Black Tie White Noise was the beginning of David Bowie's return from the wilderness of post-Let's Dance, the first indication that he was regaining his creative spark. To say as much suggests that it's a bit of a lost classic, when it's rather a sporadically intriguing transitional album, finding Bowie balancing the commercial dance-rock of Let's Dance with artier inclinations from his Berlin period, all the while trying to draw on the past by working with former Spider from Mars guitarist Mick Ronson, collaborating with Let's Dance producer Nile Rodgers, and even covering inspiration Scott Walker's "Nite Flights."
As Black Saint and Soul Note continue their boxed set "Complete Recordings Of" series in 2011, this volume by Lester Bowie is one of the most diverse. Containing three discs cut over a decade, it reflects the numerous dimensions in Bowie's musical persona, from fiery improviser to post-modern formalist and engaged ensemble member, and above all, his love for the entire jazz, blues, and gospel music traditions. The first disc in the collection is 1978's 5th Power. It's the only title here that showcases Bowie actually leading an ensemble under his own name. His session personnel for the date were saxophonist Arthur Blythe, pianist Amina Claudine Myers (who also sings on the rousing gospel-jazz of "God Has Smiled on Me"), bassist Malachi Favors, and drummer Philip Wilson.