Posts Tagged ‘David Bowie’

For David Bowie, the 1980s were years of tremendous ch-ch-changes, in which the stylistic chameleon went mainstream to great success, experienced some artistic disappointments, and solidified his place in the pantheon as a legend of rock.  Now, this era is being looked back upon in the fourth annual volume of Parlophone’s ongoing series of box sets dedicated to the late superstar. Loving the Alien (1983-1988) will arrive on October 12th in 11CD and 15LP vinyl configurations.

This lavish set is filled with more exclusive material than any of its predecessors, as only three studio albums are included, all in newly remastered editions: Let’s Dance (1983), Tonight (1984), and Never Let Me Down (1987). Loving the Alien also premieres a new version of the latter album, for which Bowie’s friend and producer Mario McNulty has completely re-recorded the instrumentation with the artist’s collaborators Reeves Gabrels (guitar), David Torn (guitar), Sterling Campbell (drums), Tim Lefebvre (bass), and a string quartet with arrangements by Nico Mulhy plus an appearance by Laurie Anderson on “Shining Star (Makin’ My Love).”  This new version of Never Let Me Down is rooted in McNulty’s 2008 re-production of “Time Will Crawl” which featured new drums and strings.  Its success prompted Bowie to comment, “Oh, to redo the rest of that album.” McNulty has now made good on Bowie’s wish.  (Note that “Too Dizzy,” which Bowie requested be removed from Never Let Me Down following the original LP pressing, remains missing in action.

Additionally, the box includes the remastered live set Glass Spider: Live Montreal ’87, the previously unreleased Serious Moonlight live album recorded in Vancouver in 1983, a new collection of period remixes entitled Dance, and the fourth volume of odds-and-ends series RE:CALL.  Dance (titled after an abortive remix album once slated for release in November 1985) collects a dozen original remixes of songs from the era.  The new installment of RE:CALL has a whopping 30 tracks: original single versions, the non-LP side “Julie,” film songs from The Falcon and the Snowman, Absolute Beginners, and Labyrinth, plus duets with Tina Turner (“Tonight” and “Let’s Dance”) and Mick Jagger (what else, “Dancing in the Street”) and more.  The extended edit of B-side “Girls” is on this disc, though not the shorter version or the Japanese re-recording.

The generous book will run to 128 pages in the CD version and 84 in the LP box, with copious illustrations, original press clippings, and historical notes from producers and engineers Nile Rodgers, Hugh Padgham, Mario McNulty, and Justin Shirley-Smith.  The CDs will be packaged in the expected deluxe mini-LP replica sleeves, but in a special touch, they will be pressed in gold rather than standard silver. The vinyl release will be pressed on 180-gram vinyl.

Loving the Alien looks to be a great opportunity to revisit one of David Bowie’s most overlooked – yet most mainstream – periods.  Look for this set on CD and vinyl on October 12th

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The moment he pointed down the camera during his appearance on the BBC in July 1972 was also the precise moment that David Bowie became a major star

48 years ago today, David Bowie played Starman on Top Of The Pops. And for many British music fans, Something changed in those three minutes. It was probably also present in the performance of Starman that he recorded for the ITV show Lift Off With Ayshea three weeks before that historic Top of the Pops appearance. But ITV lost the tape, which seems typical somehow.

Like everybody else on 6th July 1972, I genuinely remember seeing David Bowie perform Starman on Top of the Pops. It’s one of the few historic pieces of pop television. I knew who David Bowie was, had already bought his record and had even seen him wearing a dress on the cover of Melody Maker. That short appearance with the Spiders From Mars, doing a song that only got on the record because somebody at RCA thought it was a hit, felt like an arrival. It wasn’t just the clothes. Lots of acts raided the dressing-up box. The way Bowie pointed that finger, smilingly draped an arm around Mick Ronson, the way he worked out which camera he was on and looked beyond the camera to engage the audience sitting at home.


When Bowie appeared on Top of the Pops singing Starman. That was the moment Bowie went above ground and nationwide. The hype may have led us to expect something edgy and challenging. The record was as simple and hummable a radio hit as you could possibly desire. For the post-Beatles generation coming into their albums-buying majority, the record wasn’t really the point. The point was the way he looked at them.

