STARMAN 45 RELEASED 41 YEARS AGO TODAY. “So I picked on you-oo-oo…” Well, if life begins at forty, Starman is one year old today. Released this day in 1972, it still sounds as good now as it did way back then. The proof is here.
As hard as it may be to comprehend, David Bowie’s Drive-In Saturday was released forty years ago on this day in 1973. The track was backed by the non-album Ziggy Stardust outtake, Round And Round, a Chuck Berry song originally titled Around And Around. Drive-In Saturday was the second single taken from the forthcoming Aladdin Sane album (it was the follow up to The Jean Genie), and it made #3 on the UK’s official single chart. The song name-checks Twiggy (Twig the Wonder Kid) along with Mick Jagger, whose band The Rolling Stones also covered Around And Around and whose Let’s Spend The Night Together also appeared on Aladdin Sane. The success of the 45 was certainly not hampered by the unforgettable appearance of Bowie and The Spiders on the Russell Harty Show in the UK in January 1973. Pictured here is the original UK press advert and both sides of the upcoming exclusive Record Store Day Drive-In Saturday 45. The limited edition picture disc is to be released on April 20th along with two other exclusive-to-RSD Bowie 45s. Go here http://smarturl.it/driveinsaturday to remind yourself of just how good a recording Drive-In Saturday remains, a true Bowie classic still sounding as futuristically nostalgic and exciting as it always will do. [Source]
“The Prettiest Star” is a song by David Bowie, originally released as a single in 1970. Bowie had recently re-recorded an old Deram track, “London Bye Ta Ta”, intended as a follow-up single to “Space Oddity” in early 1970. However, the same sessions had also spawned a new composition named “The Prettiest Star”. Bowie wrote it for Angela Barnett, reputedly playing it down the telephone as part of his proposal to her. He also chose it as his next single, to the displeasure of manager Kenneth Pitt, who favoured “London Bye Ta Ta”. The track featured Marc Bolan on guitar, with whom Bowie would spend the next few years as a rival for the crown of the king of glam rock. Producer Tony Visconti, who brought the two aspiring pop stars together in the studio, recalled that the session went well until the end when Bolan’s wife June remarked to Bowie, “Marc is too good for you, to be playing on this record!” Despite receiving good notices, the single reportedly sold less than 800 copies, a major disappointment on the back of the success of “Space Oddity”. In 1973, a more glam-influenced version was recorded and released on the album Aladdin Sane, with Mick Ronson recreating Bolan’s original guitar part almost note-for-note.
The song was covered by the Scottish singer Lulu in 1974, who, according to biographer David Buckley, performed it in “a sleazy, almost Berlin cabaret style”. Lulu would recall Bowie inviting her to a concert he gave after which he met her in his hotel room saying: “I want to make an MF of a record with you because you’re a great singer.” Lulu – “I didn’t think it would happen but Bowie followed up two days later. He was übercool at the time and I just wanted to be led by him. I loved everything he did. I didn’t think ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ was the greatest song for my voice, but it was such a strong song in itself. I had no idea what it was about. In the studio Bowie kept telling me to smoke more cigarettes, to give my voice a certain quality.” Bowie produced the Lulu recording of “The Man Who Sold the World” with Mick Ronson during the Pin Ups sessions and also contributed guitar, saxophone and backing vocals. The remainder of the band included Ronson on guitar, Trevor Bolder on bass, Mike Garson on piano, and Aynsley Dunbar on drums. Lulu’s “The Man Who Sold the World” was released as a single on 11 January 1974 having been introduced by Lulu on the TOTP broadcast of 10 January 1974: the track only made its Top 50 debut (at #27) on the chart dated 16 January 1974 following a reprise performance by Lulu on the 24 January 1974 TOTP broadcast with a third TOTP performance by Lulu on the 7 February 1974 broadcast facilitating a boost from #13 to #5 on the chart dated 9 February 1974. In her TOTP performances in support of “The Man Who Sold the World” Lulu has been characterized as “dressed and sounding exactly like a diminutive Bowie”. On the UK Top 50 dated 16 February 1974 Lulu’s “The Man Who Sold the World” rose to #3 which proved to be the peak position for the track which subsequently made an accelerated chart descent with its overall Top 50 tenure being a comparatively brief nine weeks. Internationally “The Man Who Sold the World” afforded Lulu a major hit hit in Ireland (#8), the Netherlands (#10) and Germany (#13): the track was also a minor chart item in Australia at #81.
After leaving Bowie’s entourage after the “Farewell Concert” in 1973, Ronson released three solo albums. His solo debut Slaughter on 10th Avenue, featured a version of Elvis Presley’s, “Love Me Tender”, as well as Ronson’s most famous solo track, “Only After Dark”. In addition, his sister, Margaret Ronson, provided the backing vocals for the set.
[via Per Dreyer]
Bowie has said that the track “started out as a parody of a nightclub song, a kind of throwaway”. The musical arrangement featured the composer’s saxophone, Rick Wakeman’s keyboards and Mick Ronson’s strings, while the stuttering chorus has been compared to The Who. The lyrics focused on the compulsive nature of artistic reinvention (“Strange fascination, fascinating me / Changes are taking the pace I’m going through”) and distancing oneself from the rock mainstream (“Look out, you rock ‘n’ rollers”). The song has also been interpreted as touting “Modern Kids as a New Race”, a theme echoed on the following album track, “Oh! You Pretty Things”. Rolling Stone’s contemporary review of Hunky Dory considered that “Changes” could be “construed as a young man’s attempt to reckon how he’ll react when it’s his time to be on the maligned side of the generation schism”.
“The Width of a Circle” is a song written by David Bowie in 1970 for the album The Man Who Sold the World, released later that year in the U.S. and in April 1971 in the UK. It is the opening track to the album, a hard rocker with heavy metal overtones. Bowie had performed a shorter version of the song in concerts for several months before recording it. Featuring Mick Ronson’s lead guitar work and occasional choral effects from the band, this 8-minute song is divided into two parts. The music takes on a heavy R&B quality in the second half, where the narrator enjoys a sexual encounter – with God, the Devil or some other supernatural being, according to different interpretations – in the depths of Hell.
[via Simon Fisher Turner in London]
David Bowie’s lead guitar and sound architect during the golden period in the early 70s. A very gifted musician, incredible guitarist and pioneer in getting new sounds from the electric guitar. Ronson’s biggest artistic and commercial success was perhaps the Ziggy Stardust project.
[via Peter Holmgård]