Let us head back to the summer of 1967 and the second side of the debut album by promising pop hopeful David Bowie. On this side of the disk, we encounter Little Bombardier, Silly Boy Blue, Arthur (uncle Arthur?) a singer in a band, the Maid of Bond Street, the sneezing Mr Gravedigger and many others. Guiding me in this kaleidoscopic quest is my friendly guest, the man behind Pushing Ahead Of The Dame, Chris O'Leary. In amongst the ditties, he tells me something of his own work and the story behind his remarkable chronicle of Bowie's life and work and how he came to assemble it. We also look at religion, God, gender and theatre. All the cool things. I hope you enjoy this episode and if you do, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts or your podporium of choice and check out Chris's work at - https://bowiesongs.wordpress.com
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22: THE 198MORE SHOW WITH NICK PEGG PART FOUR
38:27Join me and Nick Pegg for the fourth and final part of the 198more show, an all-singing, all-dancing odyssey through the wildly underrated Bowie 80s. In this part, we address post Live Aid Bowie, his work with Iggy Pop, Tina Turner, Jimmy Murakami, Martin Scorsese, La La La Human Steps and a fellow called Reeves Gabrels, who would play a huge role in reorientating our hero with his muse, as the 90s loomed. I hope you enjoy this episode and do share and spread the word about the series if you are so inclined. Meanwhile, keep an ear out for new episodes on the way soon!
21: THE 198MORE SHOW WITH NICK PEGG PART THREE
40:50It's Live Aid Special! Join us as we join Bowie behind the scenes at the global jukebox on July 13 1985 for a day that changed pop'n'roll history
20: THE 198MORE SHOW WITH NICK PEGG PART TWO
1:23:47Join us for this 90 minute epic as we continue our mid 80s odyssey through the hectic schedule of D. Bowie, who is dressed in a frightwig and tights hurtling around labyrinths, or smoother than a filtered Turkish gasper, suave and Soho-sexy for Absolute Beginners. We get to grips with the music from both movies, debate Bowie's astonishing work rate, enjoy his Iggy Pop impersonation, tell you all you ever wanted to know about the Italian evergreen 'Volare' and Pegg shares some fruity opinions on Chris de Burgh and the Thompson Twins. We're very happy with this one and I hope you like it too! STAY TOONED: Next up - Live Aid and beyond. Join the gang, share the love.
19: THE 198MORE SHOW WITH NICK PEGG PART ONE
1:28:43The 1980s were Bowie's lost decade. True? No, says Nick Pegg. Join me and the much-loved author of The Complete David Bowie for a reappraisal of Bowie's musical adventures around and beneath the official albums released between 1980 and 1990. We're looking at Baal, Queen, Pat Metheny, Cat People, Live Aid, Band Aid, Labyrinth, Absolute Beginners and of course, as is always the case with Mr Pegg, a whole load of assorted trivia, facts, opinions and theories. Whatever you think of Bowie's notoriously divisive EMI albums, one thing's clear - there's much more to Bowie in the 80s than Never Let Me Down and Tonight. Recorded via Zoom in November 2020, with some occasional input from my dog Otto in the background. If you enjoy this podcast, please do follow us, review and share the episode and let me know what you think! Nick's book, in case you haven't yet read it, is something of a Holy Grail of Bowie info and detail - available here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Complete-David-Bowie-Revised-Updated/dp/1785653652/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2VA9CC0ZX6SVO&dchild=1&keywords=nicholas+pegg+the+complete+david+bowie&qid=1615294898&sprefix=Nicholas+Pegg%2Caps%2C228&sr=8-1 Furthermore, edited out due to space, but we briefly talked about Nick's fleeting cameo in the recent, brilliant TV series "It's A Sin". If you've missed THAT and can access UK TV, then really, what are you waiting for, go and watch it and then come back. It is a superb, heartrending and life-affirming piece of drama (and Pegg-watchers, look out for the Dalek). https://www.channel4.com/programmes/its-a-sin OK, thanks for reading, thanks for listening, thanks for supporting us - let's dive in!
