Earthling (stylised as EART HL I NG) is the 20th studio album by English recording artist David Bowie. It was originally released in February 1997, on the label Virgin Records, later reissued on BMG Rights Management. The album showcases an electronica-influenced sound partly inspired by the industrial and drum and bass culture of the 1990s. It was the first album Bowie self-produced since his 1974 album Diamond Dogs.
|Studio album by David Bowie|
|Released||3 February 1997|
Recorded at |
The Looking Glass Studios,
in NoHo, Manhattan  
Right Track Recording,
|David Bowie chronology|
|Singles from Earthling|
Background and developmentEdit
David Bowie returned to the studio five days after finishing up his tour for his previous album, 1. Outside (1995). Bowie said "I really thought it would be great if we could do a photo, almost a sonic photograph of what we were like at that time. So, Reeves [Gabrels] and I started writing immediately after we finished on the road." Despite going into the studio with no material ready, the album took only 2 1/2 weeks to record (typical for a Bowie album). Bowie compared this album with his 1980 album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), saying "I think there's quite a link between Scary Monsters and this album, to a certain extent. Certainly, the same intensity of aggression." Bowie described the album as an effort "to produce some really dynamic, aggressive-sounding material."
On the production of the drum and bass sound of the album, Bowie said, "Unlike most drum and bass things, we didn't just take parts from other people's records and sample them. On the snare drum stuff, Zac [Alford] went away and did his own loops and worked out all kinds of strange timings and rhythms. Then we speeded those up to your regular 160 beats per minute. That's very much how we treat the album. We kept all sampling in-house and created our own soundscape in a way."
Earthling was the first Bowie album recorded entirely digitally, "entirely on hard disk." During interviews promoting the album, Bowie stated "I did nearly everything on the guitar. A lot of screechy-scrawly stuff was done on saxophone, then transferred to sampler, and then distorted and worked on the synthesizer."
Bowie and Gabrels used a technique they'd started while working on Bowie's previous album 1. Outside, where they'd transfer bits of guitar to a sampling keyboard and construct riffs from those pieces. "It's real guitar," said Bowie, "but constructed in a synthetic way. But Brian Eno got in the way - in the nicest possible way - so we didn't get to that until this album. We want to go further with that, because it's a very exciting idea." Bowie considered this album, along with its predecessor, to be a "textural diary" of what the last few years of the millennium felt like.
Bowie's and Gabrels' musical influences at the time had a big impact on the sound of the album: Bowie was influenced by a "euro" sound and bands like the Prodigy, while Gabrels was still into the American industrial sound and bands like Underworld.
Bowie said that he approached the production of this album similarly to how he approached Young Americans (1975), saying, "[For Young Americans,] I wanted to work within the Philadelphia soul experience, and the only way that I knew was to bring what's thoroughly European about me to this intrinsically black American format. And this [album was] not a dissimilar situation. It was the hybridizing of the European and the American sensibilities, and for me, that's exciting. That's what I do best. I'm a synthesist.
Bowie summed up the meaning of the songs on the album by saying, "I guess the common ground with all the songs is this abiding need in me to vacillate between atheism or a kind of gnosticism. I keep going backwards and forwards between the two things, because they mean a lot in my life. I mean, the church doesn't enter into my writing, or my thought; I have no empathy with any organised religions. What I need is to find a balance, spiritually, with the way I live and my demise. And that period of time - from today until my demise - is the only thing that fascinates me.
The album's cover features a photograph of Bowie wearing a Union Jack-based coat designed by Alexander McQueen, who had previously designed stage costumes for Bowie and his band. Before the album was released, Bowie considered using Earthlings (plural) for the album's title.
Bowie and the band continued their experimental approach to making music, first used in the Berlin Trilogy: for the track "Looking for Satellites", Bowie told guitarist Gabrels that he "only wanted him to play on one string at a time. ... He was hemmed in by the chord until it changed, and that made his run-up most unorthodox." The guitar riff used for the track "Dead Man Walking" was based on a pattern Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin) had played for Bowie back in the '60s. According to Gabrels, part of the bass track on "Little Wonder" was a recording of bassist Gail Ann Dorsey as she tried to get a sound from her pedalboard while not knowing she was being recorded. For "Battle for Britain", Bowie challenged Mike Garson to play based on "the idea from a piece of Stravinsky wrote called "Ragtime for Eleven Instruments". I said 'If you could kind of get into the character of that...' and he did it immediately."
"Little Wonder" was one of the first tracks Bowie and Gabrels wrote for the album, and Bowie called writing the track a "ridiculous" exercise in pure stream of consciousness. "I just picked Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and made a line for each of the dwarves' names. And that's the song [laughs]. And then I ran out of dwarves' names, so there's new dwarves in it like 'Stinky'."
