Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

David Bowie: Changesbowie [Rykodisc, 1990]
It isn't just the usual useless bonuses that make the self-serving Sound + Vision unlistenable--Bowie's personal reissue program monumentalizes a monumentally inefficient music machine. Sure he can hit the nail on the head, sometimes for a whole side (first five tracks of Hunky Dory, which now yields a prev unrel good song) or even album (the just-out Station to Station, though these days I find myself making allowances for "Stay" as well as the Johnny Mathis cover--and welcoming the prev unrel live bait). But he's always churned out pomp and dreck, especially in theatre mode. So given his nonstop chameleon act, the consistency of this 18-cut best-of--the superb Changesonebowie plus not much Changestwobowie and too much Let's Dance--is an industrial marvel. Just goes to show that when he lowers himself the man does understand how music works. And that sometimes horrible vocals are all the stylistic unity you need. A