The Dame's return-to-form soundtrack to Hanif Kreishi's novel-turned-TV series is...
Daryl Easlea 2007-09-14
The Buddha Of Suburbia, in many respects, is David Bowie's most important album of the 90s. Not the best (that is still Earthling), but this is the one that shook Bowie out of the simply trying too hard after simply not trying hard enough a decade previously.
It's rough, and has an air of the deliberately unfinished about it. Had it not been linked with Hanif Kureishi's exemplary dramatisation of his book and Bowie called it something like Strangers, it would have been retrospectively given a great deal more air and talked about being the belated follow-up to Low and 'Heroes'. Because the pressure was to an extent, off, it left Bowie free to score a soundtrack, pay homage to himself and his roots while rifling through various stages of his career.
Working in partnership with Erdal Kizilcay with David Richards engineering and programming, Bowie returned to strange, alien landscapes. The supper jazz of "South Horizon" – complete with Mike Garson's customary overwrought tinkling; the great Bowie pop of "Strangers When We Meet" (the interpretation on 1:Outside may be better, but this is still touching) and the two versions of the title track; one tender and the other triumphant with Lenny Kravitz doing his best Stevie Ray Vaughn.
What Buddha Of Suburbia did do was rouse Bowie from his slumber: in the next decade he would reclaim his art-rock crown and he now lives in fully venerated semi-retirement, something that may not have happened had this not come out quickly after the big budget confusion of Black Tie White Noise. Enjoy it now in this lovely remaster.