David Bowie

Glass Spider Live

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No matter how much time passes, it's unlikely that David Bowie will ever be forgiven for Glass Spider, the super-ambitious tour that accompanied the release of his 1987 Never Let Me Down album, and which still stands among rock's most pointlessly extravagant gestures, an outing of such theater and delicate choreography that it took only one gust of wind, or one squeal of feedback, to reduce it to farce. Or so the critics said. This recounting of a typical live show, however, places the entire affair into a considerably less accusatory context, as a sharp set list wanders across Bowie's career-long landscape and, if the excerpts from the new album do still grate ("Day in Day Out" must be one of his worst ever compositions), there's also a sharp eye for the underplayed jewels. Of course, things do get a little pat as the recording moves into the closing straight, and "Let's Dance," "Blue Jean," and "Modern Love" chime out with all their stadium-filling bombast, but there's a lot more to the album than that, and it really does add up to one of Bowie's most unfairly underrated exercises.

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