The Next Day Japanese Deluxe Edition [Limited Release] [Blu-spec CD2]
English translation of Liner Notes
I hope, if possible, you will read this liner notes after listening to the album till the end. This is because I would like you to challenge 'The Next Day' without any preconceptions or unnecessary knowledge but with your pure heart. Perhaps, that is exactly what Bowie is hoping from the listeners of this album.
On January 8, 2013, the world was thrilled. On the eve of the day, Bowie's official site implied there would be an important news piece, but because of the years of Bowie's silence, we had become worn out and couldn't have any feelings except helplessness or anxiety about whether it might be shutting down his official site or declaring his retirement.
However, as you know, the result was the burst of joy, and we couldn't do with only such an expression that we were betrayed in a good sense.
David Bowie's revival! You know what, Bowie is back!
For the first time in ten years, the instant release of the new song 'Where Are We Now?' and the announcement of the new album in March!
We can suddenly listen to Bowie's new song which we had thought we were never able to touch again! Moreover, what a beautiful melody and stirring voice the song has!
The world was thrilled and shed tears.
To prove this, this song 'Where Are We Now?' debut at the 6th for the first time in 20 years on the UK singles chart as soon as it started to be distributed on iTunes in 119 countries all over the world at the same time of the announcement at the official site. At the same time, the new album 'The Next Day' dashed up to the top of the album charts at iTunes Store in 27 countries in 24 hours. (on iTunes in Japan, the highest rank was the 2nd.)
On that day and at that time, all the Bowie fans, no matter what positions they were in, returned to simple fans, shed tears, let out a whoop of joy, screamed, and tweeted.
For example, Lady Gaga tweeted, "laying in bed high listening to Bowies new song. A moment of bliss I never thought Id have again. Listening to new bowie for the first time." Momus covered the song 'Where Are We Now?' on that day and posted it on YouTube. Many other artists, musicians, and writers expressed their delight as individual Bowie fans on their Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. It was a downright festive moment.
The song and video of 'Where Are We Now?' that was initially released hold the subject of, so to speak, 'the Berlin Period', where Bowie spent time in '77, and the names of places in the lyrics and the scenery in the video describe many of his daily scenes around 30 years ago, including the apartment in the Turkish quarter, which Bowie used to rent at that time.
Incidentally, the director of this video is the contemporary artist Tony Oursler, and he is familiar to Bowie fans because he worked on screen image production for Bowie's 50-year-old birthday live (at the Madison Square Garden) in 1997. In this video, Oursler's characteristic effect of projecting human face images onto inorganic materials to defamilialize the world seems to sublimate the video without degrading it into a merely nostalgic one (The woman next to Bowie is Oursler's wife and artist, Jackline Humphries. In addition, the T-shirt Bowie wears is that of a 'retired' luxury liner).
However, on the other hand, 'Where Are We Now?' was too introspective, beautiful, and nostalgic. It is the fact that we were afraid that Bowie's newly announced album 'The Next Day' including 'Where Are We Now?' might be an album like his will so to speak, with all of the songs being beautiful, sad and calm.
Long-time Bowie fans would have had the same kind of fears in the past.
It was 'Hours' released in 1999. The album was full of nostalgia as a whole, and particularly, the lyrics and film of its initial single 'Thursday's Child' preempted 'Where Are We Now?' In addition, what Bowie performed was the man who had realized the loss of his 'future' and 'possibilities', but as for the video of 'Where Are We Now?', the expression could be regarded as a revolving lantern of the man (Bowie) who had realized the loss of his life itself.
Also, the artwork for this album by Jonathan Barnbrook, witch was released at the same time, was also very profound, and it called for various speculations. On the classic album, a white paper is put and 'The Next Day' is started. After listening to the entire album, the design becomes plausible, but the intention could not be grasped well at the stage where 'Where Are We Now?' and its film of Berlin only could be seen.
All the fans, delighted with Bowie's revival, were almost prepared to face the album 'The Next Day', which would be gloomier than 'Hours'. I was, of course, one of them.
