Posted 27 November 2006 - 11:34 PM
Biography gratefully yoinked from RollingStone.com
Is David Bowie's "Young Americans" the greatest song ever? It could be. Over grand, lurching piano glam, Bowie testifies like a deranged soul crooner about the new breed of young Americans coming to save the world. They're the pretty things who drive their mamas and papas insane, the chosen people sent by the gods of rock to bring action and adventure and romance and sex sex sex back to a dead-end society. Bowie was only 27 at the time, but he sounds much older, a slinky vagabond rooting for the hot tramps and glitter kids of the future. He sounds old and En glish, almost like a vampire, but he's saved by the young Americans. All night he wants the young Americans: he wants to do us, he wants to be us, he wants what we want. For the five minutes of the song, all anyone could ever want is to be or do a young American. David Bowie's whole world, and everything great about rock & roll, is in this tune.
Rock & roll had pretensions long before it had a David Bowie, but Bowie invented whole new levels of theatrical posing, stylistic diddling, and sexual provocation, doing for pretensions what Jimi Hendrix did for electric guitars. The erstwhile David Jones had begun in the late '60s wasting his ambitions on costumes that didn't quite fit: mod, folk music, mime. He was clunky as a mod (the results have been recycled as David Bowie, Love You Till Tuesday, Images, Early On), and wispy as a folkie (Space Oddity), but he began to rock on The Man Who Sold the World, more bluesily than he ever would again, teaming up with guitarist Mick Ronson and producer Tony Visconti for heavy visions such as "Width of a Circle."
And then one day David visited New York, where a friend turned him on to the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane." The result: Hunky Dory, Bowie's first classic, an album of Nico-style cafe ballads about queen bitches falling in love with pretty things. On Hunky Dory, the David in Miss Jones finally got loose, reveling in pansexual lust, visionary gossip, glam flamboyance, and you're-soaking-in-it decadence. Brilliant tunes, too -- Barbra Streisand covered the best song here ("Life on Mars?"), while Dinosaur Jr covered the second best ("Quicksand"), and that pretty much sums up the bizarro impact of Hunky Dory. The bubbleglam rocker "Queen ######" pays tribute to Lou Reed while giving David a chance to look swishy in his bipperty-bopperty hat.
Hunky Dory made Bowie the star he has remained ever since. But Ziggy Stardust remains the most famous of all glam records, turning up Ronson's boogie guitar for a concept album about an androgynous rock star from outer space. Bowie took it all too far, and he couldn't even play guitar, but he works his fey vibrato in "Suffragette City," "Starman," and "Moonage Daydream," while "Five Years" is one of the all-time great album openers, with doomy drums and a chanting choir to announce the end of the world and the dawn of the new Bowie era. The Rykodisc reissue adds the key rarities "Velvet Goldmine" and "Sweet Head," which has the credo "Before there was rock, you only had God."
Aladdin Sane cranks up the hard, slick, sensationalistic energy of Ziggy, minus the draggy bits, for a sequel that sounds even better than the original, driven by the guitar swagger of "Watch That Man" and the swoony postapocalyptic love song "Drive-In Saturday." Pin Ups was a set of '60s Swinging London covers with Twiggy on the cover; the one great moment is the Yardbirds' "Shapes of Things," where Bowie becomes an unlikely ecologist, whimpering "Please don't destroy the lands/ Don't make them desert sands" even though he doesn't sound biodegradable. Diamond Dogs announced the end of the world (again?) with a certain boy-who-cried-wolf quality, despite "Rebel Rebel" and the title song, which celebrates "the year of the scavenger, the season of the ######." Bowie boasts he has never listened to David Live, and good for him; the Ziggy film soundtrack is a waste. The real live document of the Ziggy period is the little-screened BBC documentary Cracked Actor, which has to be seen to believed, especially when Bowie sings the title tune while jamming his tongue into a human skull like a glam Hamlet.
Bowie switched gears for the surprisingly warm R&B homage Young Americans, which he described as "plastic soul." Cut in Philadelphia with background vocals from a young Luther Vandross, it's short on tunes aside from the title song. But it was the warm-up for Station to Station, the album where Bowie dyed his hair blond, proclaimed himself the Thin White Duke, and made the most intense music of his life. "TVC15," "Golden Years," and "Stay" combine heavy guitar grooves and shiny vinyl funk beats, plus nutzoid lyrics ("Light is so vague when it brings someone new/This time tomorrow I'll know what to do"). It all explodes in the heart-pounding 10-minute onslaught of the title song, inspired by the Catholic devotion of the Stations of the Cross and apparently quite generous helpings of drugs. Station to Station is a space-rock masterpiece, even if Bowie admits he can barely remember making it.
Low, released the week Bowie turned thirty, marked a new beginning. After burying himself in white powder in Los Angeles, he fled to Berlin for some personal detox and began his famous "Berlin trilogy." Side one of Low consists of seven synth-pop fragments; side two consists of four brooding electronic instrumentals. Bowie sings about spiritual death and rebirth, from the electric blue loneliness of "Sound and Vision" to the doomed erotic obsession of "Always Crashing in the Same Car." Thanks to producer Tony Visconti, keyboardist Brian Eno, and the fuzzed-out guitars of Ricky Gardner and Carlos Alomar, it's the music of an overstimulated mind in an exhausted body, as rock's prettiest sex vampire sashays through some serious emotional wreckage.
Heroes expands the formula with guitarist Robert Fripp, a thicker, fuller sound, a more prominent role for Eno, and the killer title hymn. The finale of the Berlin trilogy, Lodger is that rarest of rock & roll artifacts: an underrated Bowie album. Not even the artiste himself has ever made grand claims for this one, but it rocks as hard as Station to Station or Aladdin Sane, with razor-sharp musical corners and new layers of wit and generosity in the songwriting, especially "Boys Keep Swinging," "D.J.," and "Fantastic Voyage." Lodger guitar hero Adrian Belew also appears on Stage, a surprisingly decent live album that perversely turns Side Two of Low into arena fodder.
Scary Monsters turns up the Fripp guitar for a sleek, chilly-chic set, not as bold as Lodger but excellent nonetheless, especially the terrifying "Space Oddity" update "Ashes to Ashes" and the anthemic "Young Americans" update "Teenage Wildlife," which proved beyond any doubt that when Bowie decided not to sing, he could out-not-sing any nonsinger in rock & roll. By now, Bowie's pop clout was bigger than ever, as entire genres sprouted from phases of his past, including goth, punk, techno pop, and the New Romantic poseurs. Bowie cashed in with Let's Dance, a slight but pleasant pop record with a few big MTV hits, including the touching rocker "Modern Love."
At the time, Bowie fans debated whether Let's Dance was a stylistic triumph, a pop sellout, or just a table-setter for future glories. But it's safe to say nobody suspected it would go down as Bowie's last stand. Still only 36, the most iconic and influential active artist in rock, Bowie seemed to lose his touch overnight, wheezing unpleasantly through the rest of the decade. Tonight was an expensive quickie padded with lame covers, while Never Let Me Down made things even worse with originals. But the noose he chose to hang himself with was guitar sidekick Reeves Gabrels, who ruined everything left to ruin in Bowie's music. Gabrels collaborated with Bowie in the misbegotten Tin Machine project, producing three albums of dreary art-metal wankeroo. Black Tie White Noise had a witty cover of Morrissey's "I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday," the sound of Bowie imitating one of the all-time great Bowie imitators. The Buddha of Suburbia was soundtrack filler. Outside was a poor reunion with Eno, who presumably had bills to pay.
There were signs of life on Mars in Earthling and Hours, which offered strong songs ("Looking for Satellites," "Seven," "Thursday's Child") damn near ruined by Gabrels' cheesy guitar glop. Heathen and Reality were redeemed by Gabrels' exit and a lighter songwriting touch as well as funny covers of Neil Young, the Pixies, and the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. The last few albums prove that Bowie's creative powers are alive and well -- as always, he just needs collaborators who can get him pushing.
