The latest release in our “Heard Them Here First” series traces the career of David Bowie via an eclectic selection of the other writers’ songs he chose to record. The collection kicks off with Paul Revere & the Raiders’ ‘Louie - Go Home’, which he covered as leader of Davie Jones & the King Bees in 1964, and concludes with ‘I Took A Trip (On A Gemini Spaceship)’ by the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, a song included on his 2002 album “Heathen”, and covers all points between.
While promoting “Heathen”, Bowie revealed he had been introduced to the Stardust Cowboy’s work in 1970 when the two were with the same record company: “[Mercury] gave me a stack of singles by this guy and I thought they were unbelievably atrocious, but in that wonderful way that you couldn’t stop listening to them, they were so awful.” There are no prizes for guessing the inspiration for Ziggy’s surname.
Just days after his final gig as Ziggy in 1973, Bowie began recording “Pin Ups”, an album of his favourite 1960s songs. The album is represented here by the Kinks’ ‘Where Have All The Good Times Gone’, the Pretty Things’ ‘Rosalyn’, the Mojos’ ‘Everything’s Alright’, ‘Sorrow’ by the Merseys and ‘Friday On My Mind’ by the Easybeats. “These are songs which really meant a lot to me,” Bowie recalled. “They’re all bands I used to go and hear play down the Marquee between 1964 and 1967. Each one meant something to me. It’s my London of the time.”
As one might expect from the chameleonic Bowie, the featured tracks emanate from a diverse array of musical genres, eras and artists – from Lotte Lenya & the Three Admirals’ 1930 recording of Bertolt Brecht & Kurt Weill’s ‘Alabama Song’ to the Pixies’ spiky ‘Cactus’ from 1988’s “Surfer Rosa”. Other unlikely bedfellows: Johnny Mathis and Iggy Pop; Bobby Bland and the Velvet Underground; Jacques Brel and Chuck Berry; Martha & the Vandellas and Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers, make for a strikingly wide-ranging programme.
The booklet features an essay by Ian Johnston, who also wrote the notes for our recent “The New York Dolls Heard Them Here First” and “The Ramones Heard Them Here First” collections.
By Mick Patrick