David Bowie Shelf collapse shocker!

One of the shelves holding my records collapsed, it was not a very strong shelf and it was holding rather a lot of albums, so it was not entirely unexpected, it was just a matter of time. Nothing fell out, the whole shelf just dropped and rested on the 7″ singles beneath, but it did mean I had to re-arrange everything and in doing so I was surprised by how many David Bowie singles I had. I knew I had several but this was more than I thought:

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And in list form they are:

A Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
B Because You’re Young

A Dancing In The Street (Clearmountain Mix)
B Dancing In The Street (Instrumental)

A Modern Love
B Modern Love (Live Version)

A Cat People (Putting Out Fire)
B Giorgio Moroder – Paul’s Theme (Jogging Chase)

A Fashion (Edited Version)
B Scream Like A Baby

A Ashes To Ashes
B Move On

A John, I’m Only Dancing (Again) (1975)
B John, I’m Only Dancing (1972)

A Breaking Glass
B1 Art Decade
B2 Ziggy Stardust

A Absolute Beginners
B Absolute Beginners (Dub Mix)

A Wild Is The Wind
B Golden Years

A David Bowie / Pat Metheny Group – This Is Not America
B Pat Metheny Group – This Is Not America (Instrumental)

A Beauty And The Beast
B Sense Of Doubt

A D.J.
B Repetition

A Blue Jean
B Dancing With The Big Boys

A China Girl – 4:11
B Shake It – 3:49

A Tonight
B Tumble And Twirl

A White Light/White Heat
B Cracked Actor

A Let’s Dance
B Cat People (Putting Out Fire)

Hmmmmmm, now then, what if all those lovely B-Sides were put together to form an entirely new Bowie album? Ridiculous, why would anybody do that? Why? Because I love that sort of thing that’s why.

Let’s see, some rules, if the track is both an A-side and a B-Side then choose one of the A-Sides in it’s place. If it isn’t on Spotify then it doesn’t get in and no live versions. There, enough rules, this album is going to be called:

Just add water and stir

(“I’m an instant star. Just add water and stir” – David Bowie, 1975)

Well, I reckon that’s a pretty bloody good album. Party because it makes no sense and yet, for that reason, it does.

 

The Man Who Sold The World – David Bowie

Another from the job lot and the best known track from it, the title track, I know best from the Nirvana MTV Unplugged performance. I did know it was a cover of a Bowie song though, unlike some folk who later thought Bowie was covering Nirvana.

I have a re-release so it’s a different cover, this one:

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Which makes it look more like a live album, rather than the original cover, which was this one:

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I’ve no idea why the record company decided to change it. Anyway, there were a number of things about the album that went on to shape Bowie’s future work, not least the addition of Mick Ronson on guitar but also the musical direction he chose to pursue, moving away from the psychedelic folk of his previous release, and a change in his vocal performance style.

It is a rock album, no doubt about it, and it is somewhat odd at times, almost prog, and though the title track is not that representative of the album as a whole, it is probably the stand out track with really interesting lyrics, particularly the opening lines:

We passed upon the stair
We spoke of was and when
Although I wasn’t there
He said I was his friend
Which came as a surprise
I spoke into his eyes
I thought you died alone
A long long time ago

The above is from a much later performance of course but I liked it so that’s why it is there.

Another important person who was to play a major part in Bowies career was Tony Visconti, who, on this album is listed as  – bass guitar; piano; guitar; recorder; producer; backing vocals. That’s really rather a lot but I can’t tell how heavily he did or didn’t influence the final outcome to be honest, but the album has been compared to Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath at various points due to its heaviness and its themes, such as insanity with All the Madmen, gun-toting assassins and Vietnam War in Running Gun Blues, an omniscient computer  in Saviour Machine (though the timelines may not fit it feels like it could have come from Godspell at times to me, in style if not subject matter). The Supermen seems to be about some sort of Lovecraftian Elder Gods and, The Width of a Circle is, possibly, a sexual encounter with God, the Devil or both somewhere in the depths of Hell. These align quite well with the idea that the album is heavy metal/rock at its heart, but in this instance with a poet writing the songs. 

Interestingly, when released the album peaked it number 24 in the charts (1972-73) and when re-released in 1990 it managed number 66. In 2016, after bowie passed away it was re-issued and reached its highest ever chart position of 21, death sells, that’s for sure. I can’t complain though I guess, I bought it after he died, although, in my defence, I was buying albums and singles while he was still around.