Bowie had a heart attack during the 'Reality' tour and underwent an emergency operation in 2004. Since then, he performed at charity concerts, played with other artists, and appeared in films and TV, but we never heard of him making his own album.
Instead, he even stopped playing with other artists as time went by, and if we heard of him, only the sneak shots of his attendance at parties and walking around neighborhood were published in gossip papers.
For the past few years, not only his fans and critics but also his close acquaintances started to say Bowie had already retired from music industry, and everyone started to accept the 'fact' with a certain resigned feeling.
However, of course, as the person who is holding this album knows, Bowie was following the path for revival clandestinely but closely behind that.
That is, impressibly we had been taken in on by Bowie until we listened to this album today!
Including the initial release of the sentimental 'Where Are We Now?', Bowie completely controlled the situation and set up a thrilling rock'n'roll show out of his own revival drama.
Yes, no one must have expected the album would be such a lively one. I was dumbfounded by the intro of the first song 'The Next Day', amazed at and ashamed of my trivial worry and over anxiety, and while being attracted by the songs vigorously, it reached to the last song 'Heat'. I was stuck dumb for 50 minutes.
Yes, though the three songs 'Where Are We Now?', 'You Feel So Lonely You Could Die', and 'Heat' are tinged with solemn and tranquil atmosphere, the entire album is a very lively rock album. Though the initially released "Where Are We Now?" is surely an important constituent of the album, it never represents the mood of the entire album.
When you have finished listening to the album, Bowie's satisfied face must have emerged on your mind on the instant.
Thank you very much for such a wonderful fake!
According to the producer Tony Visconti, the album seems to have started to be made in 2010, but the plan would have been developed long before that.
Nearly 30 songs were recorded, and the tunes, lyrics and even order of the remaining 14 songs (plus three bonus tracks and one bonus track for Japanese edition) were polished and simulated many times on Bowie's mind, and they are shaped into the form you are hearing now.
Bowie has been prolific through his career as a whole, and often made albums with lightning speed. It is the matter of fact that most of them were powerful and very good works, but at the same time, we sometimes got glimpse of some unrefined and weak parts in detail, due to the speed.
However, this time is different.
This is the first new album in ten years. Bowie's ten years of consideration and deliberation is filled in it.
There is no room for 'vagueness' or 'speed' in it. Among the 30 tracks recorded, why are these 14 songs ordered like this? Also, among many unreleased songs, why were these three songs included as bonus tracks in this order? Bowie must have decided them with a clear mind after thinking deeply. It's a supreme bliss to listen to this album many times reading Bowie's mind.
The musicians who participate in this album are mostly the same as those related to the albums later than 2000, 'Heathen' and 'Reality'. All of them are reliable musicians for Bowie. First of all, Tony Visconti as also producer. He plays the guitar for 2, 13, and 17, the recorder, which might be meant to be used as an instrument for 3 and 9, the strings for 5, the base for 6 and 12. Tony Levin of Yes and King Crimson, and Gail Ann Dorsey, who supported Bowie later than 90's for recordings and tours, also participates with the base. Gail also plays an active role in chorus. Three guitarists. Bowie's current musical director Gerry Leonard, who also participated in 'Reality'. In this album, he mainly displays an intense guitar play like Robert Fripp in 'Heroes' and 'Scary Monsters'. David Torn supported the mood of the songs he participated in with the guitar of mainly ambient sounds. And Earl Slick, who has been active from time to time in 70's, 80's and 00's. As a blithe rock'n'roll guitarist, he lets us listen to his wonderful guitar solo for 2, 6, and 12. Drums are played by Zachary Alford and Sterling Campbell, who are both familiar in Bowie's works later than 90's. Steve Elson, who has been bound together since 'Let's Dance'. As for the others, Janice Pendarvis does chorus for 3, 12 and 17. Henry Hey, the jazz pianist, on the piano for 5, 13, etc. Alex Alexander participates in 17 on percussion. Also, Anthony Silverman, Maxim Moston, Anja Wood, and the Japanese violinist Hiroko Taguchi, who is known for Broadway stages and collaboration with Patti Smith!
