Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > The MB Reader > Album Reviews
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 06-23-2009, 08:31 AM   #21 (permalink)
Moodswings n' Roundabouts
 
Piss Me Off's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: At the corner of Dude and Catastrophe
Posts: 4,510
Default

This isn't rock 'n' roll, this is genocide!

Diamond Dogs (1974)



1. Future Legend
2. Diamond Dogs
3. Sweet Thing
4. Candidate
5. Sweet Thing (Reprise)
6. Rebel Rebel
7. Rock & Roll With Me
8. We Are The Dead
9. 1984
10. Big Brother
11. Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family

Diamond Dogs is one of the many albums finding Bowie in a transitional period, this time torn between the glam rock of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane and the soul influences which were present with Young Americans. Perhaps coming only a year after Aladdin Sane affects it because the album isn't nearly the classic that Sane is. It is clearly unfocused, despite the concept (living in a Orwellian Big Brother society and the turmoils that come from it) being strong throughout.

The album starts off strong enough, the title track is a slow burning glam rock number harking back to his earlier albums just as much as Ziggy and Sane, recalling that classic strut with Bowie's distinctive saxophone. This classic sound is soon taken over with the low tempo ballad Sweet Thing, a gorgeous piano/acoustic driven number punctuated by some beautiful echoey guitar effects. Definitely downbeat but a highlight nonetheless.
The song drifts into Candidate, a song that certainly has its own groove but i feel is far too short to create a lasting appeal, the song builds and seems as if its going to blast into another Bowie glam classic but instead retreats back into a reprise of Sweet Thing. Perhaps if it had decided to stick around the song would be better, I can't help but feel Bowie had a few too many ideas here, shown by the messy guitar breakdown at the end of the reprise.

I'm sure i don't have to say anything about Rebel Rebel, the obvious album highight and evidence that Mick Ronson's presence isn't completely missed. One of Bowie's finest singles overall, i pity anyone who rejects this song as being anything less than superb.

I have to admit i have a huge soft spot for the enormously cheesy Rock 'n' Roll With Me. It's completely horrific with that bloody organ and overblown chorus but i can't help but like it. The perfect drunken singalong for a world gone mad!

With a bit more polish We Are The Dead would be a superb song, with a fine refrain harking back to his best glam moments. That said the guitar plays around aimlessly and much in the same way as Candidate nothing really kicks off, the entire thing sounds a little half baked. 1984 follows and is certainly the black sheep of the album, introducing the soul and disco infused style that Bowie would dabble with more in later albums. It's catchy no doubt and props to him for having the balls to do it but i can't help but feel it's out of place here. I'm sure i'd accept it on a later album but i feel he's punching above his weight here.

Big Brother is more like it, what starts as a desolate song in the vein of the soundscapes to come on albums like Low bursts into a fine chorus. The synths fit the hopeless subject matter well without compromising Bowie's traditional glam feel. One of my personal highlights. The song slides into Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family which serves as a pleasant enough but miles from classic ending, should have really been tacked onto the end of Big Brother as a short refrain at the end (The Bewlay Brothers style) and for god sakes get rid of that stupid skipping thing at the end.




Diamond Dogs is far from a terrible album. Spare some terrific highlights though the album feels lacklustre, perhaps even unfinished, especially after a run of such fantastic albums. Whether this can be blamed on the lack of the creative force of Mick Ronson or simply the chameleon being caught between colours and punching above his weight is open to debate, but throughout it feels like pieces are missing. Any Bowie fan should definitely have it in their collections but sadly Diamond Dogs is a slip up after a run of some blinding albums.

Highlights: Diamond Dogs, Rebel Rebel, Big Brother

6/10
__________________


Last FM
Rate Yr Music
Muxtape
Piss Me Off is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-25-2009, 04:39 PM   #22 (permalink)
why bother?
 
Bulldog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 4,826
Default

Oh yeah, it's me next isn't it? I'll get Young Americans done tomorrow.

Interesting review of Diamond Dogs there. It's actually in my top tier of Bowie albums, but I can see why it might not be so popular with some. It does seem in some places that the guy was taking a bit too much on, especially considering virtually every instrument on the album was recorded by him alone.
Bulldog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-25-2009, 04:48 PM   #23 (permalink)
The Sexual Intellectual
 
Urban Hat€monger ?'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Somewhere cooler than you
Posts: 18,449
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Piss Me Off View Post
The song drifts into Candidate, a song that certainly has its own groove but i feel is far too short to create a lasting appeal, the song builds and seems as if its going to blast into another Bowie glam classic but instead retreats back into a reprise of Sweet Thing. Perhaps if it had decided to stick around the song would be better, I can't help but feel Bowie had a few too many ideas here, shown by the messy guitar breakdown at the end of the reprise.
That's my favourite part of the album
__________________



Urb's RYM Stuff

Most people sell their soul to the devil, but the devil sells his soul to Nick Cave.
Urban Hat€monger ? is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-25-2009, 04:52 PM   #24 (permalink)
why bother?
 
