It’s been over five years since David Bowie was cruelly taken away from the mortal world. I still have a vivid memory of it: I was a senior in high school, and just the day before I had listened to ‘Blackstar’ on the recommendation of my close friend Danny, a huge Bowie fan. I remember thinking it was a scary, dense piece of art jazz that went right over my head. The next morning, before the sun was even up, the news was in. All I could do was put my hand on Danny’s shoulder when I saw him the next morning. The sense of loss and grief, even to two teenagers in America who were born after most of his earth-shattering work was released, was palpable.
The legacy of Bowie will never die. Concepts like “pop music” and “art” will fall by the wayside as culture devolves and we all revert back to ape people or transcend into the stars, but through it all someone, somewhere, of some indistinct species, will still be listening to ‘Starman’. It’s meant to be.
In that spirit of eternal existence, a new David Bowie tribute album has just been released, featuring innovative and sometimes wildly experimental, but always faithful and reverent, covers of some of Bowie’s biggest hits and deepest cuts.
There’s no point in trying to replicate Bowie’s music verbatim, but you can try and replicate his chameleon-like ability to juggle genre tropes and musical styles. That’s what most of the artists go for here: Lea Sen’s airy and mournful take on ‘Golden Years’, Matthew Tavares’ hard bop interpretation of ‘Heroes’, FOXTROTT’s minimalist rhythmic deconstruction of Diamond Dogs’ glammed out ‘Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family’. It all exists in the progressive platitude that Bowie himself chased his entire career. It all feels like something Bowie himself would find, at the very least, amusing.
The album was curated by industry executive Drew McFadden and BBE label boss Peter Adarkwah with the express purpose of interpreting Bowie’s music through artists with wildly varying styles. It’s a bold move to pay tribute to a bold artist, and most of the album’s tracks feel like rewarding winners. Some meander, but most soar, and that’s no small feet when it comes to covering David Bowie.
Check out the Modern Love tribute album down below.