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Reality (David Bowie album)

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Reality
David Bowie - Reality.jpg
Studio album by
Released15 September 2003 (2003-09-15)
RecordedJanuary–May 2003
StudioDavid Bowie's home studio, SoHo
Looking Glass, NoHo
Mike Garson's home studio, Bell Canyon
GenreRock[1]
Length49:25
Label
Producer
David Bowie chronology
Best of Bowie
(2002)
Reality
(2003)
Club Bowie
(2003)
David Bowie studio albums chronology
Heathen
(2002)
Reality
(2003)
The Next Day
(2013)
Singles from Reality
  1. "New Killer Star"
    Released: 29 September 2003
  2. "Never Get Old"
    Released: 25 February 2004

Reality is the 23rd studio album by English singer-songwriter David Bowie. It was released on 15 September 2003 on his ISO Records label, in conjunction with Columbia Records. Co-produced by Bowie and longtime collaborator Tony Visconti, it was recorded between January and May 2003 at Bowie's home studio and Looking Glass Studios in New York City and Mike Garson's home studio in California. A rock album, it was written mostly after production on Bowie's previous album Heathen wrapped up. It contains covers of the Modern Lovers' "Pablo Picasso" and George Harrison's "Try Some, Buy Some". The album has received positive reviews from music critics. He supported the album with the A Reality Tour throughout 2003 and 2004, his final concert tour. It was his last album of original material for ten years, until the release of The Next Day in 2013.

Recording and production

Bowie started writing the songs for Reality as the production for his previous album Heathen was wrapping up. Some songs he wrote quickly: "Fall Dog Bombs the Moon" was written in 30 minutes. Other songs, such as "Bring Me the Disco King", was a song Bowie had tried his hand at as early as the 1970s and had tried again with 1993's Black Tie White Noise[2] as well as Earthling in 1997.[3][4] The album was recorded and produced in New York City's Looking Glass Studios and co-produced by Bowie and Tony Visconti. Bowie wrote four or five tracks at his home studio before coming to Looking Glass. Bowie and Visconti took those tracks and worked those into about 7 songs, before adding overdubs like rhythm guitars and keyboards. According to Visconti, they took care during this part of the process to record things properly, saying "we'd hardly redo anything. I always record things carefully in the first place, because I know we're not going to redo them, and so a lot of the demo parts ended up on the final version."[4] They then took "a short break" during which time Bowie wrote a few more songs, and then they started the overdub process over again with that new material.[4]

Consisting mostly of original compositions, the album also includes two songs written by others, the Modern Lovers' "Pablo Picasso" and George Harrison's "Try Some, Buy Some". These two tracks were originally slated for Bowie's never-recorded Pin Ups 2 album, a planned follow-up to Pin Ups, his 1973 collection of cover versions.[4] Talking to Rolling Stone shortly before the release of Reality, he said of his recording of "Try Some, Buy Some": "We were pretty true to the original arrangement, but the overall atmosphere is somewhat different. It's a dense piece."[5]

Bowie and Visconti produced both the stereo and 5.1 mix in the studio as the album was recorded. Of the 5.1 mix, Visconti said "My approach to 5.1 is to be involved, to have instruments wrapped around you rather than in front of you. Rather than putting you in the audience seat I actually put you in the band, and so that's what I did with Reality. Also, I put a slap-back on the vocal in the rear speakers to again create space."[4]

Bowie usually recorded his vocals for songs in just one or two takes. Visconti remarked that Bowie had recently quit smoking, and as a result "he's recaptured some of his high range. He'd lost at least five semitones, and he's now gained most of them back. I mean, in the old days he used to sing 'Life on Mars?' in the key of C. Now he has to sing it in the key of G."[4]

Album title

Bowie chose 'Reality' as the album title because, "I feel that reality has become an abstract for so many people over the last 20 years. Things that they regarded as truths seem to have just melted away, and it's almost as if we're thinking post-philosophically now. There's nothing to rely on any more. No knowledge, only interpretation of those facts that we seem to be inundated with on a daily basis. Knowledge seems to have been left behind and there's a sense that we are adrift at sea. There's nothing more to hold on to, and of course political circumstances just push that boat further out.[4]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic74/100[6]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[7]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music3/5 stars[8]
Entertainment WeeklyC+[9]
The Guardian4/5 stars[10]
Mojo4/5 stars[11]
Pitchfork7.3/10[12]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide3/5 stars[14]
Uncut4/5 stars[15]
USA Today3/4 stars[16]

