Thursday, 11 January 2018

Bowie Week II: Thursday

Ah, the Berlin Trilogy. One of Bowie's most experimental, yet fertile periods. There's an equal spread of great songs and strangeness to be found on those three records. Personally, I'd settle for a 'Berlin Highlights' album, rather than listen to all three in full. Don't hate me - I'm a massive Bowie fan, as you know, so that's not blasphemy, OK? One song that would be sure to feature - in fact it would open the record - is Sound And Vision, one of my Top 10 Bowie moments for sure. Franz Ferdinand recorded this rather splendid version for the BBC to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Radio One in 2007. Those backing singers? Why, it's none other than Girls Aloud. Honestly!

For me, "Heroes" is the best record of the trilogy. Oh yeah, I said as much here. The title track is one of Bowie's best known and most universally loved songs, but I'm going to throw a curveball and plump for this take on the album's closing number. B.E.F. consisted of two members of Heaven 17 who had also been in the Human League. They made four albums, including their own trilogy 'Music Of Quality And Distinction', which consisted of cover versions featuring guest vocalists. Volume One included this version of Secret Life Of Arabia with the voice of Billy McKenzie. Wait a mo, wasn't he here yesterday? Oh no matter, I'm sure you won't mind...

'Lodger' has never been a critics favourite, but a lot of fans like it a lot. The Swede, for instance. Some really good songs on it, for sure. It marked the end of the Bowie/Eno partnership, but they clearly had a lot of fun working together, as some of 'Lodger''s tracks suggest. Boys Keep Swinging is a bit of a throwback to Dave's gender-bending glam rock past self and is probably the main highlight. A Camp was the solo project of Nina Persson, singer with Swedish popsters The Cardigans. Around the time of her second album, she released an EP of cover versions entitled - wait for it - 'Covers' (see what she did there?) It featured a more than decent airing of Boys Keep Swinging.

Tough one to call today. If you pushed me, I'd probably go for Franz Ferdinand, mainly because I really really love Sound And Vision. I suppose we ought to deal with the elephant in the room while we're at it: "Heroes". So many covers of that over the years, so where is it? Well, hold that thought 'til the weekend. That's all I'm saying for now. In the meantime, as a special treat, here's one of the most epic covers you'll ever see/hear. Beck is no stranger to thinking outside the box when it comes to music, so here's how he does Sound And Vision. Well, he and 157 other musicians playing everything from musical saws to gamelan instruments. There's even a yodeller and an Alpenhorn.


  1. The scale and ambition of Beck's 'Sound & Vision' cover knocks everything else out of the water, but FF's version is pretty decent too.

  2. Don't know if you are aware of this Robster

    1. I remember the original but didn't know about the new recital. Thanks CC.

  3. Just as this was Bowie’s most interesting period, turns out this is the most interesting day of covers. These are all keepers.

  4. Here again Billy MacKenzie sings a song and there is no argument. He OWNS it. There was a fascinating spark between Billy and Martyn Ware that created some amazing music. But man this one is just devastatingly good!

  5. "Personally, I'd settle for a 'Berlin Highlights' album, rather than listen to all three in full."

    I'm in agreement with you there!

    Three stand-out covers today. FF is inspired...and it must have been huge fun to make.

    The Beck clip was new to me. Just wondering how long it took him to pull it all together in his head and then assemble the musicians, rehearse them and then play the damn thing. Fascinating stuff. And genius.