"I'm Afraid of Americans" was an unused track from the 1. Outside sessions: Bowie said "That was something that Eno and I put together, and I just didn't feel it fit Outside, so it didn't go on it. It just got left behind. So then we took just the embryo of it, and restructured it with this band."
Bowie re-recorded Tin Machine's song "Baby Universal" for inclusion on Earthling. Bowie said "I thought [it] was a really good song and I don't think it got heard. I didn't really want that to happen to it, so I put in on this album. I really like this. I think this version is very good." "Baby Universal" was ultimately not included on the final release of Earthling.
|The Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Though not a major commercial success, the album scored a number of positive reviews with one reviewer calling it a "richly textured" "return to excellence" and another saying the album represented "some of his [Bowie's] finest music in a decade". In the 1998 Grammy Awards Earthling was nominated for Best Alternative Music Performance and the song "Dead Man Walking" was nominated for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. The album performed better than its highly experimental predecessor, Outside, reaching No. 6 in the UK charts and No. 39 in the US. Rolling Stone magazine praised the album, noting that exposure to Nine Inch Nails on Bowie's previous tour had apparently influenced him on this album, and they called it "his best since 1980's Scary Monsters." The album scored a minor hit with a Trent Reznor remix of "I'm Afraid of Americans".
Remixes and music videosEdit
Bowie's enthusiasm for remixing reached its peak when this album was released and the numerous singles from it were also issued to clubs, as well as online: three versions of "Telling Lies" were released on Bowie's official website months prior to the album's release, constituting the first ever downloadable single by a major artist. "Little Wonder" was the album's biggest hit, reaching No. 14 in the UK.
Three more singles — "Dead Man Walking", "Seven Years in Tibet" and "I'm Afraid of Americans" (with participation of Trent Reznor) — did not fare so well, although the latter did remain in the US charts for 16 weeks, peaking at No. 66.
The music videos for Earthling were elaborate. Artist and director Floria Sigismondi directed the short films for "Little Wonder" and "Dead Man Walking", while Dom and Nic directed "I'm Afraid of Americans", the latter being nominated for an MTV Video Music Award. A video was also made for "Seven Years in Tibet", composed largely of concert footage.
Bowie took songs from this album on the road in September 1996, performing four US east coast "club" shows, including one at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City, to positive reviews. Prior to taking the stage for the shows, Bowie would play his new song ("Telling Lies") over the loudspeaker, but as the single was only available for download over the Internet, most fans did not recognize the song. The set list for these shows was similar to the set list he'd use during the upcoming 1997 Earthling Tour.
On 9 January 1997, the day after he turned 50, Bowie held a 50th birthday concert for himself, performing tracks off the album, as well as a selection of songs from his back catalogue. He played to nearly 15,000 fans at New York's Madison Square Garden. Bowie was joined onstage by artists including Billy Corgan, Foo Fighters, Sonic Youth, Black Francis, Robert Smith and Lou Reed, to perform many of his songs. Other non-performing guests included Beck, Moby, Julian Schnabel, Prince, Charlie Sexton, Fred Schneider, Christopher Walken, Matt Dillon and Bowie's wife Iman. Artist Tony Oursler designed some of the artwork for the video backdrop that played behind the band onstage. The event was recorded for a pay-per-view special commemorating the event, and a portion of the proceeds from the event were donated to the charity Save the Children. Tim Pope, who had previously worked with Bowie directing his 1987 video for "Time Will Crawl", directed the 50th Anniversary video, and Duncan Jones, Bowie's son, was one of the camera operators at the event.
At the Phoenix Festival in July 1997, Bowie and his band played in the Radio 1 Dance tent as "Tao Jones Index". They performed in darkness with dry ice and strobe lights. Tao Jones Index was a pun based on Bowie's real name, David Jones, and the 1997 Bowie Bond issue (Tao is pronounced "Dow", as in Dow Jones Index from the US stock market).
Some songs from the album's various live performances were released on the promotional-only album Earthling in the City (1997).
