Wednesday, March 25, 2009

David Bowie 7: Pin Ups

Even with a new album, Bowie couldn’t shed the Ziggy persona so easily, and announced at the final show of the 1973 tour (captured on an album not released until 1983) that it would be their last. By the time the next album happened, drummer Woody Woodmansey had already taken the retirement threat seriously, so Pin Ups was recorded with Aynsley Dunbar on the stool.
The album is a successful experiment, with a bunch of Mod-era songs cleverly redecorated to fit the Ziggy template. Some would have been familiar to FM radio listeners, and Bowie gives an incredibly affectionate performance throughout. (Mick Ronson also gets to showboat on guitar and string arrangements.)
The Pretty Things’ “Roslyn” chugs along with a relentless Bo Diddley beat, and their “Don’t Bring Me Down” is just one of many songs with that title. The Yardbirds’ take on “I Wish You Would” shows how much of a template it was for the Spiders sound, though Them’s “Here Comes The Night” is a little campy. The obscure “Everything’s Alright” sports a snaky riff, while “Where Have All The Good Times Gone” was deemed important enough to have its lyrics printed on the inner sleeve.
The most successful track is “Sorrow”, an obscure tune that most people hadn’t heard at all until he released his version as a single, while his takes on “Friday On My Mind”, “Shapes Of Things”, “See Emily Play” (with a tiring extended ending that lifts from familiar classical “riffs”) and the two Who covers have a little too much “visiting alien” effect on the vocals. Then again, if he landed from another planet and learned our crazy ways from the streets of Swinging London, who are we to argue? Fans didn’t mind; to them it sounded like the spaced-out Bowie they’d come to love.
The Rykodisc reissue added two more covers. “Port Of Amsterdam”, a Jacques Brel tune done acoustic with increasing volume, was recorded during the Ziggy sessions and used as the B-side for “Sorrow”. “Growin’ Up” is the Springsteen song from the earliest sessions for the next album, and features Ron Wood on guitar. Granted, neither was from the same era as the rest of the album, but they had to go somewhere.

David Bowie Pin Ups (1973)—3
1990 Rykodisc: same as 1973, plus 2 extra tracks

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