Bowie's hits collections are as much fun as his proper albums, because his genius for the grand statement and the big splash meant that he didn't skimp when it came to dreaming up hit singles. The 1976 Changesonebowie is the original crash course for the ravers. The 1990 Changesbowie combines Changes-onebowie and Changestwobowie for a one-disc whammy, although there are too many shortened single edits and it's hard to forgive that "Fame '90" remix. The double-disc Singles runs too far into the '80s and '90s; Sound and Vision is a mostly redundant three-disc box; Bowie at the Beeb collects early BBC live material, including Lou Reed and Chuck Berry covers. The two separately available Essentia volumes are both eccentric, but present worthy rarities such as Bowie's original version of "All the Young Dudes." Hot tramps in search of a handy introduction should use Changesbowie as a map and then start playing around. Despite his image as an alien Major Tom figure, what endures most in Bowie's music is the lust for life you can hear in "Young Americans," "Fantas-tic Voyage," "Teenage Wildlife," "Five Years," and so many more. His music will always sound great as long as the world still has kooks, cracked actors, glitter babes, and young folk going through that difficult phase. Mother Nature clearly didn't intend David Bowie to become a singer, but his whole career proves that sometimes it's nice to fool Mother Nature, because she's a kook like us.(ROBERT SHEFFIELD)
Bio of Tin Machine (from Wikipedia)
The excesses of David Bowie’s Never Let Me Down album and subsequent Glass Spider Tour had been savaged by critics, and the singer was aware of his low stock. Eager to return to making music for himself rather than the mainstream audience he had acquired following the Let's Dance album, Bowie began collaborating with Reeves Gabrels (who pushed the singer to rediscover his experimental side) and multi-instrumentalist Erdal Kizilcay on new material in 1988. The first fruits of this came with a new version of Bowie’s 1979 track “Look Back in Anger”, performed at the Invaders in the Palace benefit concert on 1 July 1988. They then began to plan a concept album based on the play East as a Bowie solo album, but this idea was scrapped. Bowie and Gabrels began working with producer Tim Palmer on new material. Bowie then recruited brothers Hunt and Tony Sales (the sons of comedian Soupy Sales) as a rhythm section. Bowie had worked with them on Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life album and ran into them at a party in Los Angeles around this time.
The Sales brothers moved the tone of the sessions in Nassau away from art-rock and more towards hard rock, and Bowie looked to one of his favorite bands at the time, The Pixies, for inspiration. The Sales brothers heckled Bowie into greater spontaneity, with most songs recorded in one take, and lyrics left unpolished, thus giving the band a similar sort of punk edge.
The group chose the name Tin Machine after one of the songs they had written (Gabrels would later credit the Sales brothers with this choice). The group set up allowed Bowie a certain level of anonymity, much needed after his 1980s overexposure, and he was happy to let the rest of the band (notably Hunt Sales) take the lead in interviews.
The band’s first album produced mixed but generally positive reviews on release in May 1989, picking up favourable comparisons with Bowie’s three more recent solo albums. However, many critics were scornful of Bowie’s latest attempt to reinvent himself as a bearded band-member. Commercially, the album initially sold well, reaching #3 in the UK charts, but sales quickly tailed off. The band undertook a low-key tour in small venues between June and July 1989, before further recording sessions in Sydney.
The group then went on hiatus while Bowie conducted his solo Sound + Vision tour. In December 1990, Bowie split from EMI, who had refused to release another Tin Machine album – sales of the first having tailed off badly, and been poor overseas. In March 1991, the group signed to Victory Records and recorded more new material. This was combined with tracks from the Sydney sessions to form the prosaic Tin Machine II album. This time the commercial success was even more fleeting, and Bowie was already tired of being shackled to a group set-up. From October 1991 to February 1992 the group undertook a larger tour, known as the It’s My Life Tour. The band was joined on this tour by Eric Schermerhorn on guitar (who, interestingly, would go on to play with Iggy Pop).
Tracks from this tour were released on the July 1992 album Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby. Shortly afterwards, Bowie returned to solo recording with his single “Real Cool World” and the band dissolved.
Bowie promised Tin Machine III or at the very least a boxed-set of unreleased material in the mid-1990s, but his solo career had taken precedence, making him reluctant to dedicate energy to an old project. He continued to work with Gabrels, spanning four albums after Tin Machine: Black Tie White Noise, Outside, Earthling, and 'hours...' After the last album, Gabrels felt that Bowie was moving in a softer, gentler direction that he did not want to travel in, so the two parted ways professionally.
