If this isn't as indelible as anything he cut during that decade, that's merely the fate of mature work by veteran rockers. So, Reality doesn't have the shock of the new, but it does offer some surprises, chief among them the inventive, assured production and memorable songs. It's a little artier than Heathen, but similar in its feel and just as satisfying. Both records are testaments to the fact that veteran rockers can make satisfyingly classicist records without resulting in nostalgia or getting too comfortable. With any luck, Bowie will retain this level of quality for a long time to come.

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Product Details

Release Date:
02/08/2005
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0827969074329
catalogNumber:
90576

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

David Bowie   Primary Artist,Synthesizer,Guitar,Percussion,Keyboards,Baritone Saxophone,Background Vocals,Stylophone
Earl Slick   Guitar
Mike Garson   Piano
David Torn   Guitar
Gail Ann Dorsey   Background Vocals
Sterling Campbell   Drums
Matt Chamberlain   Drums
Catherine Russell   Background Vocals
Tony Visconti   Bass,Guitar,Keyboards,Background Vocals
Gerry Leonard   Guitar
Mark Plati   Bass,Guitar
Mario J. McNulty   Percussion,Drums

Technical Credits

David Bowie   Composer,Producer
George Harrison   Composer
Jonathan Richman   Composer
Tony Visconti   Producer,Engineer
Rex Ray   Illustrations
Bill Jenkins   Engineer
Brandon Mason   Engineer
Mario J. McNulty   Engineer

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