David Bowie – Blackstar
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David Bowie was a legend. From grandiose musical statements, to shocking performances, to outlandish outfits, to believable disappearances, one of our planet’s most mysterious individuals was no doubt one of the greatest of all time. That’s often the case when talking about someone that was truly one of a kind. Beginning with Space Oddity, Bowie’s time on our planet was, indeed, out of this world and ahead of its time. What should’ve been yet another experimental next step after 2013’s lovely The Next Day, became the Starman’s last words, and they’re all the more powerful because of it.
What’s fascinating about Black Star isn’t necessarily Bowie himself. A masterwork of sonics and saxes, the album is truly fantastic and will be a hell of a bar to be measured by in the months to come as 2016 just gets rolling. But what becomes evident as each track beams down from the great black bliss is just how great Bowie’s impact on our modern musical world really has ben, and that goes way beyond the obvious Dark Side of the Moon-era Pink Floyd tenor saxophone comparisons. Look at last year’s best albums. Would “Tis a Pitty She Was a Whore” sound out of place on Wilco’s lovable space-channeling Star Wars? What about The Arcs’ way-out-o-sphere bending Yours, Dreamily? Sue (Or in a Season of Crime’s) chilling bass groove would fit right in. And I’ll be damned if Blur’s Magic Whip doesn’t sound like it came from the exact same stratosphere as “Girl Loves Me.” Bowie’s influence is clear with every note.
Of course, no mere mortal can match Bowie when it comes down to hyperspace riding bliss. The epic title track (which is at least three songs in one) will be unmatched not only this year, but for the rest of time. And the gentle strumming on “Girl Loves Me” would sound like a run-of-the-mill singer-songwriter anthem ala Ed Sheeran without Bowie’s starry production and quivering voice. But it’s when Bowie sounds the most human on the sorrowfully titled “I Can’t Give Everything Away” that he steals the show from even himself with a stirring, Springsteen-esque undercurrent as Earth’s most extraterrestrial Rock Star beams back up into the Heavens, floating away to conquer whatever waits for him next beyond the stars.