The last time he’d been on Top of the Pops was playing piano behind Peter Noone on the latter’s hit version of his own Oh! You Pretty Things. Bowie’s people were furiously working the machine. His first release of 1972, Changes, was not a hit, despite being single of the week on Tony Blackburn’s Radio 1 show.

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It’s More than two years have passed since David Bowie departed us, but the steady flow of back-catalogue releases shows no sign of slowing. With another Record Store Day upon on and the release of three more Bowie collectables. At the time of his death suggested Bowie had left detailed plans for years worth of reissues, a number of which have already surfaced, including the Cracked Actor live album and the 13-LP set A New Career in a New Town.

This month, 45 years to the day since it was first released, comes a special silver vinyl edition of “Aladdin Sane”, as well as a repress of 1981’s “ChangesTwoBowie” compilation.

the Reissue of Aladdin Sane gives us an opportunity for another visit, in other words—along with these six other gems from David Bowie’s ever-growing backlist of releases. All of which should be added to your collection.

David Bowie  – Aladdin Sane

Though Bowie made Aladdin Sane during his first big burst of success, it is usually overshadowed by the mold-breaking The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and, to some extent, the more overtly theatrical Diamond Dogs which has experienced a major critical reevaluation in the years since its release. Bowie himself might take some of the blame for that, having somewhat glibly described Aladdin Sane at the time of its release as “Ziggy goes to America.” But while Ziggy remains an undeniable cornerstone in Bowie’s rise (and in the shaping of 20th-century rock music),

Aladdin Sane is no mere retread. In fact, one might argue that it is a more expansive refinement of its predecessor, setting two of his finest singles of the period—“The Jean Genie” and “Drive-In Saturday” alongside its wonderfully deranged, avant-garde title track, the biting “Cracked Actor” and one of the great album-closing ballads of his career, “Lady Grinning Soul”


David Bowie  –  Bowie At The Beeb

Before he was David Bowie 1970s musical chameleon in chief—he was David Bowie, singer of whimsical psychedelic pop. Bowie would more or less disown 1967’s self-titled debut—“I didn’t know if I was Max Miller or Elvis Presley,” he later said with songs such as the dainty “Love You Till Tuesday” offering only vague hints at what was to come.

A more informative insight into early Bowie can be gleaned from this collection of BBC radio sessions, which run from his first appearance (alongside the Tony Visconti Orchestra) in 1968 to the height of Ziggy mania in 1972. The set provides a series of illuminating glimpses at his fast-growing gift for songcraft and stagecraft, with the string-drenched pop of 1968’s “Karma Man” gradually giving way to expansive prog-folk (“Cygnet Committee,” “The Width of a Circle”), early takes on Ziggy material (“Queen Bitch,” “Hang on to Yourself”), Velvet Underground covers (“I’m Waiting for the Man,” “White Light/White Heat”), and more.

The initial CD edition from 2000 also included a bonus third disc that featured a live set recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre that same year, as well as a glaring error, with the same May 1972 recording of “Ziggy Stardust” appearing twice on disc 2 (since corrected for subsequent two-disc releases).

David Bowie  –  Lodger

The final entry in Bowie’s unparalleled run of ‘70s albums is also the least-loved of the lot, in no small part because of its unhelpful labeling as the third part in his so-called “Berlin Trilogy.” Though it was made with most of the same crew responsible for the one-two punch of “Low” and Heroes” (producer Tony Visconti, creative foil Brian Eno, and a band framed around Carlos Alomar, Dennis Davis, and George Murray), it is less a continuation of those albums’ themes than a foreshadowing of Bowie’s beloved 1980 LP Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps).

Recorded and mixed in the not-very-German locations of Montreux, Switzerland, and New York City, New York, “Lodger” also ditched the structure of its supposed siblings (songs on side A, instrumentals on side B), instead spreading its avant-garde moments throughout. Opening with a deceptively conventional piano ballad, “Fantastic Voyage” it then explodes into life on the extraordinary “African Night Flight,” an urgent freeform piece that prefigures Eno’s “world music” experiments with David Byrne on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Further travels follow on “Red Sails” and the Turkish reggae (yes, Turkish reggae) of “Yassassin,” while “D.J.” and “Look Back in Anger” revel in the general rubbishness of modern life.

