David Bowie: the making of ★

The inside story of David Bowie's final studio album

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In April, I did a day of overdubs at Tony’s place [Human Worldwide], some flute on “Blackstar” and another saxophone part for “‘Tis A Pity She Was A Whore”. David and Tony spent a lot of time there, after we did that first round, listening to the stuff over and over and sifting through the material to make it what it is. I know David did some more vocal stuff. One way to think of it, when we were together David and Tony were gathering information, laying it down, then the two of them comb through everything. For instance, we recorded “Blackstar” in two different pieces at Magic Shop. It might have even been on two different days. At the time, David and Tony were talking about how they were going to bridge the gap between the parts, and I think they put it together at Tony’s. When I went in April, it sounded different for sure. They had added strings and the drum part. When I heard the little snippet that’s being used on the TV show [The Last Panthers], I was like, “Yeah, that’s definitely different from what we did.”

We didn’t have a wrap party but I think a big part of that is that Lazarus has been a pretty consuming project for him. We’ve been in contact over the summer and various times he’s said, “I want to organize a listening party, I’ve got so much going on lately.” David’s been super busy with Lazarus. I understand. But hopefully that will happen soon.

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What did I learn from working with David Bowie? He leaves no stone unturned. He listens intently to everyone and is totally present in every moment. David could be very conceptual. When he was giving us feedback, for instance, it was never as black and white as, “I want this to sound like Motown, 1967.” He’d say things that would engage your imagination. You could think about it and figure out what it means to you. I remember him saying once, “That sounds great. How about flying a little more?”

Looking back, I was inspired by David’s songs, by how imaginative he was with the lyrics, and how even the demos had all the elements in place; strong melody, harmony, bass line and drum groove. Seeing how he lives, he’s gracious and generous and doesn’t spend time doing things he doesn’t want to do. He would go over everything we recorded, until he got the music where it felt right. It reaches so far. He is such a deep artist. You know how it is.

The March 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our 19 page David Bowie tribute plus Loretta Lynn, Tim Hardin, Animal Collective, The Kinks, Mavis Staples, The Pop Group, Field Music, Clint Mansell, Steve Mason, Eric Clapton, Bert Jansch,Grant Lee Phillips and more plus our free 15-track CD

Uncut: the spiritual home of great rock music.

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