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Aladdin Sane is an album by David Bowie which came out in the early 70s. It was his 6th album and came just after the Ziggy Stardust era.
I was a big Bowie fan back then (still am now) and I was 15 when this album came out and I pestered my Mum to buy it for me. I had been to see David Bowie a few times in concert and he had sung the songs on this album and I thought they were fantastic.
<<<<< THE SONGS >>>>>
The first song on the album is Watch That Man. It is a proper rock and roll type of song which is great when you go to see him as it makes everyone want to get up and dance to the music.
The next song is Aladdin Sane which is a slow song with lots of piano playing in the background.
Song number 3 is Drive In Saturday which came out as a single. It is another slow song, this time with some strong guitar playing going on.
Next comes Panic In Detroit which is a bit of a faster temp than the last two songs and has a lot of rock guitar playing on it.
Another great rock and roll tune follows this one, it is called Crack Baby Crack and is a good song to get up and bop to.
Next song is Time which is slow but very dramatic with lots of piano and some choice lyrics. I remember putting the album on at home and listening it with my Mum and Dad in the same room and my Dad told me to take it off and not to play it downstairs. My Mum just sat there with her eyebrows raised, there was me, well embarrassed but trying not to laugh.
Song number 7 is called the prettiest star and its a sort of easy listening tempo with a bit of a rock and roll flavour to it.
Number 8 is back to proper rock and roll again with Bowie's cover of the Stomes hit Let's Spend The Night Together. It has a lot of honky tonk piano and some great electric guitar sounds on it.
Number 8 was another hit single for David Bowie, The Gene Genie. I used to love this song, I really liked the harmonica playing on it and it has a catchy chorus.
The last song on the album is Lady Grinning Soul, this song starts off slow and quite mild and it crescendos as it goes along to a dramatic finish. More brilliant piano playing on the song and some great vocals.
<<<<< ARTISTS >>>>>
David Bowie played the guitar, harmonica, keyboards and saxophone on this album as well as singing all the songs.
Mick Ronson played the electic guitar plus piano and backing vocals.
Trevor Bolder played the bass guitar.
Mick "Woody" Woodmansey played the drums.
These were the three who appeared with David Bowie on his Ziggy Stardust album and also on the tour.
The musician who played the fantastic piano on most of the tracks was Mike Garson.
<<<<< ALBUM COVER >>>>>
The original album that came out had a cover that opened up like a double album and it had a photo of David Bowie in side like a centre fold photo. It made a bit of a stir when it came out because he was portrayed as being sexless in the photo. The album artwork was by Brian Duffy.
<<<<< SUMMING UP >>>>>
I really like listening to this album, it takes me right back to those days as a teenager going round the David Bowie concerts and having my hair cut short and spiky and died bright red (its still short and spiky now lol), and wearing outlandish clothes that we thought were pucker.
As a huge fan of David Bowie, I am bound to say this is a fantastic album and of course it is! This album shows how much of a musical genius Bowie truly is. With a strong base of electric guitar and piano throughout the album, this gives it a very mixed feel better rock and pop. For example, Cracked Actor is leaning towards more rock with a strong element of electric guitar throughout, has a faster tempo and a heavier drum beat. His voice takes a more powerful tone and the lyrics are darker. This is also similar to other tracks on the album such as Watch That Man and Panic In Detroit.
There is also the other extreme with songs that are mainly piano based and a lot less rock and more pop. This includes the title track Aladdin Sane. This starts off with a very slow melody on piano with a gentle backing track. This builds up to a more upbeat chorus and more involvement of the electric guitar. Again Lady Grinning Soul is a much more gentle pop song with the main instrument being piano giving it a relaxing feel of which Bowie's voice adds greatly to this feel. Then there is the huge song of The Jean Genie which hit number 2 on the charts in 1972. Although this was a hit in the 70s it has a timeless feel to it and a very catchy tune starting from the very beginning of the song.
Overall, this album is addictive. It was the first album of Bowie I listened to and now I own a rather large collection of his albums. It is a great starting block for getting into his music and is very easy to listen to. It is an absolute classic and a must have for any music lover of rock/pop.
Aladdin Sane is one of David Bowie's seminal works. Described by Bowie himself as 'Ziggy does America", the album is rich with references to American culture and the American dream. Opening with the frantic and fast paced Watch That Man, the album includes celebrated Bowie tracks, such as Jean Jeanie and Lets Spend The Night Together (a cover of a Rolling Stones track). Other tracks reveal early tendencies towards progressive song creation and experimentalism. Aladdin Sane, the album's title track, is uncomfortable listening (in places) for even the hardiest of Bowie fans.
