David Bowie - 'Tis a Pity She Was a Whore - Singles - Reviews - Soundblab

David Bowie - 'Tis a Pity She Was a Whore

by Rich Morris Rating:10 Release Date:2014-11-10

So here’s David Bowie’s second piece of new music to be released since his 2013 comeback album, The Next Day, and, like ‘Sue (or in a Season of Crime)’, it’s explosively intense and sure to prove divisive. However, where ‘Sue…’ was Bowie’s first (mostly) unadulterated journey into jazz, this song is an altogether heavier, more industrial, more brutal creation.

It begins with slowly accelerating, hissing percussion, accompanied by hesitant piano and sax. It sounds like a steam locomotive creaking into action, and is thus immediately reminiscent of Station to Station’s classic title track. From here, though, the song swiftly speeds off in a different direction, arriving at a thunderously percussive, almost danceable art-rock sound which most readily recalls ‘I’m Deranged’, the windswept and relentless number on Bowie’s 1995 industrial concept album, Outside.  

Over this nightmarishly dense noise, Bowie’s voice finally surfaces as nothing more than a distant, muffled buzz. Although the words are difficult to make out, the sorrow in his vocal is heart-punchingly palpable. When you finally do work out the lyrics, they’re nothing sort of spine-chilling: “Man, she punched me like a dude/ Hold your mad hands, I cried… That was patrol/ This is the war”.

While the song’s attention-grabbing title is lifted from a John Ford Restoration play first performed in 1629, Bowie’s Facebook page claims the lyric “acknowledges the shocking rawness of the First World War”. In what way I’m not sure, although perhaps it details the surviving soldiers’ difficulty adjusting to life back home, and the inevitable collapse of many relationships which followed. Just a theory.  

Whatever it’s about, ‘'Tis a Pity She Was a Whore’ is just a jaw-droppingly powerful piece of work from a man who, somehow, remains at the top of his game and still keeps us guessing what he’ll do next. ‘'Tis a Pity…’ will be the b-side of ‘Sue (or in a Season of Crime)’ but you can buy it on its own right now from iTunes. I strongly recommend you do. 

Comments (1)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I can see how some will love or hate it. Think it's pretty powerfull and unsettling . Which I think is a good thing.

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