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Old 06-11-2009, 06:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Review Thread: The Chameleon: David Bowie Reviewed

While in the other thread we call dibs and post our thoughts on the idea. Here is where we will post our reviews. And thoughts on all the wonderful and various albums of David Bowie!

Discography:
David Bowie (1967) Comus
Space Oddity (1969) Bulldog
The Man Who Sold the World (1970) JayJamJah
Hunky Dory (1971) Lucifer Sam
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972) Comus
Aladdin Sane (1973) Boo Boo
Pin Ups (1973) Comus
Diamond Dogs (1974) Piss Me Off
Young Americans (1975) Bulldog
Station to Station (1976) Piss Me Off
Low (1977) Seltzer
"Heroes" (1977) Loveissucide
Lodger (1979) Urban Hatemonger
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980) FireInCairo
Let's Dance (1983)
Tonight (1984) Bulldog
Never Let Me Down (1987)
Black Tie, White Noise (1993)
The Buddha of Suburbia (1993) Bulldog
1.Outside (1995) Jackhammer
Earthling (1997)
'Hours...' (1999)
Heathen (2002) Lucifer Sam
Reality (2003)
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Quote:
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classical music isn't exactly religious, you know?
um

Last edited by Comus; 02-28-2010 at 06:04 PM.
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:35 PM   #2 (permalink)
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David Bowie – David Bowie


(what a sexy beast)

1. Uncle Arthur
2. Sell Me A Coat
3. Rubber Band
4. Love You Til Tuesday
5. There Is A Happy Land
6. We Are Hungry Men
7. When I Live My Dream
8. Little Bombardier
9. Silly Boy Blue
10. Come And Buy My Toys
11. Join The Gang
12. She's Got Medals
13. Maid Of Bond Street
14. Please Mr. Gravedigger

Year: 1967

With the exception of his voice, there is very little in this release that alludes to the coming career of the chameleon of rock. It’s fitting that a man known for changing styles to keep with the times has a completely unique debut in relation to his later works. The songs are simple, quick tunes and the song writing works well in the context.

There’s a lot of things here that defines it from a simple pop album however. You’ll hear nice little quirks like the tuba on Rubber Band. There’s a lot more depth to this album than first seems present. So in certain aspects it seems very ambitious for a debut, especially for a 1967 solo artist. It is however easy to see why this was a commercial failure at the time.

Rubber Band

You’ll notice, the further you go into it, the less remarkable it is. For a vocal heavy pop album, there are very few hooks or catchy melodies. It does however make for a very relaxing journey through the pastoral landscapes. The problem here is; there’s nothing to really make you want to go back to it. It’s hard to envisage having any of the songs stuck in your heard unless you become very familiar with them.

Of course, all of these factors lead to one thing: Cult status. Cult status is a wonderful thing. I can almost guarantee you that a lot of people loved this. Played it constantly on repeat and learned every word. The problem is; the public are not like that. They need something that is quick, simple and memorable. This only ticks two boxes. As such it really is just another mediocre 1960’s release. Apart from a few, easily overlooked, quirks there is nothing that separates this from all the other pop albums of the time.

Little Bombardier

So while there’s technically nothing wrong with the album, there is a massive room for improvement. There is nothing for the listener to connect to immediately, which is incredibly important for a pop album. Bowie’s voice shows a lot of promise and so do all the nice little effects and instrumentations. All I can say is; we’re very lucky this is a man that changes with the times, and does so masterfully. Because no one would remember David Bowie now had he kept doing this.

5/10
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Quote:
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classical music isn't exactly religious, you know?
um

Last edited by Comus; 06-11-2009 at 11:05 PM.
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Top review there. Couldn't agree more with that last paragraph. I don't really regard this album highly at all - Come and Buy My Toys is an excellent song, but that's virtually the only reason I listen to the album at all. It's all a bit twee and uninteresting for me.

I'll get my review up in the day or so btw.

Also, for those who don't know their 60s Bowie, you haven't lived 'til you've heard this song

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Old 06-11-2009, 11:01 PM   #4 (permalink)
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i actually have never had the balls to listen to this record all the way through. i got about thirty seconds into the second song and buggered off after that. like you said, not how fans want to remember Bowie at all.

looking forward to the next review.
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:05 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I've just realised I was far, far too lenient on the score. The album is middle of the road, and as such really doesn't deserve more than 5/10.
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:50 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Maybe Urban should do Low, if he decides to participate.
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Old 06-12-2009, 06:17 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I agree with Comus' review, it is certainly missing a little bit of punch. I find Love You Till Tuesday to be the best song on the album, tis marvellous.

