David Bowie

ARTICLE ABOUT David Bowie FROM SOUNDS, March 3, 1973

This was a really strange idea. Put the staff of Sounds in a room together and let them discuss one contemporary artist, then print it in Sounds later. Does it have value? Not so much at the time maybe, except for the fact that these people to a certain extent were closer to Bowie than most other people. Today I would say that this article have more value than when it was originally printed, as these are first-hand impressions of the man as he was seen by these writers at an early point in his career. This is what people actually thought at the time, and because of that it is quite interesting to read.
Enjoy this one.

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A new series in which Sounds` staff analyse today`s leading artists

OUTERVIEW

Bowie: Man and the mask
“Nobody knew how to handle Bowie – he was a total unknown quantity right up to `Hunky Dory` really”

Sounds writers, I assume like Sounds readers, tend to spend a fair amount of their time sitting around talking – about music and musicians as often as not. As a change from straight interviews or the single-minded bigotry of our personal opinion pieces, Jerry Gilbert (hereinafter referred to as JG) had the bright idea of recording a series of these conversations and getting them down on paper – some multi-minded bigotry for you. So, the scene is one rainy night in the Holloway Road in an otherwise deserted office, on the desk is a tape recorder, a bottle of wine, several packets of peanuts and a stack of David Bowie albums, and sprawled around it are JG, Penny Valentine (PV), Martin Hayman (MH), and myself, Steve Peacock (SP). We chose David Bowie as the first subject for these highly subjective quadrologues. We hope it provides you with some food for thought, and maybe some fuel for your letter-writing pens.

SP: The point that struck me listening to some of those earliest songs was that he seems to have projected himself totally into a certain image for that album, and the same applies to “Ziggy” – he`s put himself completely into this figment of the imagination which is Ziggy Stardust. It seems to be an approach he`s used fairly consistently.

IMAGE

PV: But he must be very upset at the moment that his image has taken over from his songs.
SP: No, I`d think he`s very pleased. What used to upset me, or annoy me, when “Ziggy” came out and all these new people started going for David Bowie, was that the guy who`d made “Hunky Dory” was getting lost somewhere back along the line.
I think that`s true still, but I think it`s his intention that David Bowie doesn`t really exist, and all that really does exist at the moment for the purposes of music and performing is this creation, this mask which at the moment is Ziggy Stardust but which is gradually being phased into Aladdin Sane or whatever comes next.
MH: So he`s operating from behind a mask, which releases his personality to do and think as he likes.
PV: But there`s still a difference between the live gigs which he did, say, three or four years ago and the live gigs he does now, as far as image is concerned, because he was just David Bowie sitting on stage with a guitar – there was no outward show except that he was pretty, basically, and perhaps a little bit vulnerable. That`s where the difference has occured so much, in the live performance.
The point about Bowie which is maybe responsible for how he is today, partly anyway, is that when he released that very first album everybody within the business thought it was an incredible album for that time because nobody had been writing those kind of songs before within that context, but he couldn`t get any commercial success – partly because he wouldn`t do many live gigs and he wouldn`t take the business seriously. Or so he said anyway.
They were really the first songs that were slightly quirky, slightly unusual in that way – even the early Beatles` things were fairly simple. I think he was the first English “pop” artist to really bring any kind of lyrical quality, and even melodic on occasions, peculiar little ideas into music. It was commercially unviable at the time and he had no real direction through a lot of his work, and I think this was half of his problem, and I think this is why he`s so strong on direction at the moment – at last he`s found “A Wav”.

But the fact about Bowie is that I think in many ways he felt very insecure for a long time because I don`t think anybody actually ever believed in him – I don`t know whether he believed in himself, but certainly there was never any direction within himself about how he would go. He would only do the odd concert, he would never do anything…
SP: You knew him at the time. Did “Space Oddity” take him by surprise when it became a hit? Because he didn`t follow it up.
PV: Yes, but you`ve got to remember that at that time he didn`t want to do any gigs – he did one tour with Humble Pie when they first started, which was a complete fiasco of a tour, and what he found was that when he sat on stage with his guitar and sang numbers like “Cygnet Committeee” for instance off that album, the audience were incredibly restless – all they wanted to hear was “Space Oddity”. And he became incredibly disillusioned in a funny way, because I think he felt that “Space Oddity” would be a kind of lever to get all his other songs heard, but because it was such a commercial proposition, far more than his other songs on the face of it…
JG: But if you can forget that “Space Oddity” was a hit, was that a stronger song than his others of that period?

