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David Bowie | Best of Bowie (EMI)
Here's one with which to spend that last record token without fear of squandering it. For sure there's little chance of any of you groovers not knowing most of these unless you've been looking for life on Mars since 1970.  I say 'most' because I suspect Loving The Alien is not yet lodged in the collective consciousness and would prefer that the clumsy Mick Jagger collaboration Dancing In The Street was pushed even further back into our personal crawlspaces.  Indeed the last clutch of tunes (and I use the word loosely) namely Jump They Say, Hallo Spaceboy, Little Wonder, I'm Afraid Of Americans and Slow Burn made me wonder if I had been living in some parallel universe, so little had they impinged themselves on my memory bank.  This double CD feels more like another singles collection than a true 'best of'.  Are any of this dodgy group more inspired, more original, more exciting than The Secret Life of Arabia, Speed of Life or Aladdinsane or another half dozen we could all probably agree on? The intense soundtrack version of Cat People would also have been nice.  You could be forgiven for feeling that Bowie's muse pissed off after China Girl. Look at the first CD; the earliest cuts pitch in on Bowie at the camp, glam end of singer songwriter rock. And just how beautiful, how melodic were songs like Life On Mars? and Space Oddity?  How charged is The Man Who Sold The World and even a decade later (before the rot set in) how uncloyingly romantic is the cover Wild Is The Wind? Some tracks are real nice numbers you may well be pleased to own on this format rather than on some less than overall scintillating album where it is otherwise located.  This Is Not America and another great cover song, Sorrow, are two cases in point.  Bowie's run of singles matches anyone's- The Beatles, Kinks, Abba - for sheer relentless quality and sheer number of hits.  The cover is surely intended to prompt impulse buys in your local supermarket rather than testing your artistic understanding. So make a more respectful one yerself .  David would.  Obviously though, grumbles notwithstanding, a real cornucopia of pop.

Stephen Ridley
December 2002