You may not know the name Earl Slick, but you’ve probably heard his guitar stylings on some of Bowie’s hits; he’s not as constant a presence as Tony Visconti, but he’s made his appearance on several hits, like “Rebel Rebel,” “Fame” (although there are apparently conflicting reports on that); the Station to Station album… okay, so his licks aren’t as recognisable on the studio albums as those by Mick Ronson, Carlos Alomar, or even Stevie Ray Vaughan , but he’s been with Bowie on and off for the past 30 years, and, as much as Bowie can be said to have been “on” since 2002, it’s been all on.
And speaking in an interview, Slick, who played some guitar on Bowie’s new album, said that, regarding the possibility of live dates in support for Bowie’s new album, “It’s kind of like doing the record. I wouldn’t be surprised if he toured and I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t tour… I know I would like a tour to happen!”
I know I wrote before that Tony Visconti has gone on record as saying that it was unlikely that Bowie would perform live, and that even some of the session musicians were saying that the new songs would be… difficult to perform live, to say the least.
And for those of you who still guess at the sound that the new album will be before it’s released, Slick said this: “There are a few things that kind of feel like ‘Station To Station’ rockers, then there are some other things that might feel kind of like ‘Diamond Dogs’, but as usual it is extremely eclectic and it is uniquely Bowie, meaning that it’s a whole bunch of really cool things.”
Bowie’s drummer Zachary Alford in his own interview said: “There’s definitely a lot of up-tempo material. That’s some kind of ’60s doo-wop-ish material. Although I don’t remember a lot of the songs. I mean, it’ll be two years in May since we did it. I haven’t heard any of it since. I hope to have the chance to hear it soon myself. There are a couple that remind me of the ‘Scary Monsters’ period, because they’re a bit more angular and aggressive-sounding… There’s another number that’s a straight-up country song. There was another one that was based on a blues riff, but we had specific instructions to not make it sound like the blues. There were two songs that sort of had a Bo Diddley feel.”
Okay, so live shows may or may not actually happen, but, hey, after his long semi-retirement, few of us expected Bowie to even release the new album. To take Earl Slick’s lead, Don’t be surprised if it does happen, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t.