FLASHY

PV: I`d say as a commercial proposition it was.
SP: I think the point comes out that his commercial success has always come with a rather flashy, rather flip and superficial kind of imagery – I mean “Cygnet Committee” didn`t make it, but “Space Oddity” did. It was a clever little story, a bit “weird” because it was about space and stuff….
MH: Spacey things were very much in vogue then, because it was about the time of Hendrix and the Byrds… it was in the air as it were.
SP: OK. Then he dived, and then came back with this mythical Ziggy Stardust figure.
MH: No, no, no – Ziggy Stardust surely was preceded by “Hunky Dory”.
SP: But “Hunky Dory” wasn`t a success commercially – it didn`t sell well at the time.
JG: Even so it did sufficient…
PV: But the thing you`ve got to remember is that up until Ziggy Stardust there were very few people who`d seen Bowie live on stage – I`d reckon that probably only five per cent or less of the audience he gets now ever saw him live up until then, and I don`t think they even knew about him until then – he was a minority appeal artist.
MH: It seems to me he`s gone from one extreme to another – from being extremely elitist with only a small band of people who were going to get into what he`s writing, to a very, very broad spectrum. It seems conscious.
PV: I have a feeling it was more very clever timing – whether on his part or not. His career went through so many peculiar patches and up until “Hunky Dory”, say, I`d seen him a lot and he never, never wanted to get involved in the business, never wanted to do gigs, couldn`t take it seriously. I don`t know how much of that was that he had no confidence in himself, which might partly be because he couldn`t get off the ground, couldn`t do any big gigs, but he always said he didn`t want to.
SP: So what do you think changed his mind?
PV: I think having a new manager.
SP: So why did he get a new manager?
PV: I don`t know what happened. I know that he was with Ken Pitman. I know that came to a halt. His argument directly after that and just before DeFries – he told me about DeFries – was that finally he found somebody who gave him confidence. I think more it gave him direction. See, nobody knew how to handle Bowie – he was a total unknown quantity, right up to “Hunky Dory” really.

DIRECTION

He had these ideas about mime and things like that, and the business as a whole couldn`t quite see him in any kind of context. It`s very difficult to find out whether suddenly he fitted in or whether he suddenly found a direction.
SP: At the time of “Hunky Dory” or just after, I felt he started consciously creating this kind of wall between him and the public David Bowie.
PV: Well yes, but since none of us have met him since it`s hard to tell which is which now. The only thing that gives you a clue – from our experience at work – is that it seems he doesn`t want to talk to anyone who might have known him earlier on and all he seems to want is somebody who will reflect the image that he has now.
JG: So why is it that a few people have suddenly become a whole lot of people – is it just the songs, is it the image…?
PV: I don`t think the actual songs have changed much over the past, say, six years, so it must be that the audience taste has changed, that the promotion`s better…
JG: The presentation`s changed completely, not the songs.
MH: I think Bowie`s appeal now is very broadly based. I mean obviously – shall we say discriminating listeners – realise that the guy`s got quality, real quality to his songs which is something that he`s always had but hasn`t been appreciated up until now, plus the image is much more broad based – this kind of hermaphroditic thing that he has means that he appeals to blokes as well as chicks. Also in a fairly broad spectrum; young kids can take it straight because he`s a beautiful character, and the 25-year-olds can appreciate that he`s got this mask and is working the business very cleverly from there, and still appreciate that he`s writing good songs.

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BALANCE

PV: The only worry I have about him actually is that at the moment – and I don`t think this is going to last because I think the image will finally die and the songs will stand up – the majority of people buying the albums are buying them because of Bowie. I don`t think the songs have the importance the image has, I don`t think the balance is there.
I think he`s being very clever in a way, getting the songs to the people, and I think eventually the importance of the image will fade slightly and the songs will be left.
JG: Do you think they will, or do you think the songs will fade too?
PV: No, I don`t think the songs will fade – well, as much as anyone can say.
If you look at him and hear him now, he`s the epitome of everything that`s happening in its strongest and most obvious way now, in the same way that Pete Townshend was the epitome of everything that was happening in its most volatile way at that time (the time of “My Generation”). I can`t quite express it, but he seems to have captured the freneticism of the kind of 1984 syndrome – I see something from the future as opposed to something that`s happening now.
JG: A sort of “Clockwork Orange” future.
PV: Yes, very much – he always reminds me of steel buildings. Very strange.
SP: But to put it another way, he`s not so much a projection of the future, as of a kind of future he`s created that wouldn`t necessarily have happened without him. He`s taken a load of elements from science fiction and all that kind of stuff and made himself into a kind of hero of that generation – and people are beginning to believe in it.

