“Bowibury” Album Open Thread, Week 1

Untitled

Some readers plan to listen to a Bowie album(s) every day this month: here’s a place to talk about what you’re hearing. I’ll put up a new open thread each Monday. Starting with the two David Bowie albums (Deram and Philips) today, I believe?

Usual commenting guidelines apply: have fun; don’t be jerks, etc.

Edit: schedule is:

Feb 1. David Bowie+Space Oddity; Feb 2. TMWSTW; Feb 3. Hunky Dory; Feb 4. Ziggy; Feb 5. Aladdin Sane; Feb 6. Pin Ups; Feb 7. Diamond Dogs

week 2: Feb 8. Young Americans; 9. Station to Station 10. The Idiot; 11. Low; 12. Lust for Life; 13. “Heroes”: 14. Lodger

week 3: Feb 15. Scary Monsters; 16. Let’s Dance; Feb 17. Tonight;18. Never Let Me Down; 19. Tin Machine I + II; 20. Black Tie White Noise; 21. Buddha;

week 4: Feb 22. Outside; 23. Earthling (hey, my birthday); 24. ‘Hours…’; 25. Toy; 26. Heathen; 27. Reality; 28. The Next Day and leap-year baby Feb 29. Blackstar

Top: Sophia Anne Caruso, one of the stars of Lazarus, on the Lazarus set, January 2016.

97 Responses to “Bowibury” Album Open Thread, Week 1

  1. col1234 says:

    someone should put up a schedule maybe? it’s your show

  2. jackaconnell says:

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter. Where do people stand on the live albums here? I can see Santa Monica being vital to the whole Bowie experience in a way that, say, Stage probably isn’t.

    • I think that the live version of Heroes on Stage is fantastic. But otherwise, I agree that Stage is mostly optional.

      • Chris Williams says:

        I listen to Stage mainly for the “Thank you, thank you very much indeed.” bit.

      • Jasmine says:

        I listen to parts of Stage almost everyday – the Paris/ Berlin music is incredible. The way he sings ‘liebling’ on Beauty and the Beast, Station to Station itself, the most uplifting and inspiring version of Speed of Life; I can only imagine how incredible seeing him live then would have been.
        You can also hear the beginnings of Lodger.

      • RLM says:

        For me the restored version of Stage is a minor miracle… I ignored the album for years because its reputation was so low in the 80s/90s… then hearing it was revelation, because a) it’s fantastic, b) it really underlines what a wonderful, wonderful unit the Davis/Murray/Alomar band was, and c) it is well-recorded opportunity to hear that band range all over the back catalogue. Even the (i think?) maligned Ziggy-era songs have a feisty new wave energy that I might actually prefer to the originals!

      • Kenneth Holzman says:

        I love Stage – at least the restored version, I didn’t own the original release. I’m not wild about the Ziggy material with synths, but everything from Young Americans through “Heroes” is aces.

      • jackaconnell says:

        I like Stage a lot, don’t get me wrong, but the Ziggy revivals weigh down the futurist air of the whole thing. They’re not bad, just inessential.

        That said, Station, Stay and TVC15 are absolutely fantastic closers, and it’s the best version of Station to Station.

      • Matthew says:

        Stage contains my favourite version of Station to Station and TVC15, I’ve not heard the restored version only have the original vinyl. It’s a good snapshot of live Bowie in the late 70’s. Wish the band was that good on the Glass Spider tour when I finally got to see him live.

    • fantailfan says:

      Ziggy Stardust the Motion Picture Original soundtrack is vital to me. don’t know about anyone else.

      • Ang says:

        Agreed.

      • BenJ says:

        I have to credit it with the definitive (for me) version of “Moonage Daydream.”

      • Abby says:

        Agreed, although Santa Monica is also a strong contender.

      • Matthew says:

        Agreed, vital Ziggy era document we had to wait so long for, another album I’ve only heard on vinyl.
        Another is Santa Monica which I rushed out to buy as soon as it was officially released as my old bootleg tape bought from Camden Market was getting worn out by then. Still listen to the tape as nearly all the chat between tracks has been cut out of the CD release destroying the sense of being there.

    • MikeB says:

      Personal favorite is Live at Nassau on the deluxe Station to Station. Love some bits of stage as much (blackout, station) but the Nassau one is awesome start to finish.

      • jackaconnell says:

        Still my personal favourite live cut, since we get to hear the Alomar-Murray-Davis rhythm trio at their tightest and fiercest.

      • Abby says:

        Yes. I listen to this far more than I do to the studio “Station to Station.” If he’d done “Golden Years” live it would be absolutely perfect.

    • Aloysius says:

      They slowed down the live tracks for the recording of “Stage”. I am in love with the fadter vetsions. Just listen to some bootlegs from the Isolar II Tour.

      • ecsongbysong says:

        Hear hear. I love “Stage” solely because I genuinely think the 1978 tour was the greatest he ever did — but bootlegs are the place to hear it. This blog, or maybe Chris’s Twitter at some point, turned me on to the greatness of the Nashville tape, but if anyone’s interested in exploring, I recommend Los Angeles, Detroit, Copenhagen of course, and Adelaide — plus the tremendous video from Tokyo. For what it’s worth.

  3. Aloysius says:

    Blackstar, twice every day after his birthday. And some bootleg stuff in beetween. Today the Young American outtakes “Can you hear me?”.

  4. On the second album, Bowie sounds like Bowie. Not necessarily GOOD Bowie, or consistent Bowie, but his voice is there.

  5. Chris Williams says:

    Great! Already listened to “Lodger” twice today and “. . . Ziggy Stardust” yesterday evening. I played the early stuff (Images double album) to the children last week. They didn’t take to “Please Mr Gravedigger” but could hear stuff in “Karma Man”, “Heat of the Morning” and “Let Me Sleep Beside You” which they recognised as the Bowie they know and are beginning to love.
    And I’ve been playing “Blackstar” after a short break. Also Low’s “Sixes and Ones”.

  6. Galdo says:

    I guess the schedule is (somebody correct me if I’m wrong):

    1. David Bowie+Space Oddity
    2. TMWSTW
    3. Hunky Dory
    4. Ziggy
    5. Aladdin Sane
    6. Pin Ups
    7. Diamond Dogs
    8. Young Americans
    9. Station to Station
    10. The Idiot
    11. Low
    12. Lust for Life
    13. “Heroes”
    14. Lodger
    15. Scary Monsters
    16. Let’s Dance
    17. Tonight
    18. Never Let Me Down
    19. Tin Machine I + II
    20. Black Tie White Noise
    21. Buddha
    22. Outside
    23. Earthling
    24. ‘Hours…’
    25. Toy
    26. Heathen
    27. Reality
    28. The Next Day
    29. Blackstar

    • Matthew says:

      Your list looks good to me, I’m in. I’ll just add in some extras and live stuff appropriate to each album.

      Listening to the Deram album now, forgotten just how weird some of these tracks are, not quite the kids songs it seems to superficially to be.
      I’ll have to add Let Me Sleep Beside You at the end as it’s my favourite track from this era. No idea why Deram rejected it as a single though.

