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

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
2)  Lazarus
3)  Space Oddity
4)  Oh You Pretty Things
5)  TVC15
6)  Time Will Crawl
7)  Modern Love
8)  Sound And Vision
9)  Fashion
10) Rebel Rebel 


2000 Man said...

It bums me out that Dave's gone. He was really something and a big part of my rock musical education. I always thought he was so cool, and even when I didn't like an album I never felt like he was just playing by numbers or going for the hits. I figured he was just doing something I din't care for and that was okay. He's the only artist I can think of that I think like that about.

R S Crabb said...

Bowie's albums tend to challenge the listener to hear the whole album, and though I didn't care for The Next Day, Bowie really worked on that album. I really wasn't that big on Hoky Doky or Ziggy Stardust (perhaps I have to revisit that album once somebody gets a copy in the store) but Bowie did assembled quite a nice backing band behind him. Perhaps of radio playing Golden Years or TVC15 is how I ended up getting Station To Station and the first overview Changes. He never fit into any pattern, he followed his sound and vision. I do agree that some records I don't care much for, I like Reality or (gasp) Never Let Me Down over Scary Monsters or the 1990s output and still have a soft spot for Tin Machine. But in the 1970s Bowie's classic period remains there.

Nobody is going to replace Bowie. He was the ever changing face of rock n roll for sure.

2000 Man said...

I like the first Tin Machine album a lot. The second was pretty much the same thing, just not as good. I'll get to Hunky Dory some day. I think that one's brilliant, too. I kind of lost interest after I heard the whole Heroes album. Side one was erratic, but the title track, Beauty and the Beast and Blackout were very worthwhile. Side two? You can have it. Luckily the songs I like are on the Stage album so i can just ignore Heroes.

R S Crabb said...

I didn't think much of Low, nor Heroes either but I did find Lodger in the used bins and I tend to think the Berlin trilogy you either love or hate. On a side note, Bowie produced Iggy Pop's The Idiot and I didn't like that one much either. Lust For Life was better but when I wanna hear Iggy, I tend to favor The Stooges Fun House or anything with James Williamson on guitar (New Values an underrated classic).