Sunday, February 7, 2016

29 Days of Bowie: Pin Ups




Released on October 19, 1973 from RCA Records, Pin Ups is an album where it’s essentially an album of covers by David Bowie that pays tribute to the British/Australian bands of the 1960s that Bowie felt were influential to the Ziggy Stardust character. Produced with Ken Scott, the album marks as a farewell of sorts to the Ziggy Stardust persona that Bowie had played as it’s also the last album to feature guitarist Mick Ronson and bassist Trevor Bolder while Aynsley Dunbar would replace drummer Woody Woodmansey who had left Bowie that July shortly after Ziggy’s final concert on July 3, 1973. Also featuring Mike Garson on piano as well as saxophonist Ken Fordham and Geoff MacCormack on backing vocals. The album would serve as a tribute to British rock as well as a fitting farewell to Ziggy Stardust.


The album features twelve songs as three bands are featured prominently with two tracks each. The first is the band the Pretty Things as the album opener in the rocking Rosalyn and the blues-based Don’t Bring Me Down showcase Bowie’s love for the band as the former is just this fast, blazing rocker driven by its pulsating rhythms and Mick Ronson’s guitar while the latter is a more mid-tempo cut. The second band that also has two songs covered are the Who in I Can’t Explain and Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere. The former is given a bit of a slower tempo as Bowie and Ken Fordham both provide some saxophones to give the song a more raunchy feel while the latter remains faithful to its original as it includes an amazing drum solo from Aynsley Dunbar.


The third band that is prominently features is the Yardbirds’ in I Wish I Would and Shapes of Things as the former is a fast-paced rock track that definitely owes elements to the blues with Ronson providing a mixture of raunchy hard rock with some blues riffs as it also includes Bowie on the harmonica. The latter is a song with some changes in the tempo and time signature as it is faithful to the original with Ronson providing this fiery solo that is just incredible in its playing. Them’s Here Comes the Night is a track that also features tempo and time-signature changes where Bowie and Fordham provide some saxophone into the song as it is rocking but also a song that has this garage-rock feel that is so common with 1960s British Invasion music. Bowie’s take on Pink Floyd’s See Emily Play is quite faithful as it features these absurdist and playful lyrics of Syd Barrett along with some unique sound effects courtesy of a Moog synthesizer from Bowie as well as Mike Garson’s embellished piano and harpsichord playing.


Everything’s Alright by the Mojos is another upbeat cut with this amazing opening riff that comes straight out of a detective show as it is this raucous rock n’ roll track with fiery guitars, swanky saxophones, and rollicking pianos. Another fast, upbeat rock track is a version of the Easybeats’ Friday on My Mind where it has Bowie using the Moog synthesizer for sound effects while Ronson, Dunbar, and Trevor Bolder maintain a sense of power and ferocity into the song. The lone ballad in the album is a cover of the Merseys’ Sorrow where it features one of Bowie’s best vocal performances as it is this somber song that includes a cool saxophone solo as well as some low key piano flourishes from Mike Garson. The album closer is a bopping yet mid-tempo take on the Kinks’ Where Have All the Good Times Gone as it is very faithful to the original with Ronson providing some killer riffs to the song and Bowie providing some unique vocal flair to Ray Davies’ lyrics.


From the 1990 Rykodisc reissue comes two extra tracks for the album that are also covers. The first is a cover of Jacques Brel’s Amsterdam that would also appear in the 2002 30th Anniversary reissue of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars as it this haunting acoustic ballad. The other track is a version of Bruce Springsteen’s Growin’ Up that features guitar work from then-Faces/future Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood. It’s definitely one of the finest rarities from Bowie as well as a brilliant cover of the song as it was clear that Bowie was one of the Boss’ early fans.


Pin Ups is a remarkable album from David Bowie that doesn’t just pay tribute to Bowie’s favorite bands from the 1960s but also provide Ziggy Stardust a fitting farewell. While it is considered the weakest of his work from the 1970s, it is actually a rock album that manages to do so much as well as do it in less than 40 minutes. In the end, Pin Ups is an album that just straight-out fucking rocks.