Aladdin Sane is Bowie at his best, drawing influences from all areas of culture and delivering-up a vivid and colourful world captured in song. Listening to this album will inspire a variety of emotions and feelings. Lullaby like tracks, such as The Prettiest Star and Drive-In Saturday present an idyllic and innocent world and stand in direct contract to track like Cracked Actor or Lady Grinning Soul, which have dark and unsettling undertones. In the case of both Lady Grinning Soul and Aladdin Sane, the song has an overall uneasy feeling.
Aladdin Sane is a must have album for any serious music collector. An essential contribution to the glam rock era, the album was also influential in ushering in a period of experimentalism in the mid 1970s. The beauty of Aladdin Sane is it is a true album experience, inspiring a rich mixture of emotions and vivid imagery and leaving the listener feeling as though they have been on a strange and fascinating journey.
David Bowie - Aladdin Sane (1973)
Producer: Ken Scott, David Bowie
Watch That Man
Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)
Panic in Detroit
The Prettiest Star
Let's Spend the Night Together
The Jean Genie
Lady Grinning Soul
Aladdin Sane is the sixth studio album by David Bowie and was released in 1973. What one has to remember is that Aladdin Sane is the first record that David Bowie had written and released as a superstar (in case you are ignorant to all pop culture, his previous album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, was a runaway success and made Bowie incredibly huge in the early 1970s). So, careful not to dismiss his new persona and anger his legion of new fans, he cleverly kept his Ziggy character, albeit giving him a slight visual tweak and dubbed this his 'Ziggy goes to America' album.
The production techniques on Aladdin Sane are considerably different to those found on Ziggy Stardust. Ziggy Stardust had high aspirations and was a constant tour de force, but it managed to remain personal and intimate, and for the audience it was as if Bowie was singing those songs of alienation just for you. This record was obviously given a bigger budget; if Ziggy was one of those classic, low budget British films which everyone holds in high regard, Aladdin is its older brother, given a Hollywood release and the red carpet treatment. Yet, for the most part, it manages to remain every bit as entertaining, enticing and welcoming to the listener.
Batten down the hatches and take cover, because Watch That Man starts things off with a bang and a half. This song has always generated quite a mixed opinion with both fans and critics, primarily because of the way Bowie's vocals have been mixed down low and are perhaps obscured in places by the velocity of the music. In my opinion it makes for an enthralling listen and makes for a nice change to the norm. As is well cited, The Rolling Stones used this recording method a lot around this time, so why can't Bowie give it a go too? It sounds excellent, anyway. Mick Ronson is absolutely shredding the place with his filthy glam-rock guitar riffs and as the song says, "watch that man," because Ronson's the driving force.
The title-track is absolutely mental. I don't think the term glam-rock jazz had yet been coined before this song's inception, but it manages to make it sound cooler than it has any right to. Of course, the centrepiece to the song is Mike Garson's icy, avant-garde piano solo, which doesn't feel the need to pick up any unified direction, but rather just exists in the middle of the soundscape and complements Bowie's opportune prattle, "Who'll love Aladdin Sane? Battle cries and champagne just in time for sunrise!"
The doo-wop inspired Drive-In Saturday is one of Bowie's most intriguing efforts on the record. Essentially a tale of nostalgia and absolute necessity, Bowie tells of a time where people have forgotten how to reproduce and they must refer to sexually explicit films for instructions. Musically, the song is an absolute beast, with a very intricate chord progression which sounds wonderful when put into practice (the song was offered to Mott the Hoople, but they allegedly rejected it after band leader Ian Hunter was thrown by the song's abnormal complexity for a pop song).
Although not the strongest song on the album, a special mention does have to go to Cracked Actor, simply because of the total supremacy of the guitar riff which opens the song and continues throughout. "Crack, baby, crack, show me you're real," demands Bowie, "smack, baby, smack, is that all that you feel?" Vocally, it is one of Bowie's best ever performances and manages to eclipse everything else on Aladdin Sane.
Time is one of the most interesting songs Bowie has ever written, bringing with it a jarring set of theatrical notes from Mick Ronson. It has that widescreen, epic appeal, which makes it vital to the very existence of Aladdin Sane and is the embodiment of what Bowie was trying to achieve with this release. It's far more daring than anything found on Ziggy Stardust.
You have to love the bizarre lyrics of lead single and penultimate song from Aladdin Sane, Jean Genie, "He says he's a beautician, who'll sell you nutrition and keeps all your dead hair for making up underwear." While it is still a prime slice of glam-rock, the main, stomping guitar riff has obviously been inspired by rhythm and blues bands.
