Track by Track: No Plan EP David Bowie

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Never thought I’d be reviewing a new David Bowie release in 2017. After his 2016 death (for which I wrote an obituary), it was thought Blackstar would be Bowie’s last release. But, from beyond the grave, we have one more release.

The No Plan EP contains the last songs Bowie recorded before his death, specifically for the Lazarus musical. While already released with the Lazarus musical soundtrack, I would not spend 10-20 quid on an album for 3 songs. I ranted about that before. As an EP, this is not going to be as long as other TbT’s; as I will only be reviewing the new songs. Lazarus, which comes with this EP, was covered in my Blackstar Review during A Very Bowie Christmas.


TRACK TWO: No Plan

When I first heard this song, it was weird. It is like listening to a ghost. I do not know the context of the song in the Lazarus musical, but as a song, it is gorgeous. Its a calm, relaxing piece. Its like a slightly creepy lullaby. The lyrics, heartfelt and simple, really show Bowie at his best in his twilight years. Listening to it is so weird, knowing the man is dead and no longer with us. I think though that this is due to the fact I experienced his death.

TRACK THREE: Killing a Little Time

A more aggressive counterpart to the previous track, with the guitar pulsing, and the frantic drums almost like a track from 1. Outside. The lyrics seem very angry like Bowie is angry with his fate, it would seem. That’s the interpretation I got from the lyrics:

‘This symphony
This rage in me
I’ve got a handful of songs to sing
To sting your soul
To fuck you over
This furious reign’

David Bowie, Killing a Little Time

The song is almost defiant in its anger with Bowie singing with a powerful voice. It is quite something to listen, and ends quite suddenly.

TRACK FOUR: When I met you

This song samples A Clockwork Orange at the start. I would recognise that sound anywhere. The song I interpreted to be a conversation between two scorned people, possibly lovers though I could be wrong, but it does seem to follow a theme of depression, which come to think of it is sort of the theme of all the songs on this EP. This song is probably the most conventional of the 3 new songs that are on this album, which does not mean that it is bad, but it is probably the least dynamic of the 4 songs on the album, including Lazarus.

Final Thoughts

No Plan is a solid EP for Bowie fans, and I think releasing it as an EP is the best thing that could be done. You may remember the Queen Forever blog I wrote, and my distaste of it due to including 3 songs on a compilation. This album contained 4 songs, 3 of which were new, so it was automatically better value for money than that. The album’s theme, if I could pick one, seems to be depression. All the songs seem to have a melancholy feel to them, with some bitterness and anger, and aimlessness. Is that what David Bowie felt when he was ill? I don’t know, but that’s what I get out of it.It is worth buying though, because the songs are actually quite good. All in all, a good EP, and a good post script on Bowie’s career.

About the author

Ben

Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

2 comments

Discuss.

  • Hi Ben, I don’t think the albums theme is depression. I am not a native English speaker, so I might not notice a lot of the subtleties in the lyrics, but I am quite sure that there are clear indications this is about death, about dying and about what you think when you are at that point (which we all reach one day). To me the lyrics of “No plan” are stating that he does not know where it will take him from here, he simply has no plan, because things beyond this point just can’t be planned. As frustrating this may have seemed to him, I sometimes feel as well a little sentiment of “Ok, there’s nothing I can do now, and we all know how much I like to be in control, so if I really cannot do anything, then let it be. It’s not all a ever wanted. But no one is evicting time”. I am ok with your take on Killing a little time. He is angry that he has no time anymore – and “Killing a little time” to me is a word play on wasting time and being killed by time, the great wanker, who gets you in the end.

    • Hello Frank, thank you for your insight. When I wrote this a year ago, I perhaps didn’t word it properly. What I was trying to say was that the EP explored the stages of grief. Depression is included in that, but so is denial, anger, desperation, acceptance, which the songs also explore.

      I didn’t word that properly, but you are entirely right. This is an album about death and dying. And don’t worry about your English, I think you understood and interpreted the songs rather well.

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