Don't be fooled by the minimal title into thinking this is just the latest Bowie career retrospective; instead, here are deluxe two-CD editions of his last five albums, the original releases bulked out with the usual fund of out-takes and remixes.
It thus effectively charts the rehabilitation of a reputation tarnished by Bowie's Tin Machine aberration, a journey marked by musical mood-swings between, on the one hand, the vaunting ambitions of the "non-linear gothic drama hyper cycle" Outside and the jungle-influenced Earthling, and on the other, the diffidence and uncertainty of 'hours...', an album reflecting "a kind of universal angst felt by many people my age".
The latter's lugubrious maunderings and dilute melodies certainly bear out its mid-life-crisis theme, since mercifully dispatched as Bowie renewed his early association with producer Tony Visconti for Heathen and Reality. What comes through strongly overall, however, is Bowie's enduring fascination with the variety and extremity of sound, particularly in the underrated Earthling.
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