The album is brought to a close by the breathtaking ballad, Lady Grinning Soul. Quite unlike anything else Bowie has ever recorded, Lady Grinning Soul features a very heartfelt and tender vocal performance. Mike Garson plays a very passionate and sensual piece on the piano; even Mick Ronson manages to lay his electric guitar to rest for a moment and gently plays blissful, acoustic notes between the verses. This is the sound of perfection my friend, perfection.
It is fair to conclude that Ziggy Stardust was a hard act to follow, if not one of the most difficult challenges that any musician has been faced with, ever. It is a credit to both producer Ken Scott and David Bowie that Aladdin Sane doesn't try to repeat the formula of Ziggy Stardust, but rather it reinvents this quintessentially British persona and places him amongst the manic, degraded and sullied streets of America and gives birth to an entirely new character in the process.
That's not to say that there is a solid narrative throughout Aladdin Sane, because there isn't, not by a long shot, but where Ziggy Stardust was a cohesive and immersive experience, detailing the unfortunate events which befell everyone's favourite alien from Mars, Aladdin is a slightly cold and detached experience, which makes more sense if each song is taken as an individual chapter. It doesn't embrace you the way Ziggy did, no; it's blunt, harsh and takes everything to the extreme. And yet, it still makes for an all encompassing listen and is one of the best albums of the 1970s.
Read more reviews at www.danielkempreviews.co.uk
It's hard to believe that one of David Bowie's most famous albums was criticised at the time of its release for being rushed. When Aladdin Sane (full title Aladdin Sane 1913-1938-197?) came out in April 1973 Bowie was in the middle of a tour of the United States. Critics claimed that the vocals and harmonica on Watch That Man and Cracked Actor had been "buried" in the mix. However producer Ken Scott defended the mix of Watch That Man and claims that RCA rejected a remix of the song with the vocals turned up.
Despite its criticisms Watch That Man gets the album off to a great start. Its got a Rolling Stone feel to it and the mix is far from "shoddy" as its been described by so called critics. What do they know? Lulu did a decent cover of this track as well as The Man Who Sold The World.
The title track is an absolute epic and the piano playing by Mike Garson is haunting. Apparently Bowie was inspired to write Aladdin Sane after reading a book called Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh.
Drive In Saturday was inspired by 1950's doo-wop (some of you might be familiar with this music but sadly I'm not!) and is about the inhabitants of a post-apocalyptic world who have forgotten how to make babies, so they watch porn movies. Drive In Saturday mentions Mick Jagger and Twiggy.
Panic In Detroit has been compared to Nowhere To Run by Martha and the Vandellas. I've never heard that song, so I am in no position to comment. Panic In Detroit features conga drums and the line, "He looked a lot like Che Guevara". Mick Ronson's guitar playing is brilliant on this song.
Cracked Actor is a song about a ageing Hollywood actor's encounter with a prostitute. The chorus is so catchy and memorable. "Crack, baby, crack. Show me you're real" sings Bowie. During his 1974 North American tour Bowie performed the song wearing sunglasses and holding a skull. He did the same thing during his 1983 Serious Moonlight tour.
The next song Time is probably best remembered because of the following line..."He flexes like a whore. Falls w***ing to the floor". Apparently Bowie sang Time on an American TV show and changed the offending word to "swanking". Pianist Mike Garson again excels on this song which has been compared to the cabaret music of Jacques Brel, Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill.
Bowie wrote The Prettiest Star for Angela Barnett (later Mrs Angie Bowie). It was originally released as a single in 1970 but didn't sell that many copies, less than 800 in fact. Marc Bolan played guitar on the original but Mick Ronson plays on the version on Aladdin Sane.
Track #8 Let's Spend The Night Together is a Rolling Stones cover that is much faster and rockier than the original. Bowie even adds his own words near the end.
The god like Jean Genie is next with its R & B riff that has been compared to The Yardbirds. Bowie was inspired by Iggy Pop to write Jean Genie, hence the line, "Sits like a man but he smiles like a reptile". It was criticised for sounding like Blockbuster by The Sweet but it was just coincidence. They are both brilliant songs.
The album's closing track Lady Grinning Soul is a wonderful ballad featuring another fantastic demonstration of the art of piano playing by Mike Garson. Garson described his performance on Lady Grinning Soul as "about as romantic as it gets". Bowie wrote Lady Grinning Soul after a meeting with American soul singer Claudia Lennear in 1972. It could have been used as a James Bond theme and features the line "Cologne she'll wear, silver and Americard. She'll drive a beetle car". It's a classic song that closes a classic album.
