The King of Stamford Hill

The King of Stamford Hill.

If you do what I do—play out of tune, stretch time signatures, make noise—people assume you’re an idiot. Because no one would want to play out of tune, right? So I needed the firepower to say, “OK, this is what I could do if I wanted to wear a Lacoste shirt and chinos like you.” If I wanted to play on baked bean commercials, that’s what I’d do. I’m already past that. I’m working on my vision, dammit. It might not be a good one, but it’s mine.

Reeves Gabrels, 2000.

Has anyone ever had a hard word to say about Mick Ronson? Who has ever knocked Carlos Alomar? Even Tony Visconti remains generally unimpeachable. Not so Reeves Gabrels, the last major Bowie collaborator, who has never shaken the reputation in some quarters as being a garish usurper.

Gabrels worked with Bowie, off and on, for eleven years: his tenure is nearly as long as Alomar’s and Gabrels’ influence on Bowie’s work is arguably greater. No other Bowie “sideman” co-wrote two entire records with him (Earthling and Hours). Gabrels embodied Bowie’s desperate Nineties, whether dressed in Prada suits or kilts and boas. Brought in as a professional agitator, he stayed on throughout the decade, shrouding Bowie albums in noise, eviscerating classic Bowie guitar riffs on stage. For solos, he played his custom-made guitars with a vibrator, he smeared cake icing on their strings. Sometimes he’d unplug his guitar and screech together a solo via the jackplugs.

He was outrageous, he was indulgent, he was loud, he was vital, he was tasteless. He was Bowie’s liberated id, throwing sonic tantrums on stage; he was Bowie’s cold-blooded intelligence service, forever keeping abreast of the trends. He saved Bowie from a life of middle-aged mediocrity, he made Bowie look ridiculous. More than anything else, he was an unknown: his future bandmates the Sales brothers, during the first Tin Machine rehearsals, wondered aloud who the hell the guitarist was. Gabrels was indisputably a latecomer, and there’s always a measure of scorn reserved for those who arrive when the show’s past its prime (see Tara King or John Major). But Gabrels took pride in where he fell. Irreverent, aggressively dedicated to his sonic obsessions, he acted like a man who had no sense of, no use for, history.

In Bowie’s pre-Tin Machine work, Gabrels’ closest analogue is Robert Fripp, whose skronking guitar work on”Fashion” can seem a curtain-raiser for the Gabrels years. The comments for that entry demonstrate how Fripp’s playing on “Fashion” can still irritate, three decades on. Did the guitar noisily ruin the track, or did it give it frisson, turning a basic dance-rock song into something more disturbing, with bite and piss? It’s the fundamental question of the Gabrels era.

Gabrels was born on Staten Island, NYC, in 1956. His father worked on tugboats, his mother was a typist. While self-taught on the guitar, Gabrels considered himself a visual artist, enrolling in the Parsons School of Design in 1974. Studying painting just made him want to play music. So he left Parsons for Berklee, then dropped out in 1981 to make a go at being in a rock band.

It was the height of Boston’s punk scene, the era of The Neighborhoods, La Peste, the Lyres, the Nervous EatersMission of Burma, The Dark, Rubber Rodeo (Gabrels would play in editions of the latter two). It was that rare bird, a viable local scene, in which Boston indie musicians could hack out a meager living by playing a solid regional circuit which included the still-standing Paradise or the late, lamented Rathskeller, which my old university conquered and razed, then built a swank hotel over its bones.

Gabrels soon got notice for his drive to constantly, radically alter his guitar’s tone. He recalled how once he was rehearsing in someone’s kitchen when electromagnetic interference from the refrigerator motor began channeling through his Stratocaster’s pickups and chorus pedal. It was a revelation. Another time in 1984, opening for the Neighborhoods, Gabrels had forgotten most of his gear except for a single distortion pedal, and spent his set wringing dissonant tones from his guitar via pull-offs and distorted harmonics. His bass player complimented him afterward for his new effects and harmonizer programs. (“I thought, “Why am I carrying all this stuff around if I can fool my own bass player without it?” Gabrels recalled in 2000.)

Gabrels began to favor newer-make guitars, arguing that when a guitarist plays a Fender or a Strat, it’s a constant battle not to be mired in nostalgia. (“Playing instruments that don’t have cliches defined on them keeps me from playing licks from 1952,” he once said). In the late Eighties, Gabrels’ main guitar was the “headless” Steinberger, while in the Nineties he favored the lightweight Parker Fly.

