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Earthbound: David Bowie And The Man Who Fell To Earth by Susan Compo review

Mad times in New Mexico, ’75

Cover art for Earthbound: David Bowie And The Man Who Fell To Earth by Susan Compo

Firstly, this is not a book about David Bowie although his skinny presence is everywhere. It is a fascinating account of the making of Nic Roeg’s Bowiestarring problematic ’76 film The Man Who Fell To Earth. Author Susan Compo unravels the craziness that engulfed the film: the technical problems, the dangerous hangers-on, the sex and drugs but not the rock’n’roll, since Bowie’s mooted score proved to be a figment of his addled imagination; he never forgave Roeg for entrusting that job to Papa John Phillips.

The strands are interwoven with gleaming prose, the writer mining detail like a forensic scientist. No potentially illuminating interview is left unturned, no ego unruffled. She makes you want to watch the film again. Do so accompanied by this grounded masterpiece.

Max Bell worked for the NME during the golden 70s era before running up and down London’s Fleet Street for The Times and all the other hot-metal dailies. A long stint at the Standard and mags like The Face and GQ kept him honest. Later, Record Collector and Classic Rock called.