PV: The other great thing about him is that he has this sense of outrage where he outrages all but his followers – when you think how the Stones used to outrage all the adults, he brings out that same kind of response.
Half of the attraction young kids have always felt towards a hero – and you can forget all these little groups who wear make-up and all that rhubarb, they`re not heroes – is something that another generation would maybe find slightly distasteful. And I think to a great extent he`s taken a lot of his influences from what`s going down in New York, for instance, which is not particularly happening in England but which English audiences like to relate to because they love to relate to things American, to something they haven`t actually experienced but it is a kind of trend image. I think Bowie and DeFries between them decided to go out and provide a great shock factor to English rock music – it may not be so much that now, but certainly at the beginning it was; there`d never been that kind of a person up from the British rock scene, ever.
JG: Bowie`s American thing though was very strange – he had the tour set up, and he did it, and he did it really well, and then they started ploughing in these extra dates on the West Coast, until he got to San Francisco which is where I saw him on Hallowe`en. And it was the freakiest show I`d ever been to in my life – I could have sworn I saw Bowie four times before he actually got out on stage, there were people there who looked so like Bowie, but then there were hardly any people there anyway.

FREAKS

The general consensus seemed to be that San Francisco, which is supposed to be the great trend maker, has got its own freaks and it doesn`t really need imported English ones.
PV: Which is why I don`t think he could have started this whole thing in America, or in New York, but the English rock audience by and large is wanting to get in on what`s going on there but is still alienated by the distance…
I think the thing is, you see, that Bowie has at last found a place to belong, after all these years – I mean it`s been a long time he`s been ligging about, whether he took it seriously or not, for all the mitigating reasons that he didn`t get off the ground. I think at last he`s found a place he kicks off from – everyone needs a jumping-off point and I think he`s got it now.
JG: But I just think the metamorphosis might start wearing very thin very soon and I don`t think he can keep forcing a concept change without the material. I wonder whether his sort of end was after “Hunky Dory”, because I find the rift between “Hunky Dory” and “Ziggy Stardust” rather more… I mean “Hunky Dory” turned me on to David Bowie who I`d always been aware of, but “Ziggy Stardust” held me by virtue of the image but not by virtue of the songs, and the next album won`t do that for me.

CRITICAL

PV: Yes, but you`re now sitting in a critical capacity – you see things in a different way, we all do, let`s face it, and I don`t think you can say he hasn`t got a lasting quality just because it did that for you. I think the fact is that after all these years he`s got success, what he does with it is another matter, but I don`t think he`s very easily going to let it go. But the other thing is that a lot of the things he`s always wanted to do, like the mime company and things, he`s now able to do because when you get success you have the facility to do things like that.
SP: People say that, people say that the success of having hit records and being on the front pages of the papers, has allowed him to put into practice the ideas he`s always had – but I thought the Rainbow concert with the mime company was mediocre in the extreme. It didn`t take the mime far enough, it didn`t take the music far enough, the musicians were used as props, stuck under bits of scaffolding.
So does it mean that having got to this pitch of commercial success, he isn`t really able to put into practice the things he was doing before – that the commercial pressures on him make him water everything down for public consumption? I didn`t speak to anyone else who felt it wasn`t as good as it could have been – everyone I spoke to thought it was great, Bowie has brought mime to a mass audience. Yet what he`d done was to bring an apology for mime to a mass audience, and they loved it.