Studio Releases: David Bowie (1967 album) - David Bowie (1969 album) - The Man Who Sold the World - Hunky Dory - The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - Aladdin Sane - (Diamond Dogs) - (Young Americans) - (Station to Station) - (Low) - (“Heroes”) - (Lodger) - (Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)) - (Let’s Dance) - (Tonight) - (Never Let Me Down) - (Tin Machine) - (Tin Machine II) - (Black Tie White Noise) - (Outside) - (Earthling) - (‘Hours…’) - (Heathen) - (Reality) - (The Next Day) - (*)

Live Releases: (David Live) - (Stage) - (Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars) - (Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby) - (Bowie at the Beeb) - (Live at Fashion Rocks (w/ Arcade Fire)) - (Live Santa Monica ‘72) - (Glass Spider Live) - (VH1 Storytellers) - (A Reality Tour)

Soundtracks: (Christiane F.) - (Labyrinth) - (The Buddha of Suburbia)

Miscellaneous: (Peter and the Wolf) - (Baal) - (Sound + Vision) - (All Saints) - (Toy)

© thevoid99 2016

Saturday, February 6, 2016

29 Days of Bowie: Aladdin Sane




Released on April 13, 1973 by RCA Records, Aladdin Sane is an album that has David Bowie not only continue the wave of glam rock that was becoming big in Britain but it’s an album where he infuses elements of American music into the album. Produced with Ken Scott and aided by guitarist Mick Ronson, bassist Trevor Bolder, and drummer Woody Woodmansey, the album is a mixture of blues-based rock, cabaret, and elements of jazz. The album would also mark Bowie’s first collaboration with pianist Mike Garson who would be one of Bowie’s recurring figures throughout his career as the album would expand everything Bowie had done previously while lamenting on the idea of stardom and identity on his sixth studio release.


To describe the album in one word, it’s sex. It’s an album that is just undeniably sexy in its overall presentation from the opening track Watch That Man with its dirty yet rocking guitars and a bouncy rhythm that features embellished piano flourishes and some salacious lyrics from Bowie as it’s a song that definitely owes a lot to Americana. American rock n’ roll, rhythm and blues, and blues-based rock are the featured in not just Watch That Man but also Cracked Actor, the single The Jean Genie, and Panic in Detroit. Cracked Actor and The Jean Genie both feature prominent usages of the harmonica as it owes a lot to American blues as much of the lyrics feature a lot of references to America with elements of abstract imagery. Panic in Detroit is a probably one of Bowie’s best deep cuts not just for its dark yet chaotic lyrics but the fact that it is presented in this odd yet seductive rhythm which is a mixture of Bo Diddley beats with Latin rhythms that is driven by the drumming of Woody Woodmansey and percussionist Aynsley Dunbar as well as Mick Ronson’s tough yet blazing guitars.


Rock n’ roll is also prominent in a blistering cover of the Rolling Stones’ Let’s Spend the Night Together that features some off-kilter piano work from Mike Garson as well as an added tone of sexuality towards the song’s coda. A re-made version of The Prettiest Star that was originally a non-LP single in 1970 is in the album as it’s given more elements of saxophones courtesy of Ken Fordham. Drive-In Saturday is this mid-tempo ballad of sorts that definitely evokes nostalgia not just in its presentation but also in some of its lyrics while it is set in a futuristic world with name-checking on Mick Jagger, Twiggy, and Carl Jung.


While the album is largely a rock album, the album would also feature three cuts that would have Bowie expand that palette into different genres such as the album’s title track. It’s this mixture of cabaret and jazz as it is this slow yet steady track that has these very dark and cryptic lyrics while it would feature an instrumental portion largely driven by Garson’s flourishing pianos. Garson would also play a key part in the ballad Time as it owes more to cabaret with Bowie singing some very dark yet abstract lyrics as it would feature a soaring guitar solo by Ronson. The album closer Lady Grinning Soul is this ballad that features one of Bowie’s best vocal performances with these evocative piano flourishes from Garson as it is this mix of balladry and flamenco music as the latter features a flamenco-guitar style solo by Mick Ronson as he would also bring this blazing electric guitar solo towards the end of the song.


The 2003 30th Anniversary Deluxe edition of the album features a bonus disc of material that really doesn’t offer much in rarities but rather alternate and live versions of songs. The first three tracks feature single versions of Time and The Jean Genie as the former is slightly edited cutting down on a few lyrics while the latter is emphasized more on the vocals. An alternate version of John, I’m Only Dancing appears with more additions on the sax as well as the acoustic guitar that sounds more like an Elvis Presley song early on. A version of the song All the Young Dudes that Bowie wrote for the band Mott the Hoople appears in the second disc in a mono mix as it’s sort of faithful to the Mott the Hoople version but it is slowed down a bit.


