Artist: David Bowie
Label: Sony Legacy
Release Date: 11/11/2016
No amount of greatest hits packages or reissues of classic material will ever assuage the sadness and sense of loss that accompanied David Bowie’s unexpected passing earlier this year. However, each reaffirms just how essential and important he was as far as his contributions to music’s evolution, from its flights of fancy to its recognition as a serious, thought-provoking art form with philosophical and emotional intent. Legacy accomplishes all that and more, offering a collection of Bowie’s classic material that begins with his pre-Ziggy era — when he first attracted notice mostly by dressing in drag — to his final work, Blackstar and the attendant stage show that evolved with it shortly after its release.
Most of the material is already overly familiar, of course — “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Young Americans,” “Let’s Dance” and the like — but here, collected all in one place, it makes for as impressive a collection as any ever assembled for one individual artist. With 40 songs in all, it picks up the odd threads as well — soundtrack offerings, duets with Queen, Mick Jagger and the Pet Shop Boys and the odd single — while giving equal weight to later albums that often paled in recognition compared to his early iconic efforts. Revisits to songs such as “I’m Afraid of Americans,” “New Killer Star” and “Absolute Beginners” reinforces the notion that while Bowie may have evolved and become less dependent on snappy hooks and resilient refrains, his music was no less intriguing or essential as his career progressed. So while the inclusion of some rarities or outtakes might have made Legacy more essential for the completist, it does serve as a reminder of why we’ll be likely to mourn his loss for many years to come.