Entertainment & Arts

How Bowie said goodbye with Blackstar

Man holding Blackstar CD Image copyright EPA
Image caption Blackstar was released on 8 January - Bowie's 69th birthday

David Bowie released what was to be his final album, the jazz-infused Blackstar, on 8 January 2016 - just two days before his death.

Like much of Bowie's output over the decades, it proved to be experimental, groundbreaking and lyrically enigmatic.

Many have picked up on the significance of the opening line in the mournful third track Lazarus: "Look up here, I'm in heaven/ I've got scars that can't be seen."

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Media captionWas Lazarus David Bowie singing his own epitaph?

The video to the song, released as a single last month, shows Bowie in a hospital bed with his eyes bandaged.

The seven-track album ends with a song I Can't Give Everything Away.

Blackstar has been getting ecstatic reviews since its release, with many critics suggesting it is one of the highpoints of his career.

Here is a selection of reviews:

Billboard

The new David Bowie release, Blackstar, begins with an execution, and from there the tidings only get ­grimmer. His 25th studio album features just seven songs, but they serve up a veritable Grand Guignol of dread, death, even dismemberment.

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The Guardian

The overall effect is ambiguous and spellbinding, adjectives that apply virtually throughout Blackstar. It's a rich, deep and strange album that feels like Bowie moving restlessly forward, his eyes fixed ahead: the position in which he's always made his greatest music.

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The Telegraph

Baffling is a word that comes up a lot in reviews. But Bowie is a rare act who is at his best when he is at his least accessible... how fantastic to have an album as rich and strange as Blackstar that refuses to yield in a few listens.

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The Mirror

Considering the innovations and inspirations Bowie has brokered in the last half century, this thrilling departure may be the most extraordinary of his fabled career.

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The Independent

It's a finale that suggests a Bowie desperate to break with the past, but acknowledging it'll always be with him - however hard he tries here.

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NME

Is 'Blackstar' vintage Bowie? No, but nor is that the intention. Actually, one of the few certainties we can take from this restless, relentlessly intriguing album is that David Bowie is positively allergic to the idea of heritage rock.

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Pitchfork

Though this mix of jazz, malice, and historical role-play is intoxicating, Blackstar becomes whole with its two-song denouement, which balances out the bruises and blood with a couple of salty tears.

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