Between 2004 and 2013, David Bowie was a virtual recluse. He no longer toured, he had not released a new album of original songs in almost a decade. I remember I was watching the news one night in my room, and Bowie’s picture popped up on the screen. He had released a new song.
DIRTY BOYS: THE NEXT DAY (2013)
The song in question was, of course, ‘Where are we now?’ And when I got my copy of the album as a birthday present, I made sure I asked for the deluxe edition. This really was the first Bowie album that I was able to appreciate and listen to as a piece of newly released music, and it is a strong return. I said in my previous entry, that Bowie’s albums; Heathen and Reality, were good, but this is a great album. I like Heathen and Reality, but I think they’re a little safe. The Next Day is an album which takes risks and is a lot artsier than the work he had already released.
Dirty Boys is one of my favourite tracks on the album and almost doesn’t belong on the album. As an entire album, thematically being a nostalgia fest for a Bowie fan in terms of callbacks to earlier works, and perhaps a reflection of Bowie’s own reminiscence about his long and storied career. Dirty Boys doesn’t do that in the same way. It certainly calls back to ghosts of Bowie past. The minor key of the song and the heavy sound is somewhat reminiscent of The Man Who Sold The World’s general sound, as an album. I think for more fans, the musical composition of Dirty Boys calls back to music featured in Young Americans, The Idiot by Iggy Pop (produced and co-written by Bowie), and Let’s Dance’s China Girl.
This is a bass-heavy, stripped back piece of music, which contrasts sharply with the rest of the album’s largely major chord, lusciously scored memory fest that songs like ‘Where Are We Now?’. The song which is worth a listen to as its own piece of music, rather than being a weak link in a great album.
I imagine many of my readers already have a copy of The Next Day. If you have, good call. If not, go and give it a listen. It was a great album and is brilliant and timeless now. This was a fantastic return for Bowie after a decade-long silence. It is a sad fact though, as you know, that this was a short-lived return.
‘As long as there’s me. As long as there’s you.’
– David Bowie, ‘Where Are We Now?’, The Next Day, (2013)