Showing posts with label David Bowie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Bowie. Show all posts

Friday, 13 October 2017

Heroes - David Bowie

Parlophone started the '40 year anniversary' picture disc single releases a few years ago, when David Bowie was still alive. It's strange to think that this campaign will last well into the 2020s at least - and hopefully they will continue until 'No plan' is 40 years old (although I'm not holding my breath).

I skipped all the releases until now, but 'Heroes' was an attractive package. Not only did it come in a rather well designed A-side, but the B-side features a previously unreleased version of 'Heroes': as performed in the Marc Show on September 7, 1977. The recording is in mono, alas, but it's still worth a spin.

My collection: 7" single no. 5868
Found: Amazon.co.uk, received October 7, 2017
Cost: 10 pounds (which is outrageous, I know!)
Tracks: 'Heroes  [edit]' / 'Heroes (Marc Show version)'

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Sue (Or In a season of crime) - David Bowie

I started this year with an entry about David Bowie, so I thought it would be appropriate to end the year with Bowie as well. He surprised everyone - again - with his latest offering, 'Sue (Or In a season of crime)'. The single was released on 10" vinyl only, so no cd-singles, 7" or 12" at all. The track also appeared on his latest compilation, 'Nothing has changed'. But does the world really need yet another Bowie compilation album? I guess record companies still like to cash in with old stuff.

'Sue' is a weird offering, as it sounds a lot like jazz and it can seem a bit tedious, being such a long track. But repeated listening is rewarding. Bowie keeps changing, even if nothing much has changed.

My collection: 10" single [unnumbered]
Found: Record fair, Utrecht, November 23, 2014
Cost: 8 euro
Tracks: 'Sue (Or In a season of crime)' / ''Tis a pity she was a whore', 'Sue (Or In a season of crime) (edit)'

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Valentine's day - David Bowie

Another single from David Bowie's most recent album 'The next day', 'Valentine's day' was released as a picture disc in a partly transparent sleeve with the lyric of the song printed on it. This single actually comes with a B-side, although 'Plan' is just a short instrumental piece.

What's on the picture disc? I was wondering about that for a while, but then I realised: the album sleeve of 'The next day' uses the artwork of Bowie's album 'Heroes', and the picture disc here shows the right and left hand from that album artwork. Another clever design.

My collection: 7" single no. 5357
Found: Head, Bristol, December 18, 2013
Tracks: 'Valentine's day' / 'Plan'

The next day - David Bowie

The surprise comeback of David Bowie at the beginning of 2013 was something that took hold of the 'serious' music press all through the year. Bowie didn't do many interviews, there were some music videos but that was about it. Oh, and of course: the Japanese edition of the album had four bonus tracks whereas the European one had only three. Having ordered the Japanese edition from Europe, the end of the year came with the announcement of a "special edition" with all the tracks included and more. Nice going...

Anyway, the title track was released as a single on a white square disc. The transparent sleeve featured the title and credits, so the disc was indeed completely white. Clever design. Just a shame that the disc features the same track on both sides.

My collection: 7" single no. 5356
Found: Head, Bristol, December 18, 2013
Tracks: 'The next day' / 'The next day'

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Magic dance - David Bowie

Now that everybody's in awe of the new album by David Bowie, I thought it would be fun to showcase on of his less critically acclaimed moments. So I dug out this 12" single of 'Magic dance', released in the USA in 1986. Bowie recorded this song, as well as a handful of others, for the soundtrack of the Jim Henson movie 'Labyrinth', in which he also played the role of the Goblin king, wearing a strange wig and performing magic tricks. Even on the sleeve of this record he appears to be doing a silly walk.

The remixes of the track are typical mid-Eighties fare: lots of drums and sampled sounds. Some people would argue that Bowie wasn't at his creative peak in the Eighties, personally I do prefer his work during this decade over his acclaimed early Sixties rock. But each to their own...

My collection: 12" single no. 643
Found: unknown
Cost: unknown
Tracks: 'Magic dance (dance mix)' / 'Magic dance (dub)', 'Within you'

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Scary monsters (and super creeps) - David Bowie

'Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)' is the title track from David Bowie's 1980 album. It was also issued as the third single from that album in January 1981. The single didn't do as well as the previous two singles, 'Ashes to ashes' and 'Fashion', and peaked outside the UK top 10 at number 20.

Musically the track was notable for its lead guitar work by Robert Fripp and distinctive synthesized percussion. The lyrics, sung by Bowie in a mock-cockney accent, charted a woman's withdrawal from the world and descent into madness ('When I looked in her eyes they were blue but nobody home ... Now she's stupid in the street and she can't socialise'). Personally I prefer the B-side, also taken from the album, 'Because you're young'.

My collection: 7" single no. 5298
Found: Record fair, Utrecht
Cost: 3 euro
Tracks: 'Scary monsters (and super creeps)' / 'Because you're young'

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Blue Jean - David Bowie

Having sworn off disguises and alternate identities for his 1983 album 'Let's dance', it was a bit odd to see the music video for David Bowie's 'Blue Jean' in 1984. Again using loads of make-up on his face, the video distracted a bit from the music. The album 'Tonight', released that year, is seen as an artistic failure, although there were a few nice songs on it.

The extended version of 'Blue Jean' is interesting enough, I'd say. However, the B-side, containing two remixes, is the kind of music I've played only once - but never more. Quite excruciating.

My collection: 12" single no. 372
Found: Plaatboef, Rotterdam, 2000
Cost: 5 guilders
Tracks: 'Blue Jean (extended dance mix)' / 'Dancing with the big boys (extended dance mix)', 'Dancing with the big boys (extended dub mix)'

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Never let me down - David Bowie

'Never let me down' was released as the third single from David Bowie's album of the same name in the summer of 1987. The song is about Bowie's long-time personal assistant, Coco Schwab. Bowie described their relationship, saying 'It's platonic. But there is a romance in it, I guess, inasmuch as it's hard for two people to feel totally at ease in each other's company for that period of time and not expect too much from each other. Always being prepared to be there if the other one needs someone, you know? There's not many people you find in life that you can do that with, or feel that way with.'

This 12" single features an extended remix of the track, as well as a dub and acapella version.

My collection: 12" single no. 352
Found: Record fair, 1999
Cost: 5 guilders
Tracks: 'Never let me down (extended dance remix)' / ''87 and cry', 'Never let me down (dub)', 'Never let me down (acapella)'

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Underground - David Bowie

Back in the Nineties, there was a record fair in Leiden every six months. During that record fair, they used to always play a remix of David Bowie's 'Underground'. It was quite an obscure remix, because as it turned out, that remix does not appear on the 12" single of 'Underground' that was released in 1986. I've never been able to track down that remix. (Any tips are welcome below.)

Meanwhile, I did buy this disc, a Spanish pressing of 'Underground' on 12". That was not a deliberate choice: I just happened to find this copy for a low price, so I bought it. Perhaps some David Bowie fans out there are hunting down this version, I wouldn't know... Anyway, it contains the same tracks as other pressings of this disc: remixes created by Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero.

My collection: 12" single no. 269
Found: Record fair, 1996
Cost: 5 guilders
Tracks: 'Underground (Extended dance mix)' / 'Underground (dub)', 'Underground (instrumental)'

Thursday, 10 November 2011

When the wind blows - David Bowie

David Bowie recorded 'When the wind blows' for the animation movie of the same name. It was always one of my favourite Bowie tracks, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found this 12" single featuring an extended version of it.

Fortunately this extended version is well executed. The intro is intriguing and the many extra instrumental passages make sure that this extended version is indeed extended. It was a great find at the time, even if the vinyl quality left a bit to be desired.

My collection: 12" single no. 398
Found: Esprit Mailorder, 2000
Cost: 3 pounds
Tracks: 'When the wind blows (extended mix)' / 'When the wind blows (instrumental)'

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Loving the alien - David Bowie

When you read articles in the 'serious' music press, there's always a kind of disdain for David Bowie's work in the Eighties. Commercially successful, yes, but artistically doubtful. I happen to disagree: during the Eighties he made some of his most beautiful work, especially the songs created for movie soundtracks such as 'Absolute beginners' and 'When the wind blows', but also this track, 'Loving the alien' from his 1985 album 'Tonight'.

The 12" single was released in a gatefold sleeve that covered in images from the video. A limited edition also included a fold-out poster. The extended dance mix on this disc is actually identical to the album version, but with an added drum break.

My collection: 12" single no. 371
Found: Plaatboef, Rotterdam, 2000
Cost: 3 guilders
Tracks: 'Loving the alien (extended dance mix)' / 'Don't look down (extended dance mix)', 'Loving the alien (extended dub mix)'

Sunday, 10 April 2011

David Bowie in Bertolt Brecht's BAAL EP

In August 1981, Bowie had begun rehearsals to appear in the BBC version of Bertolt Brecht's play 'Baal'. The lyrics to the songs were all translated by Ralph Manheim and John Willett. Dominic Muldowney provided all new musical settings, except for 'The drowned girl', which was a setting by Kurt Weill done originally for Das Berliner Requiem. In September 1981, Bowie and Tony Visconti returned to the Hansa studios in Berlin to re-record the five songs Baal performed in the play.

'Baal’s Hymn' is a combination of the vignettes spread throughout the play, and establishes Baal’s amoral character. 'Remembering Marie A' concerns Baal’s reminiscences of a past conquest, where he can remember a cloud drifting overhead, but not the face of the girl he was with. 'Ballad of the Adventurers' is Baal’s aggressive lament to the death of his mother. 'The Drowned Girl' relates the suicide of one of Baal’s conquests. 'The Dirty Song' is a short number, with Baal humiliating his lover Sophie.

Bowie's performance as Baal was broadcast on February 2, 1982, and RCA issued the EP to coincide with this. Both the play and EP were well received, with the latter reaching number 29 in the UK chart, which was a high placing considering the unconventional tracks. The 7" single comes packaged in a double gatefold sleeve containing extensive notes pertaining to the musical content and a short biography of Bertolt Brecht. This EP was Bowie’s final new release for RCA Records. Bowie's next release was issued by EMI. The EP was re-released as a digital download in 2007.

My collection: 7" single no. 5054
Found: Record fair, Utrecht, April 9, 2011
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Baal's hymn', 'Remembering Marie A.' / 'Ballad of the adventurers', 'The drowned girl', 'The dirty song'

Thursday, 16 December 2010

John I'm only dancing (again) - David Bowie

'John, I’m only dancing (again)' was released in 1979 as a reworking of David Bowie's 1972 track 'John, I'm only dancing', made during the sessions for the album Young Americans. The re-recording featured a much more funk-influenced take on the track. Originally running at 6:57, the track was cut for a 7" single release, but the full version was issued on 12" vinyl – the first Bowie single to have a regular 12" release in the UK. For the B-side, the original version of 'John, I'm only dancing' was remixed.

The single reached number 12 in the UK singles chart, while peaking at number 29 in Ireland.

My collection: 7" single no. 4958
Found: Record Exchange, London, October 31, 2010
Cost: 1 pound
Tracks: 'John I'm only dancing (again)' / 'John I'm only dancing (1972)'

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Fashion - David Bowie

According to co-producer Tony Visconti, 'Fashion' was the last song completed in the sessions for David Bowie's 1979 album 'Scary monsters'. The song borrowed some elements from the past: the bassline and some of the melody were inspired by Bowie's 1975 hit 'Golden years'. A phrase in the lyric that Bowie borrowed from his past was 'People from bad homes', the title track of a 1973 album he recorded with his proteges The Astronettes, which went unreleased until 1995.

The song was released as the second single from 'Scary monsters'. The single version was an edit of the album version. The single reached number 5 in the UK singles chart and number 70 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

My collection: 7" single no. 4750
Found: Record fair, Rijswijk, April 5, 2010
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Fashion' / 'Scream like a baby'

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Time will crawl - David Bowie

The lyric of 'Time will crawl' is about the pollution and destruction of the planet by industry. Bowie has cited hearing of the Chernobyl disaster in April 1986 as the genesis of the lyric. The song was praised by critics for its restrained production compared to Bowie’s other work of the era.

The song was released as the second single from the album, with a version of the song 'Girls' on the B-side. It reached number 33 in the UK singles chart and number 5 in Canada.

My collection: 7" single no. 2885
Found: Beanos, East Croydon, London, October 29, 1997
Cost: 1 pound
Tracks: 'Time will crawl' / 'Girls'

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Never let me down - David Bowie

David Bowie's 'Never let me down' is seen as a homage to Bowie's late friend John Lennon, and is one of the more respected songs on a much-maligned album. The track is often complimented for its simple, straightforward arrangement. Despite comparisons to Lennon, Bowie at the time dedicated the track to his long-serving personal assistant Corinne 'Coco' Schwab.

