When you think back to 1995, you remember a time when we didn’t obsess over our mobile phones and social media accounts. In fact, most of us didn’t even own a mobile phone. We did still own stereo systems and turntables. It was a time when album releases still had substance and meaning. Liner notes, printed lyrics, thoughtful sleeve art and content that delivered a great musical pleasure. It was in this year that Bowie himself re-affirmed his place in the world of cutting edge with an album of macabre styles and influences.
1. Outside: released 25 September 1995
Highest U.K. chart position: 8
Highest US chart position: 21
In late 1994, Bowie penned a diary of sorts to be published in a special edition of Q magazine. Within its pages sat a rather ghastly story of art ritual murders, crime lords and all sorts of shady characters that the main character, Detective Nathan Adler was in persuit of following the death of 14 year old, Baby Grace. Almost a year later, 1. Outside appeared in record stores where the Nathan Adler Diaries came to life as Bowie took on the role of multiple characters.
It was all cutting edge, avaunt garde techno, jazz remnants, industrial riffs and jungle elements mashed together in a desirable way that the critics failed to grasp. The album was panned at the time of release with many journalists citing Bowie to be too far over the hill for this type of lark. For those of us who knew what he was up to, this album of splendour was all we could listen to as the year drew to a close.
The supporting tour and set list confirmed he was back. On tour with Nine Inch Nails, playing obscure set lists to fuck the Phil Collins fans off he picked up just over a decade before, dressing in pvc and making some seriously fucking strange video clips to accompany it all. As an 18 year old, I was enjoying the British music revival happening around the same time but 1. Outside was just something entirely different to anything else out there.
I tried playing segments of the album to class mates at school but they were not having a bar of the album. It was way too left of centre for most of them to understand or appreciate but it didn’t bother me in the slightest. They were the ones missing out! There was even one time on a local bus where the driver stopped the bus and told me to turn the “racket” down. This was during Hallo Spaceboy being played through my Walkman headphones at full tilt.
As it turns out, 1. Outside was an afterthought following the rejection of Bowie’s first attempt at converting the Adler diaries into an album. We have since been given the pleasure of hearing the previously unreleased Leon Tapes which point towards a more sinister release that was shelved in favour of something with slightly more commercial appeal if you could call it that?
What 1. Outside reinforces is that you should always be looking to push the boundaries in every aspect of your life. It simply makes it more of a pleasurable experience to live.