Vinyl Vlog 239

Vinyl Vlog 239

Monday, 24 July 2017

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the 2LP edition of Legacy by David Bowie.
On the surface, the existence of Legacy – the newest compilation of the greatest hits from David Bowie’s songbook – likely comes off as a little confusing. The set arrived almost two years to the day after Nothing Has Changed (a.k.a. The greatest hits comp which was curated by the artist himself) and, name-for-name, features a very, very (very – it’s about 75% the same, in fact) similar which calls into question the reasoning for the release. The questions become even more poignant when one realizes that, while the track lists are smiliar, most of the versions on Legacy are the edited, “Single Versions” of the songs – meaning they’re not complete. Again, on the surface, the first and most obvious question is why such a release would be of any interest at all and the answer is simple: this album was done post-humously and with material from Bowie’s final album ? included because the desire was to present as complete an image of the singer as possible while still keeping the idea contained to a greatest hits collection. While the methodology makes sense, it’s hard not to get a little cynical, regardless; Bowie’s catalogue of material was twenty-five albums deep so even getting one song from each title would be impossible. That said, some critics may curse and call Legacy redundant or awkwardly redacted and call the governing bodies at Sony and Legacy charlatans for approving its release.By the same token however, speaking as someone who’s first exposure to David Bowie’s music was via a hits compilation (ChangesOneBowie in my case – purchased at a garage sale in the Eighties), the desire to have as complete a picture as possible while still operating on a tight budget is perfectly understandable too. In that spirit, Legacy offers a solid starting point for interested parties to get their feet wet and decide if diving in after that first exposure is something they’d be interested in.

Even with all of the above possible motivation in mind and while still keeping one eye on the criticism which always flies in the direction of Bowie compilations, it’s hard not to be impressedby the number of standards that Legacy upsets. Here, for example, no effort is made to try and present Bowie’s music in chronological order (to put none too fine a point on it, Legacy‘s A-side opens with “Let’s Dance” which was released in 1983) but rather to just present an artist’s best wares while attempting to keep a consistent energy level and good flow in place. That does indeed work well as listeners find the progression between “Let’s Dance,” “Ashes To Ashes” and “Under Pressure” (on the A-side – similar transitions run through “Starman,” “Ziggy Stardust” and “The Jean Genie” on the B-side, “Rebel Rebel,” “Young Americans” and “Golden Years” on the album’s C-side and “Fame,” “Sound and Vision” and “Heroes” on its D-side) smooth, seamless and pleasurable, and they’ll also find that the refreshed texture that the remastering process the artist did himself before he died to be very impressive (check out how beautiful and detailed the mix of “Heroes” is here – as a seasoned Bowie fan, there are aspects of the layering of parts here which were impossible to get a sense of before – at least, to my ears). It doesn’t take long for listeners to find themselves perfectly hooked by this set and love it for the great (but, yes, fans will say superficial) mixtape/compilation it is. True, fans will be justified in complaining about the omission of one track or another (this critic would have liked to see any material included from Lodger, Low or Earthling, but I recognize that’s a matter of personal taste), but understanding the limitations inherent to only including so much on vinyl makes that permissible.

All that said, yes, fans will be able to complain about Legacy, just as they’ve complained about Bowie hits compilations since as far back as ChangesOneBowie. Fans will not find everything they want on Legacy, but that’s not the point – this release is not for big fans. Rather, Legacy is a release which shows its training wheels pretty plainly; this set is intended to bait new potential fans with some spectacular music – just enough to get them digging into the stacks to find more. This record is intended to inspire a new love affair – not sustain one. [Bill Adams]


Legacy is out now. Buy it here on Amazon.

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