Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Last Show That We'll Ever Do

Original Facebook post here.
Today's formative-album replay: Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (the motion picture soundtrack). I semi-regret choosing this as my first Bowie revisit, because it mostly made me want to go back to the original studio albums. Still, this was the record that introduced me to his most fertile and rewarding early-'70s glam-rock period, when he was still poised artfully between cabaret and heavy metal, outer space and the demimonde. I've got favorites in all his periods (including his twee folk/novelty days), but this oversize collection is where I first heard most of the Rise and Fall album, a little bit of Space Oddity and Man Who Sold the World and Aladdin Sane. The sound is crisp, even when the arrangements are muddy, and the versions are hit and miss; while I much prefer this album's version of "Moonage Daydream" to the studio rendition, for instance, the interminable jam on "Width of a Circle" is a kind of living hell.

But as a cue that Bowie's not just another arena rock god, this record's most striking moment may be the cover of Brel's "My Death," for which Bowie must shush the rowdy crowd. I also cherish the medley of "Wild-Eyed Boy From Freecloud," "All the Young Dudes," and "Oh You Pretty Things," for its efficient showcase of the range of Bowie's imagination, even at this early stage: We start in Middle Earth, which is then invaded by the Rolling Stones, who then step into stiletto heels and don feather boas. If I'd replayed the amazing Hunky Dory, I could have talked about its ballsy meld of showtune and folk/rock, or if I'd listened to Diamond Dogs, I could have savored its sweeping, ambisexual dystopian vision. But I'll hold onto this soundtrack as a souvenir, if nothing else, of my meeting the inimitable Mr. Jones.

David Tobocman Bowie is the abiding link between 50s rock and roll, 60s pop, 70s art rock, 80s music and the modern post-rock era. The continuing history of rock music is written in the Bowie DNA. He has managed to join Chuck Berry to Lady Gaga. And he did it with a handful of essential albums and, reportedly, without very much contemplation (he worked very fast in the studio and wrote on the spot often). Bowie's importance cannot be overstated in the development of modern music. In my estimation, his influence can be heard in a broader range of artists and genres than any other rock musician or group and I believe that his music and approach will continue to influence music and culture in ways we have not even thought about.
Chris Coffman mick freaking ronson
Tara Tamaribuchi-Gibbs This movie was definitely formative for me as well. The movie depicts a very time and place that was the exact opposite of adolescence in Irvine, Calif. I strongly yearned to be a part of this, and then he pulls the rug out from under everyone, when he announces, this is the last time they will ever play together. But indeed he went on to more meaningful projects. I wish Diamond Dogs had been made into a stage musical, as intended. And, I love Mick Ronson's facial expressions.
Tara Tamaribuchi-Gibbs One more note -- during Mick's guitar solo, Bowie disappears for one of five costume changes.

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