I’ve been listening to it a lot in the last week and I really do rather like it. It is almost as though he and the band aren’t trying too hard and that there is a sort of casual abandon about the whole thing. I like it, which is why I’m going to give it an 8.5 with marks dropped only because it does feel rather ‘of its time’ in places, but not throughout. It rocks for the most part.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “The Width of a Circle” 8:05
2. “All the Madmen” 5:38
3. “Black Country Rock” 3:32
4. “After All” 3:52
Total length: 21:07
Side two
No. Title Length
5. “Running Gun Blues” 3:11
6. “Saviour Machine” 4:25
7. “She Shook Me Cold” 4:13
8. “The Man Who Sold the World” 3:55
9. “The Supermen” 3:38
Total length: 19:22 40:29

Did you known that in 1974 Lulu released The Man Who Sold The World as a single with Bowie doing the backing vocals? Well she did:

David Bowie – Diamond Dogs

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Another Bowie album from the job lot of 5 I picked up, and one I don’t really know much about. I’ve heard the title track and Rebel Rebel appears on all the greatest hits type releases, I may even remember it from when it was originally released in 1974 as I would have been 7 at that point. The good thing about this is that I get to hear brand new Bowie material to me at least, even though it is 43 years old.

I’m a big fan of the works of George Orwell and list 1984 as one of my favourite books ever written, so to find that, thematically, Diamond Dogs is part Orwell’s 1984 and part Bowie’s own vision of a post-apocalyptic world is quite a bonus. Apparently Bowie had wanted to create a theatrical production of the book but the author’s estate denied the rights. The songs that Bowie had already written after Pin Ups ended up on the second half of Diamond Dogs instead, which is the 1984 bit..

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This ain’t Rock ‘N’ Roll this is genocide 

It is a bit odd that the Ziggy Stardust character had been killed off but seems to make a bit of a return here, as though reports of his demise were greatly exaggerated. It does feel a little that, for this album, Bowie had returned to a familiar area and there is always the possibility that Diamond Dogs is not as fully formed as it might be as a result of it being the basis for an unrealised show.

The songs are good though, no doubt about that, with side two feeling more fully realised to me, although there are no tracks there that might stand up as a single, it is very much a series of album tracks, which is no bad thing. Not the jolliest of albums but still maintaining the high quality writing that Bowie always seemed to manage.

A1a Future Legend – 1:00
A1b Bewitched
A2 Diamond Dogs – 5:50
A3 Sweet Thing – 3:29
A4 Candidate 2:39
A5 Sweet Thing (Reprise) – 2:32
A6 Rebel Rebel 4:21
B1 Rock ‘N Roll With Me – 3:54
B2 We Are The Dead – 4:48
B3 1984 – 3:24
B4 Big Brother – 3:25
B5 Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family – 1:48

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Rating this album is quite difficult from as one would expect these songs to be well embedded into the Bowie history even for the casual listener, but they aren’t so I am almost certain that in weeks and months to come I will like it more and more, but for now I’m going with an 8.0.

David Bowie – Hunky Dory

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It’s quite a trip all the way back to 1971 through the Bowie back catalogue to when Hunky Dory was released, and the journey back from then to now makes it difficult to cast a critical eye over work that was an integral part of what he developed through and into. Luckily, Hunky Dory is, for the most part, a very good album, apart from a couple of tracks, which I’ll get to in a little while.

I have expressed a preference previously for his later work, partially due to familiarity, but an opportunity arose to pick up a job lot of 5 Bowie albums at a good price, so I took it and one of the 5 was Hunky Dory, an album I’d heard before but many of the tracks only ever received one listen while others are an integral part of the Bowie canon.

The album is considered as either the 3rd or 4th official album depending on who you choose to believe and followed ‘The Man Who Sold The World“. Looking at reviews from 1971 it seems to be accepted in some quarters that this is the album where Bowie found his voice and sound, in hindsight it is pointing to what was to follow with Ziggy Stardust only 6 months or so later.

Changes and Oh!You Pretty Things are quite brilliant album openers, to be followed by Eight Line Poem, which I find disposable, and then Life on Mars. Take out Eight Line Poem and put it after Life on Mars and it would probably be a nice break from brilliance.

Eight Line Poem

The tactful cactus by your window
Surveys the prairie of your room
The mobile spins to its collision
Clara puts her head between her paws
They’ve opened shops down the West side
Will all the cacti find a home
But the key to the city
Is in the sun that pins
The branches to the sky, oh, oh, oh

Kooks is a nice tune in an appropriately kooky way. Bowie wrote this song to his newborn son Duncan Jones. The song being a pastiche of early Neil Young as Bowie was listening to a Neil Young record at home on 30 May 1971 when he got the news of the the birth.