Also, on the way of writing this draft, it was suddenly decided to included the bonus track only for the CD of the Japanese edition, 'God Bless the Girl'. Later, it was announced on Bowie's official site and official Facebook page, but the gift only for Japanese fans is regarded as favoritism by Bowie's fans all over the world.
It goes without saying that Bowie is worried about the tragedy which attacked Japan on March 11 two years ago. Also, knowing the fact that the director Nagisa Oshima, who filmed 'Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence', passed away soon after the announcement of his revival, he presented his own words of condolence with sincerity. Of course, he must have been thinking of his photograph collection 'Speed of Life' by Masayoshi Sukita published last year. Though we are sorry for the fans overseas, let's enjoy the present for Japanese fans from Bowie now!
Let's listen to each song recorded on this album.
1. 'The Next Day'
A rock number starting with Gerry Leonard's powerful guitar. It declares Bowie's revival loudly, which is suitable for the title song of the album. According to Tony Visconti, Bowie wrote the lyrics for this song based on a British tyrant in the Middle Ages (Henry the Eighth?), and at the same time, the phrase "Here I am Not quite dying" makes us feel Bowie's strong and positive intention, and the line "They chase him through the alleys chase him down the steps" may be an irony that paparazzi and sneak-shot hoopla on the streets these days. Provocative expressions which only Bowie has been capable of making since the 70's are aligned, but by means of this title song in the beginning, showing his firm intention that this work is not such a retrospective album as was anticipated before, but radical, powerful, and extrovert, is encouraging. The song builds rapidly and dramatically toward a climax of the latter half.
2. 'Dirty Boys'
The tempo and melody change to those of the funeral band music (Jazz Funeral) in New Orleans (Tony Visconti described it as 'cabaret music'). Steve Elson's baritone sax, sounding serious and sad, is very sensual. The lyrics in the beginning, 'Tobacco Road' is the title of a novel by Erskine Caldwell, describing the poor areas in the South, which was made into a movie by the director John Ford later. And this song, though overlapping poverty in the South and riots in the suburbs, etc. in London in 2011 (Finchley in the lyrics is also the name of a city in the north of London), Bowie's idea on that incident seems to be involved. The vocal like a modulated grief makes us feel a kind of resignation of Bowie, who spent his young days in Bromley, located in the suburban area of London (in fact, it is in Kent next to London).
3. 'The Stars (Are Out Tonight)
A song full of words. This proves Bowie's statement, "I made an album because I had something to say, not because I had something to sell". The stars in the sky and the 'stars' in the modern age are overlapped, and he plentifully aired out what he had wanted to say for 10 years. Each of Brigitte, Jack, Kate and Brad in the lyrics may be the first names of Hollywood stars. Satyr is a semi-animal god which appears in Greek myth, and it is said to be the strain that is lazy and fond of music, alcohol, women and beautiful boys (exactly what stars are like!). Semi-animal gods, such as the Minotaur described in 'Diamond Dogs' and 'Outside', often appear in Bowie's work as a metaphor. That brings back some memories that the irregular meters on the way were said to be his trademark. The strings arrangement which is typical of Tony Visconti is also something to listen to.
4. 'Love Is Lost'
Bowie's overdubbed chorus is something to listen to. Though this is played by minimum 4 members, it has a great sense of urgency. The content of the song seems to be in the motif of a protean princess in the history of England in the Middle Ages. Bowie's synthesizer also makes fond sounds (Bowie made a very sentimental comment on his picture of playing Minimoog synthesizer in '73 on Sukita's photograph collection). Gerry Leonard's spasmodic funky guitar sound is also good.
5. 'Where Are We Now?'
The initially released single song with tranquil and nostalgic lyrics as if talking of the memories of the Berlin period. Bowie as 'a man lost in time' stands in the city where dead people come and go and sings savoring each phrase. On the video made by Tony Ousler, the apartment on the auto-repair shop in the Turkish quarter where Bowie once lived in also appears. Together with this video of Oursler's, this song came out as a beautiful ballad with a very serious and melancholic impression, but in fact, probably its prototype might be the comedy song 'Little Fat Man' sung to his own piano accompaniment to tease Ricky Gervais, performed in the comedy drama 'Extra 2' on BBC, which Bowie appeared as himself. Also, the cover art of this downloaded only single was the stage picture of the 'Diamond Dogs' tour reversed upside down. Quite a few people might have remembered Bowie's comment on his own depressed performance and zombie-like picture on its jacket, "David Bowie Is Alive and Well and Living Only in Theory". It exactly expressed what Bowie had appeared before the release of this new song, and such a picture is clearly upside down, that is, the message must be "Bowie is surely alive and full of energy". Also, the song title appears in the beginning of 'Moon', which brought Duncan Jones, Bowie's son, recognition as a director.
6. 'Valentine's Day'
A bright rock number reminding us of various works in the 80's. Bowie's chorus also makes us feel those days. It features St. Valentine, who occasioned 'Valentine's Day', as the protagonist. This is not a mere love song, but describes him focusing on the aspect of a martyr in a true sense. This song is also composed of minimum members, and Earl Slick's relaxed guitar suits the song very well.
7. 'If You Can See Me'
A Drum'n'Bass (Jungle) number, which reminds us of 'Earthling' in '97, only Bowie is capable of doing! Gail Ann Dorsey plays a remarkable part not only on base but also on chorus. Bowie's vocal expression commanding effectors is also impressive. Drums and percussion is, of course, Zachary Alford as on 'Earthling'.
8. 'I'd Rather Be High'
This track is also full of 'something to say'. It also describes the PTSD of the soldiers who came back from the front. The combination of this gloomy lyrics in a sense and a light rock'n'roll tune is novel, but the problem of 'insanity' which the soldiers have in this song has been always inseparable for Bowie since the beginning of the 70's. On the way, we are startled by the part turning to almost rap rather than a song, but this trial has been already done in 'African Night Flight', etc. in the end of the 70's. The harmony of Bowie's multiple chorus is also wonderful.
9. 'Boss of Me'
Collaboration with Gerry Leonard. This is also groovy with Tony Levin's base. Steve Elson's baritone sax is also nice. It sounds like a song purely in praise of life for his daughter, or a warped love song with a more complicated feeling and background. That is a characteristics of Bowie's lyrics. It is also interesting to compare it with 'I Would Be Your Slave' recorded on 'Heathen'.
10. 'Dancing Out in Space'
At first, we are surprised at the beat like 'Lust for Life', which Bowie collaborated with Iggy Pop on! (Now it is heard that a film featuring Bowie's association with Iggy in Berlin is being prepared.) According to Tony Visconti, this is the song fusing the Motown beat and psychedelic rock. 'Water' in the lyrics was defined as 'the symbol of what we must nourish and develop' for Bowie in the past interview. Also, Georges Rodenbach, who appears in the lyrics, is a poet of the symbolist school in Belgium, and known for the novel 'Bruges-la-Morte'. Its melancholic style seems to be reflected in the world of this song as it is. The acoustics generated by David Torn's guitar is very effective.
11. 'How Does the Grass Grow?'
It is credited as a collaboration of Bowie and Jerry Lordan (d. '95), who is famous for the instrumental song 'Apache' and played an active part not only as an artist but also as a composer who provided his works for The Shadows and Duane Eddy. The sampling and partial chord progression are invoked from 'Apache' in this song. That is, the hit song in Bowie's youth was introduced. Lordan has the same musical background as Bowie in that he was influenced by Anthony Newley, and he belonged to Decca Label in the same time period as Bowie. Only Bowie could have done to transform an Anthony Newly-like song in the 60's into the New Wave melody and vocal and to release it now in 2013. The title of the song 'How does the grass grow' is a call at exercises to stab dolls on targets with bayonets in the British forces, but it is certain that the hit song in '67 'I Can Hear the Grass Grow' by The Move (which Roy Wood belonged to), a psychedelic rock band, also influenced this song to some degree. If Bowie restarts his concert activities in the future, there will be a big chorus at the part of 'Ya ya ya'. In the final part of the song, Gerry Leonard's guitar bears a close resemblance to that of 'Heroes' and Gail Ann Dorsey's base 'Boys Keep Swinging'.
12. '(You Will) Set the World on Fire'
The melody and chorus sounds like the tracks such as 'Blue Jean' and 'Neighborhood Threat', which were recorded in the album 'Tonight'. Of course, the guitar is played by Earl Slick, who played the guitar in the 'Let's Dance' tour and the album 'Tonight'. Though 'Tonight' is not an album highly evaluated by Bowie himself, if we look back after the passage of time, as he slept with the time by means of 'Let's Dance', it was made in the aftermath of the force at the time of standing on the top of the world only once in any star's lifetime, so I guess he wanted to look back to the atmosphere of that time, feeling a little self-conscious, as if having youth for the second time. Also, it is interesting that the U. S. in the 60's is described, as in its lyrics the folk singers such as Joan Baez, Dave Van Ronk, and Bob Dylan appears, and assassination of Kennedy is referred to.
13. 'You Feel So Lonely You Could Die'
The description, rhythm, voice rendition, the mixture of acoustic guitar and electric guitar arpeggio, and the method of adding strings remind me of the first song 'Five Years' on the masterpiece album 'Ziggy Stardust'. While it makes me feel the nuance of 'Rock'n'Roll Suicide', which was recorded on the same album, in the end, the drum pattern of 'Five Years' turn up and I was astounded. Though young people wandered the city of madness where the termination of the earth was declared, these young people have become old and even bleaker scenery is described. The figure singing while the rain beats him in the same helpless situation as in 'Five Years' would remind many people of the young Bowie 40 years ago. In spite of harsh lyrics, the melody stirs nostalgia, and it turned out to be a killer tune to collapse the lachrymal glands of his fans from the old time.
The climax of the album. Starting from a heavy intro, David Torn's ambient guitar brings the solemn mood. 'Mishima's dog' in the lyrics reminds me of 'A Female Dog' written by Yukio Mishima, 'The peacock in the snow' 'The Peacock' by the same. The protagonist of 'A Female Dog' who is imprisoned, and that of 'The Peacock' who confronts with his own illusion of his youth might be the hints to understand the meaning of the abstruse lyrics. Who is the father that is sung about here? Why is the protagonist imprisoned? Who is the seer and liar? Only Bowie can sing with such a deep, though somewhat fleeting, voice.
The following are the bonus tracks recorded only on the Delux Edition of Limited Release except 18. Also, note that the Delux Edition is Blu-Spec CD2 with a high sound quality only in Japan.
15. 'So She'
The first song of the bonus tracks. It is in complete contrast against 'Heat' and a love song which lets us feel the mood of nirvana with Gerry Leonard's light steel guitar-like sound.
An instrumental played by only Bowie and Zachary Alford. Bowie played the keyboard, guitar, and percussion by himself. It turned out to be the work of an interesting trial in combination of percussion sounding like the rhythm box in the 70's, the grunge-like roaring guitar in the 90's, and the Electronica-like sound in the 00's.
17. 'I'll Take You There'
The final song of the bonus tracks for Delux Edition. This also reminds us of the 80's. And the title is nice. We were brought to this zenith of excitement by Bowie. Compared to 'Where Are We Now?', how powerful and positive it can be. It is of no use thinking of the meaning of locating this song in the end of the bonus tracks particularly (though in Japan, 'God Bless the Girl' follows this song). "Hold my hand and I'll take you there!"
18. 'God Bless the Girl'
This is the bonus track Bowie provided only for the CD of the Japanese edition. As of March in 2013, only Japanese fans can listen to this song. Both the rhythm and development are interesting in this work, and it's very soulful. Here, the girl sounds like the metaphor of a country, the U. S. itself. Is Jackie the widow of the former president Kennedy?
As mentioned in each part of the song guides, all the elements of Bowie's music and lyrics from the 60's to 00's are ground panoptically in this album, and at the same time, it is full of Bowie's new aspiration as a whole for the 'next day'. I hope you will listen to it at as high a volume as possible.
TO BE PLAYED AT MAXIMUM VOLUME!
Feb. 7, 2013 Eiichi Yoshimura (Translated by Eri Wilde)