Tuesday, 1 September 2020

David Bowie

"I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human. I thought, 'Fuck that. I want to be a superhuman'" - David Bowie

Where do I begin with David Bowie? On the 6th of July in 1972 when I saw him on Top Of The Pops doing Starman. I was thirteen years old. He was completely new to me. funnily enough, I had no memory of Space Oddity from 1969, despite knowing a lot of chart songs from back to the mid-late sixties. That one had strangely passed me by. Now, in 1972, though, I was like many, fascinated by what I saw on the TV. Contrary to many people's experience, who found their parents despising him and his glam/androgynous appearance, my Mother loved him. A few months later I was really into the John, I'm Only Dancing single and my relationship with David Bowie was taking its first baby steps.

In December 1972, I have this memory (included in my Aladdin Sane review). The Jean Genie single, with its killer riff, had crashed into our collective consciousnesses back in those dark winter weeks. I distinctly remember one evening at my youth club in Aylesbury, Bucks and one of the other boys came running up to me, beside himself with excitement - "what do you think of David Bowie?" he breathlessly enquired. The boy was Pete Trewavas, later to achieve fame as the bass player in Marillion. Sorry about that anecdote but it is true and I always remember it. I went out and bought The Jean Genie the next day with my paper round money.

For more information on David Bowie's history at my local music club when growing up, Friars, Aylesbury, check out the excellent https://www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk.

Two other excellent blogs that discuss Bowie in detail are and may well be of interest are:-




Do I really need to say any more about this remarkable artist who I stuck with, through his various changes of appearance and musical style for over forty more years until his tragic death on 10 January 2016. Several artists have provided a soundtrack to my life, not just David Bowie, but none so varied, so creative. He truly was one of the greatest artists of his time, or indeed of any time.

This is where it all began for David Bowie, initially with a seemingly endless supply of frankly bizarre, often child-like songs that did their best to hide his latent genius. A couple of perplexing years were followed by two excellent albums, however, which are now recognised as the truly beguiling pieces of work they were. Here we go, then - the great David Bowie, from the beginning.

I have split Bowie's career into six phases. Click on the relevant image to read the reviews from that period:-


  1. I think I might be the only person who has pin-ups in his top 5 Bowie albums, or at least just below. To me it's like a companion to Aladdin sane because the band plays real rock and roll and also it goes with all the Retro style songs on Aladdin sane. Like the 50's style songs like Drive-In Saturday and prettiest star. And four or five of the songs are as great as any songs he ever came up with himself. And the three or four lousy tracks were just lousy songs to begin with. He really couldn't do much with them. But maybe I'm not a good judge because Diamond Dogs is my favorite Bowie album. Or close to it.

  2. My classic period for Bowie was my initiation into his music aged thirteen-fourteen - 1972-1975 - so Ziggy, Aladdin, Pin Ups and Dogs are all going to figure high in my favourites.

    I agree about Pin Ups, it is a good, vibrant album, immaculately played. I particularly like Aynsley Dunbar's pounding drum sound. At the time, though, everyone found it a bit underwhelming and we all pretended to like it more than actually did, simply because it was Bowie.

  3. Outside is the only Bowie album I like since Lodger. I don't really like any of those other supposed comeback albums. I think outside is the first time he had a bunch of interesting songs in years. It's way too long and they should have got rid of four or five of the songs. I actually like all the little interludes and segues and stuff. They're the most interesting bits. And about five or six of the long songs are good. Several of them suck though. I agree with what you said about his eighties albums not being totally bad. Each of them had at least one or two songs that I don't mind hearing. I think they're mostly bad but not totally bad. That goes for his 90s albums too. They're mostly rotten. The same goes for the 2000s. Even when the music on them was slightly interesting almost none of the songs themselves were. I agree also that Tin Machine wasn't as bad as people make out it was.

  4. As a more of a rock man, I am on unsteady ground when artists start dabbling in 'dance' music and more contemporary sounds. This applies to Bowie's work in the nineties and onwards. To be honest, I rarely listen to that stuff, despite David Bowie being (arguably) my favourite artist of all time. I really like The Next Day, however, and the haunting bleakness of Blackstar.

    As you say, Tin Machine were actually quite good. They rocked. I will take their two albums over some of the Bowie nineties/early 2000s output.

    A problem with many CD age albums is that they are too long. I am a fan of the thirty minute sixties albums or the forty-odd minute seventies ones.

  5. That's funny because I used to be a rock guy and I still am when it comes to old music, but starting in the late 90s I became an electronic guy and now the only new music I listen to is electronic or dance music basically. I rarely hear any new rock music that I like. But even electronic music has kind of taken a shit in the last 10 years or so compared to what it used to be before that. And I barely feel like keeping up with even that kind of music anymore. And I agree with you about Earthling. Even though drum and bass was at its peak right about then and I was into it, Earthling just sounded like a bunch of crappy Bowie songs grafted onto somebody's drum and bass tracks. But surprisingly I still listen to outside almost as much as I listen to Bowie's 70s albums. But that's the only one. And once in awhile Black Star but not very much anymore.

  6. I just can’t really get into dance/club music, never having been to a club in my life! It is just not my thing, man. My time was many years earlier.

    It is good that you listen to some Bowie, though, whatever period it is from. One of his strengths is his sheer diversity.

  7. Americard was a credit card. I don't think it's around anymore or else it's what they now call the American Express card.

  8. I could never get into scary monsters either. But it really seems to be a favorite nowadays. The only track that's up to his seventies stuff is ashes to ashes. And the only other one I enjoy is the title song a little bit. I think the songs are just too slight. They're not even as good as Lodger. And the singing and guitars just sound like they're trying to be weird for the sake of being weird. Like maybe he was trying to impress the post-punk crowd or something. idk. I like it about as much as I like Let's Dance, and that is not much. The only great record he did during this period was the version of cat people on the movie soundtrack album. That's what I think anyway.

  9. Thanks for the Americard info. I will amend the review accordingly.

    I agree about Scary Monsters and Let's Dance. Most fans seem to love the former in particular, and they hate Never Let Me Down which, perversely, I really like. Then again, I'm not most fans - I have no time for The Beach Boys' Smiley Smile and it wouldn't particularly worry me if I never heard Sgt. Pepper again! Oh, ok maybe once a year, but I'm sure you get my point.