It’s been a while hasn’t it? Perhaps too long? Yet as the week begins to tick away Bowie is back with a bang! As I write Bowie sits atop the national charts in England, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Finland, New Zealand and Holland. What’s more “The Next Day” is perched comfortably at number 2 in Australia and the USA.
The remarkable achievement of this new album is that it has sold with no publicity from Bowie himself. No interviews, concerts or sing songs on morning shows to promote what critics are calling the greatest comeback in music history. Perhaps what makes this comeback even more remarkable is that in the USA we have to go all the way back to 1976 when the funk fueled “STATIONTOSTATION” album peeked at number 3 giving Bowie his highest chart placing to this day. Now, some 37 years on and Bowie has gone in at second place in the States selling in excess of 90,000 units in the first week.
Sales in the UK have been spectacular! “The Next Day” has sold 94,000 units, double that of the new Bon Jovi album. Stadium rock anthem specialists Bon Jovi have stopped Bowie from hitting top spot in America and Australia. News filtering in this evening has also seen Bowie’s 1971 classic “Hunky Dory” re-enter the UK charts at the number 87 spot and his “Best of” collection has re-entered in 97th spot.
One has to go back some 20 years to Bowie’s 1993 release, “Black Tie, White Noise” to find his last number 1 album in the UK. It was in April that year that Bowie knocked fresh newcomers Suede off the top of the charts. Ironically Suede have returned this week with their first album in eleven years yet it seems unlikely that Suede will be able to do a reversal on Bowie with “Bloodsports”. However stranger things have happened.
Building the Bowie momentum is the new exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. “David Bowie is…” will open later this week and showcase his 40 plus year history in the music business with never before seen footage, personal journal accounts and stage costumes going all the way back to the flamboyant Ziggy Stardust era of 1972.
“David Bowie Is…” has already become the fastest selling event in the history of the V&A Museum. A selection of music icons were recently sent along to preview the show and Pulp front man Jarvis Cocker summed up the exhibition in a beautiful way.
“The main thing that will impress people as they go round the V&A is the sheer volume of stuff that Bowie has done, it made me feel very lazy. He made a real impact on our culture: he brought a lot of those quite subversive and alternative ideas right into people’s living rooms. It’s an important exhibition; I think it will stick in people’s minds for a long time. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
The momentum behind this absurdly genius like comeback from the most important and influential artist fo the past 50 years has been something to behold. And with live tour dates set to be announced for later this year the Bowie bandwagon is only going to grow and grow. Lady Gaga has been Tweeting to her adoring fans this week that they should go out and buy the new Bowie album, in turn opening a whole new generation to the world of David Bowie. And what a world it is to explore!
Only a few months ago it seemed impossible that Bowie would ever return to the studio let alone top music charts around the world. One thing we already know is that the music world is in a grand place when David Bowie is releasing albums.