Wednesday, December 09, 2009

David Bowie - Aladdin Sane 30th Anniversary Edition (Virgin, 1973, 2003)

I was always a little agnostic about Bowie's music (and glam rock in general) because it seemed overly theatrical and lacking in the muscle found in the music I enjoyed. But when I heard the track "Panic In Detroit" from this album I changed my mind. Built around a snarling guitar riff, the performance is lean and raw, and they lyrics evoked the urban blight and fear that was gripping American cities at the time, that was also being chronicled by the likes of The Stooges, The MC5 and John Lee Hooker. Much of the material for this album was written during Bowie's tour of the United Sates following the release of the Ziggy Stardust LP, and the music makes interesting observations of a foreigner in a strange land. "Cracked Actor" nicely skewers the Hollywood star making machinery, so it is logical that it was composed in Los Angeles, at the heart of film and television production. "Time" and "The Prettiest Star" have an unusual feel for rock 'n' roll, very emotional and nearly operatic in its arrangement, while bordering on overwrought. The extravagance of these tracks is something of a mark against the drama of glam rock and this hammy nature would should bring about the punk rock revolution. On the other hand, the taught rockers of the album work quite well, opening with "Watch That Man," and the hit single "The Jean Genie," culminating in a break-neck cover of the Rolling Stones "Let's Spend the Night Together." The bonus disc on this version of the album has some very interesting material, like a version of "John, I'm Only Dancing" with a sax break, along with alternate mixes of the singles and live material recorded on the 1972 tour. Also there is a large, well done liner booklet included with interviews and stories. Aladdin Sane: 30th Anniversary Remaster - amazon.com

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