The other six tracks on the second disc are live versions as four of these songs are from a show at the Boston Music Hall in October of 1972. Changes, The Supermen, and John, I’m Only Dancing make its appearance as they had previously appeared in a CD-video extra from the 1989 Sound + Vision box set as they’re faithful yet more lively in their live versions. Also from that same show is a previously unreleased version of Life on Mars? which is just as powerful live as it was on record. From the legendary Santa Monica ‘72 bootleg is a version of The Jean Genie that is presented in a rough yet romping version as it was a new song then that hadn’t been recorded. Closing the second disc is a fantastic all-acoustic version of Drive-In Saturday from a show at the Public Hall in Cleveland on November of 1972. While it sounds rough, hearing the song in that context is probably one of the best versions of that song ever presented.


Aladdin Sane is an incredible album from David Bowie as it is a tougher yet rapturous that doesn’t just bring in rock in high doses but also showcases what else Bowie was able to do. Especially as it’s the album that features Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, and Woody Woodmansey in their peak as musicians while allowing Mike Garson to play a unique role in the music. In the end, Aladdin Sane is a bolstering and ravishing album from David Bowie.

Studio Releases: David Bowie (1967 album) - David Bowie (1969 album) - The Man Who Sold the World - Hunky Dory - The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - Pin Ups - (Diamond Dogs) - (Young Americans) - (Station to Station) - (Low) - (“Heroes”) - (Lodger) - (Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)) - (Let’s Dance) - (Tonight) - (Never Let Me Down) - (Tin Machine) - (Tin Machine II) - (Black Tie White Noise) - (Outside) - (Earthling) - (‘Hours…’) - (Heathen) - (Reality) - (The Next Day) - (*)

Live Releases: (David Live) - (Stage) - (Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars) - (Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby) - (Bowie at the Beeb) - (Live at Fashion Rocks (w/ Arcade Fire)) - (Live Santa Monica ‘72) - (Glass Spider Live) - (VH1 Storytellers) - (A Reality Tour)

Soundtracks: (Christiane F.) - (Labyrinth) - (The Buddha of Suburbia)

Miscellaneous: (Peter and the Wolf) - (Baal) - (Sound + Vision) - (All Saints) - (Toy)

© thevoid99 2016

Friday, February 5, 2016

29 Days of Bowie: The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars




Released on June 16, 1972 through RCA Records, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a concept album about an alien from Mars who becomes a rock star overnight as he goes from being a Messiah to then die on the stage. Produced by Ken Scott and David Bowie, Bowie’s fifth studio release marks the breakthrough that would make him a superstar in Britain as he is joined by guitarist Mick Ronson, bassist Trevor Bolder, and drummer Woody Woodmansey as the backing band in the Spiders from Mars. It’s an album that is pure rock n’ roll with an air of bombast and lyrics that speaks to the freaks and outsiders who had no interest in 1960s idealism.


The album opener Five Years is this somber mid-tempo song as it relates to the last five years left on Earth as it features dark but poignant lyrics that begins the story of Ziggy as it would include this nice and steady rhythm from Woody Woodmansey’s drumming and later a soaring guitar solo from Mick Ronson. Songs like Moonage Daydream, Hang On to Yourself, Star, and Suffragette City are these rock songs that rely largely on Ronson’s blazing work on the guitar as Hang On to Yourself, Star, and Suffragette City are also supported by the bombastic rhythm section of Woodmansey’s drummer and Trevor Bolder’s bass. Moonage Daydream is a more mid-tempo track yet it features a solo by Ronson that is out of this world. Lyrically, the songs play up into elements of fantasy like Star and Moonage Daydream as it showcases exactly who Ziggy is and what he was doing.


The only cover in the album is a mid-tempo rock song in It Ain’t Easy that is written by Ron Davies that was also famously covered by Three Dog Night as the song features backing vocals by Dana Gillespie and keyboards by Rick Wakeman. The single Starman plays into the idea of a Messiah but it has lyrics that are hopeful as it plays into this alien coming to Earth and become the savior as it’s a song that says a lot which gives voice the freaks of the earth as it’s this wonderful mix of folk and rock with an element of science fiction. Ziggy Stardust also plays into the same tone lyrically while it’s more of a rock-based song in its mid-tempo presentation. Soul Love is another mid-tempo track that is a mixture of rock with elements of saxophone as it’s a cut in the album that features some oblique lyrics but are very direct in what Bowie is saying into Ziggy’s arrival on Earth.



Lady Stardust is considered one of the finest and often overlooked cuts of the album as it owes a lot to the Velvet Underground and Marc Bolan of T-Rex as both are referenced in this piano ballad. The album closer Rock N’ Roll Suicide is a ballad that plays into Ziggy’s death as well as the idea of not being alone which Bowie sings with such power at the end. Especially as it’s a song that serves as a calling to those who feel alone and it’s him saying “you’re not alone”.


