Review of “The Complete David Bowie” by Nicholas Pegg.



When a revised edition of a book touts “35,000 words of new material” it becomes a difficult task to write enough about it.  When that book is a complete history of David Bowie there is no way to discuss all of the details in the book without running just as long.  Every page has the text of a masters thesis and just as much if not more information.

The phrase “coffee table book” has become over used, and this site is guilty of it as well.  That phrase cannot apply to this book.  Unless your coffee table is a giant spool, because this will be the first (but probably not only) time a book reviewed on this site is called the perfect stoner circle book.

To disclaim, not that Nicholas Pegg or David Bowie or Titan Books are endorsing such activity, these are my words and opinions alone.  But seriously, grab a stack of Bowie albums, or CDs or download all the MP3s you can and then play those tracks in any random order you wish with this book nearby.  Grab a bowl, maybe some alcohol, and let Pegg and the Thin White Duke expand your mind.  Whether its 5 pages on “Space Oddity” (and with this type that’s really more like 10 pages) or the most extensive piece ever written on the classic “Magic Dance” from Labyrinth there is knowledge to be absorbed.

The book is broken into simple sections that make it easy for any fan whether they be new to Bowie’s music or live in his house, to find the specific information they seek.  From huge chapters like “The Songs From A to Z” and “The Albums” all the way to less lengthy but just as detailed chapters on “The BBC Radio Sessions”.  Short of a chapter titled “What David Had for Breakfast on These Dates” I cant think of a single possible detail left out of the over 700 pages contained within this tome.

It is a perfect title for relaxing.  Get lost in the music of David Bowie and find your favorite songs within.  Use it to win trivia bets against your music obsessed friends.  What track featured John Lennon?  (Fame.)  Discover meanings behind your favorite instrumentals like “Neukoln”.

If there is any complaint to be had it is that this is a book about the complete David Bowie works, but not so much about the complete man.  Sure there are stories galore inside and a book like this could take months if not years to truly devour and relish every nugget of a story.  However, what about the biography of David?  His early life, his triumphs and tragedies, his loves and more.  Of course there are other biographies of the man out there but it would be an interesting and pleasant addition to this volume.

(A review copy of this book was provided by Titan Books.)


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