Kooks (Excerpt)

We bought a lot of things
To keep you warm and dry
And a funny old crib on which the paint won’t dry
I bought you a pair of shoes
A trumpet you can blow
And a book of rules
On what to say to people
When they pick on you
‘Cause if you stay with us you’re gonna be pretty Kookie too

Quicksand is, lyrically, in a similar vein to much of Bowie’s work around this time, influenced by Buddhism, occultism, and Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of the Superman. The song refers to the magical society Golden Dawn and name-checks one of its most famous members, Aleister Crowley, as well as Heinrich Himmler, Winston Churchill and Juan Pujol,  apparently under the code name Garbo.

Kicking off side 2 is Fill Your Heart, a cover of a song by Biff Rose, who I’ve never heard of, so I went and looked it up and if you are of a mind to you can listen to it below:

and you can compare with the Bowie version as well:

and there was even. version by Tiny Tim:

That’s quite enough of that, although I will say I prefer the Bowie version.

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I was really surprised listening to Andy Warhol again as  think it really paints a picture of him extremely well, particularly this expert:

Andy walking, Andy tired
Andy take a little snooze
Tie him up when he’s fast asleep
Send him on a pleasant cruise
When he wake up on the sea
He sure to think of me and you
He’ll think about paint and he’ll think about glue
What a jolly boring thing to do

It just sounds like a film that Warhol would make and it creates Super 8 Black and white images in my mind of the man himself, which is difficult thing for a song to do. In complete contrast I find Song for Bob Dylan to be completely fan boy and rather cringe inducing in places, a track I could do without.

Fortunately, the album ends with a pair of great tracks, Queen Bitch is heavily influence by the Velvet Underground and is a bit Glam Rock, again suggestive of what was to come with Ziggy Stardust and a couple of months ago I heard  on Radio 6 and didn’t remember having heard it before, it was like being given a brand new, previously unreleased track. Bowie named his publishing company in the late 1970s Bewlay Bros. Music and used the name as a pseudonym for himself, Iggy Pop and Colin Thurston as producers of Pop’s 1977 album Lust for Life. Bowie admitted that the lyrics made absolutely no sense and is quoted as saying in 2008, “I wouldn’t know how to interpret the lyric of this song other than suggesting that there are layers of ghosts within it. It’s a palimpsest, then.” I spent years listening to the Cocteau Twins, loved it, and never understood a word so I don’t find that a particular problem. 

I almost forgot to mention Rick Wakeman, he play son the album, most notably on this:

 

Tracklist

A1 Changes – 3:33
A2 Oh! You Pretty Things – 3:12
A3 Eight Line Poem – 2:53
A4 Life On Mars? – 3:48
A5 Kooks -2:49
A6 Quicksand 5:03
B1 Fill Your Heart – 3:07
B2 Andy Warhol -3:53
B3 Song For Bob Dylan – 4:12
B4 Queen Bitch – 3:13
B5 The Bewlay Brothers – 5:21

I was quite sure that Oh! You Pretty Things was released as a single but when I checked it wasn’t, which, after further investigation means that I actually know it from the Peter Noone (of Hermansd Hermits) version, which Bowie apparently played piano on.

Anyway, it’s a really good early career album and I’m going with an 8.4

Here is the album, performed at various times and locations;

 

Record Store Day 2017 (6)

So some things happened, basically around stumbling over RSD 17 releases that I didn’t get on the day and, perhaps in a couple of cases, didn’t know I wanted.

Head records in Leamington had a second shipment after RSD for some reason so there were a couple of things there that were gone on my previous visits but had since turned up again. As a reminder, I had already picked up the following:

Field Music ‎– Tones Of Town
Faust (7), Ulan Bator ‎– Untitled
Richard Pinhas, Camera (10) ‎– Camera / Richard Pinhas
Cocteau Twins ‎– Four-Calendar Café
Cocteau Twins ‎– Milk & Kisses
Mew – Frengers
Future Sound Of London – Archived : Environmental : Views

Then, from the second shipment I picked up:

Asobi Seksu – Citrus
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Steve Reich – LSO Percussion Ensemble ‎– Sextet | Clapping Music | Music For Pieces Of Wood
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The LSO video above is the whole 28 minutes or so of Sextet, because it is an amazing piece of music and, apparently, really hard to play! Performed by Neil Percy, Sam Walton, David Jackson, Antoine Bedewi, Philip Moore & Simon Crawford-Phillips.