MH: And his policy of record releases seems to be taking him further and further away from the kind of audience he could present a mime show to – for example to me, “The Jean Genie” sounds exactly like T. Rex on a pub juke box.
PV: This is what makes me think that he`s been so influenced by Bolan, from an outward point of view, from a show point of view. They`ve been friends for an awful long time, so now you think of a guy that cannot get any success, and who`s been sort of half trying – I mean, despite the fact that he always denied he wanted to be involved. I`m sure that you don`t make records unless you want people to hear them and you want to get some kind of recognition. So he sees Bolan suddenly projecting an entirely new image to an entirely new audience – I think it had a great influence on him, far more than he`d ever admit to.
I think their careers run very parallel actually, except that T. Rex supplied a want to a very young audience and Bowie has manoeuvred his image in a slightly different way.
SP: I`d say T. Rex supplied a need whereas Bowie created a demand.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Darryl Way (Curved Air), Geordie, Nazareth, Steve Marriott, Average White Band, Elton John, Francis Rossi (Status Quo), Slade, Thin Lizzy, Stackridge, Peter Gabriel, Mike Heron, Jesse Winchester.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

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ARTICLE ABOUT David Bowie FROM SOUNDS, October 7, 1972

Always nice with a concert review from the time when glam was in its heyday! Enjoy.

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Ziggy in New York City

Chuck Pulin reports from Carnegie Hall

Thursday night in New York. Outside Carnegie Hall a huge spotlight (normally reserved for Hollywood premieres and before that, plane spotting World War Two-style) straffs across the sell-out audience gathering outside. This is the night David Bowie must find success for Ziggy Stardust – must cement all the publicity, all the quotes, all the flamboyance that has winged its way to the States from Britain in the past six months.
Well the audience were certainly in the mood to get involved in every way – they turned up as only New Yorkers could, more heavily glittered, more mincing, more stupendously dressed and made up (male and female) than anything from an Andy Warhol film factory. Everyone was busy watching their own reflections in the foyer.

DIMMED

Lights blazed on multi-coloured hair, boys in specially sprayed masks… camp followers in more ways than one. Todd Rundgren was spotted fighting his way through to his seat, Andy Warhol-natch-turned up with his entourage. The scene was set for Ziggy Stardust – to reflect and be reflected in the thousands of up-turned expectant, mascared, rouged faces.
As the lights dimmed the march from Kubrick`s “Clockwork Orange” flooded through the hall – hitting its climax instantaneously with three strobe lights which played on the entrance of the band so that they looked like a Buster Keaton movie.
Some of the audience was already on its feet cheering – the rest were lighting up in preparation – and Ziggy was on in gold lame and into “Changes”.
The band, Ronson, Boulder and Woodman, were supplemented by US keyboard player Mike Garrison, a New York piano teacher, and it seemed a shame that often the fine rock and roll playing from the band was overlooked in the enthusiasm for Bowie himself.
Still, a nice acoustic version of “Space Oddity” came over with good results and “White Heat, White Light” took the crowd up and off for a five minute standing ovation and even stopped the dancing couples that had been literally jitterbugging in the aisles earlier in the set.
Carnegie Hall was possibly Bowie`s most important American date. It`s New York that seals artists` status. Audiences` and critics` approval here is all important to the final judgement even though it`s usual that the out of town dates have more say in making or breaking an artist.
As far as Bowie`s concerned his entourage must have been very encouraged by Thursday night, and it appears that outside gigs – like Cleveland and Memphis – have already sold out.

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IMAGE

At Carnegie Hall ticket touts were offering tickets for 30 dollars a piece for the show – and so well have sales for Bowie`s concerts been going that apparently a further 15 dates have been added to his US intinerary.
I didn`t feel the amount of hype watching Bowie as I`ve sometimes felt coming off these kind of artists in the past. The audience on Thursday did seem to be totally involved, captured by image, but equally wrapped up in the music.
I`d say Bowie is attracting the same kind of audiences as Alice Cooper brings in and it looks very likely that the success on Thursday will bring Bowie back to New York – this time for Madison Square.
Bowie was tired and not too well on Thursday night. He`d had `flu all day and because he won`t fly endured long trips overland for his gigs.
Nevertheless, he came to conquer New York and he did conquer the audience at Carnegie. RCA Records have just announced plans to re-issue much of Bowie`s material – including “Space Oddity” and “Man Who Sold The World” albums.
It seems that where T. Rex have suffered, Bowie`s won through.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Dan Hicks, Home, Tom Paxton, Camel, Dave Davies, Chick Corea, Mott The Hoople, Jimi Hendrix, Stackridge, Alan Hull, Lindisfarne, Danny Seiwell, Natural Acoustic Band, Dando Shaft, Slade.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT David Bowie FROM SOUNDS, August 14, 1971

At the time of this article, David Bowie had released three albums without too much success. In December of the year 1971 he would release his fourth album, Hunky Dory, his most successful album yet and an album that would be recognised as one of his best. His signature song “Life on Mars?” would feature on the coming album, a song that may be one of music history`s most recognisable among the millions of songs created.
Great work there, Mr. Bowie.