The album is notable, too, for its clever way with recycling: “Move On” is “All the Young Dudes” backward. “Fantastic Voyage” and “Boys Keep Swinging” share a chord progression but little else. And the closing “Red Money” is a reworking of “Sister Moonlight” a song Bowie wrote for Iggy Pop several years earlier.

Only a modest success by Bowie’s standards on its release in 1979, it has long since been due some form of critical rehabilitation. The 2017 boxed set A New Career in a New Town went some way toward doing so, foregrounding a brand new mix of the album by Tony Visconti, but it remains underrated.

DAVID BOWIE, absolute beginners, B side absolute beginners dub mix , VS 838, 7" single

David Bowie – Absolute Beginners

Bowie began the ‘80s with one of his best albums Scary Monsters and the biggest hit of his career (Let’s Dance), but after that he lost his way, seemingly wrong-footed by the mainstream pop stardom he had sought and then so spectacularly achieved. Amid the two weakest albums of his career (1984’s half-baked Tonight and 1987’s unwisely titled Never Let Me Down, however, there were occasionally still signs that the old magic hadn’t left him yet. Tonight’s “Loving the Alien” is a stunning song in need of a better home, while “This Is Not America,” recorded for the soundtrack to the spy film Falcon and the Snowman, proved considerably more successful than a jazz-fusion collaboration with the Pat Metheny Group had any right to be.

Even better than either of those, though, is “Absolute Beginners,” a windswept ballad written for the film of the same name (in which Bowie also stars). Recorded in a single day with a pickup band that included keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman and Prefab Sprout drummer Neil Conti, it’s a grandstanding epic in the mold of “Rock ’N’ Roll Suicide” or “Wild Is the Wind” Bowie’s widescreen vocal offset perfectly by the warm horn section and Wakeman’s jazzy flourishes.

Not included on any of Bowie’s studio albums, “Absolute Beginners” is well worth seeking out, either on one of his many best-of albums or on its own standalone EP, which also features an extravagant eight-minute version (complete with bolero intro) and a surprising rendition, in Italian, of Domenico Modugno’s Eurovision-winning “Volare.”

David Bowie  –  1,Outside

After hitting a creative low in the mid-to-late ‘80s, then taking a questionable detour into hard rock with Tin Machine, Bowie took some time to re-find his footing in the ‘90s, but by the time of 1. Outside—a dystopian concept album made in collaboration with his old mate Brian Eno, among others—he was well and truly back on form. “The Hearts Filthy Lesson” was his best single for a decade. “Hallo Spaceboy” is a suitably idiosyncratic update of the Major Tom myth. Tracks like “The Motel” (a grandly atmospheric piece evocative of latter-day Scott Walker and driven by the returning Mike Garson’s baroque styled piano) and the album-closing “Strangers When We Meet” are as good as any other art-rock of the day.

1. Outside might not be perfect—the inter-song segues have not aged well, and a third of the run time could comfortably be pruned from its over-generous 75-minutes—but it’s one of Bowie’s most ambitious works, and one that sits comfortably among his post-’70s highlights. Perhaps his premillennial tension was a little too far ahead of the curve—after a somewhat lukewarm response to this album, Bowie’s plans for a series of sequels soon faded, and he made the jungle-tinged Earthling instead.

David Bowie  –  Heathen

For a long time, before Blackstar wowed and saddened in equal measure, Heathen felt like it might be the last great David Bowie album. Released in the aftermath of 9/11, and in some ways capturing the post-terror mood despite having largely been completed before the attacks on New York (Bowie’s then adopted home) and Washington D.C., it’s a work of maturity, morality, and mortality.

Death had long figured in Bowie’s work, but never before with the calm acceptance of Heathen’s opening track, “Sunday,” a mournful reflection on a world where “nothing remains” and the light is scarce. There’s a similarly meditative mood to “I Would Be Your Slave” and “5:15 The Angels Have Gone,” on which he declares, “I’m out here forever.” Elsewhere, among the lighter fare, “Slow Burn” is a kind of mini-“Heroes” with Pete Townshend on guitar, while “Slip Away” reunites Bowie with another old friend, the Stylophone pocket synthesizer. Slotting in neatly alongside Bowie’s own compositions are well-judged covers of Neil Young’s “I’ve Been Waiting for You” and the Pixies’ “Cactus,” in which the original’s mid-song shout-out is playfully updated to “D-A-V-I-D.”