The 2002 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition features an assortments of demos, B-sides, rarities, and re-mixes as some of these appeared in different reissues from this album and other albums. Among these tracks that appeared in other reissues include the Arnold Corns versions of Moonage Daydream and Hang On to Yourself, the alternate version of The Supermen, and the 1970/1971 recording of Holy Holy. The tracks that appeared from the 1990 Rykodisc reissue include demos of Ziggy Stardust and Lady Stardust where the former is an all-acoustic demo while the latter is driven by piano. Three other cuts from the Rykodisc reissue include the non-LP single John, I’m Only Dancing as it’s this blazing, upbeat rocker as it features ambiguous lyrics while the B-side Velvet Goldmine is another mid-tempo track that features some amazing guitar work from Ronson as well as playful lyrics.


The outtake Sweet Head is given some extended banter for the 30th Anniversary reissue as it is this rocker with some unique tempo changes as it starts off slow and then go fast as it is largely driven by Bowie’s soaring vocals and the bombastic guitars and rhythms from the band. Three tracks that are included in the second disc of the 30th Anniversary Edition of the album include two covers in the form of Chuck Berry’s Round and Round and Amsterdam by Jacques Brel as the former is just a blazing rock n’ roll romp while latter is just this haunting folk ballad that is filled with eerie lyrics that is filled with intense imagery. Closing the second disc is a 1998 remix of Moonage Daydream made for a Dunlop TV commercial as it features a more scratchy take on the guitars as well as more emphasis on the backing vocals.


The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is an outstanding album from David Bowie as it is among one of the finest albums in the history of recording. It’s an album that manages to represent what rock n’ roll was and could be during the age of progressive rock, heavy metal, funk, soul, and easy-listening pop music. It’s a record that really does a lot more while being catchy and exciting that many albums in the genre of rock seem to have lost these days. In the end, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a glorious album from David Bowie.

Studio Releases: David Bowie (1967 album) - David Bowie (1969 album) - The Man Who Sold the World - Hunky Dory - Aladdin Sane - Pin Ups - (Diamond Dogs) - (Young Americans) - (Station to Station) - (Low) - (“Heroes”) - (Lodger) - (Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)) - (Let’s Dance) - (Tonight) - (Never Let Me Down) - (Tin Machine) - (Tin Machine II) - (Black Tie White Noise) - (Outside) - (Earthling) - (‘Hours…’) - (Heathen) - (Reality) - (The Next Day) - (*)

Live Releases: (David Live) - (Stage) - (Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars) - (Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby) - (Bowie at the Beeb) - (Live at Fashion Rocks (w/ Arcade Fire)) - (Live Santa Monica ‘72) - (Glass Spider Live) - (VH1 Storytellers) - (A Reality Tour)

Soundtracks: (Christiane F.) - (Labyrinth) - (The Buddha of Suburbia)

Miscellaneous: (Peter and the Wolf) - (Baal) - (Sound + Vision) - (All Saints) - (Toy)

© thevoid99 2016

Thursday, February 4, 2016

29 Days of Bowie: Hunky Dory




Released on December 17, 1971 from RCA Records, Hunky Dory marks a crucial period in David Bowie’s career as it would be the first of several events in the course of nearly two years. The album marks Bowie’s first collaboration with producer Ken Scott who would be a key figure during this period co-producing this and the three albums that would follow in that period. The album also marks the first album to feature bassist Trevor Bolder who along with guitarist Mick Ronson and drummer Woody Woodmansey to be part of the backing band that would become the Spiders from Mars. The album would be a mixture of folk, rock, and pop in very different styles yet it has away for all of these songs to gel together into what some consider to be the first of many masterpieces by David Bowie.


The album opener Changes is definitely a standard of the kind of songs Bowie would make as it’s this nice mixture of pop and rock with lyrics that could mean anything as it features these nice melodies and riffs in the background to a bopping rhythm. It’s among these great songs in Bowie’s repertoire as a songwriter as songs like the folk-based Kooks and Oh! You Pretty Things display Bowie’s mastery in creating the kind of pop music that is direct and to the point while having lyrics that be a little abstract but also fun. In the former, it’s a song that Bowie wrote about the birth of son Duncan and the kind of family the boy might encounter. The latter is a song driven more by a piano with Bowie bringing some melancholia despite its upbeat tone.


Another upbeat cut from the album Fill Your Heart is a song that Bowie didn’t write as it’s a cover of a Biff Rose track that was co-written by Paul Williams. In context with the rest of the album, it does fit in as it play into the many emotional aspects that is featured on the album. Even in folk-based ballads like Quicksand and The Bewlay Brothers as both songs contain some very dark lyrical content as the latter plays up into the concept of insanity and torment as it relates to Bowie’s older half-brother Terry Burns. The former is definitely a song that really plays down the concept of Messianic idolatry that definitely owes itself to Nietzsche. The very simplistic Eight Line Poem is a cut in the album that is Bowie at his most simple as it’s sort of a country-based song on the record and certainly one of the most overlooked deep cuts of any Bowie album.


Then there’s three cut where Bowie pays tribute to a trio of individuals who inspired him in Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, and Lou Reed. Song for Bob Dylan definitely has a bit of country flair while Andy Warhol is a more upbeat, folk-based tune. For Lou Reed, Queen Bitch is the most rock-based track on the album as it pays tribute of sorts to Reed and his work with the Velvet Underground. Then we have the song Life on Mars? which is often considered Bowie’s greatest ballad as it is largely accompanied by Rick Wakeman’s piano as it has these amazing chords and riffs as well as this sense of imagery in the lyrics that includes some soaring guitar solos by Mick Ronson.


From the 1990 reissue edition from Rykodisc comes four bonus tracks that features demos and rarities. Bombers from a rare album sampler is a song originally written for the Arnold Corns project as it was unreleased until it was re-mixed for the 1990 reissue as it’s mixture of piano rock with some guitar work from Ronson. Alternate versions of The Bewlay Brothers and The Supermen, the latter from The Man Who Sold the World, as the latter is a mixture of folk and rock with some unique tempo changes while the former features a more pronounced mix that plays more into the Mellotron as well as in the vocals. The demo version of Quicksand is definitely a gem in terms of what Bowie was doing with just his voice and an acoustic guitar.


Hunky Dory isn’t just one of David Bowie’s best albums but it’s also one of the best albums ever created. It’s an album from top to bottom where all of the songs are great as well as having this nice flow in its sequencing. It’s adventurous but also an album that has a sense of imagination in its words and music. In the end, Hunky Dory is a magnificent album from David Bowie.

Related: Favorite Albums #2: Hunky Dory

Studio Releases: David Bowie (1967 album) - David Bowie (1969 album) - The Man Who Sold the World - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - Aladdin Sane - Pin Ups - (Diamond Dogs) - (Young Americans) - (Station to Station) - (Low) - (“Heroes”) - (Lodger) - (Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)) - (Let’s Dance) - (Tonight) - (Never Let Me Down) - (Tin Machine) - (Tin Machine II) - (Black Tie White Noise) - (Outside) - (Earthling) - (‘Hours…’) - (Heathen) - (Reality) - (The Next Day) - (*)

Live Releases: (David Live) - (Stage) - (Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars) - (Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby) - (Bowie at the Beeb) - (Live at Fashion Rocks (w/ Arcade Fire)) - (Live Santa Monica ‘72) - (Glass Spider Live) - (VH1 Storytellers) - (A Reality Tour)

Soundtracks: (Christiane F.) - (Labyrinth) - (The Buddha of Suburbia)

Miscellaneous: (Peter and the Wolf) - (Baal) - (Sound + Vision) - (All Saints) - (Toy)

© thevoid99 2016

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

29 Days of Bowie: The Man Who Sold the World




Released on November 4, 1970 through Mercury Records, David Bowie’s third album The Man Who Sold the World would mark a major artistic breakthrough for the British singer. Produced by Tony Visconti, the album would mark the first official appearance involving two men who would be part of the band that would later become the Spiders from Mars in guitarist Mick Ronson and drummer Mick “Woody” Woodmansey. With Visconti playing bass and keyboard contributions by Ralph Mace, the album would mark a major change in musical direction in comparison to the previous albums Bowie did as the first was based on dancehall/baroque pop and the second was a folk rock album. In this album, Bowie goes full-on hard rock with elements of folk and blues as some of it would set the template for many genres to come such as punk and Goth music.


While it is clear the most famous cut of the album is its title track due to the fact that it was famously covered by the band Nirvana twenty-three years after its recording. It’s a song that seems like a strange one for even a band like Nirvana to cover with its very abstract lyrics but it is one of Bowie’s most poignant as it features some unique bass and guitar riffs that include an amazing solo from Mick Ronson. The lyrical content of the song play into elements of surrealism and the plight of man dealing with the world as the lyrics are evident in the album closer The Supermen that is a wild rocking song in a mid-tempo setting that features some unique drum fills by Woody Woodmansey. One major cut of the album that is probably the most haunting is After All as it is this unsettling folk-based ballad that features some unique guitar tones by Ronson and haunting keyboards by Ralph Mace while the lyrical content is very dark as the song is considered a precursor to the Goth genre.


Cuts like The Width of a Circle, Black Country Rock, Running Gun Blues, and She Shook Me Cold are these blazing rock tracks that would serve as a template for the ideas Bowie would do in the years to come during the glam era. Much of these songs involve some a heavy rhythm section and Ronson’s work on guitar as they feature some amazing solos and riffs while another rocker in All the Madmen is a song with some unique tempo changes and time signatures that includes a great performance on the drums by Woodmansey as the lyrics in the song is one of the most frightening as it plays into the concept of madness and man’s troubled encounter with the world as it is one of many themes Bowie would uncover in the years to come.


The Width of a Circle also would feature unique time signature changes in the middle of the song where it would start off very fast and then slow down while the lyrical aspect of it is just as powerful in terms of the concept of fear. Running Gun Blues would have Bowie make comments on the Vietnam War while She Shook Me Cold is a love song gone wrong. Black Country Rock has bits of blues and country in its musical presentation but the lyrics are minimal as it is filled with some dark humor. Saviour Machine is a mid-tempo cut where Bowie’s vocals are very haunting to express the dark lyrics as it plays into man vs. machine as it features some early modular Moog synthesizer textures from Mace.


From the 1992 Rykodisc expanded reissue of the album features three tracks from the Arnold Corns project he was creating where he was trying to create a singer that didn’t exist with songs that Bowie wrote. One of these songs is a rarity called Lightning Frightening as it is this strange blues-based song with blues-based guitar slides and harmonicas as well as saxophones. Two other cuts from that version that would be included in reissues for other albums include early versions of Moonage Daydream and Hang On to Yourself as the former is slowed-down with a slightly slower tempo and more snarling vocals while the latter is more of an acoustic-based track with a bopping temp. A 1971 re-recording of Holy Holy that was a non-LP single is another rarity as it’s a cut that sort of stands out as an idea Bowie would later do in the world of glam.


The Man Who Sold the World is a quintessential album from David Bowie as it is the first of many albums that display him not only coming up with a unique identity. It’s also an album that manages to do so much as well as be one that can fuckin’ rock. It has the energy and onslaught that would later become the template for punk while it is also quite scary at times in terms of its lyrical content. It’s also this album that manages to do so much to display what Bowie would do in the coming years in a certain period in his career. In the end, The Man Who Sold the World is an incredible album from David Bowie.

Studio Releases: David Bowie (1967 album) - David Bowie (1969 album) - Hunky Dory - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - Aladdin Sane - Pin Ups - (Diamond Dogs) - (Young Americans) - (Station to Station) - (Low) - (“Heroes”) - (Lodger) - (Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)) - (Let’s Dance) - (Tonight) - (Never Let Me Down) - (Tin Machine) - (Tin Machine II) - (Black Tie White Noise) - (Outside) - (Earthling) - (‘Hours…’) - (Heathen) - (Reality) - (The Next Day) - (*)

Live Releases: (David Live) - (Stage) - (Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars) - (Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby) - (Bowie at the Beeb) - (Live at Fashion Rocks (w/ Arcade Fire)) - (Live Santa Monica ‘72) - (Glass Spider Live) - (VH1 Storytellers) - (A Reality Tour)

Soundtracks: (Christiane F.) - (Labyrinth) - (The Buddha of Suburbia)

Miscellaneous: (Peter and the Wolf) - (Baal) - (Sound + Vision) - (All Saints) - (Toy)

© thevoid99 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

29 Days of Bowie: David Bowie (1969 album)




Released on November 4, 1969, David Bowie’s second eponymous release (also called Space Oddity and Man of Words/Man of Music) from Mercury Records (in the U.S.) and Philips Records (in the U.K.) marks Bowie’s first collaboration with producer Tony Visconti on a studio release. With the exception of the single Space Oddity which was produced by Gus Dudgeon, the album is a mixture of folk rock with elements of psychedelic music and the burgeoning sounds of progressive rock which was emerging in the late 1960s. Featuring a group of well-rounded musicians that include guitarist/flautist Tim Renwick, arranger Paul Buckmaster, and future Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman on various keyboards with Visconti providing bass on some tracks. The result would be the first of many great albums Bowie would create in his illustrious career.


The album’s opening track is the famed single Space Oddity as it is this strange folk ballad with lush orchestral arrangements provided by Paul Buckmaster about a man named Major Tom who goes into outer space. It is a haunting song filled with strange sound effects courtesy of a pocket electronic organ known as the Stylophone as the song would be Bowie’s breakthrough hit. To think that his second album would be known for that one song is really just undercutting exactly what else Bowie had to offer in his second album which is a far more realized effort than his predecessor while it also shows an artist still trying to find a sense of identity.


