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 - (Early On (1964-1966)) - (All Saints) - Toy - (Nothing Has Changed)

© thevoid99 2016

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