Along with Madonna, James Brown, Elvis and The Beatles he's probably one of the five most influential musicians of all time.
He started out in the mid-60's before finding fame with his debut solo release, Space Oddity - the one that goes: "ground control to Major Tom". It was re-released in 1972 and reached number one. He had a string of hits throughout the seventies and early eighties encompassing such styles as glam rock, pop and disco.
Unlike Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, who all had an excuciatingly bad 80's, his popularity stayed high until the total turkey that was 1987's Never Let Me Down album. Subsequent dabbles in dance and drum n bass only bred apathy amongst his fans. In 1999 he rediscovered his form with the fine Hours album and two years later eclipsed it with the near perfect Heathen album.
Without sounding like a cliche, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Unfortunately, 1974 to 1979 was spent in Berlin with Iggy Pop getting mashed and producing farout albums like Low and Lodger. The tracks assembled on this album are possibly the best of this period, but if you're looking for Ziggy Stardust, Life On Mars or Starman or Changes, it's the preceding 1969-1974 Best Of that you need.
Bowie's output during this period was largely experimental (side two of the Low album was instrumental ambience). Thankfully, the compilers have tried to collate his most accessible tunes from the late 70s and I've found some hidden gems on this CD that you rarely get to hear.
For anyone interested in David Bowie, I've included a description of each track along with the album that the original version can be found on. Marks are given out of five, too.
**1. Sound and Vision**
I think this is David's best ever song. It's so simple. The intro goes on for nearly two minutes and there's some brill echoey synths. Just when you think the track is going to be an instrumental, Bowie pops up and croons nonchalantly: "don't you wonder, sometimes, about sound and vision" with an awesome, arrogant baritone. The beat still sounds astonishingly fresh. A classic in every department.
From the album: "Low" (1977)
Chart position: 3
**2. Golden Years**
Some finger-clicking and nifty bass starts this track off and once it gets going is actually a very pleasant little track. In about 1975, Bowie discovered soul and it's certainly rubbed off on this track. The horns are great and the whole feel is of something James Brown would have been quite proud of.
From the album: "Station To Station" (1975)
Chart position: 8
Not one of his greatest tracks. I find the echoey vocals annoying and the slow pace rather boring. It's not a typical song in construction, ie there's no real verse/chorus/verse formula going on here. The "fame" refrain in the vocals sound slowed down and manipulated and it's not a good look!
From the album: "Young Americans" (1975)
Chart position: 17
**4. Young Americans**
This is Bowie's all-out soul track. Everything plus the kitchen sink has been thrown into this. Black female backing vocalists, husky saxophone and his anguished vocals together with a huge, lush, sparkling production. The tempo is typically mid 70's soul and the overall effect is astounding. This is one of his best tracks.
From the album: "Young Americans" (1975)
Chart position: 18
**5. John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)**
This is a reworking of his earlier song, John I'm Only Dancing. Quite plainly bitten by the soul/disco bug, it's straight out the text book entitled James Bown By Numbers. There's funky guitars, call and response vocals, a saxophonist going madder than a bucket of bananas in the background, all rapped up in a bizarre seven minutes of mayhem. Quite thrilling.
From the album: n/a
Chart position: 12
**6. Can You Hear Me**
The first track on this album that I'd consider a hidden gem. It's almost a ballad as the tempo lurches at funereal pace to it's conclusion. There is much sax in evidence and I'm beginning to think that this was very much the "instrument du jour" for Bowie during this time. A great track that's rarely heard.
From the album: "Young Americans" (1975)
Chart position: n/a
**7. Wild Is The Wind**
At six minutes, this is an epic and another slow paced track. There's a lot of play on the title and Bowie's voice flits in and out of the mix like real wind. A lovely piano riff pops in to say "hi" occasionally and that soul influence hasn't deserted him - there's languid, funky guitars all over the place. Pleasant track, if a bit too long.
From the album: "Station To Station" (1975)
Chart position: n/a
**8. Knock On Wood**
This is a cover of the old 60's soul standard by Eddie Floyd. Talk about going the whole hog. There's New Orleans ragtime piano, mad guitar-picks, funky frums and, of course, more saxophone all over the place. Bowie's voice doesn't really suit this track and I prefer Amii Stewart's disco version from a couple of years later.
From the album: "David Live" (1974)
Chart position: n/a
**9. TVC 15**
"Traaaaaaaaaaaansmission" wails our David on the chorus of this track. The soul influences remain and it's a good midtempo track. There's nothing here as glamorous or daring as Young Americans or Can You Hear Me, but it's stilll a catch little number all the same. A nice surprise.
(God knows what a TVC15 is though).
