Monday, 8 January 2018

Bowie Week II: Monday

Today, David Bowie would have turned 71 years old. While it's difficult to believe he could ever have been as old as 71, it's even more difficult to believe he's no longer with us.

At the start of 1972, David Bowie had enjoyed a couple of big hits and was noted as a rising star. By the end of the same year, he was the hottest property on planet Earth. The reason? 'The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars', a concept album based on the premise of an alien rock star coming to our planet to save us from imminent destruction. Bowie played the title role and exploded into the pop music stratosphere. The album's apocalyptic opening track set the scene, and it sounded pretty ominous, telling of the oncoming doom of the human race. In 2002, 20-odd daft Texans wearing robes, led by a guy called Tim deLaughter, covered 5 Years in the BBC studios. They looked like a cult singing about the oncoming doom of the human race. Now that's pretty ominous...

Soul Love is probably the deepest, most profound moment on 'Ziggy' for me. Our hero seems to be questioning the very point of 'love', what it is exactly, and why it is he feels so alone. At least, that's what I get out of it. I'm probably wrong. For some reason, Bowie seldom played it live, yet it remains a bit of a favourite among fans. Here, the divine Cerys Matthews adds her gorgeous Welsh lilt and a bit of an electronic groove to the song. This appeared on the b-side of her debut solo single Open Roads.

I was a teenage Frankie fan. Although I knew David Bowie from Ashes to Ashes, Let's Dance, etc, I wasn't so up to speed on his earlier stuff and this was my introduction to Suffragette City. The song's meaning is ambiguous to say the least. Some say it's about drugs, some say it's sex, some say it's both and some say it's neither. Either way, it remains one of the best-known songs on 'Ziggy'. Frankie's version is imbued with Trevor Horn's trademark electro production. It sounded great in 1986 when it came out as a b-side on the Rage Hard 12", but in 2018 it's rather lacking the angst-ridden energy of the original and sounds pretty dated and weak. To these ears, anyway. Cerys wins today.

The glam years have begun. More tomorrow...


  1. Cerys is the best of the lot, as you say, but I was once a fan of the Polyphonic Spree. Never heard this cover and have always had a thing for the original. So, for me, a closer contest. You’re doing Mr. Bowie proud so far.

  2. Great bit of writing Robster.

    Working backwards...FGTH really has dated appallingly. But then again it's one of those songs I think is impossible to cover without sounding ridiculous.

    Cerys??? She really is a trasure isn't she??? Loved it.

    The Spree never lit my fire at all so I came to this with a prejudice. Didn't do anything to change my views on them.