|2.||"Looking for Satellites"||5:21|
|3.||"Battle for Britain (The Letter)"||4:48|
|4.||"Seven Years in Tibet"||Bowie, Gabrels||6:22|
|5.||"Dead Man Walking"||Bowie, Gabrels||6:50|
|7.||"The Last Thing You Should Do"||4:57|
|8.||"I'm Afraid of Americans"||Bowie, Brian Eno||5:00|
|9.||"Law (Earthlings on Fire)"||Bowie, Gabrels||4:48|
|2004 reissue bonus tracks|
|10.||"Little Wonder" (Danny Saber dance mix)||5:34|
|11.||"I'm Afraid of Americans" (Nine Inch Nails V1 mix)||5:31|
|12.||"Dead Man Walking" (Moby mix 2 US promo 12")||5:27|
|13.||"Telling Lies" (Adam F mix)||5:09|
|2004 Digibook expanded edition bonus disc|
|1.||"Little Wonder" (censored video edit)||4:09|
|2.||"Little Wonder" (Junior Vasquez club mix)||8:18|
|3.||"Little Wonder" (Danny Saber dance mix)||5:34|
|4.||"Seven Years in Tibet" (Mandarin version) (Chinese: 剎那天地; literally: "A Fleeting Moment")||4:00|
|5.||"Dead Man Walking" (Moby mix 1)||7:34|
|6.||"Dead Man Walking" (Moby mix 2 US promo 12")||5:27|
|7.||"Telling Lies" (Feelgood mix)||5:09|
|8.||"Telling Lies" (Paradox mix)||5:10|
|9.||"I'm Afraid of Americans" (Showgirls soundtrack version)||5:13|
|10.||"I'm Afraid of Americans" (Nine Inch Nails V1 mix)||5:31|
|11.||"I'm Afraid of Americans" (Nine Inch Nails V1 clean edit)||4:14|
|12.||"V-2 Schneider" (Tao Jones Index) (Live at the Paradiso, Amsterdam, 10 June 1997)||Bowie||7:16|
|13.||"Pallas Athena" (Tao Jones Index) (Live at the Paradiso, Amsterdam, 10 June 1997)||Bowie||8:20|
- "I'm Afraid of Americans" first appeared in 1995 on the soundtrack for the film Showgirls, in a version that was extremely rough compared to the Earthling recording.
- Track 13 of the 2004 reissue, unlike the other bonus tracks on it, is not present on the 2004 Digibook expanded edition reissue's bonus disc.
- Track 11 in the bonus disc for the 2004 Digibook expanded edition is mistakenly labeled as the V1 edit. Apparently, it is an edited album version, which previously only appeared on the 1997 promotional CD "The Radio Edits", along with the edits of "Seven Years in Tibet" (which was later released as a single) and a unique edit of "Looking for Satellites", which has never been released in any other form. Disc 1 in this edition contains a pregap of 36 seconds of silence between "Dead Man Walking" and "Telling Lies".
- The Mandarin lyric interpretation for the dialect group's version of "Seven Years in Tibet" was done by Lin Xi. The project concept comes from Elvin Wong.
Adapted from the Earthling liner notes.
- David Bowie – vocals; guitar; alto saxophone; samples; keyboards
- Reeves Gabrels – programming; synthesisers; real and sampled guitars; vocals
- Mark Plati – programming; loops; samples; keyboards
- Gail Ann Dorsey – bass guitar; vocals
- Zack Alford  – drum loops; acoustic drums; electronic percussion
- Mike Garson – keyboards; piano
Certifications and salesEdit
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||60,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- Discogs - The Looking Glass Studios - (profile & discography)
- "THE LOOKING GLASS STUDIOS".
- IMAGES of liner notes from David Bowie's Earthling album - (published by Virgin Records America, Inc.)
- Brown, Mick (14 December 1996), "A Star Comes Back to Earth After a Lifetime of Identity Crisis", The Daily Telegraph, retrieved 2 August 2013
- Farber, Jim. "Review: Greetings, "Earthling"". Entertainment Weekly. Time, Inc (14 February 1997): 59.
- Lariviere, Aaron (22 March 2013). "David Bowie Albums From Worst To Best: Earthling". Stereogum. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
- Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Review: Earthling – David Bowie". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
- "Seven Years In Tibet". www.teenagewildlife.com. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
- Gore, Joe (June 1997), "Changes 2.1", Guitar Player: 45–58
- Haefeli, Mark (1996), Music Video Shoot, retrieved 24 May 2017
- Laban, Linda (13 February 1997), "Bowie Hits a Fab 50", The Seattle Times: E3
- Kuipers, Dean (March 1997), "David Bowie: Is There Life on Earth?", Raygun magazine (44)
- Isler, Scott (August 1987), "David Bowie Opens Up - A Little", Musician (106): 60–73
- "David Bowie: The FI Interview" by J.D. Considine, Fi magazine, October 1997, pp 36-41
- Paul, George A. (1995), "Bowie Outside Looking In", Axcess magazine, 3 (5): 60–62
- Pond, Steve (March 1997), "Beyond Bowie", Live! magazine, 2 (2)
- Cavanagh, David (February 1997), "ChangesFiftyBowie", Q magazine: 52–59
- Wilkinson, Peter (22 March 2013), "Bowie exhibition charts life of pop's ultimate Starman", CNN, retrieved 10 April 2013
- on YouTube
- Kot, Greg (14 February 1997), "David Bowie Earthling (Virgin)", Chicago Tribune, retrieved 28 August 2013
- Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press.
- Mulvey, John. "David Bowie - Earthling (RCA)". NME. Archived from the original on 17 August 2000. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "David Bowie: Earthling: Pitchfork Review". 15 October 2000. Archived from the original on 15 October 2000.