Released as the third single from the album of the same name in August 1987, it reached number 34 in the UK singles chart. It would be Bowie's last solo single until 1992's 'Real cool world', barring a remix of 'Fame' in 1990.

My collection: 7" single no. 1372
Found: Concerto, Amsterdam, January 3, 1991
Cost: 5 guilders
Tracks: 'Never let me down' / ''87 & cry'

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Tonight - Tina Turner with David Bowie

While Tina Turner live sounds a lot like a cat being strangled, this single is still of interest because of the appearance of David Bowie on the title track. The song 'Tonight' was written by David Bowie and Iggy Pop for Iggy's 1977 album 'Lust for life'. It subsequently appeared as the title track of Bowie's 1984 album.

Bowie recorded the track on his own album as a duet with Tina Turner. When Turner was on tour, he performed the song together with her on March 23, 1985 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. This version was included on the album 'Tina Live in Europe' in 1988, and released as a single. It was a number 1 hit in the Netherlands, peaking at number 53 in the UK singles chart.

My collection: 7" single no. 4693
Found: All that music, Leiden, March 13, 2010
Cost: 1 euro
Tracks: 'Tonight (live)' / 'River deep mountain high (live)'

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Sound and vision - David Bowie

'Sound and vision' was recorded by David Bowie on his 1977 album 'Low'. The track features a lengthy introduction with guitar and synthesizer, followed by withdrawn lyrics, inspired by the cocaine-fueled paranoia the singer had lived in while residing in Los Angeles. In keeping with the minimalist approach of Low, Visconti and Bowie originally recorded the track as an instrumental, bar the backing vocal (performed by Visconti’s wife, Mary Hopkin). Bowie then recorded his vocal after the rest of the band had left the studio, before trimming verses off the lyric.

Released as a first single from the album, the song was used by the BBC on trailers at the time. This provided considerable exposure, which was much needed as Bowie opted to do nothing to promote the single himself, and helped the song to number 3. In the Dutch Top 40, it even made number 2.

My collection: 7" single no. 1412
Found: Grammofoonwinkel, Utrecht, April 3, 1991
Cost: 5,5 guilders
Tracks: 'Sound and vision' / 'A new career in a new town'

Monday, 15 March 2010

Space oddity - David Bowie

Following David Bowie's split from record label Deram, his manager Kenneth Pitt managed to negotiate a one-album deal with Mercury Records in 1969. Next he tried to find a producer. Tony Visconti liked the album demo-tracks, but considered the planned lead-off single, 'Space oddity', a gimmick track and delegated its production to Gus Dudgeon.

Following recording of the track, the single was rush-released on July 11, 1969 to coincide with the Apollo 11 moon landings. In the UK, it was used in conjunction with the BBC's coverage of the landing. This exposure finally gave Bowie a hit, reaching number 5 in the chart. The single also reached number 8 in the Dutch Top 40. The song became so well-known that Bowie's second album, originally released as David Bowie in the UK (like his first album), was renamed after the track for its 1972 reissue by RCA, and has since become known by this name.

This particular single is a re-release from the mid-seventies, also containing the later hit single 'Changes'. While I am never too fond of re-releases (and especially those without a picture sleeve) I felt I had to buy it since getting an original copy from 1969 would - and will probably still - cost a fortune.

My collection: 7" single no. 550
Found: London, October 1987
Cost: 1 pound
Tracks: 'Space oddity' / 'Changes', 'Velvet goldmine'

Monday, 1 March 2010

Absolute beginners - David Bowie

David Bowie was a good friend of Julien Temple, who directed the movie 'Absolute beginners' in 1986. Not only did he land a supporting role in the movie, he also agreed to record the theme tune for the movie.

The sessions, at Abbey Road Studios, were set up in a novel way, with a group of session musicians all receiving a card to work at the studio with 'Mr X', who turned out to be Bowie. The sessions were completed rapidly, but the release of the single was delayed, because the record company wanted the release to tie in with the film's opening. The single reached number 2 in the UK singles chart and number 4 in the Dutch Top 40.

My collection: 7" single no. 411
Found: Free Record Shop, Den Haag, 1986
Cost: 6 guilders
Tracks: 'Absolute beginners' / 'Absolute beginners (dub mix)'

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