It’s hard to believe — for some of us, at least — that 1997 was 16 years ago. That would put Earthling, released on this day (February 3) in 1997, well out of the realm of memory for many, especially since the record received a jumbled, mixed reception at the time.
Earthling remains one of my favourite Bowie albums. To appreciate it, you have to be partial to electronic music — you have to enjoy distinct, rapid rhythms and vocals that create a path through the music instead of being the central focus of the songs. Aggressive is not the word I would use for Earthling; it may have strong sounds, but it is not an angry album — it is not a fear-based, or unsettling record in the vein of Outside (when I reference Outside here, I do so on the basis of a memory that is 18 years old; with love and respect to David Bowie, I refuse to ever connect to the energy of Outside again).
The acoustic version of Dead Man Walking is, in my opinion, not nearly as effective as the original. Performing these songs acoustically seems artistically wrong somehow; it contradicts the entire point of Earthling. I’m also not a particular fan of the imagery in this video, it seems chaotic to me and a little forced. The song, however, is probably my favourite from this era of Bowie music. The way the song builds at 2:41… (at 3:46 in the extended, and far superior, album version)… I could listen to it over and over and over again… and have, and will continue to do so.