From the album: "Station To Station" (1975)
Chart position: 33
Bowie sounds at his gloomiest yet on this album with this track that is by turns maudlin and joyous. The verses are macabre and downbeat but once the chorus kicks in, the increase in tempo and the spiralling, urgent strings make fantastic listening. A schizophrenic track.
From the album: "Diamond Dogs" (1974)
Chart position: n/a
**11. It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City**
The song opens with the first sign that we've seen on this album of the old David: upbeat tempo with rock guitars and riffs all over the shop! He almost talks his way through the verses: "when I walk down the street/I can hear it's heartbeat", he says. In fact, the whole track is narrative-heavy and joy to listen to. This is the rarest of things on this album: a Bowie song without a sax break!
From the album: "Station To Station" (out-take) (1975)
Chart position: n/a
**12. Look Back in Anger**
Oooh he sounds miserable on this one, kids! His voice has gone all deep and it's not a little menacing. But it's the best "undiscovered" track on the album and rattles along at a fair old pace. The sneering backing vocals of "waiting so long, I've been waiting so long" absolutely rock! This is David Bowie as we know him: rocky, experimental and awesome. A hidden gem.
From the album: "Lodger" (1979)
Chart position: n/a
**13. The Secret Life Of Arabia**
"Secrets, secrets never seen" goes the female backing vocal on this track form the Heroes album. The pace is slower and bit more funky once again and Bowie's voice is back to normal after the scary shenanigans of Look Back In Anger. Halfway through, some natty little disco handclaps come in to play with the demented piano and Bowie wails in his best cockney accent: "Araaaabiarr". Priceless.
From the album: "Heroes" (1977)
Chart position: n/a
There's been no saxophone for about four tracks now and this track is no exception. Weird violins and loopy Hammond organ, yes; but sax, no. - hurray! "I am a DJ I am what I play" goes the chorus of this super stop/start track. Near the end is a great 70's guitar solo that the Darkness would have been proud of.
From the album: "Lodger" (1979)
Chart position: 18
**15. Beauty And The Beast**
This song, from the Heroes album, was released as a single at the height of punk in January 1978 and couldn't sound any different to that movement if it tried. Full of New Wave-style synths and thumping drums, it sounds like he's singing with a bucket over his head, or at least down a telephone with a bad connection. Bonkers and brilliant!
From the album: "Heroes" (1977)
Chart position: 39
**16. Breaking Glass**
Don't listen to this track on headphones. After about 30 seconds there's a shrill piercing synth bit that sounds like a 1000 mice all squeaking at the same time. THe opening to the track suggest Lynyrd Skynyrd boogie until his monotone, robotic voice kicks in. Gary Numan may have been taking notes. It's short at 1:53 but then Bowie never overdoes things on this album.
From the album: "Low" (1977)
Chart position: n/a
**17. Boys Keep Swinging**
"When you're a boy, you get a girl" he sings on the bridge to chorus. By this stage in the album, he's lost the need to pretend to be James Brown and go for the soul market and instead employ his original and best stance: guitars, guitars and drums. There's even a bit of feedback near the end and things drizzle out to a close. Bloody exhilirating stuff.
From the album: "Lodger"
Chart position: 7
This song is the blueprint for modern rock music. You can hear the nagging guitars of Coldplay and Snow Patrol, the pained but controlled vocals of the Manic Street Preachers and the drumming and tempo of Oasis. It starts of with a whisper but builds and builds with layers of emotion before Bowie final tirade of "we could be heroes, just for one day....". This song only reached number 24 when it was released. It should have made number one and still be there, mate! Just awesome.
From the album: "Heroes" (1979)
Chart position: 24!
As I said, he had a relatively good 1980s with two number one singles in the form of Let's Dance and Ashes To Ashes. He went a bit bonkers in the mid 80s, starring in Labyrinth and releasing the woeful Never Let Me Down. In the early 90's he formed Tin Machine and started playing all out rock numbers, which the critics hated but the fans liked.
After this album was released at the end of 1998, Bowie was reeling from the critical mauling his last studio album, Earthling, received. Made up of frenetic drum n bass rhythms and dance structures, the album was a commercial failure. He regrouped and between 1999 and 2003 plugged his guitar back in to deliver three back to form albums in the shape of Hours, Heathen and last year's Reality.