Saying that, my favourite Bowie song from the sixties wasnt on this debut, I Dig Everything its called, proper moddy! Have a look around.
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Old 06-12-2009, 11:26 AM   #8 (permalink)
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David Bowie - Space Oddity (1969)

1. Space Oddity
2. Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed
3. (Don't Sit Down)
4. Letter to Hermione
5. Cygnet Committee
6. Janine
7. An Occasional Dream
8. Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud
9. God Knows I'm Good
10. Memory of a Free Festival

As you might be able to tell from the two record sleeve covers, David Bowie's second album has a strange history. Well, kind of. Following the spectacular commercial damp squib that was his debut, David Bowie and his manager Ken Pitt sought after the American market with a slightly more ambitious sophomore effort. Rather confusingly, this album was originally released as David Bowie in the UK and as Man Of Words/Man Of Music in the US (this album being his debut LP to the American market). It was only upon its re-release in 1972, to capitalise on Bowie's becoming a household name, that it was re-titled Space Oddity, and even then it had two alternate covers (as pictured above).

Whatever the case, Space Oddity is what the album's officially known as now and the left-hand cover is the one we all know and poke fun at for being as corny as it is. Anyway, as I may or may not have said earlier, as the followup to a very unsuccessful debut, Space Oddity (as I'm gonna call it) is the sound of Bowie aiming for a mass audience but on top of that also spreading his wings a little as an artist. It's lyrical lamentations of lost love, elaborations on disenchantment and yarn-spinning fantasy tales see Bowie opting for a much more sombre and focused sound than on his debut as the production methods of one Tony Visconti shape a fittingly ashen-faced folk-rock sound to dominate the album and compliment this.

The standout from this would be the title track, which is the odd one out here in many respects. First off, upon Bowie's telling him he wanted it on the album, Visconti dismissed it as a throwaway novelty which wouldn't fit on the album at all and perhaps tried too hard to pander to the masses (what with all that moon landing hysteria in the media at the time). After arguing for some time about it, a comprimise was reached whereby Visconti would have nothing to do with the song, whereupon Bowie called on his old mate Gus Dudgeon to do the dirty work. While the result of that session would give Bowie his first hit single and thus put him on the musical map, I'm personally not such a huge fan of the song to the point that I'd call it quite possibly Bowie's most overrated piece. The vocal harmonies during the chorus are very nice, but Dudgeon's production is far too cluttered for my tastes - all those guitar solos, vocal overdubs and string arrangements threaten to drown the song. Below is a little box of four videos. The top two are both of Space Oddity, but two very different versions. On the left is the version released as a single in 1969 and re-released in 1972, while on the right is an acoustic version recorded as released as a B-side in 1979 and is in my opinion how it should have been done in the first place.




Such is the bone I have to pick when it comes to this album. If some of the songs simply aren't very good others are totally over-produced and thus sound a bit on the dated side. The bottom two videos of that little box above this paragraph gives you another example of how this album should have been done. Overall, the album's hit and miss, as there are some great tunes on show here. Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed is a jovial, rollicking knees-up of a song and Memory Of a Free Festival is a very quaint and emotional album-closer, while Cygnet Committee is easily the first masterpiece Bowie would record (even if it is a teeny bit overlong). There are a few decent yet not truly spectacular moments as well such as the pensive Janine and the yearning slow-burner Letter To Hermione. On the other hand though, there are plenty of the said over-produced moments and mediocre numbers (God Knows I'm Good and An Occasional Dream for example) to weigh the overall quality down.

It's not a popular view from my experience, but while it's a vast improvement on his debut, Space Oddity is very very far from my favourite Bowie album. It's not mediocre, seeing as there are a few terrific songs on there, but much much better was to come.

6.5/10

Last edited by Bulldog; 06-12-2009 at 11:32 AM.
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Old 06-12-2009, 02:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I love the title track and I have to disagree with you, I prefer the original to the stripped down version.

The lavish production and acoustics really suit the outer space theme and I think that's lost in the stripped down version.
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Old 06-12-2009, 03:05 PM   #10 (permalink)
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You could have waited until I set the thread up properly FFS.
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