The first single from the album, Black Tie White Noise, 'Jump They Say' was released in 1993. The song is about Bowie’s feelings for his schizophrenic half-brother, Terry, who had committed suicide eight years earlier. The inspiration of legendary funk man, Nile Rodgers, who produced this track, is evident on this jazz influenced recording. It peaked at no. 9 on the UK singles chart.
When Bowie released 'Rebel Rebel,' he was just coming out of his glam rock phase. It was the beginning of 1974 and Bowie was evolving yet again. From the album Diamond Dogs, this song unusually, did not feature the guitar work of his close friend Mick Ronson. Instead, Bowie played the guitar parts, himself. In the mid-1970s, I worked at a perfume factory which produced a fragrance called Rebel and I always wondered which came first, the song or the fragrance.
This is a song that was made famous by a band called Mott The Hoople. David Bowie admired the band greatly but they were struggling to make the big time. Bowie wrote this song and gave it to them and it became a huge glam rock hit in 1973. The first release of the song caused a bit of trouble due to the mention of a character called Wendy stealing clothes from Mark & Sparks, (Marks & Spencer.) Therefore, it had to be re-recorded. Although Bowie never released the song as a single or on an album, there are recordings of him singing it on lost tapes which can be heard on YouTube and various other media.
From the 1979 album, Lodger, this single, 'Boys Keep Swinging' made it to no. 7 in the UK. At the suggestion of co-writer Brian Eno, the band all swapped instruments in order to get a less professional, 'garage band' sound.
Written by Bert Berns, a famous song writer on the 1960s blues rock scene, 'Here Comes the Night was originally a hit for the Northern Irish band, Them, in 1964. In 1973, David Bowie released an album of cover songs. The album was called Pin-Ups. I bought the album at the time and I loved what Bowie did with each of the brilliant songs on it. I wanted to include one of the tracks in this list and after listening to the album over and over, I decided to plump for this one.
Written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, this song was originally recorded by the crooner, Johnny Mathis for the 1957 film of the same title. Bowie recorded his version of it for his 1976 album, Station to Station. It’s been recorded many times by some great artists, including Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson and George Michael. I particularly love Bowie’s version of this haunting song.
In 1973, I thought it was cool to dress as Aladdin Sane and of course I spent many hours listening to that album and I loved every track on it. 'Drive in Saturday' was one that I would sing at the top of my voice wherever I went. Can a song be sassy? If it can, then that is how I would like to describe this song - echoes of the music from the 1950s yet with a touch of mystery about the future. Love it – love it – love it.
During the couple of years that followed Neil Armstrong’s moon walk, we were all fascinated by space travel and there were a lot of artists whose works were inspired by the subject. Leading the way was our own David Bowie and he had us all wondering if astronauts were going to discover that there was life on the red planet. However, despite the title of this song, Bowie has never really made it clear exactly what it’s actually about. It’s all rather abstract. For a teenager in the 1970s though it didn’t really matter, it was such a great sound. We were all mixed up about everything anyway.
Of course, we all knew that Ziggy Stardust was just a character who was invented by David Bowie but back in 1972, we all wanted to believe that Ziggy was real. It was an exciting time for young people, when everything and anything was possible despite the troubles of the world… And believe me there were plenty of them. Ziggy was a superstar guitarist and every young aspiring guitarist wanted to be him. For me, this is probably the first song that comes to mind when I hear the name David Bowie.
Bowie wrote this song for his future bride, Angela Barnett. As part of his marriage proposal to her, he played it down the telephone to her. It became the follow up single to 'Space Oddity.' The year was 1970. This track features Marc Bolan on guitar. Two years later, 'The Prettiest Star' was included on the Aladdin Sane album. This is a truly beautiful, simple song. It is my very favourite Bowie track.