  7. Chris Williams says:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01rnj10#play
    I listened to this yesterday. Light hearted and heart-felt. There’s been a lot of over sombre stuff around. This appeared on the 9th Jan:
    http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/ng-interactive/2016/jan/09/stephen-collins-on-david-bowie-cartoon
    I hope those links work for anyone interested.

  8. Galdo says:

    So for the first week, we should start with the 2 David Bowies and finish with Diamond Dogs. I guess everyone is free to listen to and discuss other albuns for that period, too.

  9. Groofay says:

    Sure, I’ll do it.

    And I can see why February, since there are usually 28 days, but…this is a leap year. Perhaps not the best year to survey 28 albums in a month. Maybe add in a live one?

    I suppose I’ll listen to David Bowie ’67 today, then. And Blackstar later, since I’m still listening to it just about daily. And I might need an ear-cleaning anyway, as I’m not terribly fond of what I’ve heard of ’60s Bowie…

  10. ramonaAstone says:

    Since the day after he died, I have dedicated a day to each Bowie album (minus Pin Ups, sue me). I’ve been doing this in reverse order, and every morning posting on Facebook a Youtube link to the song with a two-word excerpt from it. For example, “Alien Nation”, “Running Scared”, “Pulse Returns”, and “Flesh Punks” When I’m done, I’ll take these phrases and do a “cut up” to see what kind of poetry emerges.

    Doing this reverse chronology has been very cathartic for me. During each day, I’ll listen to the album and watch his interviews corresponding to the time period I’m listening to. It’s much more comforting watching him regress in age, and I’m excited to watch him pouting over haircut bullies in his first interview🙂.

    Also, in a bit of a macabre way, I now have an “excuse” to flood Facebook with 27 songs (not counting the Tin Machine albums, Pin Ups, and only counting the Labyrinth and Buddha of Suburbia soundtracks) and introduce my friends and family to Bowie.

    Actually, I am a bit curious – how many albums are there REALLY in Bowie’s canon? Do you count soundtracks where he provided only one track, or soundtracks where he only wrote the lyrics and not the music? Live albums? Cover albums? Compilation albums? What about “Love you till Tuesday”, which certainly was a musical endeavor but not “codified” into an LP until 1984, and even then being labeled as a “compilation album”? What about compilation albums with one new track, like “Nothing has Changed”?

    I apologize for the scatterbrained nature of this post!

    • Jasmine says:

      Regarding The Buddha of Suburbia, it’s such a shame that it was always billed as a soundtrack album because it’s a fine addition to the canon; I include it as a studio album. It’s a real treat and well worth a listen of the whole album. So underrated.

      • Matthew says:

        I’ve never heard The Buddha of Suburbia album, it must have passed me by. I have every LP bar the first Deram album up to the Labyrinth soundtrack and sporadic CDs after that. I look forward to Feb 21st!

    • Anonymous says:

      I like the reverse order idea! Time allowing I can listen to as much as possible. Do we have enough fans of the reverse order approach to exchange our observations together?

  11. Peter Benn says:

    I have been listening to my collection in date order…have just got to 1975:

    16th Jan 2016
    Bit the bullet and dug out all my Bowie LPs and Cds…starting from the earliest (by year rather than re-release) I have listened to the following:
    Davy Jones and The Lower Third
    The Manish Boys
    The Riot Squad EP – very interesting…a lot of Velvet Underground)
    Images (the German Deram version with has some different recordings of the same tracks and the Stilly Boy Blue (Silly Boy Blue) mis-spelling).
    The first two are of their time – definitely stuck in the 60’s, but a few tracks where re-recorded for the Toy album (never released, but leaked out on t’internet). Riot Squad…as I said interesting…another version of Silly Boy Blue and I’m Waiting for the Man with Bowie mimicking Lou)
    Images – I grew up with this – my elder brother had this and was one of the first records I listed to…as I said, I listed to this, in full, and still knew all the words!…and yes I have listened to it over the years.
    Next posting will be for the next listen-in…which I think has to be the Love Me Til Tuesday recordings (Kenneth Pitt said the tapes would not be released until the revolution!?)…somewhere I have the video (VHS!) for this…but as of now I can’t find it!!!

    18th Jan 2016
    Listening Log: 1969ish – The Sun Machine is Coming Down and We’re Gonna Have a Party!!!
    Space Oddity – Album
    Conversation Piece
    The Prettiest Star (original version)
    Holy Holy (original version = one of my favourites)
    The first ‘proper’ album – still good to listen to….all was going well ’til Cygnet Committee. Was looking at Transformer LP when in the background “So much has gone and little is new…” = buckets of tears…didn’t see that one coming!!!! Finally recovered and got through side 2 without further breakdown smile emoticon x
    Of note, the only output in 1970/early 71 was two singles…both of which are highly sought after and command a high price (esp Holy Holy/Black Country Rock)….couldn’t afford that, hence the Hype Major Tom Label recording.

    18/01/2016
    Listening Log: 1970/71 (US/UK)
    The Man Who Sold The World – Let’s ROCK!!!!
    Ok, so you get a new band and then let the bassist produce the record – ramped up bass and heavy rock with heavy lyrics – awesome!!!…but not for everyone…the title track is one of the best songs…ever!
    I first listened to this late 70’s…my brother had a copy (2 actually – the RCA Victor UK and the US Mercury (well scratched – in the pc)….I finally bought my own, wore it down a bit, then a USA Victor label to back it up. Then out came the RYKO…then the cd to play in the car…then another cd just in case!!!
    Not sure if it is my favourite album, but if I was asked to pick one for a desert island, it would be this (maybe!).

    19/01/2016
    Listening Log: 1971

    1. Hunky Dory – if anyone does not have this in their record collection, then they can’t have heard it. It appeals on all levels from simplicity to multi-layered lyrical meanings. Too many copies….but not all mine (2 belong to other half). CD and RYKO have demo tracks and Bombers
    The band slightly changed from The Man Who Sold The World, the music mellowed….who is this ‘new’ band?
    2. The Arnold Corns – wait/what? What’s all this about?….
    Notes
    Also here, Biff Rose (the original Fill Your Heart – identical to the HD entry). Dana Gillespie’s 1974(73?) Weren’t Born a Man is here as it covers Andy Warhol. [Not hole!].
    I’d wondered why Rick Wakeman is playing/creditied…Rick Wakeman was the in-house session keyboard player at the Trident studios, so it’s only ’cause he was there and the new band didn’t have a keyboard player.

    21-Jan-2016
    Listening Log: 1972 – Ziggy Stardust – Part 1
    The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spider From Mars (RCA Victor/International/30th CD)
    John, I’m Only Dancing (single 1972)
    Live Santa Monica 72 (CD)
    The Jean Genie (single 1972)
    AWESOME!!! First the album, then John I’m Only Dancing…then the best Ziggy live recording you can get…listen to this and you know where the punk of 70’s music came from. A slight problem with the microphone (hand me the pliers!) and a missing stylophone for the rocket launch in Space Oddity…and recorded from a radio when broadcast live in FM in 1972. The Jean Genie single from late ’72 keeps this electric dream running…and Rono played guitar!
    F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C!!!

    26-Jan-2016
    Listening Log: 1973 – Ziggy Stardust – Part 2
    “Ziggy Goes to America”
    Aladdin Sane
    I forgot how (how?) good an album this is, from start to finish.
    Best played loud and without stopping (unless you have to turn the vinyl over).
    The Mike Garson piano is all over, but the stand out track (for me) is the “title” track (ok so, it called “Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)” – the years aguably denoting the year before the world wars break out)….and Lady Grinning Soul…and Time…and Drive-In Saturday…and…all of them!!!

    27-Jan-2016
    Listening Log: 1973 – Ziggy Stardust – Part 3
    1. Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture – Hammersmith Odeon in London on 3 July 1973
    2. Life On Mars?/The Man Who Sold The World
    3. Sorrow/Amsterdam
    4. Pin Ups
    The key dates go like this…
    12th April – Aladdin Sane
    22nd June – Life On Mars?/The Man Who Sold The World
    3rd July – “Not only is it the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show that we’ll ever do. Thank you.”
    Aaaahhhhgggg!!!! This was kind of cleared up in the music press as to what it actually meant soon after the inital reaction/fall-out from this announcment.
    28th Sept – Sorrow/Amsterdam
    18th Oct – Pin Ups
    Reality Check – I can only assume/guess what went on back then, but for the average punter…eh? wot?;
    For the avid fan, a yo-yo of emotion?
    The recordings I have listened to so far are in chronological order by release date EXCEPT for the live albums Santa Monica 72 & Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture – you couldn’t get these at WHSmiths/Woolies at the time….
    …so, were you expecting a live album following 3rd July?
    First along, comes Sorrow as a single…excellent cover…and the Bowie version of Amsterdam on the reverse (a matter of taste?…excellent song, but what happened to My Death?)
    1972/73 seems to have been manic – loads of touring, 3 albums, All The Young Dudes, Transformer…..so, off to France with (most of) The Spiders to record a covers album called Pin-Ups.
    Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture – when it came out in 1983 (yes 1983!), to me, it was like gold-dust…and a film as well – excellent! Possibly not as good a sound recording as the Santa Monic (bootleg), but a year on with more/different tracks.
    Pin-Ups: Interesting…not quite what was expected at the time? If you take into account the ‘covers’ coming out prior to this (Round ‘n’ Round, Let’s Spend the Night Together) then it kind of makes sense (Ferry and Lennon were doing a similar thing a the time)…and as a possible wind down from a hectic schedule. I like it and will play it again….and it’s also the end of an era – the last time Mick Ronson collaborated with Bowie (…not quite! He was back working in 1993 on Black Tie White Noise). For most of the songs, when compared with the originals (to me) are, or sound, better than the originals.

    1-Feb-2017
    Listening Log: 1974/75
    1. Diamond Dogs
    2. Live
    3. Young Americans
    4. Station to Station
    …and John I’m Only Dancing – Again 1975.
    A bit of free time this morning, so full blast on the record player…
    Diamond Dogs – when it got to the end, I just wanted to play it again – it’s not that it’s short, it’s soooo good. Really good stuff here. Also, 1984 has the Shaft riff in it…and of those who say there have never been any DB dance tracks, the surprise piece that got me on my feet was Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family!!
    Live – I was dreading this as there’s been a lot of bad press about it…and the inner notes inside don’t give you much hope i.e. “culled” rather than “compiled”.
    Even with the “plastic soul” rendition of the songs, it’s not as bad as I remembered….
    Young Americans – not one of my favourites and seldom played. However, most of it ain’t that bad…Young Americans/Fame are the well known classics…the other ‘new’ stuff – some excellent, but some not so…and…Across the Universe?? Was this a filler track = maybe, maybe not? [this is only my opinion]. Maybe it is that this album has no emotional effect on me….must work on that!!
    Station to Station – Now we’re talking….top notch album. Seems to be a mix of styles within and between tracks that merge Diamond Dogs and Young Americans….maybe this is the European version/progression of Young Americans. Reading up on what was going on at the time, DB has finished TMWFTE, but was in litigation with management that led to not having a soundtrack of TMWFTE to release (which may or may not actually exist)…so escape to a studio and hammer out an album – and what a result!

  12. Groofay says:

    Scratch my earlier post. I’ll do both DB and Space Oddity today. The ’67 album was…odd…and I would like to hear at least some early Bowie that is recognizable.

    Also, with regards to soundtracks, I’m guessing that Buddha of Suburbia counts as an album because almost none of it was used in the film.

    I’m just trying to figure out how to fill out 29 days now. An earlier post suggested the Iggy Pop Berlin albums, which might be interesting. Or another post suggested Santa Monica live?

    (Mostly I’m just doing this for an excuse to have finally listened to all of DB’s albums.)

  13. Pout Montag says:

    Are Outside and Earthling out of print? I’m having a hell of a time getting hold of them here in the UK.

  14. Matthew says:

    I don’t think so but demand is high. I’m going to have to stream a few of the later albums and pick them up later as I see them especially as I’d like all the bonus tracks.
    You could try ebay if you don’t mind second hand.

  15. Remco says:

    I spent january 8,9 and 10 listening to Blackstar almost constantly, then when the news came it was all I listened to for about a week. i couldn’t listen to anything else. After that I picked up Chris’ book which had been on the pile for way too long and started to listen, really listen, to everything properly song by song, following Chris’ book. It feels like a good way to deal with his passing, really delving into everything he’s left us, it’s also a way of not dealing with the fact that it’s over, part of me can’t bear the thought of reaching Blackstar. I’ll probbaly join in sporaically, I love the idea of doing this as a communal celebration of Bowie’s work but I’m taking a slower pace, I’ve been doing this for two weeks now and I’m in ’73 now. Not a bad place to be and I love the fact that there’s so much yet to come.

    • raw moon says:

      Bought ‘Blackstar’ the day it was released … after he passed, I literally could not listen to it for almost 4 months.

  16. MC says:

    Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever heard the debut album in its proper sequence, as my bargain-price CD copy stupidly omits Little Bombardier and Silly Boy Blue. I’m solving that problem with a little help from ITunes and YouTube. Ok…the first LP is far from Bowie’s best, but it’s difficult to dislike. Well, except for Love You Till Tuesday and maybe a couple of the later tracks. The album rallies at the close with Please Mr. Gravedigger – and you realize how much death haunted Bowie’s music from nearly the beginning. Conversely, Silly Boy Blue is the push to transcendence – the yin and yang of Bowie’s songs, right there from the start.

    A real mixed bag, this one. Some duds and some botched opportunities (I’m looking at you, We Are Hungry Men!). Some dim period pieces, then you get tracks that signpost the mature Bowie voice: the sublime S.B. Blue, of course, but also There Is A Happy Land. And I have a soft spot for There Is A Coat, as well, dated though it may be, with the heartbreakingly melancholy “La-la-la-las” in the fade.

    Space Oddity, like the debut, is an album I only got to know piecemeal over the course of several years: I think this may be only the third time I’ve heard the Visconti-produced Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud. (I would agree that the B-side version is the one to beat.)

    It’s certainly a great leap forward from the debut. The decidedly inessential Don’t Sit Down aside, Side One is really gripping stuff, from the first voyage of Major Tom on, through the epic Cygnet Committee – a song I would have had a hard time listening to two weeks ago, with its piercing cries of “I want to live!” at the end.

