Bowie's Outside Is The Goods

OK. Now we can tell you. The upcoming Bowie album, due out September 24,

which we had listened to five times, is a brilliant album. Bowie is back, and

much of Outside is as good as it gets. The album is, as previously

reported, a collaboration with Brian Eno. Eno is co-producer, a role he

fulfilled with elan for the experimental Bowie trilogy of '70s albums:

Low, Heroes and Lodger. Eno, known for reshuffling if

not flat out breaking the rules when he produces an album, was the right

choice to re-make, re-model Bowie for re-entry into mid-'90s relevancy. "One

of our main considerations was that we would walk into the studio unprepared

but for a couple of skinny maxims and good shoes," writes Bowie in the

album's liner notes. "As for musicians, it was important to choose those who

were not weighed down with musical cliche, who had terrific control over

their abilities yet were a bit loony." Some of those slightly "loony" fellows

include pianist Mike Garson who appeared on Aladdin Sane, Soul Asylum

drummer Sterling Campbell, guitarist Reeves Gabrels and rhythm guitarist

Carlos Alomar. In the liner notes, Bowie says he made use of a computer

program that randomized his writing like a "sort of electronic Bill Burroughs

'cut-up' machine." Eno was up to his old tricks. He used instruction cards,

which were passed out to musicians. The cards said things like: "You are the

last remaining survivor of a catastrophic event and you will endeavor to play

in such a way as to prevent feelings of loneliness developing within

yourself," and "You are a disgruntled ex-member of a South African rock band.

Play the notes they won't allow." Bowie noted that "my card informed me that

I was a soothsayer and town-crier bringing stories and news to a society

where information networks had broken down."