Songs like Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed and Janine both provide a different idea in Bowie’s approach to folk as there’s elements of guitar rock while the latter has bits of American country in its solo. The former also bears elements of country but with dashes of rock as it’s a hodgepodge of things as the song is then followed by a cut called Don't Sit Down which sort of fades in and out after that song. Ballads like Letter to Hermione and An Occasional Dream definitely play into the world of folk as the two songs both display bits of introspective elements that Bowie rarely reveals as it alludes to Bowie’s break-up with his then-love of his life in Hermione Farthingale. Another folk-based ballad entitled God Knows I’m Good is definitely one of Bowie’s most underrated songs as it plays into the plight of an old woman who shoplifted as she prays to God.


Lyrically, the album features some of Bowie’s growth as it dabbles into many ideas as well as containing some weird imagery as it relates to the world of psychedelic in Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed to something that is very somber in another standout track in the ballad Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud that would also feature some unique time signatures as it starts off slow and somber and then has some power in the middle of the song. Another song that has some unique time signature and tempo changes is a nine-and-a-half minute song called Cygnet Committee as it’s a song that is a scathing attack on 1960s hippie idealism as well as the idea of messianic views as it would serve as a precursor for the kind of songs Bowie would do. The album closer Memory of a Free Festival also plays into the fallacy of 60s idealism as it’s more of a jam with a very memorable sing-a-long chorus at the end of the song with many people joining along as it would include BBC TV show presenter “Whispering” Bob Harris.


The 2009 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of the album features a second disc filled with demos, rarities, B-sides, and alternate versions of songs. Some of which had appeared in various compilations in the coming years including live BBC versions of Janine and Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed as well as a version of Let Me Sleep Beside You from the first album. The demo versions of Space Oddity and An Occasional Dream are presented in rough versions as it is expected in demos where it’s just Bowie and an acoustic guitar along with bits of instrumentation and additional vocals as they show Bowie’s gift as a songwriter. There’s two alternate versions of Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud as the former was a B-side to Space Oddity that features guitar work and handclaps from a future key collaborator of Bowie in guitarist Mick Ronson while the latter has more orchestral elements. There’s also two different versions of London Bye Ta-Ta as a stereo version features more focus on the instrumentation with different time signatures while an alternate version is a bit more sped up.


One of the highlights of the second disc is a non-LP single that Bowie would later re-record a few years later in the song The Prettiest Star that Bowie wrote as a love song for his then-girlfriend Angela Barnett. In this version that features guitar solos by Marc Bolan of the glam rock band T-Rex and a lush string orchestra in the background, it is one of Bowie’s definitive songs. The single’s B-side Conversation Piece is another gem as it’s a ballad with touches of country music and enchanting lyrics that displays Bowie’s brilliance as a lyricist. Memory of a Free Festival appears as a two-part single as it would also feature contributions from Mick Ronson on guitar as well as more mid-tempo presentation in this alternate version while another version of the song also features a different mix that emphasizes more on the vocals. Closing the second disc is an Italian version of Space Oddity entitled Ragazza Solo, Ragazza Sola that features translated lyrics by the famed Italian lyricist Mogol as it’s a great version of the song with Bowie singing very well in Italian.

David Bowie’s eponymous second album is definitely a phenomenal album in terms of what Bowie is able to do as a songwriter as well as displaying a sense of growth into what he would become as an artist. Notably as it showcases the kind of range Bowie is in tackling different genres while making it so easy at a time when popular music was moving towards the 1970s. In the end, David Bowie’s second eponymous release is remarkable album from the young man from Brixton.

Studio Releases: David Bowie (1967 album) - The Man Who Sold the World - Hunky Dory - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - Aladdin Sane - Pin Ups - (Diamond Dogs) - (Young Americans) - (Station to Station) - (Low) - (“Heroes”) - (Lodger) - (Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)) - (Let’s Dance) - (Tonight) - (Never Let Me Down) - (Tin Machine) - (Tin Machine II) - (Black Tie White Noise) - (Outside) - (Earthling) - (‘Hours…’) - (Heathen) - (Reality) - (The Next Day) - (*)

Live Releases: (David Live) - (Stage) - (Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars) - (Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby) - (Bowie at the Beeb) - (Live at Fashion Rocks (w/ Arcade Fire)) - (Live Santa Monica ‘72) - (Glass Spider Live) - (VH1 Storytellers) - (A Reality Tour)

