Archive for the 'David Bowie' Category


The Countdown to Blast-Off: 40th Anniversary Special Edition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity

David Bowie Space Oddity 40th

I’m a cynical sort when it comes to re-releases, re-packages, deluxe editions, etc – they’re obvious marketing tactics from record labels seeking to gain the maximum mileage out of the same material, especially as they try to bolster the inevitable decline in physical sales. Having said that, I’m going to remain completely transparent here and say I received advances of both the Duran Duran re-releases and the 40th Anniversary Special Edition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity from EMI; because both David Bowie and Duran Duran contributed generously to my early music education, I felt it would be worth exploring these specific reissues (of course David Bowie also remains my favourite solo artist in the world, which will make me naturally curious in anything released under his name). Tomorrow, on November 17, this 2-disc Special Edition of Space Oddity is due for release, including a digipak with a booklet of extended notes and photographs (I can’t make a comment on that bit because my copy is just the promo copy of the music).

Space Oddity is of course the crucial breakthrough for David Bowie, allowing him to leave gravediggers and laughing gnomes behind. The title track remains a classic song that will forever be included on Bowie compilations, and it hinted at the space-tastic, alienated voyages to come. The story of Major Tom proved to be so popular that it became the album’s title in 1972 after the record had been released in 1969 under the titles David Bowie and Man of Words/Man of Music. I’m not sure about other Bowie fans, but I don’t include it in my top five Bowie records; I adore the title track and Letter to Hermione, a soul-baring, moody ballad to a former girlfriend, but rarely listen to the other songs. It’s an album that clearly shows where Bowie was coming from in terms of influences – it was a little bit folk and a little bit proggy, likely inspired by both Bob Dylan and Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd. While Bowie has always been a sharp-eyed magpie of myriad genres and creative ideas, he seemed to find his true footing on my favourite Bowie album, Hunky Dory. Again, I really love the title track of The Man Who Sold the World, but many of the tracks from that record just don’t live up to it, whereas its successor was confident and memorable from start to finish, the first hints of glam rock stirring in its undercurrents. I think the rambling folk side of Space Oddity simply didn’t appeal to me as much as his campy glam and icy experimentalism and therefore remained less memorable for me.

Having gone back to listen to this re-mastered version of Bowie’s debut, I’ve revised my opinions a bit. If you don’t pay closer attention to lyrics, you could dismiss many of the tracks as hangovers from the Summer of Love; delving deeper, I began to realize, that like Bowie’s work and identity in general, it is not to be taken at face value. Several tracks are critical of hippie counterculture and fearful of madness, the latter being a rather constant thread throughout Bowie’s career. Album conclusion Memory of a Free Festival is now reminding me of Jarvis Cocker’s observations twenty-five years later in Pulp’s Sorted for E’s & Wizz; it seems like the disillusion and comedown of a participant in a loved-up scene is a perennial theme. One of many brilliant verses in this song:

Touch, we touched the very soul
Of holding each and every life.
We claimed the very source of joy ran through.
It didn’t, but it seemed that way.
I kissed a lot of people that day.

Unfortunately, the end of song and its repetition of “The Sun Machine is coming down/and we’re gonna have a party” still gets a little too Hey Jude-like for me; both endless finales end up lodging in my brain and irritating me. I have also come to embrace the quite epic Cygnet Committee, which tells the story of a sorrowful messianic leader who ends up violently destroyed along with all he represents; this song also very obviously points to future leitmotifs for Bowie. One of my favourite lines is: “My friends talk/Of glory untold dream, where all is God and God is just a word.” It’s a shame that, in my mind, poetry like this remained overshadowed by the musical style for so long.

The deeply rooted sense of never knowing the self and treating the self as a performance, which David Bowie took to great lengths through multiple musical genres, are some of my favourite aspects of his art, and they’re written all over this debut. Another one of the folky jaunty tunes that I generally didn’t take much interest in was Janine, but through repeated listens, several lyrics stood out:

Janine, Janine, you’d like to know me well,
But I’ve got things inside my head
That even I can’t face.

Janine, Janine, you’d like to crash my walls,
But if you take an axe to me
You’ll kill another man
Not me at all.

Several years later, he was still not up to facing himself and was much too fast to do so.

The second disc of this edition features the bonus material, which is mostly comprised of previously unreleased tracks, including early demos, BBC radio sessions, and even the full-length stereo version of the Italian version of Space Oddity re-titled Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola. Despite the fact I’m a big Bowie fan, I don’t actually own any previous special editions or collectors’ sets, so I haven’t heard any of this bonus material before, including the song London Bye Ta Ta, which reminds me of The Kinks’ David Watts and by extension, Blur’s Tracy Jacks. I think I’ve stayed away from buying the special Bowie recordings all these years because his back catalogue of demos, rarities, live sessions and bootlegs seem like a staggering monster that I can never hope to master. It’s ludicrously autistic of me to think of it that way, but it’s no coincidence that I identify with Bowie’s paranoia of going mad as well.

As with the special edition of Duran Duran’s Rio, I would say this reissue of Space Oddity is something for consummate collectors (though many hard-core Bowie fans may have already ferreted out a fair portion of this material). Despite the infinite flogging of Bowie’s back catalogue, I appreciate this re-release if only because it forced me to take a closer listen to a part of Bowie’s output that I inexplicably hadn’t done so much in the past. And in the absence of new releases from my favourite solo artist for the last six years, it assuages an iota of my thirst for new Bowie material. Space Oddity was Bowie’s understated countdown to a blast-off to happen a few years later, an orbit he hasn’t come down from since.

