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Friday, December 18, 2020

David Bowie - Ouvrez le Chien (Live Dallas 1995) ISO Records


It was not exactly a redesign of David Bowie, but of a re-think, or a new charge of energy and thought into his career and music in 1995.  For me, this is when Bowie got back his groove, and he became fascinated with the world around him.   After hitting a creative (and perhaps commercially) dead-end in the late 1980s, he started up with a band, Tin Machine. A guitar-driven band that reminds me at times of a rave-up era of The Yardbirds. All that is missing are songs by Graham Gouldman. Still, Bowie actually filtering the great British hitmaker in supplying or co-writing songs with fellow band members that are retro in the sense of the importance of being in a band.  In a manner, it is very much Bowie losing himself as a brand being part of a band.  The truth is, Bowie has always been a collaborator with every musician he has worked with in the past. 

"Outside" (1995) was the album that gave him an entrance back to the avant-garde, and re-invent a new approach in recording that album.  For example, almost every song is written by all the musicians during the recording of that music.  If not, co-written by Eno.  It's a late Bowie masterpiece, and when he went on tour to support "Outside," he put together a new band, except for his guitarist (and co-writer) Reeves Gabriel, Mike Garson, and Carlos Alomar.  The new star of the show is bassist and backup singer Gail Ann Dorsey, who is amazing. Lucky us there are live tapes of the shows.  "Ouverz Le Chien" is a show that took place in Texas, and it's a refreshing listening experience. 

For one, Bowie does only a handful of his older songs, and they are usually not done live at the time or deep cuts in his excellent catalog of material.  What is remarkable are the live versions of music from "Outside."  In the studio, it sounds very much like work produced in a laboratory.  Here, they come off as songs of great force and grace.  He does a re-work of "The Man Who Sold The World" without the major guitar riff until the end as a quiet reminder that is faint as a loving memory.  This must have been a remarkable show to witness, but at least we have a great recording, for those who weren't there, or a few that lives with that evening as a ghost-image of a wonderful performance. 

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