18: Adam Buxton & Chris O'Leary on Scary Monsters (Part 2)
1:23:52Part Two of my megachat with comedian and author Adam Buxton and in this episode, we’re joined by the one and only Chris O’Leary, returning to Albumtoalbum after his chat with us on ‘David Bowie’ (1967) some months back, author of Pushing Ahead of the Dame blog and collected essays on Bowie’s canon in ‘Rebel, Rebel’ and ‘Ashes To Ashes’. We travel through the album’s tracklisting in this episode, from Ashes to Ashes to the closing Its No Game Part II and a bit beyond too. Chris and Adam swap nuggets of Bowie trivia and anecdotes and Adam blesses us with his incomparable tribute to Gary Numan. We talk about pirates, midwives of history, broken pizzas, bad theatrics and s-s-s-s-s-ociet-t-t-t-t-ty. Additionally, Chris shares a prized Tom Verlaine anecdote whilst I generally burble and chuckle along. A fuller meander through my thoughts on the absolute belter Scary Monsters is included in the notes for Part One, but if you want to explore Adam and Chris’s work in greater detail, as well as following up on some of the topics that arose in the chat, here’s a handy cut out and keep list: Chris O'Leary's study of Scary Monsters at 40 https://bowiesongs.wordpress.com/2020/10/08/scary-monsters-at-40/ Adam’s Bowie Spotify compilation https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6ZtTS8N3Qwx2oX1X8jRxL2 General Buxton stuff www.adam-buxton.co.uk ‘David Bowie in New York 1980 • The Elephant Man, Scary Monsters & Other Strange People’ by Nacho https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1fTtwGqdQw&t=5s
17: Adam Buxton on Scary Monsters
1:12:25Welcome back to Albumto album with guest Bowie obsessive Adam Buxton! Scary Monsters is a milestone album. It is one I have long wanted to tackle here and I have quite a few thoughts about it. Here are a few of them. David Bowie entered 1980 restless for change and a new sense of purpose. The generally lukewarm reaction to his previous album Lodger clearly prompted an internal audit and the 33-year old artist, on the move from Europe and now soaking up the energy of New York city, felt the time had come to harness the spirit of adventure and experimentation of the ‘Berlin’ era with a scaffold of tough, catchy rock. The songs, constructed by the dream team core combo of producer Tony Visconti, guitarist Carlos Alomar, bassist George Murray and drummer Dennis Davis, came together fast. Gone were the conceptual hi-jinks of the Eno era and instead, Bowie crafted these tracks with painterly care and attention. Each has a dynamic chiaroscuro, silhouettes and shadows are everywhere. Bowie’s interest in Expressionism and surrealism filters through these songs that tease the listener, before giving up their charms with sluttish abandon. Bowie recorded the album at a brisk clip in spring 1980, working hard and fast at the New York Power Station studios with his band and assorted guest musicians including left field guitarists Chuck Hammer and Robert Fripp, both of whom left their distinctive fingerprints on the record. The former, with his customised guitar-synths, aroused Bowie with talk of “guitarchitecture”, the latter, a veteran of strange spontaneous sessions for Heroes and Lodger, scrawled atonic graffiti phrases across the title track, Its No Game, Fashion and so on, while a delighted Bowie would give gnomic instructions, “Play like Ritchie Blackmore, without sounding like Ritchie Blackmore!” The lyrical content of the album gives us a fascinating insight within the author’s brain. Clear-headed, relatively sober and facing down the barrel of his 30s (many messianic men feel weird at 33, especially those of self-mythologising bent) and for the first time, seeing the results of his influences on a new wave of foppish romantics. His constituency had always been in the margins of the mainstream, but now, in the sulphurous afterburn of punk, it seemed as if his legacy was everywhere. From the so-called Blitz kids, some of whom he rather smartly re-appropriated for use in the Ashes To Ashes video to his swipes and bitchy asides aimed at the younger generation in songs like Teenage Wildlife and Because You’re Young, it seemed as if the unwilling role as older statesman of rock was sitting uncomfortably. His ambivalence to the generation of ‘Blitz kids’ who followed in his wake, was understandable. Bowie had always valued the courage to move on, look ahead and explore. His cadre of imitators that reached a peak around 1978, 1979 - pale, robotic - staccato of delivery and alienated of mien - irritated him, outweighing any personal gratification and flattery. As Bowie the artist would tend to leg it, on achieving a degree of success and acclaim, Bowie the viable record label investment and going concern was in deep shit, thanks not only to the aftermath of his disastrous mid 70s breakup with avaricious manager Tony DeFries, but generally dismal sales figures. The need to generate serious cash with serious moonlight would dominate the years ahead, leading to questionable artistic decisions and generating much unhappiness for fans, peers, record label and not least, the actor himself. But that was all still in the future. Looking back, we can mythologise 1980 as being the year that Bowie came of age as a recording artist. The self-referential myth-making wove throughout his year. It can be seen in the small, roughly obscured covers of Low, Heroes and Lodger on the Scary Monsters album artwork, the revisiting of ‘Space Oddity’s Major Tom in the astonishing ‘Ashes To Ashes’. It’s the howling anguish in opener ‘It’s No Game (Part One) and the resigned indifference of the track’s reprise at the close of the record. The lurking Pierrot of the cover figure, an affectation that stretched back to Bowie’s days in mime with the Lindsay Kemp company, was also something of a marker, closing the blinds on yesterday as a ‘cunt in a clown suit’. And this was the last time the alchemical magic of Alomar, Davis, Murray and Visconti would burn in the crucible of the studio. Shortly after the album was released, on September 17, 1980, Bowie was starring in a successful Broadway run as The Elephant Man, his close friend and inspiration John Lennon would be dead and the actor would return to his Swiss fastness, to plot yet another about-face. From now on, every album featuring Bowie that was released, would be compared to ‘Scary Monsters’, a millstone around its creator’s neck who, despite the decades of artistic, critical and commercial successes and flops to come, would never again quite match its extraordinary moment and magic. For more Adam Buxton shenanigans, check out his site at: www.adam-buxton.co.uk Subscribe to his podcast here (The 2016 'Bowiewallow' episodes ate especially recommended) https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-adam-buxton-podcast/id1040481893 Adam's cartoon on the making of 'Warszawa' https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FODvjYoVEi8&t=58s Chris O'Leary's masterful Pushing Ahead Of The Dame blog special on Scary Monsters at 40 https://bowiesongs.wordpress.com/2020/10/08/scary-monsters-at-40/
16: Tim Worthington on Holy Holy
54:59Tim Worthington - writer, podcaster and cultural archaeologist - is someone who digs deep and delights in obscure details. So, it follows that in this episode of Albumtoalbum, he chose to eschew the album format and instead, picked an intriguing slice of Bowie history - the 1971 single 'Holy Holy', originally recorded in the weird dead period just after the recording of The Man Who Sold The World in 1970, after a disillusioned Mick Ronson had returned to Hull to work as a municipal gardener, marking out rugby pitches on council playing fields instead of living it up with the Bowie gang at Haddon Hall. David recorded the single for his record label Phillips, with guitarist Alan Parker and bassist Herbie Flowers and despite its very voguish cocktail of sex, black magic and religious torment, nothing much happened. But a year later, when a reinvigorated Ronson and the Spiders were cutting tracks for the Ziggy album, they recorded a new, spikier more glam version for the LP, but for some reason, Bowie dropped it from the running order at the last minute, relegating it to the B-side of Diamond Dogs in 1974. In this episode, Tim teases out numerous lines of enquiry leading from Holy Holy and looks at its importance as a pivotal moment in Bowie's fledgling career. As a summation of intent, an assault on the charts, a fabulous slice of black occult glam it succeeds in significance where it failed commercially (as did most Bowie releases at the time. It also suffered an ignominious afterlife, a remake, being shunted onto b-sides and bonus discs. Do please review and share this podcast if you like it and let me know what you think. And if you enjoy it, check out Tim's numerous activities at tomworthington.net and pump up your Twitter by following him at @outonbluesix Thank you all as ever for all the support and encouragement - I do have a Patreon account at @albumtoalbum if you would like to buy me a pie and a pint that would be lovely https://www.patreon.com/user?u=23724958
15: Chris O'Leary on David Bowie (1967) part 2
45:10Let us head back to the summer of 1967 and the second side of the debut album by promising pop hopeful David Bowie. On this side of the disk, we encounter Little Bombardier, Silly Boy Blue, Arthur (uncle Arthur?) a singer in a band, the Maid of Bond Street, the sneezing Mr Gravedigger and many others. Guiding me in this kaleidoscopic quest is my friendly guest, the man behind Pushing Ahead Of The Dame, Chris O'Leary. In amongst the ditties, he tells me something of his own work and the story behind his remarkable chronicle of Bowie's life and work and how he came to assemble it. We also look at religion, God, gender and theatre. All the cool things. I hope you enjoy this episode and if you do, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts or your podporium of choice and check out Chris's work at - https://bowiesongs.wordpress.com
