Bowie rises, for one last time
Album of the Week VARIOUS/DAVID BOWIE Lazarus Cast Album ★★★★ ISO/RCA
Ten months after the death of David Bowie, and we’re left with what exactly? Apart from a cultural void, he has bequeathed us an amazing final album ( Blackstar) as well as
Lazarus, a work of musical theatre that began life off-Broadway last December. (It opens at London’s King Cross Theatre on November 8th; previews from October 25th.)
Written with Cork playwright Enda Walsh, Lazarus was intended as a sequel to Bowie and Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 film The Man Who Fell
to Earth. Bowie’s ill health may have prevented him from appearing in the stage production, but his prints are all over the cast album.
The first of two discs is the 19-track stage soundtrack, recorded on January 11th, hours after Bowie died. There are versions of The Man Who Sold the World, Life on Mars, Changes, Where Are We Now, Sound and Vision, Heroes and All the Young Dudes. The songs are pulled out of recognisable shape by actors Michael C Hall, Cristin Milioti and Sophia Anne Caruso, but also invested with a sparser, weirder kind of theatrical bent that is suitably audacious.
Disc two comprises four songs: Lazarus (from Blackstar) and three that, we are told, constitute Bowie’s final ever recordings. Written for the musical and recorded at the same time as Blackstar (with the same terrific art-jazz band and producer Tony Visconti), they allude to death while maintaining the songwriter’s sense of the abstract. Translation: if you’re searching for real clues in the lyrics, search elsewhere.
That the songs are as good as anything on Bowie’s swansong is clear: Killing a Little Time nods smartly to multilimbed jazz-rock
and When I Met You is blessed with a bracing chorus and controlled tune. No Plan, meanwhile, is a truly sublime ballad/torch song – a real Bowie knockout.
It seems there is still, against all the odds, something in the air. davidbowie.com