If the response from some was once again muted, its creator was undeterred. “I’m pretty much a realist,” he said at the time. “The young have to kill the old. … That’s how life works.”

David Bowie  –  iSelect

Over the years, Bowie’s best bits have been compiled in so many different shapes and forms that they almost require a catalogue of their own. The best of the best-ofs, though, is this 12-track collection of Bowie’s own personal favorites from his extensive backlist. It was first released, incongruously, as a cover-mounted freebie alongside the June 29th, 2008, edition of the right-wing The Mail on Sunday newspaper, before being given a separate, rhetoric-free release later in the year.

Of the 12 songs Bowie chose to include, only “Life on Mars?” is an obvious pick. Among the rest are two tracks from Lodger, the Low outtake “Some Are,” and a newly remixed version of Never Let Me Down’s “Time Will Crawl.” In the illuminating song-by-song liner notes that accompany the album, Bowie described the latter as being among “a host of songs that I’ve recorded over the years that for one reason or another (clenched teeth) I’ve often wanted to re-record some time in the future.” If you’re looking for all the hits, in order, there are plenty of options to choose from, of which the most recent, 2016’s Legacy, is probably your best bet. As a guided tour by the man himself, however, iSelect cannot be beaten.

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As we get ready for another host of rarities and re-releases set to be on their way for Record Store Day 2018, which comes on April 21st, we’ve just got news of three releases they’re all David Bowie and they’re all limited edition.

The first is a 3 x 12″ set Welcome to the Blackout (Live in London 1978) and it holds a whole host of secrets. The previously unreleased set offers fans a chance to listen back on history as we dive in to Bowie’s Isolla II tour and re-visit his dates at London’s Earls Court from’1978.

Welcome to the Blackout, a triple live album taken from Bowie’s Isolar II World Tour in 1978, to promote Low and “Heroes”. The singer ended the second, European leg of the tour with a trio of sold-out gigs at Earls Court in London from June into July, and while RCA’s mobile truck was on hand to record the dates, it was ultimately the live compilation Stage that became the first representation of the tour for mass audiences. Bowie and David Richards did, however, mix the tapes into a potential project in Montreux, Switzerland in the winter of 1979; that arrangement from the June 30th and July 1st shows is Welcome to the Blackout.

The performance features Bowie’s expanded band, with core members Carlos Alomar (rhythm guitar, George Murray (bass) and Dennis Davis (drums) joined by heavy-hitters including Adrian Belew on guitar, Hawkwind’s Simon House on electric violin, Utopia’s Roger Powell on keyboards and Sean Mayes on piano and string ensemble. (This band would follow Bowie to Montreux for the recording of Lodger in 1979.) None of this material has ever appeared on a Bowie-sanctioned release, although “Sound and Vision” (making its live debut) ended up on the unofficial 1995 collection RarestOneBowie.

The next is a 12″ single which features the full first recording of ‘Let’s Dance’ as well as a live version of the song. The final release is Bowie Now a previously only promotional album, only for the US, which is getting it’s first commercial release. It will feature tracks from both Low and Heroes . 

The Bowie camp celebrated David’s birthday in 2018 with the digital unveiling of his original demo to the smash hit “Let’s Dance.” A longer version of that demo, as newly mixed by original producer Nile Rodgers, will make its physical debut for RSD on a new 12″ single. It’ll be paired with a rare live version of the same song, mixed by Bob Clearmountain and featured on the Serious Moonlight concert film.

finally, for rarity seekers and fans of Bowie’s Berlin trilogy, the 1978 promo album Bowie Now gets its first commercial reissue. This disc features album tracks from Low and “Heroes,” all sourced from Tony Visconti’s remasters of the albums as featured in last year’s box set A New Career In a New Town. The package is expanded to feature a new inner sleeve with a rarely seen image of the singer in Berlin in 1977.

The Releases

Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78) – 3 x LP unreleased live set
~ Let’s Dance (Full-length) – 12” single featuring full length version of the demo and live version
~ Bowie Now – White vinyl LP issue of US promo only compilation with new interior artwork –

In a unprecedented dive into the world of one of rock’s greatest icons, is making its final bow this year, opening this Friday (March 2nd) at the Brooklyn Museum in New York and running there through too July 15th. A trio of exclusive vinyl titles, will be made available at the exhibition’s shop, announced today, offering color variants of two rare releases and a live mini-album with several unreleased tracks.

