Continuing to be heard from beyond the grave, musician David Bowie offers the live album, “Ouvrez le Chien (Live Dallas 95).”
Previously included as part of the six-album set available in the ’90s as “Brilliant Live Adventures,” this is just one of numerous sanctioned releases/remasters from the legend’s estate that began famously with Bowie’s post-death plan. Before succumbing to a lengthy battle with cancer on Jan. 10. 2016, two days after his 69th birthday, he personally mapped out “at least” a five-year outline for his cataloged material.
French for “Open the dog” and in reference to a song of his from 1970, “Ouvrez le Chien” chronicles his mid- to late-’90s era. Typically working in Rock, his music was ever evolving, this period particularly under the trendy influence of drum and bass Electronic music, as well as Jungle, an Electronic sub-genre birthed in England.
When an artist tours for multiple decades, they often get into a rut playing the same songs, nightly, to the crowd — usually their most-known hits. Thankfully for the benefit of posterity, Bowie’s live shows usually contained a balanced mix of newer material, back tracks and a few hits.
This set opens with a cut from his Berlin trilogy, “Look Back in Anger” (1979), with the band to no surprise commanding a tight, well-rehearsed sonic train. From Mike Garson’s artsy, schizo piano runs, to Reeve Gabrels’s undoubtedly Nine Inch Nails-esque slicing guitar attack, this group really flexes their musical chemistry. The breakdown about halfway through this song showcases rhythm guitarist Carlos Alomar, combining multiple generations of Pop sounds seamlessly during a ’70s Funk jam.
“The Hearts Filthy Lesson” and “The Voyeur of Utter Destruction” both from “1. Outside”(1995) and written for younger generations of fans at the time, are in their best form here.
Even though “1. Outside” was a conceptual, obscure record about a serial killer, both of the tracks performed on this night in Dallas buffed with Gabrel’s firecracker guitar and venue-shaking drums from Zach Alford, are worth a revisit.
Not to be forgotten amongst the wizardry on stage, Gail Ann Dorsey’s bass on “I Have Not Been to Oxford Town” (1995), “Andy Warhol” (1971), “Breaking Glass” (1977) and later “Under Pressure” (1981), should be noted for always doing exactly what is needed, be it holding Art-Funk grooves or effortlessly changing tempos and styles.
Bowie remixed an Electronic version of “The Man Who Sold The World” (1970) in the ’90s — it’s inclusion here, with Peter Schwartz’s synth contributions, combining with the earlier-mentioned bass and guitars, makes for a uniquely surreal, alien experience.
The last six songs of the set list however, lose momentum, favoring more of his ’90s material.
Two performances of “Under Pressure” (Queen and David Bowie, 1981) and Ziggy Stardust memories rekindled on “Moonage Daydream,” (1972) inject a little more momentum.
If “Ouvrez le Chien (Live Dallas 95)” released digitally in 2020 and physically available later this year isn’t enough of a Bowie fix, check out his estate’s first release of packaged online singles in 2021: “Tryin’ To Get To Heaven,” is a powerful, somber cover of a Bob Dylan song dealing with mortality where the Starman’s vocals are in top form. The second is a cover of his good friend John Lennon’s “Mother” (1970).
It’s an opportune time to remember that Bowie’s voice and style are an acquired taste, it’s a tad odd when he croons reminiscent of The Thin White Duke (another persona of his), where Lennon in comparison, is smooth, yet raw with emotion. Regardless, Bowie again aims for the stars.