Reality has received positive reviews from music critics. A contemporary review of the album by the BBC called the album "a proper album, with a beginning, a middle and an end. It's direct, warm, emotional honest, even and the surfeit of pleasingly deceptive musical simplicity allows the irony of the central concept – that there is no such thing as reality anymore – an opportunity to filter through. It's also rather lively and convincing." The same review called this and his earlier album Earthling Bowie's "best album since Scary Monsters."[1] Eric Carr of Pitchfork gave the album a positive review, writing: "What last year's Heathen implied, and what Reality seems to prove, is that...Bowie has finally joined us all in the present, mind-young as ever but old enough not to make a show of it."[12] He further complimented its relaxed nature and considered its original songs as far superior to its covers; he criticised his cover of "Try Some, Buy Some" and felt "Pablo Picasso" was an improvement, but overall subpar compared to the originals. He ultimately called the album "pretty good" and believed it cemented his status as a modern artist.[12] Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian similarly praised the album, calling it "touching, intelligent" and that it "gels unexpectedly well". She complimented Bowie's vocal performance and wrote that on the concept of 'reality', "the lyrics leave you guessing."[10] Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone praised the covers and felt the guitar work on "New Killer Star" was reminiscent of Bowie's work on Lou Reed's 1972 album Transformer. He ultimately believed Bowie succeeded in searching for 'reality', to the artist's "mixed dismay and amusement".[13]

In a review for the limited-edition box set David Bowie Box (2007), critic Thom Jurek described Reality as a "schizophrenic recording", on which the covers of George Harrison's "Try Some, Buy Some" and the Modern Lovers' "Pablo Picasso" "[distinguish] this set more than anything else".[17] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic praised the album, complimenting the way Bowie and Visconti were able to modernise their former 1970s sound. While he called its predecessor "an amalgam of Hunky Dory to "Heroes", he writes that Reality picks up where its predecessor left off, creating an amalgam of "Heroes" to Scary Monsters.[7] He felt that the album was "artier" than Heathen, but "similar in feel" and "just as satisfying." He concluded: "Both records are testaments to the fact that veteran rockers can make satisfyingly classicist records without resulting in nostalgia or getting too comfortable."[7]

Release history

Over the promotional period, the album was released in a variety of formats. The standard release was a single jewel case CD version, followed by the CD with a bonus CD of three tracks in digipak format as well as a European gatefold limited edition version with a bonus CD of eight tracks. The album was then released as a multichannel hybrid SACD, and then reissued with a bonus live DVD recorded in London.[18]

Live performances

Bowie took the album on tour in 2003 and 2004 on what was originally planned to be a 7-month tour.[4]

Track listing

All tracks are written by David Bowie, except where noted.

Reality – Standard edition
No.TitleLength
1."New Killer Star"4:40
2."Pablo Picasso" (Jonathan Richman)4:06
3."Never Get Old"4:25
4."The Loneliest Guy"4:11
5."Looking for Water"3:28
6."She'll Drive the Big Car"4:35
7."Days"3:19
8."Fall Dog Bombs the Moon"4:04
9."Try Some, Buy Some" (George Harrison)4:24
10."Reality"4:23
11."Bring Me the Disco King"7:45
Total length:49:25
Reality – Japanese edition
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
12."Waterloo Sunset"Ray Davies3:28
Total length:52:53
Reality – Limited 2CD Digipak edition (disc 2)
No.TitleLength
1."Fly"4:10
2."Queen of All the Tarts (Overture)"2:53
3."Rebel Rebel" (2002 re-recording)3:10
Total length:10:13
Reality – European limited 2CD gatefold edition (disc 2)
No.TitleWriter(s)Length
1."Waterloo Sunset"Davies3:28
2."Fly" 4:10
3."Queen of All the Tarts (Overture)" 2:53
4."Rebel Rebel" (2002 re-recording) 3:10
5."Love Missile F1 Eleven"Martin Degville, Tony James, Neal Whitmore4:15
6."Rebel Never Gets Old" (Radio mix) 3:27
7."Rebel Never Gets Old" (7th Heaven edit) 4:19
8."Rebel Never Gets Old" (7th Heaven mix) 7:23
Limited DVD tour edition

The DVD features a promotional concert where the whole album was played live track by track. It was recorded at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, London on 8 September 2003. On the Canadian reissue, the live DVD was truncated down to five tracks.

DualDisc edition

A DualDisc edition was released initially in the Boston and Seattle regions of the US only. The CD side contains the album, whereas the DVD side contains the album in 5.1 surround sound and bonus material (photo gallery, lyrics, biography, and discography). Of most interest is the otherwise unavailable Reality film featuring full-length videos of "Never Get Old", "The Loneliest Guy", "Bring Me the Disco King" and "New Killer Star" directed by Steven Lippman. About half a year later this edition was released nationwide in the US and Canada.

The original test marketed DualDisc version differs in packaging and in the design on the inlay card from the version that was later released nationwide.

