"It rocks quite hard," says David Bowie, describing his new CD, Reality, due in September. Despite the laughter that follows, he's not kidding. Aided by longtime producer Tony Visconti, the ever-evolving rocker has turned up the volume on his twenty-fifth album, which includes a loud stomp through the Modern Lovers' classic "Pablo Picasso."
"I've always wanted to do it," Bowie says of the song. "It's just a treat. On Heathen (2002), I did a piece by the Pixies, called 'Cactus.' 'Pablo Picasso,' at least the way we've done it, occupies a similar place on the album."
There are a few departures -- "Bring Me the Disco King" is a spare piece performed by Bowie with keyboardist Mike Garson, and "Try Some, Buy Some" is a relatively faithful remake of an obscure Ronnie Spector/George Harrison collaboration. "At that time," Bowie says, "it was the only single by a solo artist that actually had all four Beatles on it. The Beatles had kind of disbanded, but they all loved Ronnie, and it was George Harrison producing it, so they all crept in and different times to put parts on it. We were pretty true to the original arrangement, but the overall atmosphere is somewhat different. It's a dense piece.
"[Reality] doesn't have any particular through line," he continues. "It's not a conceptualized piece in any way. It's very diversified. It comes from having an incredibly diverse fondness for so many different kind of musics. I've always tried to bridge different kinds of music -- or sometimes jam them together -- when maybe they'd seem uneasy bedfellows."
"I think it's a very good album," he says. "I don't want to talk it up too much, because it's immodest."
Bowie will support the album on a world tour that kicks off in Europe in October, and will also hit the U.S., Australia and Japan.