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Confessions of a disillusioned old rocker

By Steve Peacock

In something like rock, which is dominated at the moment by people who are either concerned with gaining respect and recognition for the validity of their intentions or with defining the problems within and around itself, the odd clown doesn`t come amiss. You have to be able to laugh at yourself, and if you don`t there has to be someone around to give you`re pretentions a bop with a purple pig`s bladder – otherwise you never find out which are pretentions and which work.

INSANITY

But the trouble with most of the rock and roll clowns is that they rarely relate too much to rock and roll – like Freddie and the Dreamers, who were basically stand-up comics with music. The Bonzo Dog Band worked, because they mixed their insanity with perfect parody and a sharp insight into the subjects they chose to ridicule; if you heard them doing a blues or something, it was so right that it helped you step back and revalue all those white suburban bands singing about the cottonfields.

INFLUENCED

In a slightly different way, David Bowie works on the same principle. Listening to the tracks he has recorded for his next album and seeing him on stage, you know that he is a writer and performer of considerable skill; but off stage Bowie the person has no illusions.
“I`m not writing very deeply at the moment,” he says as he sits in the opulent surroundings of his manager`s office in Regent Street. “I`m just picking up on what other people say, writing it down, and making songs out of it. I`m not thinking for myself any more, because I decided that everything I write sounds very much like what everybody else writes. So I decided to cut out the middle-man – me – and go straight to the source of what I`m talking about.
“I`d rather retain the position of being a photostat machine with an image, because I think most songwriters are anyway: I don`t think there are many independent-thinking songwriters, they`re all very heavily influenced, far more than in any other form of writing.”

DISPOSABLE

Because it`s such a fast-moving thing? “Because it`s such a disposable medium, that`s why. Because you can say things and if they`re not studied or talked through great analytical study, they`ll survive for a few weeks and seem quite prophetic, and quite studied and deep. That`s the fun of the pop-biz, it`s so un-serious and un-together – an art form of indifference, with no permanent philosophy behind it whatsoever.
“I don`t listen to rock music, you see. I`m not very musical and I find music just a platform for my own fringe lunacies of thought. I think very methodically and very much like anybody else off stage – in quotes – but on stage I just give it the benefit of the doubt and give it everything I`ve got that happens to be tucked away in the recesses of my mind. My songwriting is certainly not an accurate picture of how I think at all.”

ORDINARY

Was there any way he felt he could present such a picture? “It`s not really worth it because I`m incredibly ordinary. I don`t think that people want to pay good, hard-earned, capitalist money to know what I really think. In fact I don`t know why you bother with me when you`ve got John Lennon who is an astounding person – I mean as a guy; possibly the last remaining existentialist that`s around, definitely not a hippy, could possibly be a beatnik. He`s old school, and I adore him because of that, because I`m very influenced by the old school. My brother turned me on to all that – Kerouac and all those – before… before flower-power hit me.” He laughs at the memory.
“You see, I always thought life was wonderful, I didn`t realise everything was so bad until everybody told me. They`re all so serious today.”

LOT OF FUN

So why was he in it at all? “Well I`m not you see, I`m in the very fortunate position where I don`t consider myself in music, so I don`t have to worry about who I compare with or who I`m like, because I`m not like anybody else. So I have a lot of fun just being me. I don`t study it, and I`m not an avid follower of anything much. I never have wanted to consider myself in the rock business too much.”
He feels he`s in a good position, with managers and people who pay his rent and expenses so he can spend time with his wife and child, write songs, make records, and generally mess about doing things that interest him at the time. He wouldn`t say that the idea of dedicating himself to rock music, gigging every night and doing all that bit, appealed to him.

