David Bowie tonight – excerpts of two sessions, poles apart in style. December 24, 1967 and January 28, 1972.
David Bowie was a leading figure in the music industry and is often considered to be one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, acclaimed by critics and fellow musicians, particularly for his innovative work during the 1970s. His career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, with his music and stagecraft having a significant impact on popular music.
Evidence of that are these two sessions from two different stages in his career. His April 1967 solo single, “The Laughing Gnome”, using speeded-up thus high-pitched vocals, failed to chart. Released six weeks later, his album debut, David Bowie, an amalgam of pop, psychedelia, and music hall, met the same fate. It was his last release for two years.
In 1972, dressed in a striking costume, his hair dyed reddish-brown, Bowie launched his Ziggy Stardust stage show with the Spiders from Mars—Ronson, Bolder, and Woodmansey—at the Toby Jug pub in Tolworth on 10 February 1972. The show was hugely popular, catapulting him to stardom as he toured the UK over the next six months and creating, as described by Buckley, a “cult of Bowie” that was “unique—its influence lasted longer and has been more creative than perhaps almost any other force within pop fandom.” The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972), combining the hard rock elements of The Man Who Sold the World with the lighter experimental rock and pop of Hunky Dory, was released in June. “Starman”, issued as an April single ahead of the album, was to cement Bowie’s UK breakthrough: both single and album charted rapidly following his July Top of the Pops performance of the song. The album, which remained in the chart for two years, was soon joined there by the 6-month-old Hunky Dory. At the same time the non-album single “John, I’m Only Dancing”, and “All the Young Dudes”, a song he wrote and produced for Mott the Hoople, were successful in the UK. The Ziggy Stardust Tour continued to the United States.
If you missed the Pre-Ziggy Stardust period, here are two tracks to remind you – his version of Lou Reed’s Waiting For The Man pretty much sums up what was to explode on the scene.
Crank it up.