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Bowie, genius or not...
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Popel Vooje
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Edited Jul 28, 2010, 22:22
Re: Bowie, genius or not...
Jul 28, 2010, 22:14
I personally don't care whether or not he's a genius, as genius is a subjective concept that's extremely hard to define. As a listener, I think his back catalogue has more bad/mediocre moments than good ones - as could be said of virtually any artist who's been releasing albums for 35 years - but when he hit's the mark, he's untouchable, and he certainly delivers.

I don't buy the argument that he's only as good as his collaborators, or that he's a dilettante who co-opts the vibe of the underground without understanding it. Whenever I've read his interviews, he's always come across as a genuine fan who has both the charisma and the clout to expose (at the time) under-rated artists like the V.U., Neu!, Cluster etc. whose music he values to a larger audience. He's been accused by one or two purist music critics like Lester Bangs of learning everything he knew from Lou Reed, but let's not forget that Reed himself described the Ziggy Stardust tour as "amazing, stupendous, incredible - one of the greatest shows I've ever seen." Or that Bangs, to be fair, changed his mind (as ever!) and wrote a highly complimentary review of his 1975 show in Detroit.

Having seen him at Glastonbury in 2000, I can't argue with his charisma as a live performer. He has stage presence in the same way as old-school showmen like Frank Sinatra had stage presence - i.e. he's an engaging enough performer to appeal to casual listeners who probably weren't even born when he was in his commercial heyday.

So does he get the thumbs up from me? Overall, I'd say yes. As long as I don't have to listen to "Never Let Me Down" again in order to prove it.
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