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  1. Right then, time to settle back for a while. If you’re not a fan of David Bowie then you may want to ignore me for a month or so, although if you’re not a fan of David Bowie then I’m not sure I want to be consorting with you anyway! He was (I hate having to talk about him in the past tense) the greatest rock star of my lifetime, he led the way so many times and when everyone else caught up he simply and effortlessly changed direction. This is where it started…

    David Jones had been through his R&B phase with the King Bees and The Manish Boys, had his stab at Mod Pop with the Lower Third with whom he changed his name to Bowie. In late 1966 by now a solo artist he signed with Deram Records and released the single “Rubber Band”, a strange little number concerning a WW1 veteran who loses his girl to the leader of the Rubber Band while he’s at sea. It’s sung in full on Anthony Newley style (Bowie exclaiming toward the end “I hope you break your baton” is quite funny) and was a pointer to what to expect from his forthcoming album.

    Deram released “David Bowie” in July 1967. “Rubber Band” was re-recorded for the album and a single “Love You Til Tuesday” was released from it. It’s a strange record of what can only be described as show tunes, but none of them were ever in a show. It opens with “Uncle Arthur” which could almost be a blueprint for Ronnie Corbett’s sitcom “Sorry”, older man lives with Mom, meets girl and goes to live with her, discovers she can’t cook or look after him as his Mom did so leaves girl to go back to live with his Mom and read Batman comics! “There Is A Happy Land” is the first of Bowie’s songs showing his yearning for childhood, “There is a happy land where only children go” says the opening lyric; “Little Bombardier” is a waltz concerning another forces veteran who innocently befriends some children but is warned off by the Police with the line “Leave them alone or we'll get sore, We've had blokes like you in the station before” it’s quite sad really.

    To my ears the one great song here is “Silly Boy Blue”which reveals Bowie’s interest in Buddhism and Eastern philosophies. Eastern Philosophy was very fashionable in the mid-Sixties, Bowie took more of an interest than many. In 1966 he visited the Tibet House, a Buddhist centre in London, and talked with one of its teachers. The lyrics of ‘Silly Boy Blue’ mention the Potala Palace in the Tibetan city of Lhasa, reincarnation, the concept of the overself (a self-entity above the five factors of a person’s being), and chela, a servant or student. Above all else it really is a great song, which Bowie re-recorded many years later for his aborted and then posthumously released album “Toy”.

    There’s another song concerning children and childhood on Side 2, “Come And Buy My Toys”, and the album closes out with “Please Mr. Gravedigger” which is just flat out strange. It’s an effects heavy track featuring bells, rain and thunder framing a poetic story by a child murderer who is watching and plotting to kill the Gravedigger as he works !

    Original copies of “David Bowie” sell for astronomical sums of money (a Stereo copy sold very recently for £2750) so no, I don’t own an original but a Record Store Day Mono/Stereo Blue and Red vinyl copy. If what you know of Bowie is “Heroes” and  “Life On Mars” you will find this to be very, very different. For Bowie nerds like me it’s fascinating to see the development from here to Ziggy Stardust in only 5 years.

    Silly Boy Blue - https://youtu.be/bkl1BfO5-1M

    Silly Boy Blue (Toy version) https://youtu.be/PPJJOOE640M

  2. Yes, a compilation, the first of a few we’ll encounter. Sometime in the early 80’s my folks went on holiday to the USA. While in New York they bought some records for me that looked interesting. One was a punky little combo called the Splash Cats (no idea what happened to them) and the other was some weird sounding thing with guys talking on the phone called “Cookie Puss” by the Beastie Boys. Did I like it ? Not really and I sold it sometime later!

    Eventually I came around to the Beasties. What hooked me were the singles from the album “Ill Communication”. My brother got the gig as a VJ on MTV’S 120 Minutes show and both “Sure Shot” and “Sabotage” were on “heavy rotation” on MTV at the time.

    This album is really just a collection of singles and choice album tracks and it’s all I need. It’s also a perfect soundtrack to the Beastie Boys Book which is a great read. The Beasties were equal parts groovy and plain old silly. Nothing wrong with that at all.

    Sure Shot - https://youtu.be/JhqyZeUlE8U

  3. In between “The Scream” and here Siouxsie and Steve Severin (they being the core of The Banshees) had lost half a band (Kenny Morris and John McKay), picked up a temporary guitar player (Robert Smith) a drummer of fearsome prowess (Budgie) and hired a guitar player whose name should be celebrated as one of the greats of our era, I do, of course, mean the great John McGeogh. There had also been 2 more albums “Join Hands” and “Kaleidoscope”.

    By the time we reach this point and “Ju Ju” the line up of Sioux, Severin, McGeogh and Budgie were on their 2nd album together. What you need to know about this record is that McGeogh and Budgie are on another plane of musicianship here. The skill, inventiveness and sheer power in their playing is breathtaking.

    I can’t dissect too much what drummers do except to say that what Budgie does on this album ain’t like anything I’d heard any drummer do before. As for McGeogh…well you can take all your guitar players of any stripe, Blues bores (I’m looking at you Claptout), metal fretwanking speed merchants, all of them, McGeogh’s playing on this album is simply one of the greatest guitar performances ever committed to tape.

    There are 2 killer singles inside the first 3 tracks (“Spellbound” and “Arabian Nights”) and on songs like “Monitor”, “Sin In My Heart” and “Halloween” McGeogh and Budgie drive this album along helping take Siouxsie to places she’d never reached before.

    Every kid wanting to play drums or guitar should listen to this album so they know there is an alternative to the written in stone “guitar gods” and that drumming went elsewhere after Bonham etc. And if you have never heard this album, what are you doing reading this ? Go grab a copy…NOW!

    Monitor - https://youtu.be/0sMC3qugQPM