Earlier in the week I was on the Cowley Road in Oxford and briefly poped into Truck, who, much to my surprise, had this:

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David Bowie ‎– No Plan EP

So I picked that up and, to my further surprise, they had this 7″ single:

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The Smiths ‎– The Boy With The Thorn In His Side

So that must surely be that for RSD 2017, although there were a couple of Ennio Morricone  soundtracks that I’d like and there’s the soundtrack to Belgica by Soulwax, and Popol Vuh, and the three Spacemen 3 albums of course and possibly Sun Ra & Merzbow and, and, no, that has to be it, has to be, this whole thing is too damn expensive.

The Listening List

31/12/16 to 19/04/17

I have almost 4 months to catch up on! Although I haven’t been able to listen to very many albums due to the arrival of Orwell, our new dog. Still, I have managed to get some in but nowhere near the amount I was listening to, so anyway, here goes with the catch up, the ones I remember at least.

Kelly Lee OwensArcaShort MovieFiligree & ShadowIt'll End In TearsLizardMonster MovieIn The Court Of The Crimson KingIcky ThumpWhite Blood Cells

The White StripesHeathenEP1Ooops (Remix)Elephant
Get Behind Me SatanI'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect For You)They Fall, But You Don'tThe Spoils Stop Your Crying

CHECK OUT Serf RashNo Strength of SunLos DinosauriosOne Day

ReverseSakuraComputer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt2 (EP)Three Worlds: Music From Woolf WorksOn The Nature of Daylight

Elwan Restless ShapesAuto MusicTour De FranceChristiansands

LifeformsISDNThe Boy And The TreeGrinning CatReflectionMigrationIllustrated Musical EncyclopediaThe Unforgettable FireDisappointedWarriorHyperballad (T. Tei / Howie B. Mixes)Hyperballad (Morales / T. Terry Mixes)A Shadow In TimeThe Lonely Passion Of Judith HearneSongs From The Other Side Of EmptinessExit

Kelly Lee Owens – Kelly Lee Owens
Arca – Arca
Short Movie – Laura Marling
Filigree & Shadow – This Mortal Coil
It’ll End In Tears – This Mortal Coil
Lizard – King Crimson
Monster Movie – The Can
In The Court Of The Crimson King – King Crimson
Icky Thump – The White Stripes
White Blood Cells – The White Stripes
The White Stripes – The White Stripes
Heathen – David Bowie
EP1 – FKA Twigs
Ooops (Remix) – 808 State Featuring Bjork
Elephant – The White Stripes
Get Behind Me Satan – The White Stripes
I’m Not Perfect (But I’m Perfect For You) – Grace Jones
They Fall, But You Don’t – Mondkopf
The Spoils -Massive Attack
Stop Your Crying – Spiritualized
CHECK OUT – hornschaft
Serf Rash – Run Dust
No Strength of Sun – Isorinne
Los Dinosaurios – Personal Mythologies
One Day – Akira Kosemura
Reverse – Richard Pinhas
Sakura – Susumu Yokota
Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt2 (EP) – Aphex Twin
Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works – Max Richter
On The Nature of Daylight – Max Richter
Elwan – Tinariwen
Restless Shapes – Gajek
Auto Music – Brian Reitzell
Tour De France – Kraftwerk
Christiansands – Tricky
Lifeforms –  FSOL
ISDN – FSOL
The Boy And The Tree – Susumu Yokota
Grinning Cat – Susumu Yokota
Reflection – Brian Eno
Migration – Bonobo
Exit – Tangerine Dream
Illustrated Musical Encyclopedia – Ryuichi Sakamoto
The Unforgettable Fire – U2
Disappointed –  Public Image Ltd
Warrior – Public Image Ltd
Songs From The Other Side Of Emptiness – Life Garden
Hyperballad (T. Tei / Howie B. Mixes) – Björk
Hyperballad (Morales / T. Terry Mixes) – Björk
A Shadow In Time – William Basinski
The Lonely Passion Of Judith Hearne – Georges Delerue

Long Live Vinyl – A Magazine

I rarely buy magazines nowadays as I never seem to have the time to read them when I do, apart from ‘Record Collector’ now and then, however, I was in town with a couple of hours to spare a few weekends ago and wandered into WH Smith with a view to getting something, although I hadn’t thought much about what, when I spied a new magazine, called ‘Long Live Vinyl’. It’s the size of a record sleeve, about 12″ x  12″, which is a nice idea and comes in at 114 pretty big pages, it is pricey though at £9.99.

