Sunday, February 26, 2017

delivered day of release

hey there pop pickers

there are oh, so many areas where i would yield and consent to the declaration that i was a failure. it would be quite fair and, look you see, reasonable to suggest that i have failed to make the grade in many areas. one such area would, to be sure, in fulfilling my passion if not obsession for purchasing musical recording releases on the day of release.

to be fair and to be sure there's only been two releases this year that i would normally, if not nominally, have liked to have been at HMV to purchase on the day of release. in being even fairer, one of them - that one off of Rick Wakeman - was a record i only found out about long after release. the second was one that i could not gamble on not getting, however.

indeed, as you can see in the medium of Commodore 64 mode with the scan lines most decidedly on, what we, or if you like i, speak of here is the No Plan ep off of David Bowie.

whilst i understand that if you have any interest in this all it is limited to the record alone, but still it's my blog so i will write as i will. the announcement of a physical release of this was one i greeted with much joy. initially the four tracks of the ep were "digital only", and came out on what would have been David Bowie's 70th birthday and what was near enough is close enough to have been the first anniversary of his passing. yes, i bought the digital download at the time.

everything about the physical format release, however, said "limited number". to this end, a number of online retailers indicated that they had sold out of it when i looked. with HMV not coming back to me in a timely way to say they would be stocking it, rather than risk missing out i, or rather my (considerably) better half, placed an order for me for it from the world's most well known grocer.

the above is indeed the inside of the physical release of the No Plan ep. that there is further indeed the last known photograph of David Bowie; at the least it is the last officially released portrait image of him.

it strikes me that there's a generation out there that is perhaps not sure of what an ep is as such. this is not their fault, for the term sort of fell away long before the physical format of music in any sense fell out of favour around the turn of the century. "ep" stands for "extended play". it was used to refer to a release that wasn't a standard 7" single but was also short of being an album. 4 - 5 tracks would have been standard for such a release, back when we went and bought music. from a price perspective, usually the cost was somewhere between a 7" single and an album, often rather close to what one would pay for a 12" remix single.

for what reason are these tracks out as an ep, then? well, it brings together the three songs which David Bowie recorded for the Lazarus stage production which he was heavily involved with, and adds the song of the same name of the play to it.

this is not the first time these three songs have had a physical format release. all three appeared on the Lazarus original cast recording, from what i remember as an "extra" bonus disc. no, the original cast recording of the music of Lazarus did not sell all that well - not many rushed to buy music that would not make sense without seeing the stage production, or if you like play, and at the time of release only a few hundred people in New York could possibly have seen it.

never mind all that, is this any good? yes, it is. with these being declared as his final ever studio recordings there is an immediate temptation to declare them brilliant on that basis alone. but no, they happen to be rather good songs in their own right. good songs which, but of course, one cannot but help read things into, since they were composed and recorded at a time when he knew he was not long for this world.

there was something of an expectation, if not anticipation, that the three songs would be released as part of a Blackstar special edition, along the lines of what happened with the previously unreleased tracks that came along on The Next Day Extra. a DVD, or even Blu Ray, of the videos for Lazarus and Blackstar would have been welcome, but for now it seems this is not to be.

i am sure the three songs here make some different form of contextual sense if seen and heard as part of the Lazarus stage production. as this is a luxury not afforded to me and millions of other listeners, we can but go on what we know.

with the above being the case, it's hard. as in, it is hard not to hear the song No Plan as anything but Bowie exploring the fact that he didn't plan on ever not being around, with some musing perhaps on the fact that his music is all that will remain to remind. as in it's difficult to accept Killing A Little Time is anything other than a much, much more angry confrontation of impending death than the peace with it expressed in Lazarus and Blackstar. as in it's virtually impossible to hear When I Met You as anything but a final, moving, sweet declaration of love for Iman.

the above could be all wrong, i would accept that being the case gladly. but, you know, this is me, and i can only hear these songs as i hear them. there are those out there who say we should not be reading as much as we do into songs like Blackstar and Lazarus being messages of goodbye, but i fail to see how any other such listening is now possible.

how are the songs musically? very much in keeping with the whole of the Blckstar album. No Plan and Killing A Little Time have the jazzy influence you'd find in Sue (In A Season Of Crime and 'Tis Pity She's A Whore. in contrast, When I Met You in a number of ways echoes mid-80s in terms of rhythm - it's a wonderful, funky "dance to me" piece, and the more i listen to it then the more i think it should perhaps have featured as the final track on Blackstar. but, it didn't.

is this for the more casual Bowie fan? probably not, no, not unless you haven't got the song Lazarus and for some reason want to own it, but not in a way that means you need to own the Blackstar album. those of us who are full on fans will, no doubt, all already have bought this, or will be aiming to purchase the vinyl issue of this ep in April.

does this ep being declared as his final studio recordings mean that this will be the last ever David Bowie release? i would imagine no, not at all. other than the inevitability of further compilations and re-releases to come along, there's still a few unreleased (in an official sense) things that we know of. an entire album, as point of fact, in the form of Toy, although of course Brian Eno keeps tweeting links to where people may find it gratis on the internet.

and so on to the next day of release, then. unless something interesting and exciting happens before it, i would imagine this will be March 17 for the new Depeche Mode album. or maybe one day of the weekend after the 17th, we will see.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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