First up is a reissue of “Time,” the third single from Bowie’s 1973 masterwork Aladdin Sane. Pressed on translucent silver vinyl, this replica of the U.S. single features an edit of the A-side, the album re-recording of 1970 single “The Prettiest Star” on the flip side, and a reproduction of the original, undistributed picture sleeve, featuring the iconic Aladdin Sane artwork.

The only release with unheard content is the Live In Berlin mini-album, pressed on translucent orange vinyl. Recorded at Berlin’s Deutschlandhalle on the Isolar II Tour in 1978, half of this excerpt from the set has been heard: three tracks appeared on a (since-deleted) streaming EP to promote the release of last year’s A New Career In a New Town box set, and one was the B-side to “Beauty and the Beast,” part of the Bowie camp’s ongoing 40th anniversary picture disc releases.

Finally, 2003’s iSelectBowie compilation – a frequent companion piece to David Bowie Is – makes yet another appearance at the exhibition, pressed once again on red vinyl. Created as a gift for The Mail On Sunday readers and released separately from the newspaper later in 2003, this alternate route through Bowie’s first two decades focuses primarily on album tracks, with a pair of exclusive cuts: a remix of 1987’s “Time Will Crawl” featuring re-recorded elements, and the opening to Bowie’s famed 1972 performance in Santa Monica, California – which wouldn’t be released officially until five years later. (Another special rarity: “Some Are,”Low outtake available only on the 1991 CD reissue of the album.) As with previous issues (and the original newspaper itself), this pressing includes Bowie’s insightful song-by-song comments.

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Featuring close to 400 pieces from Bowie’s own archive, including costumes, handwritten lyrics, original album art, photographs, videos and even paintings, David Bowie Is marks a stunning tribute to a legendary musician. The full rundown of each title to be sold at the exhibition is below.

Time (Single Edit) b/w The Prettiest Star (originally released as RCA Victor APBO-0001, 1973)

Live In Berlin (Parlophone, 2018)

  1. “Heroes”
  2. Be My Wife
  3. Blackout
  4. Sense of Doubt
  5. Breaking Glass
  6. Fame
  7. Alabama Song
  8. Rebel Rebel

Recorded live at Deutschlandhalle, Berlin – 5/16/1978
Tracks 2 and 4-5 released on Live In Berlin streaming EP – Parlophone, 2017
Track 3 released on “Beauty and the Beast” picture single – Parlophone DBBATB 40, 2018
All other tracks previously unreleased

iSelectBowie (originally released as EMI 50999 236640 2 9, 2003)

  1. Life On Mars?
  2. Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (Reprise)
  3. The Bewlay Brothers
  4. Lady Grinning Soul
  5. Win
  6. Some Are
  7. Teenage Wildlife
  8. Repetition
  9. Fantastic Voyage
  10. Loving the Alien
  11. Time Will Crawl (MM Remix)
  12. Intro/Hang On to Yourself (Live from Santa Monica ’72)

Tracks 1 and 3 from Hunky Dory (RCA Victor LSP-4623, 1971)
Track 2 from Diamond Dogs (RCA Victor APL1-0576, 1974)
Track 4 from Aladdin Sane (RCA Victor LSP-4852, 1973)
Track 5 from Young Americans (RCA Victor APL1-0998, 1975)
Track 6 from Low reissue (EMI CDEMD 1027 (U.K.)/Rykodisc RCD 10142 (U.S.), 1991)
Track 7 from Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (RCA BOW LP 2 (U.K.)/AQL1-3647 (U.S.), 1980)
Tracks 8-9 from Lodger (RCA Victor BOW LP 1 (U.K.)/AQL1-3254 (U.S.), 1979)
Track 10 from Tonight (EMI America DB 1 (U.K.)/SJ-17138 (U.S.), 1984)
Original version of Track 11 from Never Let Me Down (EMI America AMLS-3117 (U.K.)/PJ-17267 (U.S.), 1987). Later released on Nothing Has Changed (Parlophone DB 64143 (U.K.)/Columbia/Legacy 88875 03098-2 (U.S.), 2013)
Track 12 from Live Santa Monica ’72 (EMI 50999 237663 2 7, 2008)

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This video features the tracks, Lust for Life and The Passenger, which are originally from the Iggy Pop album, “Lust for Life”. The album had been released about a month prior to the show, on the 29th of August. Most of the footage used here was shot for So it Goes; a British TV music show, presented by Factory Records founder, Tony Wilson on Granada Television between 1976 and 1977. So it Goes specialised in showcasing the punk rock scene of the day.