Soundtracks: (Christiane F.) - (Labyrinth) - (The Buddha of Suburbia)

Miscellaneous: (Peter and the Wolf) - (Baal) - (Sound + Vision) - (All Saints) - (Toy)

© thevoid99 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

29 Days of Bowie: David Bowie (1967 album)




Released on June 1, 1967, David Bowie’s self-titled debut album was released under the Deram label as it was produced by Mike Vernon. With all of the songs written by Bowie, the album is presented in baroque pop/dancehall style that was reminiscent of the pop music of Anthony Newley who was one of Bowie’s influences. With elements of rock and pop, the album contains material that played into many subjects such as longing for love, apocalyptic imagery, and all sorts of ambiguities. The mixture of whimsical pop melodies and offbeat material would result in a weird but fascinating debut from Bowie.


Songs such as When I Live My Dream, Love You Till’ Tuesday, Sell Me a Coat, Silly Boy Blue, and the single Rubber Band are definite highlights of the album as it contains material that show Bowie’s strength as a songwriter. When I Live My Dream, Sell Me a Coat, and the Buddhist-inspired Silly Boy Blue definitely show Bowie’s penchant for ballads which play into his baritone-based vocal style while Love You Till’ Tuesday and Rubber Band are more upbeat. Lyrically, Bowie brought elements of Syd Barrett and Anthony Newley into some of the upbeat tunes while would also showcase some dark subject matters in a song like We Are Hungry Men and Please Mr. Gravedigger.


From a production scale, many of the songs sound good though it’s kind of what is typical of many of the pop records that were made at the time. In the 2010 Deluxe Edition of the album, the album is presented in both stereo and mono in the first disc. The mono version is more direct in terms of how Bowie’s vocals are presented as well as in the instrumentation though the stereo version of the album does provide some broader viewpoints. In the second disc of the album, single versions of Rubber Band and Love You Till’ Tuesday both display some superior aspects in comparison to the album versions due to the production and how Bowie’s vocals sound. Their respective B-sides in on The London Boys and Did You Ever Have a Dream definitely display Bowie’s knack for pop melodies. Many of the singles including the non-LP single The Laughing Gnome and its B-side The Gospel According to Tony Day are presented in mono which all sound wonderful no matter how silly The Laughing Gnome is in Bowie’s attempt at a nursery song for children.


Gems in the second disc such as Let Me Sleep Beside You, Karma Man, In the Heat of the Morning, and London Bye Ta-Ta show more complexity into Bowie’s work as a songwriter as a version of In the Heat of the Morning from a BBC recording is very superior to its studio version as did the versions of Silly Boy Blue, When I Live My Dream, Love You Till’ Tuesday, and an album cut in Little Bombardier as the five final tracks on the second disc as it‘s a representation of Bowie‘s first session with BBC radio. A remix of Sell Me a Coat in the second disc while there is a real gem in a song called When I’m Five as it reflects into the idea of innocence with a sense of whimsy as it’s definitely a cut fans need to hear as is a song called Ching-a-Ling.


As a debut album, it’s a good one with some amazing tracks though it pales to the run of albums Bowie would make in the coming years. Still, it’s a record that showcases Bowie’s gift as a songwriter and crafting pop tunes that were unlike anything though it is clear that he was trying to find an identity at a time when pop music was ever-changing. Especially as this album was released on the same day as the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper album. In the end, David Bowie’s self-titled debut is a fine record from the man who would later change the world with his music.

Studio Releases: David Bowie (1969 album) - The Man Who Sold the World - Hunky Dory - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars - Aladdin Sane - Pin Ups - (Diamond Dogs) - (Young Americans) - (Station to Station) - (Low) - (“Heroes”) - (Lodger) - (Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)) - (Let’s Dance) - (Tonight) - (Never Let Me Down) - (Tin Machine) - (Tin Machine II) - (Black Tie White Noise) - (Outside) - (Earthling) - (‘Hours…’) - (Heathen) - (Reality) - (The Next Day) - (*)

Live Releases: (David Live) - (Stage) - (Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars) - (Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby) - (Bowie at the Beeb) - (Live at Fashion Rocks (w/ Arcade Fire)) - (Live Santa Monica ‘72) - (Glass Spider Live) - (VH1 Storytellers) - (A Reality Tour)

Soundtracks: (Christiane F.) - (Labyrinth) - (The Buddha of Suburbia)

Miscellaneous: (Peter and the Wolf) - (Baal) - (Sound + Vision) - (All Saints) - (Toy)

© thevoid99 2016