Bulldog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 4,826
Default

There's actually a mega-rare demo called Zion which is where that guitar breakdown comes from. It's about 5 minutes long, has Bowie la-la-ing where he'd put the lyrics (which I don't think he actually did do), and you can hear a lot of snippets of musical ideas he'd use throughout the album. I've got it on CD somewhere, but it'd be one of those needle-in-a-haystack scenarios to actually try and find it.
Bulldog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-25-2009, 11:44 PM   #25 (permalink)
Occams Razor
 
Son of JayJamJah's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: End of the Earth
Posts: 2,470
Default

I still think you should ante up and do one eventually Urban, when time permits.
__________________
Me, Myself and I United as One

Quote:
Originally Posted by cardboard adolescent View Post
i prefer foreplay. the orgasm is overrated.
If you're posting in the music forums make sure to be thoughtful and expressive, if you're posting in the lounge ask yourself "is this something that adds to the conversation?" It's important to remember that a lot of people use each thread. You're probably not as funny or clever as you think, I know I'm not.

My Van Morrison Discography Thread
Son of JayJamJah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2009, 06:29 PM   #26 (permalink)
why bother?
 
Bulldog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 4,826
Default

Young Americans (1975)


1. Young Americans
2. Win
3. Fascination
4. Right
5. Somebody Up There Likes Me
6. Across the Universe
7. Can You Hear Me?
8. Fame

After the release of Diamond Dogs in 1974, Davey B here toured it through the US in a very theatrical and groundbreaking way. Besides this, the experiments with soul which began with Drive-In Saturday off of Aladdin Sane were taken to the stage, with Bowie adapting several parts of his back catalogue with a Philly soul/r'n'b/disco sounds (leading to some quite wonderful versions of songs like Rock 'n' Roll Suicide, as well as putting covers such as the Ohio Players' Here Today Gone Tomorrow and Knock On Wood into his setlists). Further hints of a move down the blue-eyed soul avenue were dropped on the said album, with songs like 1984 and Rock 'n' Roll With Me showing off a lot of the necessary characteristics.

It wasn't until a break between legs of the US tour that July that the full transformation occurred though. Bowie took his touring band into Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia to record a bunch of very soulful tunes he'd written (and, in some cases, unveiled) on the road. By the time the tour was due to continue, around a dozen songs were in the can. Before completing the album in New York that December (by recording Fame and Across the Universe in New York with some geezer called John Lennon), Bowie completely re-designed touring band, setlist and even set itself in order so that he could play these songs live as a bona fide soul singer with the backing choir he'd assembled in the studio (which included soon-to-be-mega-famous Luther Vandross). However the press reacted at the time (some quarters completely panned him for such a move), the transition was complete. David Bowie was now a soul man.

Don't let that monstrosity of a cover put you off though (if you've ever seen what he had in mind before that, you'd think of it as an improvement) - the resulting album is so much more convincing than that, and arguably the first real testament to the sheer diversity of the man's discography. Young Americans (the song) is, for starters, an absolute masterpiece (and just about the most bizarre song Lars von Trier could have chosen to go over the end credits to Dogville), being a truly delicious slice of uplifting blue-eyed soul, with some absolutely wonderful work from David Sanborn on the sax.

Win slows things down a bit and is, as you might have gathered from my posting the video below, one of my very favourite Bowie songs. Being one of the songs to be debuted live before the Philly sessions in July, it's a soaring and absolutely beautiful track that could easily have made a great single. The same can be said of both Fascination and Right - the funkier couplet which brings side A to a close, and not to mention a wholly convincing one.




For me, the album gets itself into a bit of trouble from a brilliant opening side with Somebody Up There Likes Me. That's not to say it's a bad song by any stretch of the imagination, being another well-written slice of soul in the same sort of vein as the title track. It's just that, clocking at 6 1/2 minutes as it does, it is far too long and, as we'll find out later, quite inferior to other songs recorded during the Sigma sessions. The same can be said of Bowie's Lennon-assisted cover of Across the Universe. Not a bad song at all (actually a very decent and uplifting rendition of the Beatles classic) but, given some of the songs which missed out on the final running order, one that should probably have been relegated to B-side status.

The slight weaknesses of those two songs in that sense make for the only real flaw of this album, given that the soaring, emotional and truly fantastic soul ballad Can You Hear Me follows them both immediately. Put it this way - if I could have some sort of MP3 playlist for passers-by to listen to on my epitaph, this song would be on it. Fame, the second songs Bowie and Lennon recorded together, serves as a terrific, funky album-closer, and one which provided Bowie with his first US number 1 single. It was also completely ripped-off by James Brown of all people for his own single Hot.