DRUGS

“It must be increasingly obvious,” he says, “that it`s just a road to nowhere. It`s become the new extension of factory work, or no-one joins the army any more, you join a group, and you have roadies that are sergeant-majors and you go out on fatigues to gigs, and wear a uniform. And our Achilles heel is our brainpower, which is practically non-existent, and centres entirely around sex and drugs. I understand it`s very lucrative if you make it.”
Once upon a time, David Bowie was a rock and roll singer. He didn`t much like singing other people`s songs, though he doesn`t mind now, so he started writing his own. So he was a songwriter.
“I suppose I`m a disillusioned old rocker. I`m sure that if I`d made it I would have adored it all – all the gold lame and everything, it would have been fabulous. Then I found myself in a mime company, that made me a clown, and I came out of it a clown/songwriter.”

Bowie

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Alun Davies, Roger McGuinn, Rev. Gary Davis, Judy Collins, Ottilie Patterson, Gentle Giant, Black Sabbath, Moby Grape, Henry McCullough, Marc Bolan, Yes, Led Zeppelin, Family, ELP, Jethro Tull, Grease Band, Osibisa, Strawbs, Pink Floyd, Mimi Farina.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT David Bowie FROM SOUNDS, JULY 31, 1971

Just a short one today. This time a really early live review of Mr. Bowie.
Busy with work, but trying my best to have the time to work out these posts. I like them a lot myself!

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Bowie`s wide range

By Steve Peacock

I`m not quite sure what I expected from David Bowie`s set at the Country Club on Wednesday, but I wasn`t prepared for such a wide range of ideas – with songs ranging from his own “Oh You Pretty Things” to Jaques Brel`s “Port Of Amsterdam” – all put across with a sense of purpose and conviction that would have been unusual even in someone who had far less to say. That Bowie can be so convincing with such a wide range of ideas means he is either a superb actor or a performer with a remarkable command of his art. I think the latter is nearer the truth.

Technically there were a few problems – like long breaks between songs, which got a bit tedious, and the fact that the balance was wrong so that when Mick Ronson played acoustic guitar you couldn`t hear him too well – but overall those things were pretty insignificant. Ronson seems to be the perfect foil for Bowie. Playing electric and acoustic guitars, bass, and singing; his electric guitar work was particularly impressive – delicate and sympathetic, but still projecting well – and their voices are well matched.
Rick Wakeman joined them for a few numbers on piano, and it was nice to hear him filling out the sound rather than launching into the flash displays of technique that the Strawbs` music often seems to demand from him.

Songs I enjoyed most were the opening “Fill Your Heart”, “Oh You Pretty Things”, Biff Rose`s “Buzz The Fuzz”, Ron Davies` “It Ain`t Easy”, and David`s song to the shadow of a superhero “Bob Dylan”. But it was his version of Brel`s “Port Of Amsterdam” that I felt was the most satisfying part of the set; it`s a great song of course, which helps, but as Scott Walker has shown it is one that is quite easy to destroy with an unsympathic performance. Bowie did it just right.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Rolling Stones, Boz Scraggs, Beach Boys, Bill Chase, Lincoln Fair, Medicine Head, Tim Hardin, John Schlesinger, Blind Boy Fuller, Michael Chapman, Dion, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Jackie Lomax, Andy Fernbach, Mary Travers, Buffy St. Marie, Steeleye Span, Chris Barber.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Trevor Bolder (Spiders From Mars) FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, February 28, 1976

This update on my blog took longer than expected because of commitments at work, but finally; here is a new post for you all to enjoy. This time with one very important bass player. This article should be of equal interest for Bowie-fans as for fans of Uriah Heep and Mick Ronson.
Trevor Bolder sadly died in May 2013 at the age of 62 from cancer.

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“We`ve still got the Bowie costumes. We can wear those.”

…says down-home, duffle-coated, non-decadent Spider From Mars Trevor Bolder to debonair, trench-coated, cosmopolitan Lizard from Poland Chris Salewicz (late of the uncredited Gong feature on last week`s page 12). Thrill to it!

Hull. H.U.L.L.
Ah, the romance contained in those four letters: Images of a nation torn apart by the hardship inflicted on the Men Of Hull by the heinous Icelanders; a spiritual kinship with the Brest of Jean Genet; the scent of rotting fish drifting down the Beverley Road. Perhaps one day Sailor will write a romantic concept album about Hull.
Unless the Spiders From Mars beat `em to it.
It is in Hull (where else?) that the Spiders From Mars are currently tucked away rehearsing for a British tour. “A long way from David Bowie,” you might think. “How unchic,” you may well grunt. And you`d probably be right.
After all, these lads could well be accused of being a little naughty going around calling themselves by that name. Wherefore art thou, Ronno? Also half-whither pianist Mike Garson direct from working with Lulu and David Essex – who`s about to split the land back to his native USA to renew his British visa. He will not be joining the Spiders From Mars. He has, however, played on their album. He may join them for the tour, when it materialises. If they haven`t managed to find another keyboard player, that is.
And “they”? “They” are bassist Trevor Bolder and drummer Woody Woodmansey. Half the original Bowie-backing Spiders. To be precise, the rhythm section.

“All depends on how much importance you put on a name and how much you put on the music and the band,” comments Trevor Bolder stunningly. We are seated on some peculiarly spine-twisting Habitat chairs (the Campus range, actually) in an office overlooking the Edgware Road at the headquarters of Pye. Not Hull in the strictest geographical sense, perhaps, but close to it spiritually.
With Trevor is Pete McDonald, the Spiders` vocalist. Pete speaks infrequently and yawns frequently. This is because he couldn`t go to sleep last night because he was driving down from his home in Newcastle to London. Via Hull, of course, to pick up Trevor from his home.
Now, Trevor. I do feel it unlikely that you would have been booked to play the few billtopping college dates you have played if you`d been masquerading as the 50% unknown band that you actually are under another name.
“I dunno. I never booked them.” More Trevor Bolder stun-speech. And then: “It`s a leverage. It`s a place for us to go from. Why the hell should I try and start rock-bottom again if I`ve got something I can use? But it`s as hard for us to use the name again as it is not to use it, if you know what I mean. Because people say `Oh, the bloody Spiders again. What they doin`?`. And then they just brush it aside.
“But we like the name and we never did get to do an album on our own as a backup band. Which was planned to be done. It fell through when we just disbanded, you know, when Ronson went and did his own album. And so we decided to do one. And we like the name. We think it`s a good name. It`s unusual. People always go `Oooo. What?`.”

And yet, Trevor, you must admit to only being half of the original Spiders.
“I think if we`re going to do anything anyway it`s going to be on what music the band gives off.” Trevor disposes with further finicky obsessions about detail with true Northern bluntness.
With the exception of Woody Woodmansey – who is at this moment ” `ammerin` out” a new drum-kit down in East Grinstead (ho-hum) and who was replaced by Aynsley Dunbar – all the Bowie Spiders recorded “Pinups”. “Pinups” was, in fact, the last time that these musicians were to record with the Beckenham Boy although no-one knew that at the time. Shortly afterwards they entered the studio with Mick Ronson in charge to lay down the tracks for “Slaughter On 10th Avenue”.
“I thought `e should have played more rock`n`roll meself to be honest,” laughs Trevor, “I really thought he shouldn`t have gone out and tried to be a singer. He should have concentrated on being a rock guitar player.”
Question voiced: So whose idea was it that he should lay down his guitar and start airing the tonsils? (Question implied: So tell me all about Tony De Fries` manipulation of Poor Innocent Ronno?).
“Is. It was `is career. `E did what `e wanted. `E `ad a free `and in everything `e wanted to do. `E wasn`t told by De Fries. I think `e just `ad a lack of experience at that point in what direction to go in and `e just got together wheatever `e could and just did an album. And `e just went in the direction it went in.”
The Pye press officer sticks his head around the door and mumbles something unintelligible to my ears.

“We`re `oping,” Trevor translates, “to be doing the big dates with Dave in London as a support band. It`s just an idea that we`ve been talking on the phone about” (the much more financially reasonable localised Hull telephone service, I expect). “Might not come off. All depends what `e feels like. But `e keeps changing `is mind. You can never tell with `im. `E`s that sort of a person,” he adds, looking knowingly at me.
You had that problem with him when you were working together?
“Oooooh. All the time.”
Because I`ve always had the impression that David Bowie is enormously together and seems to know exactly what he wants.
“Oh, `e does but I mean like. `E knows what `e`s after. `E knows what direction `e`s going in but `e changes `is mind about things. For the right time. One day `e`ll say one thing and then `e`ll realise it`s the wrong thing and `e`ll change it again. That`s the way `e works.”
As a young lady enters the room to search unsuccessfully for “Jim`s diary” – Trevor talks about DB and Money: “We was just on wages. Always was. Well,” he pauses a moment or two, “We thought it might have been different but it never was. I mean, we got good wages. The money went up as the band progressed. As it got bigger and bigger we earned more. We didn`t earn a fortune like people thought we did. De Fries and Dave earned the money. We just earned a good living.”

