Monday, January 11, 2016
Top Ten Of The Week:David Bowie Remembered
Photo credit: Jimmy King
I was talking to Mark Prindle about the new album from D.B. Blackstar and asked for his opinion of it and he gave me the answer that I would like it.
Well I guess I have to buy it after all.
The loss of David Bowie to liver cancer, a couple days after he turned 69 and released his final album at the same time has hit the music world quite hard. Hell, we just got done burying Lemmy Sunday. And it appears that Bowie had been in ill health, fighting the cancer that would claim him after 14 months.
Bowie was uncompromising in his music and his art. At times I find him somewhat hard to take with so many personalities and alter egos he'd go through. The Ziggy Stardust era, The Thin White Duke, the white soul singer of Young Americans, or the Berlin trilogies, and he would reinvent himself through and through. I heard his early stuff for Deram, the forgotten Warner Brothers single Can't Help Thinking About Myself and then finding himself on Mercury, the original Space Oddity, seeing the 8 Track of The Man Who Sold The World and not really setting the world on fire till RCA grabbed him and then Ziggy came into view. My first Bowie 45 was a juke box copy of Space Oddity and Man Who Sold The World. What to think of Space Oddity, is it glam rock or it progressive rock or is it plain rock and roll. It certainly was different to hear on AM radio in 1973 but Bowie had been getting airplay on the FM dial.
What makes D.B. an icon is how he lend a hand to musicians and bands trying to make it. He helped Lou Reed in Transformer, he orchestrated the comeback of Mott The Hoople with All The Young Dudes, originally Suffrage City he offered but they took Dudes instead. When Stevie Ray Vaughn got booed at Montreaux in 1982, he consoled him and later tapped him to play guitar on Bowie's 1983 comeback album Let's Dance. His support of Stevie Ray is reason enough for me to consider David an ICON. And now David gets to jam with Stevie Ray in the great beyond.
For myself the glory period was 1976 and Station To Station, a sprawling 6 song album with the 10 minute title track and five and half minute TVC15 to be highlights, as well as top ten hit Golden Years and FM track Stay, and a haunting version of Wild Is The Wind. RCA also issued Changes Bowie, at that time one of the best best ofs that was issued on record. And does contain the two choice cuts from the uneven Diamond Dogs album, the title track and Rebel Rebel, the latter my fave Bowie number. Mick Ronson's guitar work, Ansley Dunbar laying down the beat, this is pure 70s rock and roll. Then Bowie switches directions for the blue eyed soul of Young Americans and the John Lennon/Carlos Alomar song Fame. While there have been updates to versions of Changes, via Rykodisc and later Virgin/Parlophone I still consider the RCA Changes to be definitive.
1977 though Bowie switched to a more Euro type of rock, somewhere along Roxy Music and Brian Eno and while Low got great reviews, this period also bought out skepticism on the albums at hand Low, Heroes and Lodger. I never got into Low, but do have the single of Sound And Vision, and later FM staples Heroes, Fashion and Boys Keep Swinging. At that point Bowie was one of first pioneers to do music videos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMhFyWEMlD4
RCA put out Changes Two, which scraped up some earlier songs (Starman) and tacked on the better known late 70s singles (Sound And Vision, Fashion, Ashes To Ashes) although I not too pleased in RCA leaving off TVC15. While critics remain united that Scary Monsters is a classic, I look at that album at the same way I look at The Next Day, the first new Bowie album since Reality at that time. It is deserving of recognition but I more inclined to put on the 1987 flop Never Let Me Down or 1993's Black Tie White Noise. But Bowie's classic album remains Let's Dance at that time. But I do have a fondness for the 1989 Tin Machine band that David formed with Reese Gobbels and the Hunt Brothers, as Bowie went straight rock and roll this time. The reviews were harsh but I liked the album just fine. But David had his own sound and vision and return back to the solo route with mixed results. Hours and Outside had moments but my attention span went elsewhere and I did buy Heathen and Reality just to see how they sounded, Reality remained the better of the latter day Bowie before he walked away for a decade.
The face of rock and roll as I know it is getting old, the superstars of the 60s and 70s are now senior citizens or dead and today's youth will never experience the types of music I grew up with. There will not be another David Bowie; the major labels are not interested in finding such a artist anymore. With his passing, future generations can still play his music or watch the videos but there was nobody quite like David Bowie. He was the perfect chameleon of music, capable of crooning one minute, screaming the next and still moving on to the next persona, rock and roll's true actor. You can't replace him.
Top Ten Of The Week; David Bowie's Greatest Songs (or most heard here)
1) New Killer Star
3) Space Oddity
4) Oh You Pretty Things
6) Time Will Crawl
7) Modern Love
8) Sound And Vision
10) Rebel Rebel