David Bowie Henry Edwards - Essay

Henry Edwards

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Of all the known glitter-rockers, David Bowie has the most significant writing talent. David's orange hair, pale makeup, outer-space mode of dressing, and self-confessed bisexuality have tended to obscure his genuine musical talents. He is unquestionably a master craftsman. He can write a genuine melody and a shrewd lyric, and he is thoroughly schooled in the art of arranging and record-producing.

These talents have been dissipated by Bowie on a series of immature fantasies dealing with a comic-book tomorrow land. "Aladdin Sane" however is a different story. This new release is a cruel report about the America the superstar saw during his first tour of the country. It is a collection of pessimistic, nagging, unpleasant images that have the power to depress and depress thoroughly. Accompanying these fragmentary lyrics are a series of Bowie's most dissonant, erratic, and unhinging melodies. Ultimately, "Aladdin Sane" palls because it is so unrelenting and so single-minded. In addition, Bowie has always worked too quickly, with no attention to rewrite, and has been content to gloss the surface without exploring the implications of his perceptions. "Aladdin Sane" cries out for depth; I can only hope that, as Bowie matures, his work will too. There is great promise here; it deserves to be developed. (p. 97)

Henry Edwards, "Rock and Rouge: Will the Glitter-Rock Phenomenon Take Over the Pop-Music Scene?" in High Fidelity (copyright © by ABC Leisure Magazines, Inc.; all rights reserved; excerpted by permission), Vol. 23, No. 10, October, 1973, pp. 95-7.∗