Bowie?s career has been covered by several different compilations, some covering three decades or more, some just a brief era. Recently I put his ?The Best of?1969/1974? under the spotlight. This time it?s the turn of the companion CD, ?TBO?1974/1979?. Bowie had an amazing capacity for being one step ahead of the game. By mid-1974 the glam rock era in Britain was running its course, and soul music was about to be the next big thing. It was a smart career move to stop aping the Stones and others, and have a go at being a fully-fledged Sam Cooke or Philly soul singer wannabe. How much he put his distinctive stamp on soul and how much he was merely trying to sound cool and clever is a matter of opinion. Within a year he was making headlines for all the wrong reasons, giving Nazi salutes in public, mouthing off about how what the world needed was another Hitler to put us all in order, and recording an album ?Station To Station? (containing six mainly quite lengthy tracks, of which three appear here, or four if you count an outtake which remained unreleased for over twenty years), which he later admitted he couldn?t even remember having made. After that he decided it was groovy to be German (in musical rather than political terms), and went off to be a one-man Kraftwerk for the rest of the decade. If you ever hated 80s electro-pop, j?accuse David Bowie for making the whole damn thing so trendy. As with its preceding companion volume, the 18 tracks aren?t arranged chronologically. Only four of them made the Top 10 UK singles chart, so maybe it?s significant that two of them open the collection. ?Sound and Vision? (the greatest hit here, No.3 in 1977) and ?Golden Years? are they. I?ve never been able to raise much enthusiasm for either of them, and as for track 3 ? wel
l, you would probably expect a collaboration with John Lennon to be interesting at least. During his semi-retirement in 1974-5, Lennon collaborated with Elton John on a stormin? single ?Whatever Gets You Thru? The Night?. I thought it was great. ?Fame?, on the other hand, is a tedious lumpen slab of guitar-based funk. Dance music with your boots laced up together and concrete on the soles just about sums it up. ?Young Americans? does at least have some spirit to it, and alongside most of the other fare on this disc, songwise it?s quite presentable. But ?John, I?m Only Dancing (Again)? is nothing more than a redundant mess around with the song that formed the basis of his 1972 hit. Seven minutes long, it?s repetitive and screams ?12 inch disco remix? all over it. Yawn. Next. ?Can You Hear Me? and ?Wild Is The Wind? are pure croon-a-Bowie fare. Yes, this is the man who would go on to record a duet with Bing Crosby. ?Wild? lasts six minutes, and was originally made famous by Nina Simone. I?ve never heard her version, but it can?t be any duller than this one. Next comes a live version of ?Knock On Wood?. At least he?s resisted the temptation to do clever things with the arrangement of the original, but Bowie?s voice just isn?t right for it. Eddie Floyd and Otis Redding he wasn?t, is not and never will be. There then follow a batch of lesser-known tracks. ?TVC 15? is a thankfully edited version of another long album track, and there?s a kick to it that?s missing all too often from the rest of what surrounds it. ?1984? is all mock-Philly soul, funky backing track, fizzing strings. Next is the album?s main selling point to trap the Bowie completists, a previously unissued outtake from the ?Station T
;o Station? sessions, Bruce Springsteen?s ?It?s Hard To Be a Saint In The City?, which sounds oddly devoid of all passion. It doesn?t get any better with the next four songs, either. ?Look Back In Anger?, ?The Secret Life Of Arabia?, ?DJ?, ?Beauty And The Beast? and ?Breaking Glass? are all pretty nondescript. Bowie does Bowie, but to these ears at least, without much conviction or enthusiasm. To finish with are two Top 20 hits from the late 70s. ?Boys Keep Swinging? does have a kick of sorts, and the much-revered ?Heroes? is probably the best of a bad bunch, though that'? not saying much. In a recent review of the ?1969/1974? set, I slammed the packaging. This isn?t much better (i.e. no general booklet notes, only the main copyright and composing details et at for each track), though at least the titles are printed in a more legible blue on white instead of white and outline on white. Recommend? Not really. It does sit nicely beside the other disc if you have it, but my guess is that most fans will probably have several of the albums from which these tracks were taken, or else have opted for a more comprehensive ?Best Of?. Incidentally, Amazon have priced ?1969/1974? at £11.99 new, but this one is in identical format and only £6.99. What does that tell you? Capital letters courtesy of: http://www.chuckleweb.co.uk/fixit.php
The Seventies... a very peculiar time in the world's musical history... a period which was probably kicked off by Marc Bolan and his itsy bitsy glitzy boy from Freecloud persona, graduating from his hippy dippy underground roots and the original Tyrannosaurus Rex duo to the electric rock, tinsel and glitter of T Rex and being the subject of every little teenage girl's adolescent fantasy... But it was not Bolan who became the God of Glam Rock, the first tight as a gnat's ass bum to sit on the throne of hedonistic excess in platform heels, but someone else who followed a similar path to the centre of the universe... born plain old David Jones and changing his name to prevent any confusion (though it would have been hard to imagine the two being seen as in ANY WAY similar, the cutesy pie, short ass baby face, and the Pierrot of rock)... sorry, if you're not keeping up with this folks, I'm talking about DAVID BOWIE, the ultra hip and cool face of Glam in those heady days between 1971 and 1976, when the snot and amphetamine caked noses of punk started poking into the trough of adulation and performance. Bowie had risen like a nova to the top with the unexpectedly popular Space Oddity hit single in 1969, but faded just as rapidly into the background and a cult following, but then re-emerged as something much more fascinating and addictive as a fey, androgynous, bisexual queen in a dress (even though he claimed it was a man's dress) in 1971 with the oddly quirky singalong songs of the Hunky Dory album, cementing his place at the high table of rock with the combination of sci fi images and rock outlaw chic that was Ziggy Stardust, the biggest thing to grab our attention in 1972... That album, with its doom laden, end of the world preoccupations that were to form the basis of much of Bowie's work for the next decade or so, catapulted Bowie into the BIG LEAGUE, the ephemeral world of the world's favourite star...