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So what happened after “Pinups”? Why`dja pack it in?
“With Bowie??? I didn`t really pack it in. You mean playing? I don`t know.” He says it as if the question has never occurred to him. “We never saw each other after that. I mean, I didn`t see David for about four or five months, you know, and I went off and played on Mick`s album. And whether `e thought `Eh eh? `E`s gone off with Mick and I`ll get somebody else in` I don`t know.
“But I just accepted it. I was too busy working wi` Mick.”
“On to play on `Don`t Worry`, the second Mick Ronson solo album,” I prompt?
He nods: “That was a funny album. It took months. We went to France to record it first and we used this studio that wasn`t very good and we spent two weeks there and `e only kept about two tracks, I think. Two backing tracks. And `e came back and recorded it all again at Trident. A very expensive job.
“It was just after that he joined up with Mott. I don`t know why.”
Trevor Bolder then made lengthy and abortive searches to find musicians to form a band of his own. None were suitable. One day he walked into Cube Records and met up with Barry Bethel, a MainMan organizations expatriate. Bethel recommended first a vocalist, Pete McDonald, from a Cube signed Geordie band, Bullfrog. Bolder got off on his Paul Rodgers-esque vocals. “And I decided to get together with Woody (Woodmansey) as well. And Woody thought it was a good idea `cause `e wasn`t doing anything at the time. So there was three of us and we needed a guitar player.”
Pete McDonald recommended yet another Cube artist, Dave Black, guitarist with a band called Kestrel. “Sort of McLaughlin, Yes type of thing. Different style totally from what I`ve been used to. A very fast guitar player. And we got `im down, got off on `is playing and we went from there. This is February of last year.”

Was there any period after you left Bowie where you wondered what the hell you were going to do next?
“Well, I automatically thought `What the `ell am I going to do`, you know. But I decided that there was only one thing to do and that was to form another band, you know. Get playing again. Because I `adn`t stopped playing just `cause I`d finished with David. That was all in the past.
“Even when I look back on it now it`s very hard to bring to mind all the times when I was onstage. It`s like I`ve been to the pictures and watched it at the pictures and you get like glimpses. I`d sort of forgotten what it was like playing with him, you know. It`s all sort of gone and I`m just like looking for summ`at new now.
“But I mean like you play with Dave and you play bass and you contribute to the albums with a few ideas but that`s about as far as it goes. You don`t get to write any songs.
“Whereas this way we`ve got more freedom. You can do what you want and enjoy it. Everybody gets to write and to put in their ideas and it feels more like a stable band whereas before it was a band and one man and you didn`t know what was going to happen next. And in the end, of course, we just bust up.”
Pete McDonald breaks his silence: “The writing potential`s great `cos we wrote that whole album in five days. It just seemed to click.”
And you expect the album to chart?
“Ye-ahhh,” says Trevor, just a little hesitantly,” If we get the right promotion and get the band onto a tour and let people see the band. It`s a very visual band. Very rock. We don`t just stand there.
“We`ve still got the Bowie costumes. We`ve still got the clothes. We can always wear those. But as compared to the Bowie thing it`s much more raw. Much more rock. There`s not as much theatre.”
Pete for the third time: “It`s a lot of fun as well. It`s all amusement. The serious bits don`t come into it too much. If somebody makes the wrong move they just get filled in by the others. No stars.”
“I think people take the business too seriously,” nods Trevor Bolder. “I mean, I did when I was with Dave. I used to think everything had to be so right. But you`ve got to go out there and have fun and that`s what we`re trying to do. To enjoy it for ourselves as much as the audience.”

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Those were the days – when Boots sold records! 

 
I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may  not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Emmylou Harris, The Sexual language of rock (not a band!), Dave Burland, Johnny Clarke, Steve Harley, Kokomo, 10 cc, Lee Brilleaux.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
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