Review: Stage

by Jeffrey Morgan / Cream Magazine

January 1979

It is no use looking for the ‘real’ Schiele in one or another of the images that make up this gallery of grotesques, for narcissism on this scale is a theatre of the mind in which the self plays every role – hero and victim, lover and beloved, oppressed and opressor. They are all the real Schiele.

Hilton Kramer on Egon Schiele in the Sunday New York Times, 1978.

Uh, I’d been listening to a Neil Young album and, uh, they phoned through and said that my wife had a baby on Sunday morning and I wrote this about the baby…

David Bowie introducing “Kooks” on BBC’s In Concert, 1971.

Maybe David Bowie should start listening to Neil Young albums again – they just might shame him into composing some solid material for a change. At least after Harvest, Young had the guts to pull himself out of the dross mainstream before it was to late. Bowie, unfortunately, has been churning out Ziggy Stardust albums in one form or another, non-stop since 1972.

In other words, it’s all been a straight pack of lies, kids.

….On the Heroes tour, Bowie had the audacity to try and placate his audiences with a set of Ziggy tunes – almost as if he were in effect saying, “Thanks for putting up with the instrumentals. As a reward for being so patient…” Now, with “Stage“, he compounds the crime, adding insult to injury by using the Ziggy set as a side one come-on to buy the album. Not that it matters anymore, *cause it doesn’t.

….Damned if I know what is, but soemthing happened to David Bowie back in 1972 that has seriously imparied the quality of his songwriting over the past seven years. Maybe he ain’t got the power anymore, maybe it is too late but, whatever the reason (either he can’t or just doesn’t want or feel the need anymore), Bowie hasn’t written a song that can stand up to “Letter To Hermione,” “After All,” “Quicksand,” “Kooks,” or “The Bewlay Brothers” in terms of honesty, maturity, sensetivity, authentic compassion andand, most importantly, believabillity, since the release of “Hunky Dory” in December of 1971.

….Young Americans” came close in spots, as did “Word On A Wing” and portions of “Station To Station“. ” Even “Heroes” and “Sons Of The Silent Age” had that “Man Who Sold The World” feel to it, but just because a Bowie song sounds like it’s saying something important is no reason to believe that it actually is. (atmosphare and acting have always been Bowie’s forte: his tear-at-your-heart “Gimme Your Hands” scream at the end of “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide” has only just recently been matched by the bravado “I can remember…” sequence in “Heroes“.) Eno even admits as much when he confides that on “Heroes,” “the most important contribution…is what Fripp plays, because that really gave it the heroic quality, that grand quality.”

….What all this amounts to is that coming from a man who once wrote a “Song For Bob Dylan,” only to live long enough to see those very words he once used to describe someone else now apply to himself, Bowie’s most musically mature work since “Hunky Dory” has been his instrumentals: compositions which are, significantly, devoid of any lyrics. It therefore comes as no surprise that “Stage’s” best moments can be found during the last twenty seconds of “Beauty And The Beast” and the drone highlights from “Low” and “Heroes“.

….It has always been Bowie’s life itself which has been his own personalized art form, not his records. And, in the final analysis, it will be his ideas which will ultimately prove to be of more value than the actual songs themselves.

….In theory, Bowie’s musical ambitions have always been of a loftier, cinematic nature. In practice, though, and at the rate he’s been going, albums like “Stage” are strictly Made For TV all the way.

….I have this theory that if you attack people on faith – even heroes, like John Lennon – history will later justify you. Because everyone’s an asshole. Let’s face it, we’re all turkeys. After the lustre has worn off you’ll find that these people are all swill. So don’t be canned because you worship them at a certain time in history. Screw ’em.

Michael O’Donahue, 1976.


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