Sunday 29th July
BOWIE – Now there is a name to conjure with, or at least become a knife thrower…boom boom. Apparently David Jones chose the name Bowie because of confusion with the lead singer of the Monkees; and what a good choice it was. He joins that handful who are known simply by one word – Dylan, Joni, Elton etc. Well, I had heard of him. The single ‘Space Oddity’ came out in 1969 and it was great – but seemed a one-off. Like most people I became an instant fan when I saw him singing ‘Starman’ in 1972 (probably in black and white – not sure). I instantly bought Ziggy, then worked backwards.
Only three years earlier he had released his first album proper, now known as ‘Space Oddity’. And what a lovely strange thing it is. It was far too weird (even for 1969) to be a success – and it shows just how far he had travelled in those three short years. I must have played this (and most of his records) hundreds of times, but this one still surprises. The sweet melodies, the even sweeter singing and the brilliant songs. It really belongs to the Summer of Love, two years earlier, but is also timeless. Best songs – ‘Space Oddity’ which still sounds as fresh today, ‘Janine’ and ‘Memory Of A Free Festival’
In 1970 he released The Man Who Sold The World.. Now, for whatever reason I have never loved this record. I listen to it every time I re-visit the kingdom of Bowie, but along with one or two others it is unloved. It is certainly harder in sound than his first real album, a bit more guitar driven. But I think it is the songs. Apart from the title track I don’t think they are really so good. Anyway, Lulu (of all people) had a massive hit a couple of years later with the title song – and her version is even better. The album flopped. Nowadays that would be it. Two albums – no real sales, drop the artist. But Bowie was allowed to carry on. He was beginning to make waves, and John Peel and others at the Beeb let him have sessions (see later Bowie at the Beeb) and his next record did not disappoint. Hunky Dory started the wave, which I caught a few months later. It is my Favourite Bowie record. There is charm and naivety about it, and yet it is timeless and beautiful and full of wonderful songs. From the opener “Changes” (a forewarning if ever there was one) to the haunting closer “The Bewlay Brothers’ it is varied and brilliant. ‘Life on Mars’, ‘Kooks’ and ‘Quicksand’ really stand out. And now Bowie was knocking of the door of fame; he had recruited Mick Ronson on guitar, and his mates soon joined to become the Spiders…and they started recording the next album as soon as Hunky Dory was finished.