I reached for 1. Outside first, because of course I would. A concept album and I love the concept; aurally while I like the music, it’s the lyrics that I’m really here for. Some of my favourites:
(i) “Oh, Ramona - if there was only something between us
If there was only something between us
Other than our clothes”
Something I have thought about a number of people over the years.
(ii) “Something is going to be horrid” ... BOOM CRASH HALLO SPACEBOY
A fantastic audio cut, at a key point in the story - if it was a film this would be the last time we saw Baby Grace Blue alive (nonlinearity permitting).
(iii) “Watching the young advancing all electric”
A lovely image, and always makes me think of the explosion of personal electronics in the years since. Laptops, iPods, smartphones, Fitbits, and it’s not over yet.
(iv) “I started with no enemies of my own
I’ve been dreaming of sleep ... and ape. men. with. metal. parts.”
Ramona gets the best lines, consistent with her role, and the delivery of the latter in particular is fantastic. The implication that someone might have to - or want to - borrow someone else’s enemies, until they could organise some of their own, is a marvellous one.
Rolling Stone wrote, admittedly among some more sensible things:
It’s too bad that Bowie and Eno don’t allow themselves the luxury of a straightforward pop song until the very end. You have to wade through 19 tracks of conceptual mischief to get to the simple melodic development and swelling chorus of “Strangers When We Meet.”
Fucking philistines. The conceptual mischief is the whole point. For a review from someone who actually got it, see the second review here (by Iai).