    Side Two (beginning with Janine, for those of the post-vinyl era) is really awkward by comparison. And here’s the album’s most twee moment, An Occasional Dream. And the ineffable God Knows I’m Good… Luckily, Bowie was then a dab hand at closing tracks. Memory Of A Free Festival really hasn’t been given its due, I think. What beautiful, yearning verses. I actually prefer the first half to the Sun Machine chant, but the song still closes proceedings with a smile. I must say, I’ve often found SO to be overly morose, but right now it seems really uplifting. In a good way.

  17. s.t. says:

    This one goes out to Momus:

    1. It’s somewhat odd to review the first two albums in one entry, because they are so very different: One, a collection of novelty pop tunes, and the other the work of a “serious” singer-songwriter.

    2. Still, there are similarities to appreciate. For one, they both reflect the Sixties in their ways. And notably, in both instances, Bowie is shown to be a bit behind the trends of the times. His debut LP serves as the stuffy foil to the psychedelic revolution that had taken hold of London, and “Space Oddity” mostly sounds like Dylan and Lennon from the mid 60’s.

    3. (By the way, what about Bowie’s earlier recordings, the ones that were actually recorded in the mid-60s? Well, Liza Jane is fun enough. The rest of the rockers are pretty dull stuff. My fave is the demo That’s Where My Heart Is, because Bowie’s personality as a vocalist really comes out. The Pye singles are also good. They’re awkward and slight, but it’s wonderful to hear a young Bowie trying his darnedest, and struggling, to shine).

    4. Between the two albums, “Space Oddity” is clearly better than “David Bowie.” There’s nothing on the first album to even try to compare with Cygnet Committee, Letter to Hermione, Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed, or The Wild-Eyed Boy from Freecloud. Even with respect to novelty tunes, the song Space Oddity was a world-conquering mammoth of a novelty tune. Bowie still had so much growing to do in ‘69, but the creative jump from album one to album two was nevertheless impressive.

    5. Yet “David Bowie” is often unfairly maligned, even by hardcore Bowie fans. The Deram era is marked by a cloying saccharine quality, and its corniness was miles away from the hip, transgressive work of his later years. Or was it? I think corniness is a vital component of Bowie’s work, even in his classic stuff. Kooks was written a year before Ziggy debuted, and it calls back to the sound and feel of those Deram novelty tunes. “Pin Ups” had a similar manic goofiness. In truth, his first album is a pleasantly quirky affair, peppered with moments of inspiration, beauty, and some seeds of Bowie’s later personas. “Space Oddity” had stronger songs, but it could have used a bit more of the humor and charm of his first album.

    6. Nevertheless, I find myself much more captivated by the non-album tracks of the Deram period. London Boys, When I’m Five, Karma Man, In The Heat of the Morning, C’est La Vie, London By Ta-Ta. Why didn’t these make it to the album? It’s true that the UK market tends to keep singles and albums separate. I myself often opt for the US Versions (like the “Boys Don’t Cry” LP for “Three Imaginary Boys”), and my self-made “US edit” of this album is a lot stronger than the original.

    7. Another strange LP omission is Conversation Piece from “Space Oddity.” As mentioned recently, it would have helped the album so much.

    8. The lesser “Space Oddity” songs aren’t bad though. Janine actually rocks out. An Occasional Dream is suitably dreamlike. Free Festival has a grand coda. God Knows is catchy. And Don’t Sit Down is thankfully less than a minute long.

    9. My favorites: Letter to Hermione, one of the most nakedly personal songs Bowie has ever written. Youthful angst it may be, but it’s terribly beautiful and powerful. And also Cygnet Committee. When I first heard this album, I had recently been exposed to Jesus Christ Superstar, and so my first impression of Cygnet Committee was the melodic similarities to some of the songs in that musical, perhaps most notably I Only Want To Say. Was Webber intentionally referencing Bowie? I can’t say. Regardless, any initial similarities become irrelevant as the song builds into that monstrous, epic rant.

    10. And yes, of course, the song Space Oddity is a grand moment of pop magic. For many years I pretended to the purism of Visconti et al. against such an opportunistic pop product, but its majesty can only be denied for so long. Plus, it’s the only bit of whimsy on the whole damn album! An early masterpiece. Still one of his best. I’m sure Tony came around as well.

  18. s.t. says:

    Also, is Bowiburying a new variant of bunburying?

  19. Brian says:

    ‘David Bowie’ and ‘Pin Ups’ are the last Bowie studio albums I have yet to hear in one sitting.

    Listening to ‘David Bowie’, “We are Hungry Men” is so bizarre. Not because of how it sounds, but because it’s like the lost link between The Man Who Sold the World and Hunky Dory, except it was made before Space Oddity. Probably my favorite song on the album.

  20. comicalArchitect says:

    About yesterday’s albums:
    The first had some rather interesting tracks (“Come and Buy My Toys”, “We Are Hungry Men”, “Silly Boy Blue”), but the only one I was able to really ENJOY on the level of Bowie’s later stuff was “Love You Till Tuesday”. Speaking on that, man, what an adorable track. It’s nice and sweet on a level that should be stupid, but Bowie sells it so perfectly that you can’t help but feel something in your heart when he says, “Well I might stretch it out till Wednesday”.
    As for Space Oddity: such an underrated album. It’s an absolute tour de force, a tsunami of a record. Every track is moving and heartfelt and POWERFUL. Cygnet Committee slogs a little, but it never stops being fascinating while it does so, and the ending makes it worth it. And it’s easy to forget, in light of Bowie’s flashier work later on, how absolutely stunning and brilliant the title track is.

  21. Matthew says:

    Listening to TMWSTW now, I’ve always really liked this one, the sleeve notes from the Ziggy era RCA reissue are an absolute hoot too. If you’ve not seen the back cover here’s a snippet

    ‘ Neither metaphor or analogue, Bowie’s music insists on its own reality. Phantasmagoria is its reality; the preternatural its unsettling truth’

    Great stuff

    • michael says:

      Fantastic. Having long lost my vinyl copy of the reissue, this took me straight back to being 13 and having to look up what ‘phantasmagoria’ meant. Bowie as educator again.

  22. s.t. says:

    “The Man Who Sold the World” was the arrival of David Bowie.

    Of course, David Jones made some prophetic whispers in his earlier albums, but here, backed by spiritual brothers Visconti and Ronson, decked out in heavy metal drag, “David Bowie” revealed himself in full glory.

    …At least, for most of the songs. Certainly the first side of the LP. And a good chunk of the second. Most of Bowie’s albums have at least one song that you wish he’d have replaced with some stronger single or B-side. Perfection is rare. So it’s no great sin, but She Shook Me Cold is an awful song. And Running Gun Blues just doesn’t work for me either. I get what he was trying to do, but it just sounds like callous shock schlock. And the poor mixing job makes it even harder to take.

    But the rest! That stunning opening track, perhaps more grand and ambitious than Space Oddity, and openly homoerotic. All the Madmen, half anthem for the queers, half hymn to his brother Terry’s mental condition. Then there’s the drama of After All, the chug of Black Country Rock, the sci-fi paranoia of Savior Machine, the maniacal dystopian epic The Supermen, and that mysterious and evocative title track.

    I love the touches of Moog synth throughout; they add a layer of otherworldliness, but not without humor. When I first heard the album, it felt like a call to arms for the weirdos of the world. Ouvre le chien!