So Bowie saw Gabrels as an advocate of the New, a man apparently oblivious to musical history and to “good taste,” and at times seemingly disinterested in the interplay of a band. As he would with the Sales brothers’ truculence and lack of nuance, Bowie considered Gabrels a raw, disruptive force that he could channel. Bowie wasn’t looking to form a band as much as he wanted a set of inspired, violent competitors.

Gabrels met Bowie on the American leg of the Glass Spider tour. Gabrels’ wife, Sara Terry, was a journalist at the Christian Science Monitor. After writing a grueling series of articles about child prostitution, she needed a break and so became Bowie’s press agent for a few months. Gabrels accompanied her on the tour, and Bowie came to enjoy his company. Though Gabrels had been in a Bowie cover band in high school, and while only a few months before Glass Spider he’d played in the Bowie-besotted band Life on Earth, he didn’t even tell Bowie that he played music. Instead he kept Bowie’s magpie mind occupied, whether arguing about painters or watching Fantasy Island with the sound switched off so that Bowie and Gabrels could make up their own dialogue.

Bowie only learned that Gabrels was a guitarist when, at the end of the US leg of the tour, a departing Terry (she and Gabrels were moving to London) handed him a cassette compilation of Gabrels’ various Boston bands. Back home in Switzerland after the end of the tour, Bowie found the tape in a coat pocket, played it and liked what he heard. He began recommending Gabrels for session work, setting him up with Alan Winstanley, who used Gabrels on Sandie Shaw’s Hello Angel and had him play sitar and mandolin on a reunited Deaf School album. And one afternoon in May 1988, Gabrels came home after having walked around London pasting up flyers for one of his few regular sources of income, guitar lessons, and got a phone call from Bowie. He naturally assumed it was a gag until Bowie mentioned Fantasy Island.

Bowie had agreed to be part of a La La La Human Steps dance routine at the ICA in London and to re-record “Look Back In Anger” for the backing music. He’d been listening to Glenn Branca and Sonic Youth and wanted his remade “Anger” to sound as though it had been carved out of a wall of guitars. While Bowie had already recruited his usual go-to team of Kevin Armstrong and Erdal Kizilcay, he wanted a thicker, more violent, massed guitar assault. He invited Gabrels to come out to Switzerland and work on the revision.

As he had with Nile Rodgers a half-decade before, Bowie, once Gabrels arrived at his house in Switzerland, gave him a walking inventory of his current obsessions. These now included: a yen for loud guitar music (Hendrix and Zeppelin bootlegs, Branca and his various offshoots, electric bluesmen like Buddy Guy, and Bowie’s new love, the Pixies); a gorgeous, decadent cookbook co-authored by Salvador Dali and his wife Gala;  and heaps of books on medieval and deconstructivist architecture (the latter had a then-contemporary exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art). Bowie rattled on about flying buttresses and what he considered their descendants, the exposed structures of the likes of Centre Pompidou, and tied this to the “cathedrals of sound” that he heard in Branca and Sonic Youth. In Gabrels’ playing, Bowie said he found something similar—guitar solos that were ornamental, not fitting properly into the harmonics and melody of a song, but still being essential to the song’s support, along with a fascination with breaking down a guitar’s tones into the discrete elements of amplified sound.

Gabrels wound up staying in Montreux for weeks, and he returned after the Bowie/Human Steps “Look Back in Anger” in July 1988 (Bowie would perform the routine once more in the US, in September). He and Bowie drove down to Mountain Studios every morning, worked on demos and sounded out ideas, then went home for dinner and Fawlty Towers. Gabrels had no ties to Bowie’s past, had no connection with EMI, and had seemed disinterested in music when Bowie first met him. He was the first collaborator who Bowie had known as a friend first. So Bowie confided in him. He was lost. He felt obligated to write hits but no longer had the knack for it: he was already regretting Never Let Me Down. He couldn’t imagine ever putting himself through another tour again. He was considering getting out of the game entirely.

Gabrels’ response was essentially: why do you have be in the game at all? You’re David Bowie. Find something that interests you, then go with it. Bowie had loved Steven Berkoff’s play West, which had premiered in London in 1983. A story of a Hackney gang leader who, to avenge a slaying of one of his crew, agrees to take on a rival thug from Hoxton in hand-to-hand combat, West was part of the decade’s fascination with London thugs, from Bob Hoskins’ mob boss in The Long Good Friday to Terence Stamp’s sardonic “grass” in The Hit, from the renewed fascination with the Kray Twins to Alan Clarke’s soccer hooligan study The Firm.

Bowie had considered adapting West as a musical, but thought the material was too obscure. EMI had made it clear there wouldn’t be another Baal on their dime. Who cares if only a few people like it? Gabrels responded. So Bowie and Gabrels began on a few prospective West-inspired songs. One, “Bus Stop,” would be reworked for Tin Machine. Another was a musical version of the gangleader’s climactic fight speech: “The King of Stamford Hill.” Bowie sang it as a cock-crow from a despot, but also with anger and desperation. The core theme of West was spoken by the King’s mother: “not to fight was to give in.” The choice was blood and possible humiliation, or a second-class life calling someone else’s tune.

While it’s unknown how “Stamford Hill” originally sounded, as Gabrels re-recorded all the guitar tracks when he used it on his first solo album in 1995, Bowie’s vocal (taken from the demo) is a vulgar, barely comprehensible garble (Berkoff had some of his characters speak a florid “Shakespearean Cockney”). He begins by walking his turf in Hackney, taking in the sewage. “Smells like DAY-sies,” he sniffs, but his mind’s on his rival. “Ain’t it fucking CUR-EE-OUS some other cunts’ll TRY to DITCH the KING.” A pounding, screaming refrain follows: GONNA BUILD AN ARMY. MARCH ‘EM TO THE MARSHES…SOMEONE’S GONNA LOSE HIS POXY FACE!

It was unreleasable, of course: EMI would have blanched. But Bowie took audible delight in his Mockney accent and savored the prospect of lurid violence. He sounded alive again, even in play-acting the thug. It was a scheme at last. Now all he had to do was build an army.

“King of Stamford Hill” was recorded in Mountain Studios, Montreux, ca. July 1988 (Bowie vocals) and completed by Gabrels at Playtime Studios, Boston, 1995. With Gary Oldman providing “running commentary” and Matt Gruenberg (bass) and Milt Sutton (drums).  On the out-of-print Sacred Squall of Now. (My thanks to Annie McDuffie).

Sources for Gabrels’ early years: Trynka and Buckley, as always, along with a book that’s going to be of great help going forward, Dave Thompson’s Hallo Spaceboy: The Rebirth of David Bowie. Gabrels’ quotes are generally from interviews he gave with Guitar Player (1993), Guitar (2000) and Spin (1989).

Top: Chris Dorley-Brown, “Squatters evicted, Stamford Hill estate,” March 1988; Reeves Gabrels, 1989 (Guitar Player); Gary Oldman in Clarke’s The Firm, 1989.

35 Responses to The King of Stamford Hill

  1. MC says:

    I’d like to cast my vote for the pro-Reeves faction. A Toronto critic in the 90’s said that without him, Bowie would have ended up Elton John’s bellhop and I’m inclined to agree. He definitely steered Bowie in this crazy, ornery, bloody-minded direction and for that I feel a debt of thanks is owed. His playing on TM 1 struck me at the time as Fripp meets Ronson – just what was needed after the garish waste of (most of) NLMD. That being said, overall my favourite of Bowie’s 90’s records in Buddha of Suburbia, the one album on which Reeves doesn’t appear – not sure what that says, except for me it has a certain consistency that the other albums lacks. Bowie-Gabrels as a partnership swung wildly and often missed, I suppose
    As for this song – never heard of it in my life till just now, but on a first listen, it sounds pretty great. I hope more fascinating hidden gems like this will be turned up over the coming months!

  2. simonh1965 says:

    I’m also pro-Reeves, although my favourite album from the period is (probably) Earthling, which I also see as probably the last time when Bowie was interacting with now, rather than making music the way he used to do. (The last three albums stand to the rest of Bowie’s catalogue as Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Disneyworld stands to, say, Caernarvon Castle.)

  3. mrbelm says:

    I lost count of how many times I saw Reeves play, both in Life on Earth and The Atom Said, possibly the best unsigned Boston band. When I heard he was in Tin Machine, I remarked to a friend “Bowie’s found a new Fripp.”