Discography of Bowie:
1. David Bowie (1967)
2. Space Oddity (1969, UK #17, US #16)
3. The Man Who Sold the World (1970, UK #26)
4. Hunky Dory (1971, UK #3, US #93)
5. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972, UK #5, US #75)
6. Aladdin Sane (1973, UK #1, US #17)
7. Pin Ups (1973, UK #1, US #23)
8. Diamond Dogs (1974, UK #1, US #5)
9. Young Americans (1975, UK #2, US #9)
10. Station to Station (1976, UK #5, US #3)
11. Low (1977, UK #2, US #11)
12. "Heroes" (1977, UK #3, US #35)
13. Lodger (1979, UK #4, US #20)
14. Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980, UK #1 US #12)
15. Let's Dance (1983, UK #1, US #4)
16. Tonight (1984, UK #1, US #11)
17. Never Let Me Down (1987, UK #6, US #34)
18. Black Tie White Noise (1993, UK #1, US #39)
19. Outside (1995, UK #8, US #21)
20. Earthling (1997, UK #6, US #39)
21. 'hours...' (1999, UK #5, US #47)
22. Heathen (2002, UK #5, US #14)
23. Reality (2003, UK #3, US #29)
Discography of Tin Machine:
1. Tin Machine – May 23, 1989 (UK #3, US#28)
2. Tin Machine II – September 2, 1991 (UK#23, US #126)
3. Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby – July 27, 1992 (Did not chart)
-David has released 27 albums since 1967 but his earliest recordings are usually omitted from his discography.
# Arthur and the Minimoys (2006) (voice)
# The Prestige (2006)
# Mr. Rice's Secret (2000)
# "The Hunger" (1 episode, 1999-2000)
# "Saturday Night Live" (3 episodes, 1991-1999)
- Episode #25.1 (1999) TV Episode .... Musical Guest
- Episode #22.12 (1997) TV Episode .... Musical Guest
- Episode #17.7 (1991) TV Episode (as Tin Machine) .... Musical Guest
# Everybody Loves Sunshine (1999)
# Omikron: The Nomad Soul (1999) (VG)
# Mio West, Il (1998)
# Basquiat (1996)
# Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992)
# The Linguini Incident (1991)
# "Dream On" (1 episode, 1991)
# The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
# Labyrinth (1986)
# Absolute Beginners (1986)
# Into the Night (1985)
# Jazzin' for Blue Jean (1984)
# Yellowbeard (1983)
# Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)
# The Hunger (1983)
# The Snowman (1982)
# Baal (1982) (
# Sch÷ner Gigolo, armer Gigolo (1979)
# "Marc" (1 episode, 1977)
- Episode #1.6 (1977) TV Episode
# The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
# The Virgin Soldiers (1969)
# "Theatre 625" (1 episode, 1968)
- The Pistol Shot (1968) TV Episode
# The Image (1967)
-Although released on Bowie's "Let's Dance", "China Girl" was written by Bowie and Iggy Pop and originally sung by Pop.
-Arnold Corns was indeed Bowie himself. He released two different versions of "Moonage Daydream" and "Hang Onto Yourself" under the name of Arnold Corns. While he claimed it was somebody else, he not only re-wrote these songs, but sang them as well.
-In "Afraid Of Americans" the song was originally about Dummy, not Johnny
-Wikipedia says that Bowie has sold over 100million albums
-The baby gurgling noises heard on 'Magic Dance' are actually supplied by David Bowie himself. Unfortunately, the amazing glass ball juggling performed by Jareth in the movie were actually done by Michael Mochen.
-David supposedly refused the honor of being designated C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of British Empire) in 2000.
-David has blue eyes.
-David sites Little Richard as his first musical influence.
-David began using the last name Bowie instead of Jones in the late 1960's to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees.
-David has been close friends with Peter Frampton since childhood.
-Queen, Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, Peter Frampton, and Bing Crosby are among the many artists with whom David has performed.
-David's band, Tin Machine, released 2 albums before he returned to being a solo artist.
-David was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
-David unveiled his star on Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 12, 1997.
-In 1993 Morrissey is rumoured to have co-written a song with Alain Whyte entitled 'In Control Of Dame Dominance' which is all about David Bowie. It remains unheard and unreleased.
-Comedian Soupy Sales, is the father of Tin Machine band members Tony and Hunt Sales, was born on 8th January, the same date as David Bowie....
-For his 50th birthday David received a fossilised chameleon as a birthday present from the wacky Robert Smith of The Cure....
-Star No. 2083 belongs to David on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame.....
-Monty Python's Eric Idle is Godfather is David's son Duncan Jones'.....
-David wrote the soundtrack to BBC2's series "History Of British Art".....
-Supposedly the first day of kindergarten, he was so scared, he wet himself
-He is the richest British rock star.
-"You can neither win nor lose if you don't run the race."
-"I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human."
-"When you think about it, Adolf Hitler was the first pop star. "
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