  23. comicalArchitect says:

    While listening to TMWSTW today, I had a realization about Bowie’s catalog: if one excludes Buddha, Tin Machine, and Pin Ups, all of Bowie’s studio albums fit neatly into a particular structure. This structure comprises eight mirror-images “trilogies”, with Scary Monsters as the lynchpin, the turnover of the record separating the two sides. In the innermost section we have the auteur Berlin Trilogy, contrasting with the shamelessly commercial “Pop Trilogy” of Let’s Dance, Tonight, and NLMD. Go out a bit further and you find the horns-and-handclaps “Funk Trilogy” of Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, and Station to Station lying opposite the synth-heavy “Techno Trilogy” of BTWN, Outside, and Earthling, both clear and unmasked attempts to embrace a particular “scene”. Past those, we have the intro-retrospective “Mirror Trilogy” of Hours, Toy, and Heathen, the music of a visibly old man looking back at his life’s work and evaluating it, which contrasts perfectly the “Glam Trilogy” of Hunky Dory, Ziggy, and Aladdin Sane, three albums bursting with youthful energy and creativity. Finally, at the beginning, we have the bright-eyed, simply constructed, innocent “First Trilogy” of David Bowie, Space Oddity, and TMWSTW, whose shadow lies at the very end with the darkly mature and elegantly composed “Death Trilogy” of Reality, The Next Day, and Blackstar.

  24. Brian says:

    I hadn’t heard the original version of Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud before reading about in the book. Probably the most torn I’ve been between versions, I loved the album version but the original might just be better.

  25. Groofay says:

    I actually hadn’t heard The Man Who Sold the World before today. Listening to it now, and so much of his subsequent output makes so much more sense. I feel as though TMWSTW is the key to David Bowie. I heard the oddness of Ziggy, Diamond Dogs, all the rest, but this album is from whence it all came. It’s fitting, in that this is Bowie’s first encounter with another unreserved creative force in the form of Mick Ronson. I can almost feel DB’s mind expanding, realizing the new possibilities now open to him. It’s the thrill of discovery.

    All the main aspects of Bowie were already in place in the first two albums (isolation, transcendence, dysfunction both societal and personal), but this is where the synthesis happens.

  26. Galdo says:

    I guess I’m one of the few who could get an enjoyment from listening his debut album. It’s a collection of catchy pop novelty tunes, and even if someone are really grating (Join the Gang the worst by far, the ‘I hope you break your baton’ moment comes close) I like some of the songs a lot (Uncle Arthur, We Are Hungry Men, Love You Till Tuesday, Sell Me a Coat, Silly Boy Blue). There’s one song I quite never payed much attention and listening to it, I got caught (There Is a Happy Land). It’s not strange some of its themes managed to get into Bowie’s work even in his final days, is it?

    His second album is a way better listening. I think it would be perfect if ‘Conversation Piece’ or even ‘The Prettiest Star’ managed to get into the album instead of ‘God Knows I’m Good’. I remember one of my first listenings of this album and loving the rocker ‘Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed’ and being caught by ‘Cygnet Comitee’. I can see why Bowie would made this album sound like this but, in contrast, ‘TMWSTW’ sounds like a singer’s album, just like ‘Let’s Dance’ is. Some other album which remind it it’s Scott Walker and Sunn O))) Soused. I guess it has a strange almost unbowie sound. But then we have the lyrics which are very Bowie, and some of early classics too. I just don’t like some moments like ‘Running Gun Blues’ and some lyrics of ‘Width of a Circle’ but, otherwise is a damn great album. ‘After All’ got into my top ten in my poll vote, and ‘All the Madmen’ is especially great too. But the last two tracks are something else.

  27. sg07 says:

    In the picture for this page there is a orange looking thing on the right which says David Bowie… something something,

    Can anyone tell me what this is please?

    thanks as always.

  28. Matthew says:

    Today Hunky Dory.
    This is where I came in all those years ago.

    Staying with my dad (more a country music listener) in school holidays his girlfriend had this album on 8-track and I remember;

    ‘Wake up you sleepy head
    Put on some clothes, shake up your bed
    Put another log on the fire for me
    I’ve made some breakfast and coffee’

    I loved those lines and had never heard a song with lyrics like that. The rest of that songs lyrics went over my head a bit. Not easy for a 9 year old to understand, but then there were a couple of rude words and Kooks – what kid wouldn’t identify with that one.
    Even today listening to those lines takes me right back there.

    (Also that year Laughing Gnome reissued here in UK and I recall that as well but can’t remember if I connected the two as being the same artist. It doesn’t have the same resonance for me)

  29. s.t. says:

    Hunky Dory it is.

    This was the first Bowie album that I ever listened to, so it will always have a special place in my heart. Initially, it was hard to wrap my head around what I was hearing. My music intake at the time (9th grade) was largely pop punk, classic punk, goth, and industrial. Hunky Dory is, by comparison, an openly wussy album, with plenty of touches that seemed dorky at the time. But that didn’t keep me from getting captivated; it thankfully cultivated my inner wussy dork. Plus, there are some dark pleasures to be had here: the beautifully sad Bewlay Brothers, the Buddhist occult nihilism of Quicksand, even the eerie synths of Andy Warhol’s intro.

    And the album is so stylistically varied; far more adventurous than the roster of Lookout or Kill Rock Stars Records, and more exciting for it.

    I know that the “overrated/underrated” sentiment is overused and undermeaningful, but I feel like Hunky Dory is an underrated Bowie classic. It’s quite popular and loved, but it continues to live in the shadow of the Ziggy phenomenon and his later experiments. Yet it’s so powerful and so moving. It’s cryptic and distant one moment and gushingly heartfelt the next. It feels so much more personal and inviting than the mastercrafted Space Rock Experience of Ziggy. Like Low, it offers a place to live for a while.

  30. Groofay says:

    Alright, it’s Ziggy day. I think I’ll find the Motion Picture to watch as well, just because it’s another thing I haven’t yet seen. (I’m also thinking of watching TMWFTE with Station to Station for the same reason.)

    The thing I keep noticing about Ziggy Stardust is how the ideas of destruction and beauty/transcendence are wrapped up in each other. So we have five years left to live as a species, but “I kiss you, you’re beautiful, I want you to walk.” And of course in Rock’n’Roll Suicide, Ziggy is being torn to pieces by doomed humans while belting out “Give me your hands, ’cause you’re wonderful.” Let alone those freaked-out love songs Moonage Daydream and Lady Stardust. And Starman is a love song to all of humanity.

    All things considered, Ziggy Stardust is the most optimistic apocalypse record I’ve ever heard, in that it posits a purpose for continuing to live alongside the projection of its end. Diamond Dogs, by contrast, seems all squalid decadence, no hope or redemption in sight.

    • comicalArchitect says:

      Love the analysis of Ziggy, but gotta disagree about Diamond Dogs. It finds beauty, but the difference is that in Diamond Dogs, the beauty is IN the decadence and squalor, not in spite of it.

      • s.t. says:

        Agreed. I think this is why DD tends to be cherished by the goth and darkwave groups of the early 80’s. They really dug that defecating ecstasy.

