David Bowie - Hours (Virgin) David Bowie fans will fall into the 'aghast' or 'delighted' camps on hearing that his new effort has been written and produced with Reeves Gabrels. The guitarist seems to have taken on the role of Bowie's musical director since their days in Bowie's unfairly maligned 80s band Tin Machine - a bunch of frantic rockers powered by Gabrels, who left Bowie worshippers energised or confused.
After a slow start here, in which the great man warbles painfully out of tune through a couple of warm-ups, Gabrels cranks up his amp and the record starts to move under its own steam - and with the urgency and slickness of a couple of professionals at work.
Bowie demonstrates that his facility with melody and lyrical oddity remains intact, then hands his blueprints over to Gabrels to swathe them in folds of lush guitar; in places the guitar barrage is overdone, but generally Gabrels brings a bigger dimension to Bowie's idiosyncratic ditties.
Nothing here is a gem of the magnitude of Diamond Dogs or Suffragette City, but there are some towering peaks and only a couple of troughs. This is Bowie's 23rd solo album, no fewer, but these days the work is rooted in reality rather than the avant-garde . . . a reflection of rock 'n' roll's growing up. There is less gimmick, and no face paint.