Thursday, March 07, 2013

Bowie week - Pin Ups (1973)

She'd sigh like Twig the Wonder Kid
When I was fourteen I would play this album every Friday night before heading off to the youth club disco. It was one of those strange rituals that I think (or like to think) all teenagers go through to make themselves feel different and not one of the pack, of course once you got to the youth club you were exactly that, one of the pack. I loved the cover, the photograph of Bowie looking as if he'd been goosed and our own Lesley Hornby (Twiggy) looking bored.

Pin Ups was studio album seven, released six months after "Aladdin Sane" and it marks the end of the original 'Spiders From Mars' line-up, Aynsley Dunbar, a drummer who has played with most of rocks royalty, replaced Mick Woodmansey.

It seemed a strange follow-up to Aladdin Sane because it was an album of cover versions which was quite unusual at the time but strangely enough not so unusual to prevent Bryan Ferry recording an album of covers and releasing it on the same day. The thing about Bowie's album is that unlike Ferry's 'These Foolish Things' his choice of songs were more recent, they included tracks originally recorded by Pink Floyd (See Emily Play), The Who (I Can't Explain and Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere), The Pretty Things (Rosalyn) and The Kinks (Where Have All The Good Times Gone)

"You can't go out dressed like that!"

Side Two was and is my favourite of the two sides, simply because the sequencing sounded perfect: "Friday on My Mind", "Sorrow", "Don't Bring Me Down", "Shapes of Things", "Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere" and "Where Have All The Good Times Gone". The digitally remastered version of the album highlighted an awful lot was going on in these tracks that wasn't easily discernible on the old analogue vinyl, Bowie was still adding strange speeded up or slowed down voices which added a certain quirkiness to proceedings, that said the end of "See Emily Play" was strange enough on vinyl without any enhancements.

It had been Bowie's intention to record an album of American songs from the mid to late sixties as a companion piece to this recording of British songs from 1964-1967, he never got round unlike fellow Mod Rod Stewart whose career was revived in the 21st century by mining a deep seam of American standards.

Bowie's glam period wasn't quite over, that would end with the release of  "Diamond Dogs" in April 1974, or at least with the single "Rebel Rebel" that was taken from that album, but this is really the last full album recorded in the spirit of those 'glam' times, which is ironic given that it is a covers album.

I've heard and seen in print many Bowie fans refer to this album as 'not being a proper Bowie album' simply because it doesn't contain any originals, which I think is a shame because it shows what a good outfit Bowie and his 'Spiders' were and Mick Ronson's guitar playing is as exemplary as always. on what was his last album with Bowie for twenty years before playing on the track 'I Feel Free' on the 1993 album 'Black Tie, White Noise' recorded shortly before his untimely death from cancer.

"Pin Ups" was Bowie's second number one album following 'Aladdin Sane' and with 'Diamond Dogs' making the top of the album charts the following summer Bowie had a hat trick of number one albums for the first time in his career - and on this occasion all within a year of each other


Span Ows said...

nice outfit...

many fans might say it isn't real Bowie but his vocals make every track very different.

Bryan Ferry had a history of doing things like that.

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