Not too long ago, in a galaxy that we would call home, a boy was born; his name was David Robert Jones. This is a name that nobody knows, a name which is of no significance to music of this day and age; or is it? This man is a living legend, a giant in a world of disposable bubblegum pop. His name is David Robert Jones, but you may know him better as David Bowie.
I have my mother to thank for a lot of the music I like; she introduced me to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pink Floyd, and the Sex Pistols among many others. Don’t get me wrong, I love them all, but my appreciation of those greats combined couldn’t touch on my appreciation of Bowie, who both my parents introduced me to when I was 11. When I first heard “Heroes" I was overawed by it’s…greatness. However, every time I looked into my mum and dad’s CD and Vinyl collections, one CD case caught my attention, and it’s this one; Aladdin Sane. I’d been dissuaded by the album’s instantly recognisable cover before; Bowie topless with the iconic red, blue and black lightning bolt on his face, I thought it would be another album which failed to live up to its hype; how wrong I had been
The album has a brilliant opener in “Watch that Man" a song which, from the outset, eases fears that this album will be a letdown. It does this with a blend of a stunningly catchy guitar riff, Bowie’s great voice and lyrics, and some rather good piano. One thing that will catch a listener’s ear on this album is the backing vocals, instead of merely dying in the background, the backing vocals are noticeable and are in the vein of what I can only describe as “soul-esque", not a great description, but the only one that I feel I can provide.
The album fluctuates in style on a number of occasions, for example, the mood and style on the energetic and upbeat rock song “watch that man" to a theatrical mood in “Time" to a more mellow Jazz song in “Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)" this shows Bowie’s ability to adapt to various styles while still maintaining his own unique take on it. This album possibly shows that ability the most out of the early Bowie albums, with Bowie showing his own take on styles such as Jazz, Doo-Wap and many others. Alongside this, he stays true to his rock roots with songs like “Panic in Detroit" and “Cracked Actor". The latter of these sounds completely different to anything else I’ve ever heard by Bowie; with a rather heavy reliance on traditional rock distortion with harmonica added in by Bowie
The album’s instrumentation is spot on as well, with songs like “Panic in Detroit" keeping a great feel and “Let’s Spend the Night Together…"becoming a really upbeat song with some great piano, a theme which recurs in the album. this album is really the showcase of Bowie’s artistic vision, with songs like “Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)", “Let’s Spend the Night Together…" and “Lady Grinning Soul" utilising the piano to great effect. This is thanks to Mike Garson, Bowie’s pianist on this album, who plays some brilliant piano, whether it be the more mellow “Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)" or the more up-tempo yet tasteful passages in “Lady Grinning Soul", Garson pulls some rather amazing piano parts from his sleeve
In my honest opinion, this is a classic, borderline, but classic nonetheless. It practically gave birth to glam rock and influenced more artists than one could shake a large stick at.
I will say however, that the album may fall out of that classic range for a select few, but the majority would find that this album is truly great and deserves is place on the rolling stone’s top 500 albums ever list. Granted, it pales slightly when placed next to “Hunky Dory" but that’s an album which will go on to epitomise that generation of music.
This album’s been hyped by so many, the difference is…
…this lives up to it’s hype.
usually, only one track strikes me as being the album’s “Star track" this however, has two in my opinion, they are…Track 2. Aladdin Sane and Track 4. Panic in Detroit
“Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)"
Aladdin Sane features some absolutely amazing piano work, which, in my opinion, is possibly the best I’ve ever heard. With lyrics depicting the hopelessness of sending men to war on false premises and strong references to Bowie’s brother, a schizophrenic(hence the title, Aladdin Sane or A Lad Insane) the instrumentation never fails to strike me with awe; especially the piano. However, there’s some great saxophone work and Bowie’s voice fits in with the instruments perfectly, making the whole song work as a unit
Panic in Detroit
Panic in Detroit is the heavy song on the album, written while Bowie was in his bus going through Detroit, this song is about what he seen and imagined the city was like beneath it’s surface. Set to heavy guitars with an infectious riff, this song is one of the better heavier songs Bowie’s ever written, perhaps even the best. The backing Vocalists’ oohs and ahhs add to the song, Giving it something which it would miss if they were omitted.