I retired to a coffee shop with a Hazelnut Latte and set about reading. It had articles that I would probably expect to see, such as most valuable records in the world, classic album: Revolver, Essential Bowie and a nice piece on Roger Dean, who did the Yes albums and more. None of these came as much of a surprise but were interesting nonetheless and well illustrated with photographs. A guide to Brighton record shops was a good read and if I ever go there I’ll be re-reading before I set off and there was a nice 8 page piece featuring a collector of Price records. Also included were equipment reviews, headphones was one, turntables another, cleaning tips for records along with album releases, new and re-releases.

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It was a good read and I ended up in the coffee shop for about two hours, without reading everything, I still have some pages to go yet. I liked it, I didn’t like the price, but the magazine was really good and it’s great to see a magazine solely focused on vinyl so I wish them all the best with this venture.

Bowie

Everybody should be able to remember what the very first album they bought with their own money was, I do, it was ‘Lodger’ by David Bowie. Up until that time we had family records or ones that were my Brother’s but that I got to listen to, either in the same room or through the wall of my bedroom. ‘Lodger’ was my own, to keep in my room and to play whenever I wanted, which was quite often as it was the only one I had. If you are wondering which album it is, it has ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ and ‘DJ’ on it although I think ‘Fantastic Voyage’ may have been my favourite track from it.

Yesterday I was in the record shop in town holding a vinyl copy of ‘Blackstar’ and trying to decide if I actually had £22 that I could spare to buy it. I had my sensible head on and decided against, it would have to wait until pay day. I met up with my wife and we went for a coffee where she asked me if I’d bought anything and I rather proudly declared how sensible I’d been in not buying the album. We then talked about how good he looked for his age and google imaged recent Bowie pictures on our phones.

Then there was this morning’s news, which saddened me deeply. I had envisaged a whole series of albums over the next 10 or so years, which sit in, what for me, is my favourite period if his, from 1999’s ‘Hours…’ up to today.  Perhaps there is more to come, it seems clear that he felt he had more to do and I hope very much that there are a couple more properly completed albums just waiting to be released. I feel that is just the sort of thing he would do.

After lunch today I received a call from my wife, let’s call her Pip, because that’s her name. She had called the record shop as soon as it opened and had a vinyl copy of ‘Blackstar’ put behind the counter, which she picked up at lunchtime for me. They had 6 copies and the other 5 had sold before she got there. Today’s sad is therefore tempered to a degree by this little joy.

So, at this point, my first and last albums bought were both by Bowie. Which, I think, as a tribute, speaks for itself.

Thanks David.

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MIX TAPE: VOLUME 1 – SIDE 2 – TRACK 12

Side 2, Track 12:

Total Run Time: 50:00

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David Bowie/Giorgio Moroder: Cat People: 6 Minutes 39 Seconds: 1980

There are a lot of Bowie singles that I could have chosen but this one has always resonated with me for some reason. It may well not be the best choice, actually, it probably isn’t, but I’ve chosen it now and that’s that.

See latest update for audio and video

What’s in the bag? (75)

I was in town today not looking for records, nor intending to look, but as I was passing the david-bowie-lets-dancerecord shop I thought I’d just nip in, and I found ‘Let’s Dance’ by David Bowie for £4, which is about right as it isn’t exactly rare, but I didn’t have it, now I do. I did have a copy when it was originally released back in 1983 but have no idea what happened to it. At some point, when I put all my records away, I must have misplaced it, along with several others. They may turn up some day.

It’s an odd one as an album. I know that Bowie sat down with Nile Rodgers and wanted hits, which there were of course and it was, in many ways, another comeback for Bowie in a career full of them. It had been 3 year since the release of Scary Monsters and Let’s Dance was quite a departure, but my favourite track has always been ‘Cat People’, which doesn’t really seem to fit on the album, and may well have been included only due it appearing on the soundtrack to the film. The album is Bowie’s biggest selling to date, with around 7 million copies sold, which, to be honest, doesn’t seem that many as it felt like everybody had a copy in ’83, though obviously not.

I remember sitting up late one night recording music videos on VHS from the BBC who used to have late night Old Grey Whistle Test style music shows that would go on for several hours. I recorded ‘Let’s Dance’ amongst others, and have seen the video so many times I probably never need to see it ever again, but I’ve included what I could find at the bottom of this post.

Overall it’s a pretty good album, but even after all these years, I am so familiar with it from over playing that I have trouble really appreciating it. I did quote like hearing ‘Ricochet’ again though as I don’t recall liking it all that much at the time, but now, I rather do.

7/10