Manchester was the ninth date of the Lust for Life tour. The tour had started in Iggy’s then home city of Berlin on September the 12th and it would finish up two months later on the 18th of November at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. The musicians on the Lust for Life album had been The Idiot touring band of: Tony Sales – bass, Hunt Sales – drums, Ricky Gardiner – guitar, David Bowie – keyboard and backing vocals. Plus Carlos Alomar – guitar. However, by the time of the Lust for Life tour, Bowie and Gardner were gone, replaced by Bowie’s former lead guitarist from the Station to Station tour, Stacy Heydon, and multi-instrumentalist, Scott Thurston, on guitar, piano, synthesizer, harmonica.

Stacy Heydon, on how he came to be chosen for the Lust for Life tour “Iggy accompanied us throughout the Station to Station tour. He and Dave were best mates. I was approached by Jimmy. No doubt Dave gave his blessing”. Scott Thurston had already been a member of the 1973 – 74 live incarnation of The Stooges, and he had played on the Kill City material in 1975.

Stacy Heydon talking about the tour with Iggy: “The people in Manchester were among the best. Being mostly of English dissent I felt very much at home throughout the country. Jimmy was and is quite the entertainer. On countless occasions he would be sharing his extensive knowledge on things like French impressionists, psychology, various political systems, specific museum pieces and the like. Two steps later as soon as we’d taken the stage all bets were off. Being on tour with Mr Osterburg was not for the faint of heart but it did open my eyes to the immense wit and chameleon like qualities that he could extract from his psyche at will, and was the very fabric of his being. That said, whichever side of the cloth you happened to be with at any given time seemed to be the antithesis of the other. If it’s true that opposites attract, that little fucker must love himself as much as we all do!”

The material shot for So it Goes was shown on British TV about a month after the live show, on the 30th of October. Part of The Passenger was shown, a short interview with Iggy, and at the end of the show, part of Lust for Life, with credits played before the end of the song. Unfortunately, this broadcast led to the early demise of So it Goes. As John Cooper Clark states on his narration on “Anarchy in Manchester”, “Unfortunately for So it Goes, his (Iggy’s) noble onstage savagery led to the shows cancelation in late ’77. That FY appendage didn’t do it for Granada’s top brass.” And so the planned third series of So it Goes never happened.

A little extra material from the Iggy interview, and extra footage and different audio sources of the two songs from the live show have surfaced here and there. So as per my usual remit with these recreation videos, from the 10+ sources I could find, I have compiled all the best quality bits and pieces into one hopefully fluid and enjoyable whole. I could somewhat complete the two live performances. However no footage could be found for the first minute and a half of Lust for Life, so I used footage from another European date on the tour (possibly Amsterdam). It’s not a perfect match – Iggy is wearing different clothing and the venue and audience are obviously different, but better than a blank screen or omitting a large chuck of the track, I think. Frustratingly, in the multiple TV sets that are the backdrop to Tony Wilson’s intro, we see more footage from the show and two other Iggy interviews! What happened to that material?!

The amazing cover shot of Iggy leering into a Granada Televison camera was taken at the Manchester show by Kevin Cummings.

I am grateful to Easy Action for providing audio tracks and allowing me to use them on this video. The Manchester audio performances of Lust for Life and The Passenger are available to buy from Easy Action, as downloads and a limited edition 10” vinyl that has just been released this weekend.

Ava Cherry was one of David Bowie’s backing vocalists (not to mention his girlfriend) during his Young Americans soul-obsessed era, and the great man himself produced this album — unfortunately, however, Bowie’s subsequent wranglings with both manager and record company meant it never got a release. Ava Cherry finally released it herself a few years back, and it’s a fascinating document of an fascinating era.

Before Bowie recorded the bulk of Diamond Dogs over three days in January 1974, he had been trying to get a “soul’” vocal trio off the ground. This was the Astronettes, who consisted of Bowie’s new girlfriend Ava Cherry, his longtime friend Geoff MacCormack (aka “Warren Peace”) and the unaffiliated Jason Guess.