And so it was that Bowie, he of the shaven eyebrows, double slash blue and red flash make up, spiky orange mullet and Japanese influenced clothes, emerged like some asexual butterfly, flaunting his beauty and androgyny in the centre of the gatefold sleeve of 1973's thrilling Aladdin Sane album, with the mysteriously airbrushed and genderless nether regions ... this was a self consciously and self importantly different creation, all form with no substance, lashing together THE IMAGE, standard rock backing and supposedly DEEP lyrics in a shocking mish mash of popular and outlaw culture, far too knowing and lascivious for its own good, but at the same time far too naive and banal to be taken seriously, although IT WAS TAKEN SERIOUSLY, very, very seriously indeed... Aladdin Sane took the same end of the world doomsday scenarios that had fuelled the Ziggy album, but transplanted them to the America of today, peopled them with the decadent and sleazy outsiders of his consciousness, slapped on some sub jazz piano doodlings courtesy of Mike Garson and fashioned a whole new hit record, yearning to show off its substance and artistic credibility, but never losing sight of its diamond hard rock roots and trappings. If you've never heard the songs on this album you can visit http://mfile.akamai.com/6530/rm/muze.download.akamai.com/2890/us/us_rm/3300/334443 _1_06.ram?obj=v10212 for some short samples of tracks from the album, but they're only snatches and you'll only get a scant idea of the vivid majesty and sweep - it's not completely successful, like much of Bowie's work, but it's undoubtedly addictive, seductive and listenable, well worth shelf space in anyone's collection. Aladdin Sane was originally released by RCA on April 13, 1973, with production by Bowie and Ken Scott. Bowie contributed vocals, guitar, harmonica and sax and most of the backing was courtesy of the Spiders, the band that had come together on the Z
iggy album, Mick Ronson (guitar, piano, vocals), Trevor Bolder (bass) and Mick Woodmansey (drums), though you also got Ken Fordham on sax, Garson on piano and Juanita Honey Franklin, Linda Lewis and G A McCormack on backing vocals. But the musical pieces were a world away from the standard rock riffs of Ziggy, an odd combination of jazz, soul and Stones copyist hard pop-rock. The track listing was as follows - 1. Watch That Man 2. Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?) 3. Drive In Saturday 4. Panic In Detroit 5. Cracked Actor 6. Time 7. The Prettiest Star 8. Let's Spend The Night Together 9. The Jean Genie 10. Lady Grinning Soul Rolling Stone magazine gave the album a big write up at the time and I quote the closing paragraph to remind you of the industry and hype surrounding Bowie in those far off days - "Aladdin Sane works over the same themes that were raised in The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars -- issuances from the Bowie schema that date back to The Man Who Sold the World. Bowie is cognisant that religion's geography -- the heavens -- has been usurped, either by science or by actual beings. If by conventional lights Bowie is a lad insane, then as an Aladdin, a conjurer of supernatural forces, he is quite sane. The titles may change from album to album -- from the superman, the homo superior, Ziggy, to Aladdin -- but the visions (the elimination of gender differences, the inevitability of Armageddon, and the conquering of death and time as we know them) -- and Bowie's rightful place in them -- remain constant." All that sort of verbal diarrhoea is pretty characteristic of the popular hype and style of the time, but it does convey the sham mysticism and mythology that followed Bowie round like a bad smell at the time - it was shallow and self importantly verbose, like a lot of Bowie's own work, but it certainly sounded impressive, again l
ike his own work. Time is all cod-sinister, preoccupation with death and mortality, echoing themes that Bowie has used before to a Jacques Brel stylee, "In quaaludes and red wine demanding Billy Dolls and other friends of mine". The Billy Doll is the New York Doll Billy Murcia who died in London in 1972. Such contemporary references are scattered liberally throughout the album, Mick Jagger and Twiggy in Drive In Saturday, Bolan in The Prettiest Star, Benny Goodman in Watch That Man and Che Guevara in Panic In Detroit. It gives the thing a very stylised feel, trapped very much in that era, and yet equally as timeless as all of Bowie's work. Time in particular is a big favourite of mine, and Aladdin Sane is packed with others, the