All in all, this is definitely an album that any beginners with Bowie's discography should look out, and is among his best for sure. I only give it a 9 for the small flaw that I've already addressed. Basically, as well as being one of Bowie's most curious albums, the recording sessions for it were among his most productive too. In all, another 6 songs are known to have been recorded; the no-holds-barred funk-out of John, I'm Only Dancing (Again), the infectious piece of r'n'b that is Who Can I Be Now, the beautiful soul ballad of It's Gonna Be Me, the terrific, up-tempo soul number After Today and two as-yet unreleased songs - the Gouster and Too Fat Polka (I always giggle when I think what that one must sound like).

Anyway, to sum up, this is a well-earned 9 of an album. Stick the two songs below in in the places of Somebody Up There Likes Me and Across the Universe and you've got another 10.

9/10

Bulldog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-26-2009, 11:42 PM   #27 (permalink)
Unrepentant Ass-Mod
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 3,920
Default

fantastic review and i agree through and through.

one of the things you have to consider are the circumstances at the time. while funk had already seen its heyday, it was still very much a monumental era for soul that pervaded throughout American culture. it wasn't so much a change in genre but a re-awakening of African-American pride and independence (much akin to the Anglo-African reggae movement across the pond). although you could say that Bowie was capitalizing on the sounds of the times, it's wholly evident that his particular vision of the "Young Americans" he saw was an enduring record which somehow never managed to garner the collective praise that so many of his other works hold claim to.
__________________
first.am
lucifer_sam is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-27-2009, 05:20 AM   #28 (permalink)
Moodswings n' Roundabouts
 
Piss Me Off's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: At the corner of Dude and Catastrophe
Posts: 4,510
Default

It's certainly an album that i don't give enough time to as it's consistanty good throughout the album, even the Beatles cover. That and the suits were proper dapper!
__________________


Last FM
Rate Yr Music
Muxtape
Piss Me Off is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-30-2009, 06:17 PM   #29 (permalink)
Moodswings n' Roundabouts
 
Piss Me Off's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: At the corner of Dude and Catastrophe
Posts: 4,510
Default

It's not the side effects of the cocaine,
I'm thinking that it must be love!


Station to Station (1976)



1. Station to Station
2. Golden Years
3. World on a Wing
4. TVC15
5. Stay
6. Wild is the Wind

Bill Hicks once said that those against drugs should take a step back and look at their record collections, all that brilliant music was most likely very much made under the influence. One of the finest examples of this might be Bowie, and he was surely at his most coked up here. Funnily enough Station to Station is one of his best albums as well, and bitterly under-represented in the music world as a whole. Pretty impressive since he can't even remember recording it!

The album couldn't kick off better. The title track harks back to Width of a Circle with it's two part design, and manages to exhibit most likely all of the styles that Bowie had tried before now, along with some clear krautrock influences. Whats starts as an eery Kraftwerk influnced crooner, complete with 'darts in lovers eyes' evolves over 10 minutes into a full blown piano driven rocker which never fails to get me moving. A superb opener and without a doubt one of Bowie's finest overall.

Remember how i said i didn't care for 1984? If it had turned out like the dance masterpiece that is Golden Years i'd have been a lot kinder. The album's classic single is an intricate piece of disco infused soul, apart from perhaps Fashion it may well be my favourite of his in that vein.

Ballad time, World on a Wing is the big love song here and the finest soul moment here too. Bowie is fine voice here and it's the first instance of a more passionate delivery after the more lighthearted songs that preceded it. A fine way to end the first half.

Back to more of a groove with TVC15 kicking in, another great single and another highlight of mine. I don't know what i love more, the funky verses or the infectious as hell chorus, complete with the meaty guitar kicking in. One of his more underated singles. Stay continues on with the funky shit, complete with some fine layered disco guitars and great solos. The low point of the album if i had to pick one as it doesn't stand out quite as much as the other tracks, but given the circumstances it's hardly a massive crime.

Wild is the Wind is a fan favourite and rightly so, another beautiful ballad that reminds me of a Smiths song (or i guess vice-versa) so obviously i love it , the way it drifts on but doesn't outstay its welcome at all. The 'don't you know you're life itself' with the music stopping is one of my favourite moments in the album (after the obvious title track transition).





Most people would probably favour the Berlin era albums that followed rather than this album but i'm not sure, as good as Low is Station to Station gives it a run for it's money. At only 6 tracks the album is concise and doesn't waste a moment, with a fine design (2 upbeat songs then a ballad each side) which i think rivals Low's two halved affair. Competing or not, Station to Station is a brilliant album which is testiment to Bowie's performance, if he really was as out of it as is claimed. Easily has a place in my top 5.

Highlights: Station to Station, TVC15, Wild is the Wind

9/10
__________________


Last FM
Rate Yr Music
Muxtape
Piss Me Off is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-02-2009, 03:37 PM   #30 (permalink)
why bother?
 
Bulldog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: UK
Posts: 4,826
Default

Fantabuleriffic album that. The one thing that prevents me calling it my favourite Bowie album is TVC15, and that's only because the live versions I've heard kick arse (the one on the Stage live album is particularly awesome).
Bulldog is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads



© 2003-2019 Advameg, Inc.

SEO by vBSEO 3.5.2 ©2010, Crawlability, Inc.