14: Chris O'Leary on David Bowie (1967)
56:25Following on from our conversation about Bowie’s final album, this episode of albumtoalbum whizzes us back 53 years to his first, the eponymous debut, released in Britain on June 1 1967. Of course, any other artist in the world might be nervous about releasing an album - a debut album! - on the same day as The Beatles dropped their long-awaited follow up to Revolver, but that's showbusiness baby. Still, one can only imagine the sense of panic felt in the Decca boardrooms, when puce-faced executives heard just exactly what their newest star would be releasing in competition with the Beatles' masterpiece. And history proves that for record buyers hotfooting it to their local disc emporioum, pounds shillings and pence burning a hole in their kaftans, Sgt Pepper beat Uncle Arthur and company hands down, in face of stiff competition from other new releases, which included The Parable of Arable Land by the Red Krayola, the debut album by The Bee Gees and Mr Spock’s Music from Outer Space. Hardly surprising, but still disappointing, when the album barely grazed the charts, reaching 125 in the UK and something even less impressive in the US. ’Aarrghh, that Anthony Newley stuff, how cringey,' recalled a Tin Machine era Bowie in 1990. 'No, I haven’t much to say about that in its favour. Lyrically I guess it was striving to be something, the short story teller. Musically it’s quite bizarre. I don’t know where I was at. It seemed to have its roots all over the place, in rock and vaudeville and music hall and I don’t know what. I didn’t know if I was Max Miller or Elvis Presley’ Max Miller and or Elvis Presley don’t really come to mind when listening to it now. Instead he was consciously creating songs that would span his palette of interests at the time, solid songs that turned out to stand him in good stead for the next year or so as his interests veered towards theatre, mime, Buddhism and the emerging singer-songwriter genre. Here, he flits magpie-like, alighting on this style or that, immersing himself in the art of crafting songs. He’s moved away from the rough RnB of his first few years and is experimenting with characters and scenarios that owe something to the general mood of acid-tinged weirdness of the times. But as we can see, these mini capsules of narratives and characters were like Bowie opening up his playbox for the first time, and donning the first of many many costumes to come. From the slightly Syd Barret esque Uncle Arthur to the chilling spoken word murder ballad of Please Mr Gravedigger, these songs aspire to pretty broad palette, veering between enchanting, entertaining, unsettling and ephemeral. This album is 60s London at its height, Britpsych and sci fi pop jostling with folky sensibilities, Anthony Newley-infused story songs with a Weimar-era Berlin side eye. So in order to look at it further, I’m glad to welcome on board the man behind the best Bowie blog ever, Chris O Leary, whose essays on each song and album in his blog Pushing Ahead Of The Dame have become to Bowie what Ian McDonald’s Revolution In The Head was to the Beatles - intelligent, enjoyably opinonated, well researched beautiful slices of prose that manage to conjure fresh perspectives and insights into Bowie’s work. Chris’s blog has been revised and edited into two brilliant volums, Rebel Rebel and Ashes to Ashes and if you haven’t yet read them or the blog, I strongly recommend you do either immediately after listening to this podcast. As ever, please do share and recommend this podcast where you can and follow the lovely O'Leary on Twitter if you don't already at @bowiesongs
13: Donny McCaslin & Leah Kardos on ★ Part 3
49:23The third and final instalment of our epic conversation with Donny McCaslin and Leah Kardos takes a behind the scenes look at the recording of David Bowie's final album, ★ in New York. Donny tells us what it was like to work on Bowie's demos and how even in his last sessions, David B was as inspired, energised and excited as ever by his music and collaborators. Thanks to Donny for his time and generosity in sharing these precious memories and especially to Leah Kardos for her insights and perspectives on the album. Don't forget to follow them both at @DonnyMcCaslin @LeahKardos and keep an ear out for their latest sonic adventuring. Meanwhile, if you've enjoyed these podcasts, please do share, review and let me know! If you want to send a small something to keep self and dog in biscuits, I do have a Patreon page at https://www.patreon.com/user?u=23724958&fan_landing=true and all tips much appreciated!