  4. Sofa Head says:

    I confess to never having heard this. It’s hilarious. Derek & Clive meet Sham 69 in a prog-rock de-programming centre. Thanks for bringing this gem to my attention. Carry on!

  5. Remco says:

    GO REEVES!!!
    Maybe it’s because he was my first Bowie guitarist but I like Reeves. I’m definitely on the Fripp side of the argument, I’m not necessarily interested in virtuoso playing on a guitar but I like loopy sounds and the man sure can produce loopy sounds. I‘d choose a Fripp or a Gabrels over, say, Stevie Ray Vaughn any day.

    “Now all he had to do was build an army.” ….great line, great post. I like the song too.

  6. David L says:

    Great write up. Really looking forward to your coverage of the 90s and beyond.

    And I’m also a Reeves fan. Not quite in the same mold as Ronson, who was more of a Jimmy Page-type guitar-writer-arranger genius, but Fripp is an apt comparison to Reeves, though I think he goes beyond Fripp’s contributions, as you’ve outllined.

    Reeves’ pulsing, throbbing solo on Looking for Satellites is one of my top five Bowie song guitar pieces.

  7. Ian McDuffie says:

    When I think of Reeves, I think of this live “Heaven’s In Here” live video I saw where he’s starting to do the “touch the guitar with the cables” solo and then sort of gives up on that but instead just gives the cables to the audience.

    That’s kind of how I feel about Gabrels— he’s the sound of the common man. And I don’t mean that he sounds like how a ‘common man’ would play. I mean that his guitar sounds like the Outside World, like the cacophony of the ‘common man’s’ life and everyday. Smells like DAY-SEES. God, I love this song.

  8. diamond dog says:

    I gotta thank Gabrels for bringing Bowie back to making music for himself but I gotta say I cannot stand the overlong squealing. He was over used in my book and much of tin machine is ruined by over long self indulgent squealing. The album was dated sounding and way out of touch in the UK , his playing not at all in the same calibre as Fripp and not a patch on the talent of Ronno. I lost touch after the first tin machine album , dug it out yesterday and its a mess. I lost myself in happy mondays , stone roses , If I wanted extreme material I had foetus in the 90’s Dave looked a man out of time.

  9. Ian McDuffie says:

    “If I wanted extreme material I had foetus” is the quote of the century.

  10. Jeremy says:

    Great write up for the start of a new era. I don’t mind Gabrels at all and really, thank god for him helping Bowie find himself again. I was traveling in Europe when I saw a display in a record shop for the Tim Machine LP and I was amazed. It seemed like the best way forward for Bowie. I bought it on tape and listened to it walking around the streets of Amsterdam for a month, so I have fond memories of that LP and I still think it stands up now.

    Never heard this track though – thanks!

  11. fantailfan says:

    BU was my old university, too. Gabrels played in a band with one of my cousins (Tim Halle, who, despite growing up three blocks from me, I have never met.)

  12. RLM says:

    Perhaps a little early for me to start talking about Tin Machine but this post has really got me thinking about it. I remember when the album came out my friends and I all welcomed it warmly as a return to Interesting & Engaged Bowie. Perhaps we were young enough (mid-teens) to be buying the PR spin as opposed to the substance. Yet I still have a great fondness for the LP; with twenty years of hindsight I can see the flaws and clunkiness (hullo Crack City), but there are also some cracking riffs & tunes, some memorable lyrics and beautiful moments, many of which are attributable to Gabrels. As time has passed it has been surprising to watch it become a byword for “deluded rock star vanity project” and I can’t help but feel there is a bit of revisionism going on.

    My first exposure to the project was the extended “live” promo video, which was shown in full on ABC Australia’s excellent “Rage” music video programme (a late night staple which showed nothing but clips from midnight to dawn on Friday and Saturday nights). From memory they showed a comprehensive collection of Bowie clips, from Love You Til Tuesday films all the way through to the NLMD videos, culminating with the Tin Machine reel featuring exceprts from all (?) the songs on the new record and a full clip for “Under The God”. There was a real sense of BOWIE IS BACK!!! Seeing the band in suits was great and really striking, the juxtaposition of the well-tailored band and the overplayed “savagery” of the cartoon-feral audience was a classic Bowie image for me. (Incidentally Bands In Suits is an odd one isn’t it – Tin Machine’s look could easily be wrtitten off as an post-80s Thatcherite Armani thing, but it felt like it had more in common with The Godfathers or maybe Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – or insert gangster-fashion UK post-punk band here – using the accoutrements of the establishment to present a subversive message).

