David Bowie

The Thin White Investment's got a new album, his best since -- Scary Monsters? There are two possible reactions to this news. The more common one -- rolling your eyes -- is what you are probably doing right now. The other is to discard a Bow Wow Wow disc to alphabetically install David Bowie's new one, Reality, into your CD rack, or else you'd manually shift every title in your collection one slot over, an act almost as tedious as watching Labyrinth.

Yet if Bowie made an album called Bobby Vinton's Greatest Hits, a fair number of you would buy it -- just admit that. You sprung for all the new Virgin Bowie reissues, and you'll buy all the Sony reissues because, awww, the spines look so ravishing on the shelves. No wonder Bowie is worth a purported $147 million. He devised the greatest money-sapping scam since Amway, namely to sell stock in his own future earnings before the onslaught of Napster, then keep reissuing the old Bowie catalogue with fewer songs on 'em.

But that Bowie Bonds stock is down from an already inflated $917 million in 1997, and none of his recent albums have sold appreciably more than his 1978 recitation of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf. Radio hardly plays him, nobody covers him. And so Bowie has embarked on the one avenue of capital generation that could keep his grumbling investors happy -- tour and play the damn hits you keep reissuing. But don't expect a gazillion costume changes like Cher.

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