Showing posts from January, 2017

Coming Back

Occasionally I get these hobby-horses, obsessions that consume me for a few days. This week, after the anniversary of his death, I've been mulling David Bowie's 1980s 'decline' after Let's Dance, which some narratives of his career figure as terminal. (I don't agree, by the way. Bowie came back twice, with Black Tie White Noise and Buddha of Suburbia in 1993/4, and then with The Next Day in 2013. Some of my favourite Bowie albums are in that 'second' phase, from Outside to Reality.)

In some ways it's not surprising. His next album after the massive hits of Let's Dance was Tonight. Tonight, I have to tell you, is absolute shit. It starts with 'Loving the Alien', which is a good (if a little awkward) track, although in this version it rambles on for 7 minutes (the single comes in at just under 5). And then you get what makes up the rest of Tonight except for the other two 'originals', 'Blue Jean' (a decent minor hit) and &…


Over Christmas I read Jonathon Green's excellent oral history of counter-cultural London, Days in the Life. Not surprisingly, the book ends (in 1971) on a down beat, with several contributors noting that hippy lifestyles were too often another form of consumerism, and that the counter-culture's emphasis on individual desire and freedom opened the way for Thatcherism, which can be seen not only as a reaction to the 'permissive society' but in some senses its extension and completion. The story of the Sixties, as often told, is one of failure: the unachieved revolutions of '68, the murder of Meredith Hunter at Altamont, the elections of Nixon and Heath and so on. But, of course, there were real and substantial gains, in terms of civil rights, legalisation of homosexuality, challenge to censorship laws, the rise of feminism, and so on. Perhaps it's something to do with our own times that we see the decade in terms of its political failures, what it did not (and pe…