TO Reeves Gabrels, the ’80s superstar years of his friend and collaborator David Bowie were a period of unlikely but essentially enlightening transformation. “He wasn’t a pop star,” he tells Rob Hughes in this month’s cover story. “He just happened to be able to make some pop records every now and then. That’s how he kept the machine running. But he was an artist. The function of entertainment is to make you feel good; the function of art is to make you feel.”
Gabrels is one of the numerous Bowie confidants and co-conspirators Rob spoke to as part of his fascinating deep trawl of the artist’s most contentious decade. There is further wisdom and insight from Carlos Alomar, Peter Frampton, Nile Rodgers and others, many of whom argue that this period was fundamentally necessary in shaping the work that followed: as vital a part of Bowie’s legacy, in its way, as his storied ’70s.
You’ll hopefully have noticed by now that to complement Rob’s story we’ve gifted a pair of Bowie art prints – including one exclusive, previously unseen image.
And forgive us if it feels a little like Christmas has come early, but this month’s free CD has been specially curated for us by Sub Pop co-founder Jonathan Poneman. As his label celebrates its 30th anniversary, he’s assembled a sampler featuring 15 of the label’s excellent current artists – including Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Luluc, Low, Sleater-Kinney, J Mascis, Afghan Whigs and Iron & Wine.
Elsewhere, we pay tribute to the legendary Aretha Franklin, take you behind the scenes of John Lennon’s landmark Imagine album and reveal Led Zeppelin at work and at play in their pomp, while, on the first anniversary of his death, Tom Petty’s most trusted lieutenants recall good times with their beloved bandleader. There are more new interviews with Connan Mockasin, John Grant, David Crosby, Cat Power, Stereolab, Blondie, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Family.
As you’ll have gathered, it’s been a busy month for us. We hope you find plenty to enjoy here.