Ricky Flake: David Bowie's last album is well-played Plus, reviews of the latest offerings from Bryan Adams and David G. Smith

David Bowie and Glenn Frey of the Eagles have both passed away recently. This column features my review of Bowie's final album, among other offerings.

'Blackstar,' David Bowie (ISO Records, HHHH 1/2)

This early January CD/LP/digital release is no "Ziggy Stardust," but it shows that the late David Bowie was still evolving at the time he recorded what will be his last new album. The music here isn't what your reviewer calls rock 'n' roll, but it's well-played and Bowie's voice sounds strong. The black font on a black background makes it hard to distinguish individual song titles or who plays what where, so I'll mention the cinematic opener "'Tis A Pity," which morphs into several different musical modes in its nearly 10-minute length. Other moments of music pleasure were provided by the Roxy Music-esque sections of "Lazarus" and a few more parts of the final recording from one of music's most creative chameleons. R.I.P. David Bowie!

'Get Up,' Bryan Adams (Universal Music Enterprises, HHHH)

This release, available in CD and digital formats (and possibly vinyl) arrived in late 2015. It was produced by Jeff Lynne, who also plays most of the instruments outside of vocalist Bryan's rhythm guitar and a few other studio additions like Bryan's main co-writer Jim Vallance (an ace guitarist). Jeff's production style and his knowledge of '50s-'60s rock 'n' roll make this a tuneful album.

My favorites include the Beatle-ish "You Belong to Me," the ELO-flavored "We Did It All," the power-popping "Don't Even Try," the regretful-sounding "Yesterday Was Just a Dream" and four acoustic versions of the album's tunes ("Don't Even Try," "We Did It All," "You Belong to Me" & "Brand New Day"). Bryan Adams and power-pop fans will really dig this one.

'First Love,' David G. Smith (Hey Dave Music, HHH 1/2)

This Feb. 5 CD (not sure about other formats) is singer/songwriter David G. Smith's third studio recording. He plays acoustic guitar and piano. He's joined here by Keb Mo (National acoustic resonator), producer/multi-instrumentalist Blue Miller and a nifty crew of other players.

"Fear," featuring a different supporting cast than the rest of the album, is the first on my favorites list. Others include "Nightlife In The Stix," the reminiscent "Questions," the shuffling "I Can't Tell" and the regretful "I Got It All."

This is overly mellow for me to listen frequently, but it's full of quality music.

Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at flakericky@gmail.com.