Thanks again to Bruce from Vinyl Connection for the various blog invite.
On January 11, 2016 the cast of the Broadway musical Lazurus met at the studio as planned to record this album. Upon arriving, they were informed their mentor for this project, David Bowie, had passed away the night before. Some as young as 14 were sobbing uncontrollably. There was no changing the date for the recording however, and all had to find the strength to carry on, and do their best to pay tribute to the man they all loved.
I was in a local record store last year listening to what I found out was this album. I usually feel that albums featuring actors usually leave a lot to be desired. However, the clerk and I agreed it was really good, so I had to buy it.
The album contains mostly work of the cast, however there are some original David Bowie songs. The song Lazarus from Blackstar, plus 3 songs that were recorded during the Blackstar sessions, but meant specifically for this recording. Therefore these 3 songs on CD2 are the last pieces of work that David Bowie ever recorded. Regardless of your feelings about actors singing, if you are a Bowie fan, you need these songs in your collection. The new songs were later released on the No Plan EP, however I feel this album is worth getting in it’s own right.
(I might suggest to anyone that is a huge Bowie fan to start listening to CD2 before CD1. Therefore hearing the new Bowie songs by Bowie first.)
Hello Mary Lou : Rick Nelson – A snippet of Rick Nelson to begin this album off is a weird but good thing.
Lazarus : Michael C Hall and original cast – If the name Michael C Hall doesn’t ring a bell, he was better known as Dexter. He’s a great actor, and now I know he has some really good chops. (The below video clip is live and not the version on this album)
It’s No Game : Michael C Hall, Lynn Craig, and original cast – A cool version of this lesser-known song from Scary Monsters.
This Is Not America : Sophia Anne Caruso and original cast – I have seen the strength of teenage girls fighting through pain while watching my own daughter. I can’t believe a 14 year old composed herself quickly after hearing of David Bowie’s death and still be able to sing this good.
The Man Who Sold The World : Charlie Pollack – This version is based on the weaker version Bowie reworked in the 1990’s. Anyone not knowing this and comparing it to the original would wonder why they would ruin such a great song.
No Plan : Sophia Anne Caruso – The first time we hear a new David Bowie song should not be a cover version. She has a great little voice though.
Love Is Lost : Michael Esper and original cast – This one has a great beat to it. Almost like a rock band and symphony are right there in your living room.
Changes : Cristin Milioti and original cast – Not a bad version, but it leans a bit towards cabaret. No Bowie song should ever morph into “jazz hands”.
Where Are We Now? : Michael C Hall and original cast – A good one for Michael to cover since it is a newer, and perhaps lesser known Bowie song. He does a fine job here.
Absolute Beginners : Michael C Hall, Cristin Milioti, Michael Esper, Sophia Anne Caruso, Krystina Alabado and original cast – This was the theme song from the movie of the same name. They do a good job here.
Dirty Boys : Michael Esper – Another newer, perhaps lesser known. Again, fine job.
Killing A Little Time : Michael C Hall – Did I not mention a new David Bowie should never be first heard as a cover song? He does a really good job though.
Life On Mars? : Sophia Anne Caruso – This young lady should put out an album someday. She has a nice voice that she will eventually mature into. The piano is really nice and pairs well with her voice.
All The Young Dudes : Nicholas Christopher, Lynn Craig, Michael Esper, Sophia Anne Caruso, Christina Alabado, and original cast – Cool guitar and horns. Great vocals all around but a wee bit of “jazz hands”. It does get better with successive listens though, so give it a shot.
Sound And Vision : David Bowie – Just a snippet of his greatness.
Always Crashing In The Same Car : Cristin Milioti – Great guitar work and wonderful vocals on this Bowie deeper cut.
Valentine’s Day : Michael Esper and original cast – Another newer song from The Next Day album. Again, great guitar work and good vocals. The more pronounced background vocals are a nice touch on this one, except near the end of the song with the “yeah”s.
When I Met You : Michael C Hall and Krystina Alabado – See notes above about a cover of a new Bowie song.
Heroes : Michael C Hall, Sophia Anne Caruso and original cast – A softer, perhaps darker piano based version of the song. I like it. (The below video clip is live, and not the same as on this album)
The second cd has 4 Bowie songs. I already covered Lazurus when I reviewed Blackstar. Here is a reprint of how I felt about it then:
Lazurus – Nice drum beat, mellow bass and soothing sax start this song off. The vocals and guitar kick in like a mule. They make you sit up and take notice. “Look up here, I’m in Heaven.” Abso(fucking)lutely foreshadowing his future. “Everybody Knows Me Now” Well duh. This might be the best song on the album. I would suggest it may be his best since the 70’s. As for the video below, it could easily have slid right into The Wall movie. Hopefully it stays just as iconic.
No Plan – I find it very hard to believe David Bowie ever had “No Plan”. This simple song has a floating string section, and a wonderful horn accompaniment. Almost like Bowie is paying homage to the softer side of Floyd’s Us And Them. I think this song tells us that he will live on through music, whether it be in the streets of New York, or around the world. That sounds like a plan to me.
Killing A Little Time – What it might sound like if Trent Reznor, David Bowie and an orchestra did a collaboration song. “I’ve got a handful of songs to sing, to sting your soul, to fuck you over.”
When I Met You – 2015 Bowie goes back to his Ziggy era days and glams it up. The background chants Bowie himself sang mixed with the Bowie lead vocals are really cool. A really cool throwback song.
I really hope this is not the only “new” recordings we ever hear from David bowie, but for now, they’re all pretty damn fine.