- Christgau, Robert. "Review: Earthling (Virgin, 1997)". Retrieved 3 August 2009.
- Kemp, Mark. "Review: Earthling – David Bowie". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 5 March 2010.
- The New Rolling Stone Album Guide. Simon & Schuster. 2004. pp. 97–98.
- Salamon, Jeff (March 1997). "Davis Bowie: Earthling (virgin)". Spin. p. 102.
- Laban, Linda (13 February 1997), "Earthling: Substance wins over fashion", The Seattle Times, Seattle, WA, p. E3
- Buckley, David (2000) . Strange Fascination – David Bowie: The Definitive Story. London: Virgin. pp. 517–527, pp.624–625. ISBN 0-7535-0457-X.
- Kemp, Mark (20 February 1997), "Earthling Review", Rolling Stone magazine (754): 65–66
- "Billboard Hits Of The World". Billboard. Vol. 109 no. 30. 26 July 1997. p. 45. ISSN 0006-2510.
- Pegg, Nicholas (2004) . The Complete David Bowie. London: Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 1-903111-73-0.
- Wiederhorn, Jon (31 October 1996), "David Bowie Performance Review", Rolling Stone magazine (746): 33–34
- Strauss, Neil (16 September 1996), "David Bowie, Without All the Gadgetry", New York Times, retrieved 29 October 2013
- Schneider, Tresa (28 February 1997), "David Bowie: Spectacular and Acclaimed 50th Birthday Concert to Air as a Television Pay Per View Event", MSOPR.COM, retrieved 18 November 2013
- Kemp, Mark (6 March 1997), "All The Young Dudes", Rolling Stone magazine (755): 24
- Earthling David Bowie Celebrates 50th Birthday With Triumphant Sold-out Concert At Madison Square Garden Before 14,500 Fans, 23 January 1997, retrieved 5 July 2013
- Pegg, Nicholas (October 2016). "The Complete David Bowie New Edition: Expanded and Updated". Titan Books.
- O'brien, Kerrie (11 January 2016). "Did you know ... 20 facts about David Bowie". Retrieved 26 February 2018.
- David Bowie Launches New Album 'earthling' With Network Television Appearances, A Pay-per-view Concert, A National Radio Broadcast, And Star On Hollywood Blvd's Walk Of Fame, 30 January 1997, retrieved 5 July 2013
- "Pallas Athena 1997 version".
- Altenburg, Ruud. "Illustrated DB Discography (Earthling album)". Retrieved 11 May 2011.
- Altenburg, Ruud. "Illustrated DB Discography (The Radio Edits promo CD)". Retrieved 11 May 2011.
- Earthling (CD booklet). David Bowie. Vigin Records. 1997.
- Discogs - Zachary Alford - (profile & discography)
- "australian-charts.com David Bowie – Earthling" (ASP). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "David Bowie – Earthling – austriancharts.at" (ASP). Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "ultratop.be — David Bowie – Earthling" (ASP). ultratop.be/nl, Hung Medien (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "ultratop.be — David Bowie – Earthling" (ASP). ultratop.be/fr,, Hung Medien (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 64, No. 25, February 24, 1997" (PHP). RPM. 4 February 1997. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "Listen - Danmarks Officielle Hitliste - Udarbejdet af AIM Nielsen for IFPI Danmark - Uge 7". Ekstra Bladet (in Danish). Copenhagen. 1997-02-16.
- "dutchcharts.nl David Bowie – Earthling" (ASP). dutchcharts.nl. MegaCharts. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "finnishcharts.com RDavid Bowie – Earthling" (ASP). Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "lescharts.com David Bowie – Earthling" (ASP). lescharts.com (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "Album Search: David Bowie – Earthling" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1997" (in Italian). hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- デヴィッド・ボウイ-リリース-ORICON STYLE-ミュージック "Highest position and charting weeks of Earthling by David Bowie" Check
|url=value (help). oricon.co.jp (in Japanese). Oricon Style. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "charts.org.nz David Bowie – Earthling" (ASP). Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "norwegiancharts.com David Bowie – Earthling" (ASP). Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
- "swedishcharts.com David Bowie – Earthling" (ASP). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "David Bowie – Earthling – hitparade.ch" (ASP). Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "David Bowie > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2013.
- "allmusic ((( Earthling > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". allmusic.com. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
- "Rapports annuels 1997". Ultratop (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "RIAJ > The Record > July 1999 > Certified Awards (May 1999)" (PDF). Recording Industry Association of Japan (in Japanese). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 January 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- "French album certifications – David Bowie – Earthling" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
- "Japanese album certifications – David Bowie – Earthling" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan.
- "British album certifications – David Bowie – Earthling". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Enter Earthling in the search field and then press Enter.