Some of the surviving tracks were issued decades later and merit a listen if only out of curiosity, as some of Bowie’s Astronettes compositions are ancestors to his later songs. The promising (rhythmically, at least) “I Am Divine” is the first draft of Young Americans’ “Somebody Up There Likes Me.” “People From Bad Homes,” with a needling keyboard whistle for its main hook, seems bottom-drawer material. Bowie liked the title enough to use it in a later lyric, but seems to have discarded the rest of the song.

Bowie abandoned the project once Diamond Dogs took on steam, though he kept the Astronettes as his backing singers. He scrapped the proposed Astronettes record in part because of management-related shenanigans, but it was also obvious that the patchy material wasn’t commercially viable.

  • Musicians – Aynsley Dunbar, David Bowie, Herbie Flowers, Luis Ramirez , Mark Pritchard, Mike Garson
  • Producer – David Bowie

A beautiful documentary about a beautiful guy.

There will be no doubt left in anyone’s mind after spending 90 minutes with this film that the original Spiders from Mars guitarist was an overlooked and underappreciated player in the rise to prominence of David Bowie. The Hull, U.K. born and bred musician was a classically trained arranger and pianist as well as a phenomenally talented guitarist. His contributions to not only Bowie’s early efforts through Pin Ups, but Lou Reed’s Transformer album and work from artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, Elton John, Ian Hunter and Morrissey are generally undervalued, a fact attested to by a litany of talking heads.

Fascinating and often rare footage, along with testimonials from family, friends and associates, paint a remarkably vivid picture of a talent who was best at supporting others. When his management tried to make him a frontman after the dissolution of the Spiders, it failed miserably. No, Ronno (as his friends nicknamed him) was the ultimate sideman, the Keith to someone else’s Mick, and it was in that role that he felt most comfortable.

As the movie’s title suggests, the bulk (about an hour) of the film follows his association with David Bowie. But the final 30 minutes is just as important, and often unnerving. For all his musical talents, Ronson was horrible at managing money, and even during his short 18-month Spiders from Mars stint with Bowie that found the band graduating from clubs to arenas and worldwide fame, he was never compensated appropriately for his substantial, and ultimately historical, artistic contributions. That continued until the end of his life, cut short in 1993 at 47 by liver cancer, as he often lived paycheck to paycheck, eventually leading to his wife asking others for financial assistance.

The milestones and specifics of his relatively brief career can be found online, but this film succeeds because of the loving tributes from the people that knew him best, and most importantly by two fascinating interviews with Ronson interspersed into the timeline. Anecdotes from his management, Lou Reed and not surprisingly David Bowie, along with Bowie’s ex-wife Angie, help paint a colorful portrait of a guy who never achieved the fame or respect he clearly deserved. And while there are extensive interviews with producer Tony Visconti, Ian Hunter and pianist Mike Garson (Ronson hired him for Bowie’s band), his association with Bob Dylan with whom he toured as part of the Rolling Thunder Revue, is practically ignored. And his work with Roger McGuinn (Ronson produced 1976’s Cardiff Rose) is completely snubbed. It would also have been helpful to hear from Morrissey, whose Your Arsenal release Ronson produced, but he too is MIA.

While this might be a few decades too late in appearing, we’ll add it to the better-late-than-never bin. We can now rejoice in a lovingly-constructed documentary on a guy who, despite being in the right place at the right time, hasn’t been given the reverence, nor financial rewards, his significant contributions to Bowie and others should have provided.

Depeche Moe, 2017

Depeche Mode has been performing a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” on its Global Spirit Tour for the past several months, and today the group released a music video for a studio version of the cut in honor of the iconic song’s 40th anniversary. Tomorrow marks 40 years since Bowie released the title track from “Heroes” – the second in his acclaimed and so-called ‘Berlin Trilogy’. Having made their rendition a staple highlight of their ‘immaculate’ recent live sets, Depeche Mode have honoured the song with an official cover and video recorded from the ‘Highline Sessions’ and directed by Tim Saccenti.

Of the song, frontman Dave Gahan says:
’Heroes’ is the most special song to me at the moment. Bowie is the one artist who I’ve stuck with since I was in my early teens. His albums are always my go-to on tour and covering ‘Heroes’ is paying homage to Bowie.”

