“One side of me is experimental and the other side of me wants to make something that people can get into and I don’t know fucking why! Why am I like this?”
—David Bowie

This week I’m on to The Buddha of Suburbia, which I never paid much attention to before. I wasn’t even aware it existed for at least a decade after it came out — it wasn’t released in the U.S. at the time, and this pre-Outside era marked a low point in my interest in what David was doing.

Chris O’Leary is a big advocate for B of S, and I guess I can see why — if you’d heard it in 1993 you might have given it the “Best Album Since Scary Monsters” label (especially if you weren’t as big a fan of Tin Machine II as me). But it seems more like a footnote to the great man’s catalog than the Great Lost Bowie Record.

I’m trying though. Unfamiliar Bowie albums are a dwindling resource. I even went so far as to watch the 1960 Kirk Douglas/Kim Novak movie from which Dave may have lifted the title for “Strangers When We Meet”:


It’s pretty good. Ernie Kovacs does a nice job as the wacky writer Kirk is building a house for, and Walter Matthau gets a rare chance to show off his sinister side. I give it three and a half stars.

As for Buddha of Suburbia…. part of the problem may be that it’s bizarrely sequenced, jumping back and forth between upbeat pop tunes and whispery ambient pieces. Would it be better if it were structured like Low, with a song side and an instrumental/experimental side? Let’s find out.