Bowie rises, for one last time

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - TONY CLAY­TON-LEA

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

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