Music video by Depeche Mode performing Heroes. (C) 2017 Venusnote Ltd., under exclusive license to Columbia Records,

Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust For Life’: 10 Things You Didn’t Know

It was love at first drum. You can’t mention Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life” without mentioning the hypnotic infectious drumbeat that kicks off the title cut with a bang. The lyrics are some of Iggy’s best. “I’m worth a million in prizes” is one of the greatest lines in rock. When the third verse comes in, the listener knows all the words and what they don’t…they’ll make up. Lust For Life is often considered the best post-Stooges Iggy Pop album, it is the 40th anniversary of Iggy’s explosive solo album.

Iggy’s first three solo releases all came out in the same year – 1977. Lust For Life came out on the heels of Iggy’s first post-Stooges release, The Idiot. The album was a collaborative effort with David Bowie (who had previously mixed The Stooges last album, Raw Power) and was heavily influenced by German culture, as both musicians were living in Berlin at the time. The band went on tour and shortly after, they jumped into the studio to write and record. On tour, they’d been playing The Idiot and old Stooges cuts but during sound checks, the band started experimenting with ideas.

Recording for Lust for Life started in April and ended in June, with the album hitting the shelves on 9th September 1977. Not even half a year had passed since the release of The Idiot and there was a new rock n’ roll record from Iggy. During this time, Iggy had also made a third album, Kill City, a demo he recorded in 1975 but most labels were hesitant, due to Pop’s reputation at the time. After the success of Lust For Life, the smaller label Bomp! Records jumped at the chance to put it out in November of 1977.

While The Idiot sounds more atmospheric and experimental for Iggy, Lust for Life sees him return to straightforward rock’n’roll. In the studio, Bowie would sit at a piano and name famous rock songs and say, “Okay now we’re going to rewrite [insert song]” and knock it out while Iggy would record it. While Bowie co-wrote many of the tracks, it’s Iggy’s lyrical wit and musicality that truly shines, along with an excellent lean and mean backing band provided by brothers Tony and Hunt Sales for the rhythm section, Carlos Alomar and Ricky Gardiner on guitars and Bowie on keyboard and backing vocals.

The infectious riff on the title cut, ‘Lust for Life’ was inspired by the Morse code opening to the American Forces Network News in Berlin while David and Iggy were waiting for 70s buddy cop series Starsky and Hutch to start. Whereas the song’s lyrics heavily reference all the stripteases, drugs, and hypnotizing chickens that make up Beat novelist William S Burroughs’ book, The Ticket That Exploded.

Iggy has always been a less-is-more kind of songwriter, so when it came to his lyrics, he took direction from the kid’s show host, Soupy Sales, who instructed kids to write fan letters that were 25 words or less. Bowie was so impressed by the expediency of Iggy’s improvisational lyrics that he ad-libbed most of the lyrics on his Heroes album.

In the 1980s, Iggy was financially struggling and facing the same demons of his early career.
At this time, Bowie famously covered the song they co-wrote together from The Idiot, ‘China Girl’ for his album, Let’s Dance. However, it’s lesser known that Bowie also covered two songs from Lust For Life, ‘Neighborhood Threat’ and ‘Tonight’ on his album Tonight, which helped Iggy get back on his feet financially and get clean.

‘The Passenger’ is loosely based on a Jim Morrison poem from his collection called “The Lords/Notes on Visions” and while many Berliners may like to imagine Iggy riding along on their enviable public transit system, the song is actually written from his perspective of riding shotgun in David Bowie’s car, since Iggy was without a car or license at the time. The title also takes its name from Michelangelo Antonioni’s movie The Passenger starring Jack Nicholson, which Pop had spotted on a billboard in LA before decamping to Berlin.

With the success of The Idiot, RCA had given the newly popular Pop a rather large advance to make his follow-up. As Iggy recounted to biographer Joe Ambrose in his book, Gimme Danger: The Story of Iggy Pop:

David and I had determined that we would record that album very quickly, which we wrote, recorded, and mixed in eight days, and because we had done it so quickly, we had a lot of money left over from the advance, which we split.”

Iggy Pop Celebrates 40 Years Of ‘Lust For Life’ With Vinyl Reissue