At the back end of the summer of 1980 I was driving with my girlfriend along the northern coast of France somewhere between the fishing town of Cancale (famous for its oysters) and St.Malo listening to Radio One. Peter Powell was giving an 'exclusive' airplay of David Bowie's forthcoming album, his fourteenth studio album, 'Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)'. It was the album that would give the world 'Ashes to Ashes' and 'Fashion' among its ten tracks.
'Scary Monsters'' would win back many of the fans who had felt frustrated and confused by the Berlin Trilogy of 'Low', Heroes' and 'Lodger' which in turn had followed the 'Thin White Duke' period of 'Station to Station' and 'Young Americans'.
Bowie turned 66 on Tuesday and decided to celebrate by releasing his first single in a decade and, much like the Simpsons joke about 2,000 McDonalds springing up over night in the state alone, the song snuck its way to number one in the iTunes UK charts. The album that the track is taken from is called 'The Next Day' and is released on March 11th, no doubt pre-orders will push that straight in at number one.
So what of the new song? Well I have to say it's quite beautiful. Bowie sounds old and fragile, reminiscing about Berlin back in the day. The musicianship stands up for scrutiny with anything he has done at any point in his near fifty year career, the synths are so evocative of the Berlin trilogy that you can't help wondering if he's decided that everything post 1979 (when Lodger was released) can be discarded and he can return to what was a creative (if not commercial) high point.
The video is quite something as well, unfortunately if you live in the U.K you will have to search out news sites because You Tube have taken it down as I write for copyright reasons.