heavy riff, stomp bump and grind of The Jean Genie, the piano soaked jazz ballad of Lady Grinning Soul, the effervescent but stylish pop of the Drive-In Saturday single, and the sex obsessed horror of Cracked Actor among others. Still you feel that its the surface sheen and veneer that is more important than the substance of the songs - so the deeply ominous brackets - (1913-1938-197?) - providing the suffix to Aladdin Sane clumsily predicts the forthcoming horrors of a Third World War while the song has only passing references to the theme... No matter, these are just minor irritations and scabs on a thoroughly entertaining work which made Bowie very big global property and formed the material for his so called farewell tour as he put Ziggy theatrically to the sword. It's a vital piece in the jigsaw of the man's career, and deserving of your attention. Look beneath the stylistic metaphors and shock art of the covers and the Ziggy persona and enjoy a collection of deep power and strength... RECOMMENDED
This is a great album even though it only contains six tracks. This album is based around Bowies Thin White Duke persona. The title track is excellent displaying great guitar solos and sound effects although the lyrics are difficult to comprehend. Golden years is a fantastic single displaying Bowies vocal prowess, this song starts out with a blues beat but soars into a great uplifting song. TVC15 sound like something Spandau Ballet could have written and is the weakest song. Word On A Wing features some great Jazz Piano playing. Stay is a great Jive beat number and onther uplifting song. The real show stealer is Wild Is The Wind, a Johnny Mathis song that Bowie crafted into his own. The end vocals are very powerful and Bowie strutts his stuff on this song like a young Sinatra. In latter years Bowie admitted that Wild Is The Wind was one of his most difficult rpojects ever and from the various take the one on the album is the first version Bowie performed. In all a short but excellent album.
A haunting, beautiful album, rich in ghostly piano, grinding guitar and all manner of curiosities. “Watch That Man” seems to be song in the style of the Rolling Stones: blues piano, rawkess guitar and harmonising backing vocals, it rocks along nicely with ample opportunities for singing into your hair brush and strumming along on your air guitar. One to put on when you feeling a bit sucked of energy. “Aladdin Sane” slinks from a completely different place: ethereal vocals and piano tremble from the speakers before whisking you off to the realms where mere mortals fear to tread, one of the highpoints of his career. The piano prompts me to stillness every time I hear it, making the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, one of the finest moments in rock. “Drive in Saturday” ambles along nicely with an almost comical tone. Intriguing lyrics and a definite 50’s doo-wop stance, it nods to the space boy, futurama interest that threads its way through his career. “Panic In Detroit” glares with the paranoia and apocalypse that will become the “Diamond Dogs” album. Grinding guitar over desperate vocals it descends into scrawling guitars and feed back. “Cracked Actor” style picks up where “Panic In Detroit” left off, but the lyrics are more introspective and prophetic. The lyrics used as captions for many an article on Bowie. “Time” continues the theme of ghostly piano, wailing guitar and tales of morality, loss, hollowness and the passing of time. “The Prettiest Star” also has a hint of doo-wop with added cynicism. “Let’s Spend The Night Together” a curious cover with manic piano and memorable for no other reason. I was never convinced about “Jean Genie”, I can never make my mind up, whether I like it or not. I might be being generous in saying that this is a good record but I have just heard it too much. But it does tend to grate a
little. As with some of his other albums, the choice of single is obvious enough, short and catchy etc. But it is arguably the worst track on the album. “Lady Grinning Soul” returns to the place that we got “Aladdin Sane” from, seemingly from a different realm: beautiful piano, answered by equally appealing guitar. The outstanding piano is inherent through this album but on these two tracks it is sublime. Oh yes I forgot to mention, the album cover is one of the most memorable.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Watch That Man
2 Aladdin Sane
3 Drive In Saturday
4 Panic In Detroit
5 Cracked Actor
7 Prettiest Star
8 Let's Spend The Night Together
9 Jean Genie
10 Lady Grinning Soul