Archives for category: David Bowie

Can You Hear Me, 2012

Can You Hear Me is the penultimate track on David Bowie’s 1975 album, Young Americans.

In my humble opinion the album is best heard in  its vinyl incarnation, in one sitting (although skipping the execrable Across The Universe is allowed/ recommended), with a glass of wine in one hand and a packet of B&H in the other.

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David Bowie week has also been celebrated in fine style by Cardinal Guzman. You should also visit Deanne’s Obsolescence Project and definitely take a look at this post and David’s Spanish Stroll, where more fantastic photographic Bowie-related posts have been made.

David Bowie week’s been a lot of fun for me, but I realised yesterday that not that long ago I was posting an image every couple of days and this week I’ve been doing two a day. This has got to stop. So, next week is…Kajagoogoo week.

Looking For Satellites, 2012

Looking For Satellites is the second track on David Bowie’s 1997 album, Earthling.

 

 

In The Heat Of The Morning (I), 2012

In The Heat Of The Morning (II), 2012

These were both taken outside Byron’s Hamburgers, Covent Garden, London, UK.

According to Nicholas Pegg’s quite brilliant guide, The Complete David Bowie, In The Heat Of The Morning “made its studio debut as part of Bowie’s first BBC radio session on 18 December 1967 in an embryonic form.” The version I’ve got is another BBC radio session from 13 May 1968. But still early stuff. I’ve been known to sing it around the house for hours on end, striking mod poses.

The images above also remind me of Sinatra for some reason, and the long hot happy afternoons in my parents’ bungalow in Ferndown when I was small. Back then he spent a lot of time on the record player did Frank. For years I couldn’t stand him, but I’ve warmed to him – is lush orchestration something one grows into?

Anyways, I hereby dedicate this post to my Mum and Dad!

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David Bowie week is also being celebrated in spectacular style over at Cardinal Guzman‘s blog – I urge you to check it out. You should also visit Deanne’s Obsolescence Project and David’s Spanish Stroll, where more Bowie-related shenanigans are happening.

What In The World, 2012

What in the World is the third track on David Bowie’s 1977 album, Low.

It’s possibly my favourite of his albums – definitely one I go back to most often. I love the fact that the album title was just intended as a visual pun. Bowie appears on the cover in profile (in character as Thomas Jerome Newton from The Man Who Fell To Earth, Bowie fact fans. He’d already used a still from said film on the cover of Stationtostation the previous year, of course, of course, of course).

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David Bowie week is also being celebrated over at Cardinal Guzman‘s blog – great photographs to be seen. You might want to check it out.

Joe The Lion, 2012

Joe The Lion is the second track on David Bowie’s 1977 album, “‘Heroes”.

According to several sources, including Wikipedia, the track was inspired in part by the performance artist Chris Burden. Burden seems to have been interested in using visceral experiences as works of art – he famously had himself shot in the arm at close range, and on seperate occasions (come on!) had himself nailed to a VW Beetle, and disguised under a tarpaulin on a busy freeway (my personal favourite – high stakes indeed).

In 1999, I got to see Burden in action at the Tate Gallery (as Tate Britain was known in those days (and where I was working as a fundraiser). He was working on a sculpture, When Robots Rule: The Two Minute Airplane Factory, which was a great idea – a completely automated toy airplane factory, which would also launch the planes as it finished them. It didn’t work for a significant portion of the exhibition’s length, and I’m not sure it ever did fly a plane, but a thing of beauty it was – and an interesting performance with all the technicians working to get the thing going.

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I’m still experiencing connection problems, so apologies if I’ve not made it to your blog in the last day or so – I’m crawling round the internet like a drunk spider.

Hallo Spaceboy (I), 2012

Hallo Spaceboy (II), 2012

Hallo Spaceboy (III), 2012

Well, it’s David Bowie week here at The Future Is Papier Mâché, so I thought I’d kick things off with something a little different. For me, a lot of Bowie’s work is about identity and representation, hence the masks. And he’s always been interested in what the future, holds and what could be more futuristic than dressing the family up in Bacofoil?

Hallo Spaceboy is the sixth track on Bowie’s 1995 album, 1. Outside. The track was later remixed by The Pet Shop Boys and released as a single, but for me the original’s driving neo-industrial, drum and bass rhythm and lack of real melody is the better version. The album it’s taken from is a standout in his late career – preposterously pretentious (I like), amusical (in places), and lyrically Burroughsian.

This is Pretty’s illustration for my short story The Manager Who Fell To Earth, originally published by Pulp.Net in 2003. If you’d like to read the story, click on the image.

When I slipped Rock Galaxy onto the turntable at home, I fell in love with it at once. Certain tracks were naggingly familiar – and, as I played it over and over, this horribly designed album turned out to have some monumental music on it. A bit of research in the local record store  revealed that it was in fact Hunky Dory and The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in a new gatefold sleeve. The inside featured a big picture of David Bowie in his then contemporary guise – jeans, kickers and a plaid shirt. Someone at RCA must have thought they could capture a new audience for Bowie’s glam records by branding a compilation with his Lodger persona. Anyway, c’mon – Hunky Dory AND Ziggy Stardust!

Miles Away by John Foxx, however, was a major disappointment. It sounded pedestrian in comparison with what I remembered of Metamatic. There was more romance or something cluttering up what I’d hoped would be a loftily sterile slice of the future. I played it a couple of times and put it away.

Then one wet day, I decided to go through all my 7″ singles and play every B-side I owned. It was then I heard A Long Time, Miles Away’s flip. B-Side

My stereo at the time was a mono turntable rigged up to an amp/ speaker, courtesy of one of my dad’s friends who flew jets for a living and tinkered with electronics in his spare time. It looked weird, (being mainly fashioned out of wood) but it sounded warm and bassy and I was very grateful for it.

A Long Time has an intro of synthesised notes that flicker back and forth across the stereo picture. At 11 seconds, the drums and a wash of warm synth come in. There’s a lot of bass very high up in the mix. John begins to sing in the yearning, romantic vocal style (like a desperate Lennon). He’d clearly been busy changing his style since I listened to Metamatic. At about 2.30 there’s a drum breakdown (great slathers of echo, making for sloppy rock beats), followed by a bass solo! This was extraordinarily different from his earlier work, but the combination of electronics and hackneyed rock elements made for a heady, driving, forceful piece of work. Like a Berlin-era Bowie song colliding with John Lennon at a Kraftwerk convention. Well, it did it for me. I’m still listening to it.

[If you’re new to John Foxx, a good place to start is Metamatic but the compilation, Metatronic provides an excellent overview of his electronic work from Metamatic to the present day. He also helmed the first three Ultravox albums (when they used an ! at the end of their name, and before Midge Ure made them more chart-friendly – hooray for them and sports cars all round. I stopped listening round about then). Foxx’s latest album with The Maths, Interplay, is also well worth investigating if you fancy a bit of warm analogue synth-pop.]