Friday, September 05, 2008

Number 455 - David Bowie


Number 455

David Bowie

"Sorrow"

(1973)
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Genre:Glam Rock
art by minuette
Seen the new Metallica video yet? Well its uh .... ugh, i have to say, that the song, it is uh .. excellent. There i said it. [link to video] 196 million Cd's/albums sold, no not Metallica (they have only sold a measly 90 million), I'm talking about Bowie. Can you imagine what it must be like to sell almost 200 million albums??? And get a load of these facts ... 23 studio albums, 8 live albums, 22 compilation albums, 101 singles released [!], 27 Top Ten placings for singles [USA-UK-CAN], 29 [all albums] Top Ten album placings, 6 #1 singles placings and 8 #1 album placings [all albums]. All that leaves me is to ask the British nation ..... why has he not been Knighted yet?
art by angelpunk22
Pin Ups fits into David Bowie's output roughly where Moondog Matinee (which, strangely enough, appeared the very same month) did into the Band's output, which is to say that it didn't seem to fit in at all. Just as a lot of fans of Levon Helm et al. couldn't figure where a bunch of rock & roll and R&B covers fit alongside their output of original songs, so Bowie's fans -- after enjoying a string of fiercely original LPs going back to 1970's The Man Who Sold the World -- weren't able to make too much out of Pin Ups' new recordings of a brace of '60s British hits. Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane had established Bowie as perhaps the most fiercely original of all England's glam rockers (though Marc Bolan's fans would dispute that to their dying day), so an album of covers didn't make any sense and was especially confusing for American fans -- apart from the Easybeats' "Friday on My Mind" and the Yardbirds' "Shapes of Things," little here was among the biggest hits of their respective artists' careers, and the Who's "I Can't Explain" and "Anyway Anyhow Anywhere" were the only ones whose original versions were easily available or played very often on the radio; everything else was as much a history lesson, for Pink Floyd fans whose knowledge of that band went back no further than Atom Heart Mother, or into Liverpool rock (the Merseys' "Sorrow"), as it was a tour through Bowie's taste in '60s music.
art by Jellydalek
The latter was a mixed bag stylistically, opening with the Pretty Things' high-energy Bo Diddley homage "Rosalyn" and segueing directly into a hard, surging rendition of Van Morrison's Them's version of Bert Berns' "Here Comes the Night," filled with crunchy guitars; "I Wish You Would" and "Shapes of Things" were both showcases for Bowie's and Mick Ronson's guitars, and "See Emily Play" emphasized the punkish (as opposed to the psychedelic) side of the song. "Sorrow," which benefited from a new saxophone break, was actually a distinct improvement over the original, managing to be edgier and more elegant all at once, and could easily have been a single at the time, and Bowie's slow version of "I Can't Explain" was distinctly different from the Who's original -- in other words, Pin Ups was an artistic statement, of sorts, with some thought behind it, rather than just a quick album of oldies covers to buy some time, as it was often dismissed as being. In the broader context of Bowie's career, Pin Ups was more than an anomaly -- it marked the swan song for the Spiders from Mars and something of an interlude between the first and second phases of his international career; the next, beginning with Diamond Dogs, would be a break from his glam rock phase, going off in new directions. It's not a bad bridge between the two, and it has endured across the decades -- and the CD remasterings since the late '90s have made it worth discovering all over again. ~ [Bruce Eder, All Music Guide]
Sorrow
"Sorrow" is a song first recorded by The McCoys. It became a big hit in the United Kingdom in a version by The Merseys, reaching number 4 in the UK charts on 28 April 1966.
The song contains the lyric "with your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue", which is also referenced in the
The Beatles' track "It's All Too Much" from Yellow Submarine.
David Bowie's remake of "Sorrow" was the only single released in the UK from the Pin Ups covers project, reaching UK #3 and staying in the charts for 15 weeks. The B-side, “Amsterdam”, was a cover of a Jacques Brel song (originally called “Port of Amsterdam”), had been performed live by Bowie since 1969, and was recorded in 1971 for the Ziggy Stardust album. It was dropped from the final release, but included as it fitted in with “Sorrow”. In France, it was billed as the A-side of the single. ~ [Source:Wikipedia]
For more Bowie see Number 465, #495, #513 [with Queen] & #634
For the Who see Number 556For Pink Floyd see Number 497 & MM Vol #138
For Van Morrison see Number 987
For Beatles see Number 489, #587, #894 & #947
again, What does Rolling Cone think about Bowie?
With everyone from the Band to Don McLean doing oldies albums, the Who revisiting the Mod era, and David Bowie's guitarist Mick Ronson's obvious brilliance in the genre (as evidenced by his one-man Yardbirdmania on "Jean Genie"), the idea of an album re-creating mid-Sixties English rock classics seemed perfect. And every song included has been a personal favorite for years. Although many of the tracks are excellent, none stands up to the originals. That might be understandable when dealing with the Who (I doubt if they could equal their own "Anyway Anyhow Anywhere" today) or Pink Floyd. But even in 1965, any of a thousand bands could have done "Everything's Al' Right" as well as the Mojos, and even the McCoys did a better version** of "Sorrow" than the Merseys or Bowie. [**Hmmm, that will make this an interesting debate - i will leave it to you guys to decide which version is better]
I have always thought Bowie more than merely avant garde, and credit him with the best of intentions. And while Pinups may be a failure, it is also a collection of great songs, most of which are given a more than adequate, and always loving, treatment. Maybe the fairest conclusion to draw is that Bowie can't sing any other way, did the best he could, and the result isn't all that bad. ~ [Source RS -Greg Shaw 1973]
Rolling Stone magazine deemed their '455th Song of all Time' was "All Apologies" by Nirvana. Nirvana has appeared in The Definitive 1000 @ Number 480
Other songs with reference to David Bowie #457, #478, #480, #481, #483, #508, #512, #522, #582, #592, #616, #661, #674, #703, #739, #747, #760, #798, #874, #953, #971, #980
Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (Good Go No!) and the Album ranked at (Its a covers album)
This song has a Definitive 1000 rating of 77 out of 108
Mersey Beats Version
Search Artist here:1-2-3-A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z
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