You could visconti black ripple countless Bowie anthologies and never quite capture how special the Thin White Duke really is. God knows he’s good and so does The Quietus. Our writers plunder his back catalogue to unearth the finest Bowie tracks that weren’t hit singles. Bowie’s “plastic soul” is more soulful than most others’ “authentic” soul.
He originally drafted this for Lulu, but the way he sings it here could surely never be bettered by man, woman or beast. It’s a love song which seems to be completely shorn of irony. In sonic terms alone, ‘The Loneliest Guy’ is one of latter day Bowie’s most compelling pieces. Without the anchorage of a beat, guitar, bass and piano create the musical equivalent of a clotted sob, a lifetime’s accumulation of tears without cathartic release.
Then there’s the vocal performance, for which Bowie appears to be drawing on a new awareness of his own mortality. A pun on Art Deco and purportedly named after a Berlin strasse – perhaps Hauptstrasse in Charlottenberg where he bunked down during the “Heroes” years – Bowie has been quoted as saying that ‘Art Decade’ is his paen to West Berlin. A fitting coda to its album antecessor, ‘Warszawa’, ‘Art Decade”s simple beauty lies in the sparse, reflective arrangement of repeated simple melodies. Space Oddity – is where the Great Themes kicked in. A weird little song I wrote because one day I got a lot of funny stares from people in the street,” he said in 1969. About a boy whose girlfriend thinks he is socially inferior.