    I haven’t followed Gabrels’ contributions closely as I only have a cursory knowledge of Bowie’s 90s and 00s work, but I do remember appreciating his contributions to the VH1 Storytellers performance. His soloing often sounds tinny and thin and over-compressed to my 2012 ears (nasty “bee in a bottle” distortion particularly), but perhaps the current vogue for analogue crunchiness will pass and his style will come be better evaluated in its particular historical context, just as we can now be reasonably even-handed when evaluating “high eighties” production. When I saw the Reality Tour I was hugely impressed by the band, but I do remember a slight twinge of disappointment that Gabrels was absent – I probably would have enjoyed it less muscially had he been there, but it would have been nice to have tipped the hat to the last of Bowie’s heavy-duty guitar stylists.

  13. Brendan O'Lear says:

    Brilliantly written and argued. I was almost believing it until I actually listened to the track and remembered what Gabrels actually sounded like. Gabrels doesn’t seem aware of that most basic of rules for guitarists: it’s the notes that you DON’T play.

    In my own version of the Bowie story, Gabrels is a bit player somewhere in the shadow of a Stacey Heydon; it was more than a surprise to find out how much he had actually worked with Bowie.

    As we went through the last chapter – most of it completely new to me – I came to realise how much, despite all his experimentalist pretensions, Bowie works best when he plays it straight with a tightly structured, conventional song and a compact band. I was thinking to myself, “I wonder why he never tried that.” Then I remembered what’s coming next. I think the idea was right but the personnel …

    One final point about long-term collaborators: Earl Slick. Now there is someone who never gets the credit he deserves. Or do I just listen to Station to Station too much?

    • Gnomemansland says:

      ” I came to realise how much, despite all his experimentalist pretensions, Bowie works best when he plays it straight with a tightly structured, conventional song and a compact band.” spot on – indeed one could go further and say Bowie was at his most experimental when he was being conventional. So – for example much as I like the Berlin Trilogy it is far less radical than what he did from Hunky Dory to Diamond Dogs.

      • Brendan O'Lear says:

        “Bowie was at his most experimental when he was being conventional. ”
        You’ve hit the nail on the head there. Perhaps much of the sense of experimentation on the earlier records was simply the result of a young man with an active mind not really knowing what to do or sure of how to do it. Once he masters his craft and becomes more aware of who he is, both as a person and as an artist, the experimentation becomes forced and the results less interesting. … For us.

  14. humanizingthevacuum says:

    I’m in the “a little goes a long way” camp (by the time of “hours” he was a menace; no wonder the songs are so dull), although I’m grateful to him for saving Bowie from the eighties slough. Even so, let’s not give him too much credit: here’s no reason to think Bowie wouldn’t have found ANOTHER guitarist.

    • col1234 says:

      good point, and something to dig into further when we hit the “Adrian Belew interregnum” in 1990

  15. Marion Brent says:

    I wish I could go along with the Tin Machine revisionism but I can’t, really. It seems to me that after Let’s Dance, Bowie’s career has been one long exercise in trying to find out what worked in his past and then repeat it. Tonight was a pale shadow of Let’s Dance’s move to the mainstream, then NLMD was a misguided attempt to go back to Diamond Dogs-era conceptualism and gigantism. After that we get Tin Machine with the Sales Brothers, with Bowie trying to find his way back to Lust For Life era Iggy. Then we get re-couplings with Eno, Garson, Visconti etc. I’m not saying some of these don’t work after a fashion, and I have a certain fondness for Earthling and Heathen in particular, but by then Bowie is in some way a disciple of himself, it’s epigone art, it’s the silver age not the golden.

  16. david says:

    I wish Bowie had continued in this vein, dispelled completely the apoplexy of the record company and just followed through. It would have bookended the 80’s debacle perfectly-from Brecht to Berkoff.In an alternative reality it was Bowies life that was snuffed out by Chapman, not Lennons-but I often think in a sense he died anyway and continued to ressurect himself in the remaining years.

  17. Maj says:

    Since I like most of Bowie’s output from the 90’s (very much including Earthling & Hours) I would have to cast my vote pro-Gabrels. On the other hand not a fan of Tin Machine and a lot of the noise he makes on the aforementioned Bowie 90’s output. 🙂

    It was interesting reading this entry while streaming the new Jack White album from iTunes. Listening to the worshipper of old who bends the old instruments according to his modern needs and reading about the latest-guitar screecher made a great juxtaposition.