Cygnet Committee – David Bowie

Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Sola (Full-Length Stereo Version) – David Bowie


Worshipping The Leper Messiah: David Bowie Live Santa Monica ’72

Bootlegs are extraordinary things – they can be a sign of subcultural capital, a souvenir from a gig you were at, or in many cases, the only way you can ever get to experience a band/artist in their prime. They’re traditionally supposed to exist outside the official music industry and economy, hence the term bootleg, passed along between fans, acting as a currency of sorts. Of course some people end up making rather official-looking bootleg records and CDs and then selling them, and these bootlegs can become just as treasured and rare as others. I, myself, own most of my bootlegs via digital files transferred to disc, and I’m incredibly thankful that so many people post live gigs for free download, even if they’re sometimes difficult to find. So as much as I still wish I could have seen The Smiths live or the Manics when Richey was still a part of the band, at least I can gain a little insight into what it would have been like to be there through the dozens of bootlegs I’ve amassed. To add to my few “official” bootlegs, I’ve now got David Bowie’s 1972 gig in Santa Monica, which was re-released a few weeks ago, and I’m quite pleased I have it despite the fact it’s clearly one of those re-release money grab situations. While I thankfully did get to see Bowie live once during his Reality tour (third row seats, for which I’m particularly grateful), I obviously would have loved to see him during his Ziggy Stardust days, and this bootleg puts me smack back into that time.
This box set is aesthetically very pleasing and includes all those fun extras that fans like going through in addition to liner notes – exclusive photos from RCA, the concert review featured in the LA Times, and the liner notes booklet itself. Robert Hilburn. who wrote the review in the LA Times, provides some fantastic visuals for you as you listen to the disc and imagine being there:
Bowie, with a background in mime, has enormous stage control and is able to accomplish more with the mere movement of his eyes than most performers in rock can do with a whole series of exaggerated movements. His body is so disciplined that Bowie can create the tension of a wild animal, a tiger or panther as he prowls the stage, controlling the pace and direction of the show as he moves.
In addition, to the beautiful presentation, the performance itself is just brilliant in spite of mistakes and screeches of feedback. Bowie’s theatricality and charm is tangible as he works his way through hits from Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory, Space Oddity, The Man Who Sold the World, and even The Jean Genie from the forthcoming Aladdin Sane. The setlist is also representative of the impressive body of work that Bowie had already created by that time – there aren’t any songs from bad or non-descript albums that you inevitably contend with at Bowie shows now (I don’t care how many punters want to hear Modern Love, David, you don’t need to sing it anymore – replace it with Letter to Hermione).
There are many places on this bootleg that just transport me back to an excitement I will never get to experience firsthand: the rumbling bass building and building in the opening of Changes; the mesmerizing lonely drumbeat in Five Years echoing throughout the venue like an apocalyptic tribal call; the absolutely blistering Mick Ronson guitar solos in The Width of a Circle, Moonage Daydream, Waiting For the Man, and Sufragette City; Bowie asking in his camp voice for “pliers or a strong hand” as he prepares for the acoustic break, including a performance of Space Oddity in which he drones his own special effects and his voice just soars flawlessly; the haunting and emotional cover of Jacques Brel’s My Death that makes my heart flutter; the frenetic, wild performance of one my favourite Bowie songs, Queen Bitch; and the poignant, appropriate finale of Rock ‘n Roll Suicide where Bowie rasps “Gimme your hands” over and over, and I want to reach out to the stereo.

Overall, the gig was one of those perfect ones, where it was obvious David Bowie was completely in his element and at one of the several peaks of his career, still at the cusp of the most productive decade of his life. As much as I wish I had paid my $5.50 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on October 20, 1972, I must make do with this historical recording of when David Bowie truly was otherworldly.

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Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

Bloc Party w/ Hot Hot Heat (2009)

Buzzcocks w/ The Dollyrots (2010)

Damo Suzuki (2012)

David Bowie w/ The Polyphonic Spree (2004)

Diamond Rings w/ PS I Love You + The Cannon Bros. (2011)

Diamond Rings w/ Gold & Youth (2012)

Dragonette w/ Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees (2009)

Frank Turner w/ The Cavaliers (2010)

Frank Turner w/ Into It Over It + Andrew Jackson Jihad (2011)

Franz Ferdinand w/ Think About Life (2009)

Gang of Four w/ Hollerado (2011)

Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

Hot Hot Heat w/ The Futureheads + Louis XIV (2005)

IAMX w/ closethuman (2007)

IAMX w/ Coma Soft + The Hourly Radio (2007)

Interpol (2007)

Janelle Monae w/ Roman GianArthur (2012)

Joel Plaskett Emergency w/ Frank Turner (2012)

Jonathan Richman (2011)

Keane w/ Lights (2009)

Lou Reed w/ Buke and Gass (2011)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Fear of Music (2007)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Bear Hands (2009)

Manic Street Preachers at Wanaja Festival (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Old Folks Home (2009)

Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

Prince (2011)

Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

Snow Patrol w/ Embrace (2005)

Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

Stars w/ Thurston Revival (2006)

Stars w/ The Details (2008)

Stars (2010)

Steven Severin (2010)

Stroszek (2007)

The Antlers w/ Haunter (2012)

The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (2010)

The Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Nightbox (2012)

The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

Tokyo Police Club w/ Smoosh + Attack in Black (2008)

TV on the Radio w/ The Dirty Projectors (2009)

Yann Tiersen w/ Breathe Owl Breathe (2011)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave


So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun


Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head


Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away


Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners


Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away


You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender


I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding


You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black


Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side


Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb


Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape


Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah


And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning


My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it


Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love


We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's


Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south


Running on


As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different


LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can' the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell


Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are


You must let her go

She's not crying



Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times



Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone


Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't


So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need


The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest


Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know


No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more


All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids


Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome