Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hallo Spaceboy: The Rebirth of David Bowie - A Book Review

"In art, you can crash your plane and walk away from it."

If you read my blog regularly, then you already know that I am a huge David Bowie fan. So naturally, I was excited when ECW Press sent a Bowie book that I had never read before. At over 350 pages, Dave Thompson's Hallo Spaceboy: The Rebirth of David Bowie traces the 'lost years' - that would be from the mid-80s to around 1994 - all the way up to 2005. It also acts as a followup to Thompson's previous Bowie bio from 1987, Moonage Daydream.

Although Bowie achieved massive success with 1983's Let's Dance and it's immediate followup, Tonight, artistically they were...well how should I put it - creatively not-up-to-par with his phenomenal achievements in the 70s. In Hallo Spaceboy, Thompson spotlights the 'forgotten' albums - like the lackluster Never Let Me Down (and subsequent Glass Spider Tour), the Tin Machine years and 1993's decent Black Tie White Noise. Lots of information is available about the Ziggy years, so it's a real treat to hear the stories behind these albums and tours. As the title suggests, it is also about his rebirth - starting with 1995's brilliant Outside all the way through his most recent album 2003's Reality. Thompson enlightens us on the comeback and the spark that was put back in Bowie's newer work.

The book is not without fault. I was quite shocked by the author calling 1978's live record Stage abysmal! Come on man, I love that album! A few factual errors had me scratching my head at times, i.e. referring to Jane's Addiction's amazing 1990 album, Ritual de lo Habitual, as the not amazing Strays (which came out in 2003); dating the first Lollapalooza Festival to 1989 (it was 1991) and stating that session drummer Matt Chamberlain was in Soundgarden (that's Matt Cameron). However, those mistakes can be overlooked when compared to all of the goodies within these pages. To add some flair to the text, there are lots and lots of color and black & white photos that I have never seen before, along with reproductions of various ticket stubs and handbills. Also included is a really extensive discography with special attention placed on unofficial live recordings, radio broadcasts and TV appearances.

As a Bowie fanatic, do I recommend Hallo Spaceboy? Definitely. Very few artists have what I would consider 'spotless careers,' and Bowie is no exception, Such as life, we go through transitional periods that make us who we are today. Hallo Spaceboy let's us see that in the life and creations of the great David Bowie.

Buy Hallo Spaceboy on Amazon:  Book or Kindle
Published by ECW Press in June 2006
380 Pages / Trade Paperback Edition / 8 inches by 10 inches

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  1. Thank you for the review! I'll look for this book one day.

  2. Thanks Lew. You will definitely enjoy it. :)

  3. Good review though I am with you on "Stage." Oh well, everyone's a critic!

  4. Thanks Heather! Part of me thinks that he's referring to David Live, which comes from the Diamond Dogs tour (my favorite album), though wasn't the greatest live performance of his.... who knows. The author used to be the editor for Alternative Press Magazine in its golden days, and has written a ton of music bios... Perry Farrell, Depeche Mode, The Furs, etc.... extremely knowledgeable.