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(Credit: Linda Browntree)

Music

Damon Albarn's missed David Bowie opportunity

@josephtaysom

Damon Albarn could be easily labelled as the ‘modern David Bowie’ if one was keen to categorise the rise of individualistic creativity. Of course, he is his own man, but many attributes unite them artistically. Most notably, just as Bowie did once before, Albarn doesn’t remain adhered to one specific sound or genre, always striving to move with the times and mood of society.

The Blur singer’s most recent solo album, The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows, reflects the artist that he is today, similarly to how different periods of Bowie reflected his growth as a human too. 

With that, of course, it means that the skill of versatility is yet another characteristic that aligns the two artists. Dependent on when you were born, both Bowie and Albarn mean something different to each listener.

While seemingly operating with a similar ethos in different times of their own creative boom, there was a time when the minds of these two generational talents almost collided. For Albarn, this would have been the realisation of a lifelong ambition, but things fell apart, and he never regained the chance to record with his hero.

Through Gorillaz, Albarn has collaborated with artists that he grew up admiring, including The Cure’s Robert Smith, Bobby Womack, Lou Reed, and many more. However, working alongside Bowie, regrettably remained out of grasp. Although momentarily, it did seem to be on the cards.

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“David Bowie asked me and Ray Davies to make an album with him,” Albarn recalled to The Scotland Herald. “It was actually a serious thing we were going to do.

“He summoned me when he was playing in Switzerland into the labyrinth of his backstage and I went to see him and he said, ‘Well, we’re going to do this but if this tour keeps doing as well as it is then I’m going to carry on touring.'”

However, unsurprisingly, there was no shortage of demand for Bowie’s concerts, and he ended up staying glued to the road. “And that’s why there’s no album. I regret that one. I just imagine what that might have sounded like,” Albarn added.

While the Blur frontman classifies letting this project slip out of his hand as a “regret”, he wasn’t culpable for the opportunity collapsing. However, he did add: “Dr Dre, Prince, and Kendrick Lamar. I missed all three of those. All my fault. Which is quite a lot of people to miss”.

One can only imagine the magic Albarn, Davies, and Bowie could have concocted together in a studio. They are all rich figures in the tapestry of British music which transcend generations, and unfortunately, with Bowie now departed, the project will never come to fruition. However, Albarn did have the pleasure of performing ‘Fashion’ with Bowie in 2003. Admittedly, it’s not the same as creating a body of work together; it’s more than a consolatory prize and provides a glimpse into what they could have created together.

See that performance, below.