Personnel

Credits per biographer Nicholas Pegg.[19]

Additional personnel

Production

Charts and certifications

References

  1. ^ a b Easlea, Daryl (2002). "David Bowie Reality Review". BBC. Archived from the original on 23 May 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  2. ^ David Wild. "Bowie's Wedding Album". Rolling Stone (21 January 1993): 14.
  3. ^ O'Leary 2018, pp. 546–554.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Buskin, Richard. "David Bowie & Tony Visconti Recording Reality". Sound on Sound. Archived from the original on 6 June 2015. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  5. ^ Peisner, David (15 July 2003). "Bowie Back With 'Reality': September set features Modern Lovers, Ronnie Spector covers". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 14 April 2018. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  6. ^ Reality (Review), metacritic, archived from the original on 22 March 2013, retrieved 16 January 2013
  7. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Reality – David Bowie". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 17 June 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  8. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press.
  9. ^ "Reality". Entertainment Weekly: 85. 19 September 2003.
  10. ^ a b Sullivan, Caroline (12 September 2003). "David Bowie, Reality". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  11. ^ Mojo Oct 2003, p.104
  12. ^ a b c Carr, Eric (16 September 2003). "David Bowie: Reality Album Review". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 1 December 2011. Retrieved 31 October 2011.
  13. ^ a b DeCurtis, Anthony (10 September 2003). "David Bowie: Reality". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 12 September 2017. Retrieved 12 September 2017.
  14. ^ The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. 2004. pp. 97–98.
  15. ^ Uncut Oct 2003, p.112
  16. ^ Edna Gundersen (15 September 2003). "Listen Up (David Bowie: Reality)". USA Today. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
  17. ^ Jurek, Thom. "David Bowie Box – David Bowie". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  18. ^ Ivan Claudio (24 September 2003). "Jovialidade sem botox" (in Portuguese). Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
  19. ^ Pegg 2016, p. 450.
  20. ^ "Mario J. McNulty". Joe D’Ambrosio Management. Archived from the original on 1 May 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2013.
  21. ^ "Australiancharts.com – David Bowie – Reality". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  22. ^ "Austriancharts.at – David Bowie – Reality" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  23. ^ "Ultratop.be – David Bowie – Reality" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  24. ^ "Ultratop.be – David Bowie – Reality" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  25. ^ "David Bowie Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved 24 October 2012.
  26. ^ "Danishcharts.dk – David Bowie – Reality". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  27. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – David Bowie – Reality" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  28. ^ "Eurochart". Billboard. 4 October 2003. p. 65. Archived from the original on 30 March 2018. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  29. ^ "finnishcharts.com David Bowie – Reality" (ASP). Archived from the original on 1 March 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  30. ^ "Lescharts.com – David Bowie – Reality". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  31. ^ "Officialcharts.de – David Bowie – Reality". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  32. ^ "Top 75 Artist Album, Week Ending 18 September 2003". Irish Recorded Music Association. Chart-Track. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  33. ^ "Italiancharts.com – David Bowie – Reality". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  34. ^ "デヴィッド・ボウイ-リリース-ORICON STYLE-ミュージック" [Highest position and charting weeks of Reality by David Bowie]. oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Oricon Style. Archived from the original on 5 March 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2013.[verification needed]
  35. ^ "Charts.nz – David Bowie – Reality". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  36. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – David Bowie – Reality". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  37. ^ "Portuguesecharts.com – David Bowie – Reality". Hung Medien.
  38. ^ "Hits of the World" (PDF). Billboard.
  39. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – David Bowie – Reality". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  40. ^ "Swisscharts.com – David Bowie – Reality". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  41. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  42. ^ "David Bowie Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard.
  43. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 2003". Ultratop (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 3 January 2015. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  44. ^ "Rapports annuels 2002". Ultratop (in French). Hung Medien. Archived from the original on 15 February 2017. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
  45. ^ "Classement Albums – année 2003". Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (in French). Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  46. ^ "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 2003" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Archived from the original on 30 October 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
  47. ^ "Les Albums Or". infodisc.fr. SNEP. Archived from the original on 28 August 2012. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
  48. ^ "French album certifications – David Bowie – Reality" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  49. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – David Bowie – Reality". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  50. ^ "British album certifications – David Bowie – Reality". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 10 October 2012. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Reality in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  51. ^ Caulfield, Keith (21 November 2008). "Ask Billboard: Girls Aloud, David Bowie, Brits". Billboard. Retrieved 3 February 2020.

Sources

  • O'Leary, Chris (2018). Ashes to Ashes: The Songs of David Bowie 1976–2018. London: Repeater Books. ISBN 978-1-91224-836-0.
  • Pegg, Nicholas (2016). The Complete David Bowie (Revised and Updated ed.). London: Titan Books. ISBN 978-1-78565-365-0.

External links

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