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Bowie Odyssey 1973 by Simon Goddard

Bowie Odyssey 1973 by Simon Goddard


Bowie Odyssey 1973 by Simon GoddardBowie Odyssey 1973 Simon Goddard

Pubished Omnibus Press – out now

Simon Goddard’s year-by-year account of David Bowie’s meteoric 70’s progress continues with one other fantastically assembled collage of details, goals, concepts and pictures.

Naturally, the guide begins the place the 1972 guide left him at Haddon Corridor in suburban Beckenham. The late 60’s Bowie of Arts Labs and free festivals remains to be evident, however the home will quickly be left behind like David Jones and the King Bees.

It was a rare yr by anybody’s requirements, the breakthrough Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust album was adopted by the covers undertaking Pin Ups after which Aladdin Sane, together with a relentless schedule of US excursions, lots of UK and European gigs, transferring up from golf equipment, dance halls and faculties to the massive league venues. The extended practice and sea voyages necessitated by his worry of flying solely added to the mystique. The place there had been a tantalising public gestation of the Ziggy songs, Aladdin Sane was nearly like a diary entry of his responses to the US in songs like Panic In Detroit, mixed with a rougher extra Stones-like sound displaying his ascent to the realms of the 70’s exhausting rock heavy hitters

There’s an amazing chapter a couple of probably career-threatening showcase Large Gig at Earls Court docket. I’d seen the legendary Rainbow present with Roxy Music and Lindsay Kemp the yr earlier than and seemed ahead to the massive present at Earls Court docket. The chapter right here captures completely the sheer awfulness of the gig – horrible sound, no large display screen, simply tiny figures flailing round in entrance of screaming upset children. Seeing him the yr earlier than felt like being forward of the denim-clad sport, however now it was extra like being at a Bay Metropolis Rollers present, children in tartan gear rapidly swopped for Bowie scarves and fluffy pink bomber jackets. The competitors had been taking notes, with Slade, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin ensuring they’d obtained sound and imaginative and prescient excellent for his or her showcase gigs later within the yr.

Simon Goddard makes some superb factors about how astute and aggressive Bowie was with anybody he noticed as competitors. He cultivated a friendship with Mick Jagger, getting a foothold with the following stage of stardom. Roxy Music’s Brian Ferry was a possible rival although – comparable artwork college background and the group’s look prompt somebody had been keeping track of Bowie’s progress. So when Ferry let slip he was planning a covers album, Bowie was off to France to document and knock out the Pin Ups album in document time. Former 60’s pal Marc Bolan was quickly left standing in Bowie’s wake.

One of many guide’s strongest options is how precisely the creator numbers the entire plastic Chinnichap scene (and its many copyists) as a lumpen cash-in by largely failed MOR acts like Mud and Alvin Stardust – with particular scorn reserved for Gary Glitter creepily making an attempt to consign his Paul Gadd/Raven life to the depths of the Thames. Glam Rock was quickly each day tabloid fodder and acts like these had been a lot simpler to deal with than Bowie, along with his gender politics and connections with bizarre arty stuff like Andy Warhol’s Manufacturing unit entourage, Japanese Noh theatre and Burroughs’ cut-up experiments.

After all, it’d be straightforward to place collectively a listing of the yr’s gigs, excursions, recording classes, launch dates and chart placings – which would definitely present what a manic part 1973 was for him, however the place the guide actually scores is in wanting under the floor and subtly weaving in a sequence of characters and anecdotes that get the texture of the time. Malcolm Maclaren – then in his fervent rock’n’roll revival part – flits out and in of the narrative. And when the motion switches to a van sneaking up behind the Hammersmith Odeon, quickly to go off laden with stolen Spiders from Mars tools, sure for Kings Highway, there’s no must hammer house the purpose of the place the deed options in punk mythology.

The guide abounds with such refined touches. One other future Pistol, Sid Vicious (named this time) seems as one of many hardcore followers following Bowie from gig to gig. I bear in mind Rolling Stone’s pleasure at its scoop in placing Bowie along with William Burroughs – right here recorded as a stream of loopy off-the-cuff concepts from very wired Bowie, whose precise data of the writings is fairly minimal, (“a reside cut-up theatrical efficiency”, for instance) whereas Burroughs quietly and politely tries to maintain up, earlier than taking his depart – advising Bowie that it’s all the time a good suggestion to trim one’s nostril hairs earlier than doing coke. Angie Bowie seems all through the narrative like a type of Greek Refrain, commenting on the motion or hinting at what’s to return, together with a retinue of suitably cool lovers. Tales like that of Bowie’s neighbour and authentic “Naughty Tory” Lord Lampton give nice snapshots of the 60’s comedown vibe.

Now he had the highlight, Bowie went on to announce a sequence of more and more grandiose tasks – largely unrealised – a stage musical model of Ziggy Stardust, one other musical primarily based on George Orwell’s 1984, ultimately nixed by the author’s widow and several other Hollywood movies. It reveals the extent of his ambition, and the way far supervisor Tony DeFries was ready to go in his quest to make his protege right into a multimedia worldwide earner, which meant breaking him within the US market, whether or not by means of music or movies. Man and supervisor had been nicely matched – for all of the excessive instances and wild creativity, Bowie was pushed by a want to make it allied to a conviction that he was destined to attain his objective. There are some revealing seems at a number of the casualties discarded alongside the best way, similar to long-term Bowie pal Iggy signed as a favour, left to stew in infinite rehearsal time, exhausting drug craziness and dropped after the Bowie-produced Uncooked Energy album, or the Spiders themselves, handled as disposable employed palms. At instances the ambition has a ruthless edge, the Skinny White Duke taking form within the wings. The highway to the next yr’s decadence fest, Diamond Canines is clearly marked out.

There’s additionally a properly chosen color picture part, starting from Bowie in his designer finery, the competitors – Slade, Bolan et al, and some zeitgeist indicators like Bjorn Borg, Bianca Jagger, Marianne Faithfull, culminating in a Beatlesque fan chase alongside the platform at Charing Cross.

I’d say this guide is fairly important studying for the intense Bowie fan. Odyssey 73 catches Bowie in a fascinatingly transitional part the place he leaves the Sixties behind and learns how one can play with identities and ideas. The frenetic vibe of the time is correct there – and with the story about to get even crazier, I can’t watch for Bowie ’74!


All phrases by Den Browne, you’ll be able to learn extra on his creator profile right here:

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