Friday, January 15, 2016

Aladdin Sane - David Bowie

The last memorial album I did didn't go over so well, so why not review an album that I consider one of my all time favorites. It is in, some what, continuous play on my iPod/Spotify/iTunes/Anything Really. And as much as it sucks he's gone, let's hope this review is positive enough, though I'm not going to lie to you, I know it'll be a fitting goodbye to one of my heroes. In past reviews I've mentioned how much he means to me as a musican/writer and there is no way I'd ever be able to pay him back, and since I need more time to dissect Blackstar, Aladdin Sane is the natural choice for this (if not counting the ones I've done and not Lodger). But anyway, here are the facts, this is album number six. This was the first of two albums released in 1973, the other the covers album Pin Ups. This was released in April of 1973 and was mainly written while David was on his American tour for Ziggy. This is looked at as Ziggy in America, and that's a great way to look at it.
  1. Watch That Man: maybe not the best song here but damn is it a solid glam rocker. From the hard rock guitar and the piano and the nice ass drum beat. This song is a terrific opener. Like I said this is pretty straight forward tine, one listen basically gives you everything there. You might pick up on that piano later, but it's still a nice rocker.  Actually the backing vocals are awesome and that piano reminds me a bit of that live performance of Search and Destroy on the Legacy Edition of Raw Power
  2. Aladdin Sane (1917-1939-197?): So we opened with a rocker, a straight forward tune. The following track couldn't be more different. With a title that hints WWIII could happen sometime in the 70's this odd European tune is one of the things I love about this album. It kind of throws left hooks. This song has some gorgeous piano from one Mike Garrison. The chorus here is as catchy as any of his other, more poppy songs. That guitar riff, and that tone (esp. During the verses, Damn!). I love the sort of freak out with the saxophone backing up the insane, almost mad man playing of the piano. I mean yes there is logic to it, but to a regular person.... WTF. I'm serious if I played the solo section for someone out of context they'd most likely be confused. This song is great and I couldn't ask for something else for this spot here. And that ending :)
  3. Drive-In Saturday: A classic, and by that I'm serious. I guess this is about people in post apocalyptic.... just look it up. It's kind of interesting. Plot aside, this has a doo-wop sort of vibe to it. It isn't straight doo-wop though, like some of his best tunes.... It has this weird atmosphere to it. Seriously, I mean it almost makes no sense, but it's a solid ass fucking song. I love every second from the sax to the vocals to those backing harmonies. Plus the lyrics are pretty funny, in a kooky way. 
  4. Panic In Detroit: Another rocker, though this is more of a hard rocker. I can't recall if this is about anything, like a real riot in Detroit, or whatever but I honestly don't care at the moment. This song is much better than the meaning and it doesn't need a meaning to make it good. There's a reason he played this live in the years to follow. It's a great rocker that is probably the closest The Spiders would get to TMWSTW. There are actually riffs where it sounds like it could go into the extended solos on that record. Even the opening just shouts rock and roll. I mean really. Also I should mention, this sonically sounds different from the other tracks, but not enough to not fit on this mixed bag of rock and roll tunes. I love the backing singers here too and we get to hear Mick just rip.
  5. Cracked Actor: This is the only song I can say that I don't either Love. I mean it isn't bad, but compared to the other tracks I don't think it's as strong. You can almost look at this as a rewrite of Jean Genie. I mean this is a good glam rock tune, I just don't Love it you know. 
  6. Time: This song starts out with a piano that is avant-gardeish. There is this vaudeville feeling to this track. I feel like this could be a cabaret number. It's very odd, there is a type of closure you get with this song.... now at least. It's got everything here that makes this album great, vocals, I love the guitar when the song gets more intense. I love how it goes back to the beginning and just feels like odd, even thought in reality it isn't the odd. Mick has some great guitar parts here that just add and, he's fucking an amazing arranger period Those backing vocals are great. I mean in reality most of what makes these songs great is on each song. The only thing is they all are different enough, to where you could call this a mixed bag of songs.
  7. The Prettiest Star: A rerecorded version of the 1969 single, written about Angie Bowie. On the original Marc Bolan played lead, and Mick tried to replicate that guitar on this recording. This is a happy song, and I mean I feel like it's sort of heartfelt. It sort of reminds me a bit of Kooks or Soul Love or just a number that may not necessarily be the "insane genius theorist" he is elsewhere. I like songs that show another side to a guy, this is one of those. Nice saxophones by the way :)
  8. Let's Spend The Night Together: The only cover on this album, it was originally released as a single by The Rolling Stones in 1967. Opening with a sort of weird heavy psych, feed back and then what I can describe as atonal piano hits. The songs rushes into a performance, and damn this thing fly's by. To be honest, the best performance of the song. This almost sounds like the original, but better heavier and more rockin'. 
  9. The Jean Genie: What can I say about this track. It feels like a pirate is playing this. Seriously, I much prefer to think the Rebel Rebel video Bowie is singing this. This riff is just one of those, and yes you can hear it towards the ending of Width of a Circle, but here it's just so oddly perfect. I can kind of imagine people in the 70's going... what the fuck, this is really good, but still what is this. There is a reason this is as famous a song as it is. It's classic. Go Mickey Go!
  10. Lady Grinning Soul: Argue with me all you will, but I believe this to be the most romantic track to ever be written... ever. You can't top this, not Marvin not Smokey, not Ole Blue Eyes nor anyone else. Keep on listing songs, you'll never change my mind. From Mr. Garrison's opening piano rolls, to David's sole vocal introduction. Listen to this thing, I mean really. Everything here sounds so damn good, and just the playing is so tight. I really can't find anything wrong here. I love the saxophones, I love the Spanish solo. The piano and guitar duet, Mick you are a genius. This word is almost too good for words, every time I listen to this I cry a bit. This song is perfect.
Overall I have to give this a 9/10. This s very much an Americanized version of Ziggy. On top of that its a great fucking album, there isn't much to complain about here. I mean really, every songs is unique, and they are all solid performances. I guess you could complain there's a cover, but that's just nit picking. Bowie my friend, you may be gone, but I know you're one of the few people to make a string, constantly great to amazing albums, from 1969 to 1980. Though I may never be able to tell you, or thank you for everything you done for me I also don't think I'd be able to either. Sometimes, actions speak louder than words. I'm gonna miss you.

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