    The song here…cute. I always appreciate Bowie’s Mockney. The guitar screeching I could do without. 😀

    Looking forward to getting through the Tin Machine catalogue now. I liked very little of it many years ago when I got the albums, maybe my taste has changed since then – and if not it should be fun nevertheless. Plus these write-ups are always a great read.

    • Remco says:

      I bought the new Jack White today and it’s now in a battle with the first Tin Machine album, which I bought earlier this week. Not really sure which one’s the winner yet. Big shock: Tin Machine is really pretty good. Yes it has its flaws but I already like it more than Let’s Dance. It needs to be played at eleven though.

  18. Fitzroyalty says:

    If not for Bowie’s retirement, a rapprochement and reunion with Reeves Gabrels would surely have happened by now. I loved Tin Machine from my first listen. I also saw him on the Outside tour in 1996 and he was amazing. His contribution to Bowie’s music deserves a respectful review and it’s great to read this beginning.

  19. Frankie says:

    Bowie does something very well, and he does it well on this tune which is commercial-free for a change. I’m pleased with Gabrels’ encouragement through the years -I love his stuff on Earthling, although I do agree there are times I’d prefer a little less tuneless squealing – sometimes it does go unchecked, but perhaps that’s one of the professional flaws about working with friends, you sometimes give them too much free reign. One wonders however, if any guitarist he’s worked with wondered why he never chose to work with Ronson again. They’ve all had to look back at his work and I’ve wondered if any broached the subject, which seems rather taboo for reasons I’ve never understood. In the end Ronson was always able to do what most of the other guitarists eventually did but he had the discipline of a composer’s/musician’s genius that few others matched. I still love the dynamic passion his Angel No 9 and it surpasses anything NLMD could foist on me!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Looking forward very much to the Gabrels’ years. The older I get and the more times I revisit the Bowie canon, the more convinced I become that “Outside” ranks among his greatest masterpieces. It has its lacunae, of course. But its high points are among the highest Bowie has ever reached. Can’t wait for what’s coming.

  21. postpunkmonk says:

    I will only echo my praise to Gabrels for saving what was left of Bowie’s artistic hide by the late 80s. He was the catalyst and it would not have turned out as well as it did without him. “Tin Machine”was exactly sort of sonic enema Bowie needed at the time. Some musical fiber to cleanse out all of the drum machines, Yamaha DX7s, and mainstream pap!

    It was my favorite album of 1988, and seeing the 10 minute video with bits of each song was a genius move. I’d become so immune to Bowie that even hearing a good song in a video would not have made me try the album. I was too wary for that! Hearing a medley of the album was all I needed to hear and I immediately purchased the disc. It felt good to hear a Bowie album that didn’t massively suck! Five years on the Bowie wagon was a long time.

    I wanted to see Tin Machine but never had the occasion to, but Gabrels was online for the “Outside” and “Earthling” tours, which I did see. I always saw him as a player in the Fripp shredding mold*, and Fripp is my favorite guitarist, so the love extends naturally to Reeves, who is still very much his own man.

    I love that no-BS way he met Bowie and never mentioned that he played guitar! He had just the tough love that Bowie needed at the time. Sycophancy only contributed to his malaise.

    * See Eno’s “Baby’s On Fire” for my all time favorite guitar solo.

  22. Much like I think a lot of the venom directed to DB post-81 can be blamed on not-so-subtle agism, I think one reason people are so nasty about Gabrels is that he doesn’t look like a rock star. He looks like a Junior high science teacher or your girlfriend’s dad. He is just not cool, so when he does wild and experimental things, people feel embarassed by his lameness.

  23. rob thomas says:

    A tiny point, for the next book, that I’m sure you’ve spotted by now: a Strat is a Fender, so “Fender or a Strat” sounds a bit wrong. Picking nits in the best possible spirit, I hope…

  24. WRGerman says:

    I well recall critics at Creem magazine and Stereo Review calling Mick Ronson “ham-handed” and “ham-fisted” back in the 1970s, so the grief that came Reeves Gabrels’s way is not without prcedent.

    A real pleasure to read such detailed analyses of each Bowie era, especially his years off the public radar.

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