  31. Matthew says:

    After listening to Santa Monica and Ziggy today I added in Velvet Goldmine and Sweet Head. Velvet Goldmine I was familiar with, it was on a jukebox at college but until I read about it I assumed it was from the time of Hunky Dory rather than Ziggy. Sweet Head I only discovered more recently but I love its brashness and it would have been a favourite at sixteen, better than Star or Suffragette.
    Checked the blog page for these two and can’t believe they each only have 2 comments!

    Groofay: Never though of that about Ziggy but like it, have to disagree about Diamond Dogs though. Side two (excepting Rock and Roll with me which is quite lovely) is about something else all together not decadence. Roll on Sunday.

    • Jasmine says:

      I agree about Velvet Goldmine: HD and TRAFOZSATSFM crossed over each other in Bowie’s timeline. Moonage Daydream and Hang Onto Yourself were begun when he was in US promoting The Man Who Sold The World and were released as Arnold Corns in mid 71, at the time he was recording HD. I don’t think Bowie intended Velvet Goldmine for HD, but it would definitely fit well on that album. Equally, I think Queen Bitch could sit well on ZS.

      I think it’s amazing that even around the time he was doing the cover shoot for ZS Velvet Goldmine was lined up to be on the album and Starman wasn’t even recorded! That was a career-defining moment when that changed!

      Another song I listened to today is All The Young Dudes which, rather than fitting with Aladdin Sane, was written much earlier and I think fits with HD/ ZS much more.

  32. MC says:

    Ok, am listening to Ziggy now. Heard Hunky Dory yesterday, and TMWSTW the day before. An incredible run of records, these. You can chart DB’s progression through them, and of course, the beginning and flowering of the Bowie-Ronson partnership as well, but they’re all remarkably different in sound and affect. The first is the dark statement of purpose in the guise of a dystopian metal album. The second is DB’s cracked contribution to the singer-songwriter genre, his this-is-me-and-how-I-look-at-the-world album. Ziggy is something else entirely, the erstwhile Sgt. Pepper of glam rock. It’s Bowie announcing his arrival as a rock star with a new, staggering self-assurance. It only ranked 3rd in my album poll, but hearing it right now, it sounds like the greatest thing he ever did. I really don’t think there’s a single duff track on it; I even have a soft spot for It Ain’t Easy (though I won’t deny that Round And Round or Sweet Head would have been even better side 1 closers.)

    Some random thoughts on the 3 albums:

    1) I’ve posted a lot about TMWSTW, but I just wanted to add that I really like Running Gun Blues and She Shook Me Cold, though I get why they’re so maligned. The former is for me an example of how a great singer, flanked by great players and arrangers, can make the most out of a pretty juvenile song. Visconti’s bass at the start of the chorus is like a fist in the solar plexus. (and Jack White could do a great cover!) She Shook Me Cold, on the other hand, is an ace parody of cock rock when the term was barely out of the cradle, and nearly 2 decades before Tin Machine!

    2) I was forced to listen to Hunky Dory yesterday on IPod headphones – not the best way to experience Life On Mars, let me tell you. Still, I realized listening to it back to front for the first time in a while what an eclectic assortment of songs it is. Think of how diverse Kooks and Queen Bitch and Oh You Pretty Things! are, but they fit together magically. That reflects on the brilliance of the arrangers: Ronno, take a bow!. But let’s not forget Ken Scott, an unsung hero in the Bowie story.

    3) One of the most exciting moments in the history of records: the segue from the soothing outro of Soul Love to the slammed power chords that herald Moonage Daydream. Another one: “Wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am!”

    4) Carr and Murray explained the “concept” of Ziggy Stardust better than anyone. Side One is the world Ziggy is born into: Side Two is the rise and fall narrative promised in the title. With this in mind, listening to the album as a kid, I still couldn’t puzzle out what Moonage Daydream was “about”. Over the years, though, I’ve come to think of it as the counterpart to the apocalyptic despair of Five Years. Its seemingly nonsensical lyrics speak of a yearning for connection, sexual, spiritual, emotional. It seems to me now an important precursor to Heroes. Just a staggering, epic song

    5) Amazing to think that Bowie, never a proper lead guitarist, came up with 3 of the greatest riffs in rock history, in Queen Bitch, Rebel Rebel, and Ziggy’s theme song.

    6) Pardon me if I gush, but this is the first of Bowie’s imperial phases we’re talking about. Not only that, but these were the albums that defined rock&roll for me as a nascent rock fan at ages 11-12. For me, Bowie, along with The Beatles, was setting the bar for what music should be.

    • s.t. says:

      5a) Not to mention that brilliant sludgefest that preceded Rebel Rebel.

      • nomad science says:

        “5a) Not to mention that brilliant sludgefest that preceded Rebel Rebel.”

        Totally. I’ve described Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise) to people as “Bowie invents punk via musical theatre,” but the incredible noise he wrings out of his guitar prefigures Sonic Youth, as well. I think one reason he seemed to love playing with Adrian Belew and Reeves Gabrels so much is that they were exactly the kind of guitarist Bowie himself would have been if he had the virtuosic chops to match his proclivity for noise and texture. I wish Bowie’s guitar work in Tin Machine had been more “last 60 seconds of Sweet Thing (Reprise)” and less “inaudible strumming so it looks like I’m doing something.”

      • MC says:

        Yes, completely agreed, Bowie’s great “skronk” moment!

      • Matthew says:

        Worth the entry price just for that guitar riff alone

  33. s.t. says:

    Given that I always found Bauhaus’ Ziggy Stardust to be lacking, here is my imaginary spooky covers album of Ziggy & the Spiders.

    1. Five Years: Throbbing Gristle
    2. Soul Love: Andi Sex Gang
    3. Moonage Daydream: The Church
    4. Starman: The Legendary Pink Dots
    5. It Aint Easy: Siouxsie & the Banshees
    6. Lady Stardust: Marilyn Manson
    7. Star: Bauhaus
    8. Hang On To Yourself: Christian Death (mk1, of course)
    9. Ziggy Stardust: KMFDM
    10. Suffragette City: Ultravox! (mk1)
    11. Rock n Roll Suicide: Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
    12. Velvet Goldmine: Death in June
    13. Sweet Head: Killing Joke
    14. John I’m Only Dancing: Echo & the Bunnymen
    15. All the Young Dudes: Swans

    • nomad science says:

      That list is inspired. What I wouldn’t give to hear Rozz Williams sing “Hang On To Yourself”!

      I’ve often wondered why, when there are so many Bowie songs perfectly suited to Peter Murphy’s voice, Bauhaus chose to cover “Ziggy Stardust.”

  34. Groofay says:

    To people who “disagreed” with me over Diamond Dogs: I put it in rather black-and-white terms earlier. I still find it an extremely beautiful and uplifting album. I don’t think saying that is contradictory to it being very bleak in its message, though. It’s one of the most artistically complex and multi-faceted records DB ever made.

    Anyway, today is supposed to be about Aladdin Sane. I love this album, but for me the first two songs cast a shadow over the rest. I never did develop a proper appreciation for “Time” or “Drive-in Saturday,” though “Lady Grinning Soul” I find enchanting, draws me right back in.

    • Groofay says:

      (DD was one of the most artistically complex and multi-faceted records DB had made *up to that point. I can’t seem to be able to edit things.)

    • Matthew says:

      I can understand lack of enthusiasm for ‘Drive-in Saturday’, but ‘Time’ is one of my favourites. Follow the piano into the song and then the crazy guitar. Also the version on Ziggy Stardust The Motion Picture, whilst not quite up to the album cut musically, is fantastic visually. Bowie on top form and in total control of the audience.

  35. John says:

    Well, I already started listening to his catalog chronologically (minus the first self-titled, which I don’t have, and skipping some of the live stuff), as well as reading Rebel Rebel roughly simultaneously. Sadly, I’m about to finish reading the entry for Station to Station, meaning I’m nearly done with the book. I’m very much looking forward to the next book–they’re perfect accompaniment to my 30-minute train commute.

  36. Chris Williams says:

    I haven’t been keeping in step. Aladdin Sane today and The Idiot and Lust For Life for the work drive. Has anybody commented on Bowie’s first contribution to “Turn Blue”?
    “Sweet Head” now – “While you’re down there . . .”

  37. s.t. says:

    Time, it doesn’t flex quite enough these days. I’m falling behind!

  38. comicalArchitect says:

    Listening to Aladdin Sane today, one thing I noticed is the marked lack (note: this is not a criticism) of any sort of album construction. No song particularly flows into another, there aren’t any prominent common threads, each song is musically distinct, and perhaps most notably, each song seems to be presented to us as equal. None are particularly long or short, none are duds and none are showstoppers (note that the standard for a showstopper here is Station to Station or Heroes, so this is hardly a knock).

    • s.t. says:

      I think of Ziggy and Aladdin Sane as a type of Yin and Yang of the glam apotheosis. When I’m really enjoying one of them, it’s hard not to think of how it betters the other. But really, they offer different approaches. Aladdin Sane does away with build, nuance, and with any pretensions to narrative cohesion. It just goes for the gut with strong songs that amplify what had earlier been hinted at.
      So I can see what you mean about how neither the album nor any individual song has a grand or ambitious construction, but that’s a big part of its appeal for me. From the raunchy, muddy stomp of the intro to the achingly beautiful finale, it’s a nonstop rush of agony, ecstasy, and debauched fun. For that reason it feels more chaotic and dangerous than its tastefully constructed predecessor.
      …And, Lady Grinning Soul is for me a showstopping finale. Absolutely breathtaking.

      • comicalArchitect says:

        Oh, don’t get me wrong, I agree with you. The lack of construction is part of what makes the album special. (Though I’m honestly not as huge a fan of Lady Grinning Soul as most people.)

      • Matthew says:

        As a teenager Ziggy Stardust was my favourite of the two ‘Ziggy’ albums and I listened to Aladdin Sane only occasionally. Nowadays its the other way around but I don’t know why, maybe it’s the piano playing.

      • Matthew says:

        Talking of Lady Grinning Soul this has to be the strangest version ever. Listened to it twice now and can’t decide if I think its terrible or inspired, definately heartfelt though.
        Raf & O at the Beckenham Festival in September 2013

  39. Oops, I skipped Pin-Ups. Oh well. I listened to it for the first time a few weeks ago and didn’t like it.
    After MWSTM and Hunky Dory, I increasingly started to feel like compilations/curated playlists are the way to go with me for early Bowie. Taken as a whole, I don’t think they hold up after 45 years (that’s a lot to ask!), though the songs that do are great.
    Then came Ziggy and Aladdin Sane. I am more familiar with Ziggy than any other Bowie album but as a morning listen as part of this daily schedule, I found I didn’t really hear it any more when I put it on. Aladdin Sane likewise washed over me through no fault of its own.
    Diamond Dogs is on now and THAT doesn’t wash over me. For all that some people don’t like it, this one in all its sub-Stones vulgarity pierces my brain fog. I love it.

  40. s.t. says:

    I really do love Pin Ups.
    Its disposable quality is a big part of its magic. Not unlike Leon (which went for ill-defined shadow songs rather than 60’s staples), it’s an opportunity to kick back and soak up a band clearly having a good time, goofing off and oozing personality. It’s an early punk classic. Also a great album to blast while doing some spring cleaning.

    • Matthew says:

      To confess, I haven’t listened to Pinups for at least 15 years if not 20. So today I got out the USB turntable (again) and put it on and does it rock. Much much better than I remember, so I converted it to mp3 to take around with me. Weakest link for me is ‘See Emily Play’, I don’t think they quite pull it off. But on ‘I Can’t Explain’ the guitar, the vocals, the band all great. Funny thing memory or maybe my tastes have changed. Won’t leave it unlistened for 15 years again!

  41. Jasmine says:

    I could never get into Aladdin Sane as an overall album, but still enjoy the rock numbers Cracked Actor, Panic in Detroit and Watch That Man. The line ‘jumped the silent cars that slept at traffic lights’ blew me away when I first heard it when I was 14 and I don’t know why!

    I read that Panic in Detroit was about a riot in Detroit in the late 60s and Bowie took that and adapted it as a post-apocalyptic take on American society. I don’t know if that’s true, but the whole album has a sense of foreboding and doom – I think Bowie wanted to get away from ZS at this point and had his thoughts geared towards DD and his theatrical take on 1984, which is very post-apocalyptic.

    I can’t write about Aladdin Sane without mentioning the haunting and stunning piano playing from Mike Garson, the start of an amazing musical relationship.

  42. ramonaAstone says:

    This has been my life the last 27 days; songs defining a Bowie album/project/era (minus Tin Machine) and a tiny snippet of each. From his last original work to his first…
    27. “I Can’t Give Everything Away” (Pulse Returns)
    26. “Love is Lost” (Say Hello)
    25. “Never Get Old” (Never Ever)
    24. “5.15 Angels Have Gone” (Changing Towns)
    23. “Seven” (Seven Days)
    22. “Dead Man Walking” (Alien Nation)
    21. “We Prick You” (Flesh Punks)
    20. “Buddha of Suburbia” (Great Expectations)
    19. “Miracle Goodnight” (Make Believe)
    18. “Time Will Crawl” (Fingers Disappear)
    17. “As the World Falls Down” (Pale Jewel)
    16. “Loving the Alien” (Holy Land)
    15. “Modern Love” (I Try)
    14. “Scary Monsters” (Running Scared)
    13. “Boys Keep Swinging” (Keep Swingin’)
    12. “Neukoln” ( )
    11. “Sound and Vision” (Electric Blue)
    10. “Stay” (Crazy Tonight)
    9. “Can You Hear Me” (Take It)
    8. “Rebel Rebel (Hot Tramp)
    7. “Time” (Billy Dolls)
    6. “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide” (Not Alone)
    5. “O You Pretty Things” (Homo Superior)
    4. “The Width of a Circle” (Nebulous Body)
    3. “Memory of a Free Festival” (Road, Unchained)
    2 . “Love You Till Tuesday” (Little Romance)
    1. “Take My Tip” (Get On)

  43. s.t. says:

    I didn’t have too many points of reference for the music I was absorbing in high school, so I was excited to stumble on All Music Guide, a fairly comprehensive database of music reviews, including retrospective reviews of older albums.

    Over the years, Ned Raggett’s and John Dougan’s recommendations proved incredibly helpful for trying out new music. All in all, AMG was a great resource.

    But some of the Bowie reviews there really rankled me, perhaps Diamond Dogs (2.5 stars) most of all. Some choice quotes:

    “Diamond Dogs suffers precisely because of this– he doesn’t know how to move forward.”

    “…there are hints that he’s tired of the Ziggy formula.”

    “…the rockers are too stiff to make an impact.”

    “Diamond Dogs isn’t a total waste….”

    This review describes a completely different album from the one I was hearing! I was hearing Bowie cast off the traditional rock band sound in favor of strange new textures and moods. I was hearing a singer pushing himself to places he’d never gone before. Hearing lyrics that were truly terrifying, depressing, and sexy. How could anyone dismiss the stylish squalor of We Are the Dead as a ” Ziggy knockoff?” It’s madness.

    Thankfully, I recently got to read a review of Diamond Dogs (from Pitchfork) that appreciates what an important and vital piece it is for Bowie’s legacy. The image of Ziggy inspired the punks and goths, but Diamond Dogs provided a sound that proved influential on the underground as well. From the PF review: “Contemporary critics mourned Ronson’s absence, but Bowie’s guitar here and throughout the album is thrillingly off-kilter with unconventional chord fragments that the Edge, Sonic Youth, shoegazers, and dream-poppers alike would draw from for decades to come.”

    • Matthew says:

      Glad I never read that review anytime since I first heard DD. ‘Tired of the Ziggy formula’ ? By this point he’d killed off Ziggy, done Pinups and moved on.

  44. Matthew says:

    I’ll declare a partisan interest here – Diamond Dogs is my favourite Bowie album. (sometimes my head insists it’s Scary Monsters. Hearts winning at the moment)
    Why?
    Favourite Bowie track of all, Sweet Thing/ Candidate/ Sweet Thing (reprise)
    Favourite Bowie out take/ demo Altenative Candidate
    Best 55 ish seconds of guitar ever recorded – you know which bit
    Greatest and last glam song.
    Amazing artwork
    Apocalyptic sci fi lyrics
    1984 inspired side 2

    If it’s a concept album it’s a very cut up one. ‘Diamond Dogs’ and ‘Future Legend’ are Bowie’s apocalypic vision, Songs inspired by 1984 ( ‘We are the dead’/’Big Brother’/’Dodo’/’1984’/’Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletel Family’), songs with a trace of 1984 influences (‘Sweet Thing’/’Candidate’/’Alternative Candidate’ and then there’s ‘Rebel Rebel’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll With Me’ which don’t seem to fit in anywhere with the above.
    Given that Aladdin Sane is subtitled 1913-1938-197? it appears that Bowie thought a cataclysm of some sort was imminent and its many forms poured out into this album, but it all works together. Somehow.
    Despite all the doom and gloom lyrics I’ve never felt the slightest bit down listening to it, the raw energy just lifts you, and only Bowie could have turned the Two Minutes Hate from 1984 (a frightening account of mass hysteria) into the 2 minute album closer.

  45. comicalArchitect says:

    Diamond Dogs is maybe the most straight-up ENJOYABLE album Bowie ever recorded. Especially on the first side, every second is full of visceral energy; it’s an album that never gets old, and that you can listen to while doing nothing else without getting bored. Best time I’ve had so far with Bowiebruary.

  46. nomad science says:

    “Rebel Rebel” is one of my least favorite Bowie hits–probably because it’s the one I’ve heard approximately 2.8 * 10^24 times on classic rock radio in my 30 years on this Earth–but damn if that riff doesn’t sound real nice coming out of “Sweet Thing (Reprise).” Does it to me every time.

  47. MC says:

    Ok, the first three albums Bowie made post-stardom…Let’s just say he handled the pressure much better in ’73 than he would a decade later after Let’s Dance. These are all top-notch records, even as they reveal the strain DB was under, trying to work out where to go next.

    Flash back to September 1981. Myself at 11 years old, sick at home with the flu. My daily ritual: every afternoon after lunch, I would play my older sister’s vinyl copies of Aladdin Sane and Low back-to-back, and always in that order, while poring over our recently-purchased copy of the Carr and Murray tome. Both rank high in my personal pantheon of albums, but AS has always placed just below the top-tier Bowie albums for me. Over the years, I’ve sometimes felt that I was unduly influenced by Carr and Murray’s pronouncement that the album is “less than the sum of its parts,” and it’s grown in my estimation to the point where it easily made the Top 10 I submitted for the album poll. I agree with comicalArchitect that it’s not a “constructed” album with a steady flow. It’s a lot more random than the records that preceded it, and it demonstrates that a “great collection of songs” is not the only yardstick by which to judge the merits of an album. What a fantastic collection of songs, though, with a band at the peak of its powers. And Time…it’s true, the lyrics don’t hold up under scrutiny, but with an arrangement and a performance like this, Bowie could be singing about his laundry list.

    On to Pinups, and, well…look, I will happily admit that I am very much in the rockist wing of Bowie fandom. I have a lot of time for Tin Machine, and I love the rock stylings of The Next Day. And while I acknowledge that Young Americans is a much more important album than Pinups, I have to say that I’ve listened to the highlights of the latter about 20 times more often than the bulk of YA. Ok, some of the interpretations are a bit off or misguided, and some of DB’s vocal choices are fairly baffling (e.g. the haughty Cockney delivery on Shapes Of Things), but the best tracks are a shit-hot last hurrah for The Spiders. With cuts like Rosalyn and Don’t Bring Me Down, it’s the closest DB came to a pure party record, while still allowing space for his nascent balladeering croon on Sorrow, and paying scarifying homage to Syd Barrett on See Emily Play.

    Now, Diamond Dogs just missed my Top 10, but it’s great, for all the reasons S.T. and others mentioned above. Sweet Thing is a masterpiece, Rebel Rebel a first-rate goodbye to glam, and the 1984 songs wonderfully suggest a Jack Kirby adaptation of the novel. Two more DD highlights, and particular favourites of mine: We Are The Dead, one of Bowie’s spookiest moments, and the one that best captures the greyish bleakness of Orwell’s dystopia; and Big Brother. What a rousing number this is. The surge of the final choruses captures the seductive power of the terror state better than anything this side of the Tomorrow Belongs To Me sequence in Cabaret. Chilling stuff.

    Ok…on to Philadelphia.

  48. Bruised Passivity says:

    Had strong intentions of doing the listening according to plan, but life seems to have gotten too much in the way this week. I’m redoubling the effort this week and gonna play catch up. I managed to get in some listening though. Though I would be emotionally safe with the ’67 Deram release, lots of fun/quirky songs…until When I Live My Dream brought floods of tears. So much youthful promise in that one and it only reminded me that he dreams no longer. After that reaction I skipped around a bit and got though Ziggy and Aladdin Sane easily enough but TMWSTW had me crying again with the beautiful After All. I a little afraid to do Hunky Dory yet, some much personal song writing on that one. Maybe I’ll start with Pin Ups tomorrow as a warm up.

    On a side note, In was fortunate to see Bowie on the big screen today. In a few theatres in Canada they are playing the beautifully digitally remastered Labyrinth movie. What a treat. Of course the soundtrack got to me and I cried during that today as well. I guess I just need to accept that the grief is going to be with me longer than anticipated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: