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There have been many David Bowie compilation albums released over the years. The Best Of David Bowie 1969/1974 (originally released in 1997) is certainly up there with the best of them. It contains 20 tracks, nearly everyone a classic.
It kicks off brilliantly with The Jean Genie, with its marvellous bluesy riff and it's followed by Space Oddity, Bowie's first hit single in the UK, number 5 in 1969 around the time of man's first landing on the moon ironically.
Starman is an absolute classic and has a memorable chorus of "There's a Starman waiting in the sky. He's told us not to blow it 'cause he thinks it's all worthwhile."
Ziggy Stardust is next. I believe the Bauhaus version was superior but that is a hell of a brave statement.
John. I'm Only Dancing was apparently a song about a gay relationship and is track 5. However this is the "Sax" version which was released as a single in April 1973. Ken Fordham played the saxophone on this.
Rebel Rebel with its wonderfully catchy guitar lick and fantastic lyrics ("You've got your mother in a whirl. You're not sure if you're a boy or a girl") is next up. Then it's the Rolling Stones cover, Let's Spend The Night Together from the Aladdin Sane album.
Suffragette City (from the Ziggy Stardust) album) is another belter of a song and will always be remembered for the "Wham bam, thank you maam!" line which has been sampled many times since. Indeed Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine borrowed it for their 30 Something album (1992).
Oh! You Pretty Things lyrically has to be one of Bowie's finest moments. "Wake up you sleepy head. Put on some clothes, shake up your bed. Put another log on the fire for me. I've made some breakfast and coffee", he sings.
The inclusion of Velvet Goldmine from the 1971 Ziggy Stardust sessions is a master stroke. It was on the B-side of the 1975 re-issue of Space Oddity which reached number 1 in the UK singles chart.
Drive-In Saturday is a song about the inhabitants of a post apocalyptic world who have forgotten how to make babies. So they watch porn films to help remind them how to have sex! A wonderful song with a catchy chorus. This is the halfway point of the album.
The classics just keep on coming....Diamond Dogs, Changes (such a significant title regards Bowie, a sort of autobiographical statement perhaps?) and the under-rated cover of Sorrow (The McCoys). Then The Prettiest Star which Bowie apparently wrote for his ex-wife Angela Barnett (Angie Bowie).
Life On Mars? Is another lyrical gem. "It's on America's tortured brow. That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow. Now the workers have struck for fame. 'Cause Lennon's on sale again" for example.
The haunting Aladdin Sane with a memorable piano performance by Mike Garson and The Man Who Sold The World (Lulu did a very respectable cover version of this song) are both absolutely amazing.
Rock'N'Roll Suicide (from Ziggy Stardust) and All The Young Dudes (best known for Mott The Hoople's version which was a UK top ten hit in August 1972) conclude this hugely enjoyable compilation.
The Best Of David Bowie 1969/1974 will set you back only £9 or thereabouts in most record stores. It's brilliant value for money.
I?ve never been a really committed fan of Bowie. While I can admire much of his work, and while it?s impossible to deny the musical influence he?s had, there?s something about him that doesn?t quite fit into place for me. Too self-consciously arty, cold, pretentious, and sometimes hideously overrated, I guess. Anyway, as with any artist of that stature, there are scores of compilations to choose from. As far as I?m concerned, ?The Best of?1969/1974? has to be the best, simply because it concentrates on what I always thought was his best period. Most of the classic Bowie singles and a sometimes decent, sometimes ho-hum selection of album cuts make up this 20-track set. It?s only a minor quibble, but the songs don?t appear chronologically ? ours not to reason why. Opening track is ?The Jean Genie?, which over thirty years later still stands out as one of his best. Maybe the riff was a rip-off from Muddy Waters? ?I?m a Man?, but who cares? After ?Space Oddity? (Top 10 in 1969 and No. 1 on reissue in 1975), it was his highest-charting single of the 70s ? and the ethereal charm of ?Space Oddity? never fades. (D?you remember the famous stylophone, as advertised on TV by Rolf Harris years ago? Listen carefully to ?SO? and you?ll hear it ? though sadly not played by Rolf). Most of the other major hits from Bowie?s glam-rock years are back to back at the start of this CD ? the similarly spacey ?Starman?, the slower-paced ?Ziggy Stardust?, and the rather lightweight but still likeable ?John, I?m Only Dancing?, probably most memorable for the zany guitar feedback ending. I?m less keen on ?Rebel Rebel?, which to me sounds like a poor man?s attempt at rewriting the Stones? ?I Can?t Get No Satisfaction?. Perhaps u
nwisely, the song that follows ?Rebel? is?.an abysmal cover version of ?Let?s Spend The Night Together?. The original is a classic song and can be done decently by others ? ex-Family gravel-voiced singer Roger Chapman did a wonderful job on it in 1979 ? but I?ll pass on this one, which has little going for it except arguably the cack-handed piano assaults that make up the intro. Luckily the next one makes amends. ?Suffragette City? was only a B-side at the time (of ?Starman?) but for me it?s probably the best thing he ever recorded. It?s only rock?n?roll, but I like it. Great chorus and superb brass section - and the fact that my father-in-law was one of the musicians involved has nothing to do with my endorsement ? well, perhaps a bit. Tracks 9-20 include a batch of songs made famous by others, fair to middling album tracks, and a motley batch of hits. ?Oh You Pretty Things? is quite cute, but I always thought Peter Noone did a far better job of it. ?Velvet Goldmine? is enigmatic and chilling, before he overdid the enigmatic and chilling bit and it became boring. ?Drive-in Saturday? is subtle and menacing, and one of the best slow numbers he ever came up with. ?Diamond Dogs? is another attempt to mimic the Stones, but better this than ?Rebel Rebel?. Mick Ronson?s guitar really bites (like a dog, I suppose), and I?ll even forgive them for what almost ends up as a carbon copy of ?Brown Sugar? (especially the sax-led break shortly before it fades out). ?Changes? was never a hit on single release, as Bowie was still a cult rather than household name at the time of issue in early 1972, but it still ranks as a great song at a time when he was producing little that came below standard. From there, it?s none too impressive. His cover version of ?Sorrow?
always sounded anaemic after the original, a 1966 hit for the Merseys. ?The Prettiest Star? and ?Life on Mars?? redeem things somewhat, but I can?t raise much enthusiasm for the trilogy of ?Aladdin Sane? (uninspired and repetitive), ?The Man Who Sold The World? (worthy but boring, not a patch on the spirited Lulu version ? on which he played sax) and ?Rock?n?Roll Suicide? (dull and pretentious). Finally, there?s the writer?s own version of ?All The Young Dudes?. You?ll probably be familiar with the magnificent Mott the Hoople version, with Ian Hunter snarling out the lyrics as if he really means them. I don?t want to deny the original dude his due, but this one sounds like he?s just reading them off the lyric sheet. It works in places, especially if you want a sample of the man at his peak, so I?ll just stretch to four stars. The packaging, by the way, is a definite case of ?could do better?. A few arty computer-tweaked pics on the insert, and on the back, a track listing with white letters thinly outlined in light blue on a white background. Very very cool and arty ? but not that easy to read. EMI usually take pride in packaging their reissues, and they might have seen fit to provide something in the way of decent booklet notes, in addition to the usual copyright, composer credits, year details and so on for each track. If you?re a mega fan, I?m sure this review won?t put you off. If like me, you feel he?s sort-of OK and you really ought to have something by him or else your music collection can?t really be regarded as totally comprehensive, or you need a 'crash course for the ravers', this one should fill the gap. But don?t expect too much. Price below courtesy of Amazon, but keep an eye on the special purchase racks. Capital lett
ers courtesy of: http://www.chuckleweb.co.uk/fixit.php. Is there life on Charles?
Spotting this CD at my local Woolies for a fiver triggered an impulse I couldn't resist. I'd always wanted one of the Thin White Duke's albums, and getting a compilation of gems from what many regard as his best, and most popular period for a reduction from £13 would've just been pure stupidity if I didn't flash some coins pronto. It's hard finding any fault with this album. It's true it's a best of so duds naturally shouldn't be there, but this is one of the few best of compilations that I own where I can't pick out anything that's even mildly weak - from 20 tracks! The beginning bunch of songs are great classics, as are the middle and end songs. Bowie it seems couldn't do much wrong in this timeframe. Accompanying the trademark space-white artwork is a forward from Kevin Cann briefly explaining this CD of gems in typical but welcomed part-teacher's-petting. Bar 'Let's The Spend The Night Together', all other tracks are written by Bowie himself. There is quite a desirable uniform production to the songs (mostly because the same handful of producers and so forth were with David throughout the time-frame here) and so it feels like it could be just one particular very good LP rather than a best-of. It's also nice that thought was put into the order of the tracks rather than just lumping them chronologically. One listen to the album is all it takes to get hooked, and feel as if you've heard the songs already (if not) and remember them fondly. My copy is currently playing as I write, and the repeat function is checked. Once heard you just love, you can't knock it - I'm sorry, but if you can't even somewhat appreciate the songs here, you probably don't like music very much. It's also easy to see where many influenced artists half-inched certain things: Marilyn Manson's glammy ' Mechanical Animals' period, Supergrass'
9;Pumping On Your Stereo' (which does sound a lot like 'Rebel Rebel') etc. Few artists of Bowie's period were as popular, influential or as great as Bowie at this period. This is plain to see in opening swaggerer 'The Jean Genie', and the futurustic space-folk-trilogy that is 'Space Oddity', 'Starman' and 'Ziggy Stardust'. Further on a more upbeatness and grandieur dirtiness emerges in 'John, I'm Only Dancing', the Lou Reed like 'Rebel Rebel' and the Jagger/Richards pennded 'Let's Spend The Night Together' - a firm nod to what has preceeded and what is to come. 'Suffragette City' entertains us with a boogie blues, while 'Oh! You Pretty Things' incites Bowie's long known theatrical charms. 'Velvet Goldmine' gives us another trademark swagger that ends with a sinister panto laugh. 'Drive-In Saturday', as you'd expect is Bowie's take on classic 50's rock 'n' roll with a slight zippy 70's-spacey production. 'Diamond Dogs' sounds as if it was recorded live, or atleast the start of it and gives us another little stab of Rolling Stone/Velvet Underground-edness. The grand untirable classic that is 'Changes' follows this. 'Sorrow' sounds a bit like a lightly flamenco-ised Abba, and is probably the only near thing near weak on this album, but still. 'The Prettiest Star' features easily digestible strumming guitar, tinky xylophones, warm string atmospheres and a few bluesy guitar licks. You could possibly imagine Morecambe & Wise doing some kind of weird dance to it - I don't know why I used that description, but hey it's apt to me! 'Life On Mars?' is my current fave song at the moment, sounding like the score to some kind of sinister play with heavy grating strings clashing against some icy piano work. Very epic sounding and fulf
illing! 'Aladdin Sane' follows this (possibly word playing "Ooh, we love a lad insane?" - the peculiar love for suffering artists, maybe?) with a simple beat and Bowie sounding ghostly. The song bows out with some nifty piano work that sounds as arty, discordant and deranged as anything more modern. 'The Man Who Sold The World' (which first came to my attention via Nirvana's cover as with most people of my generation) follows, sounding spooky, with it's rising space ascent scales, a bluesy riff and eery organ and scratchy percussion work. 'Rock 'N' Roll Suicide' is a bit like Radiohead's 'Exit Music (For A Film)' take a simple strummy guitar pattern, emotionally ramble along to it until it bursts into a theatrical glammy ad for The Samaritans. 'All The Young Dudes' ends the album with it's descending tones, memorable sing-a-long chorus and words that document the times, even now. Bowie's lyrical excellence matches his tunes, finely honed by his peers. Basically, if you don't have this album - you just must get it!. There's no excuse as it's a solidly great album, featuring gems from a great period by a great and very influential artist, and for a fiver at Woolies it's prime time. I'm off to listen to it again for the nth time. I dare anyone to truly not like this even a bit. That's how much I recommend it!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Jean Genie
2 Space Oddity
4 Ziggy Stardust
5 John,I'm only dancing
6 Rebel rebel
7 Lets spend the night together
8 Suffragette city
9 Oh you pretty things
10 Velvet goldmine
11 Drive-in Saturday
12 Diamond dogs
15 The prettiest star
16 Life on Mars?
17 Aladdin sane
18 The man who sold the world
19 Rock 'n' roll suicide
20 All the young dudes